Arrow: ‘Suicide Squad’ Review
***** Read at Your Own Risk Contains Mild Spoilers ! *****
Diggle and the Suicide Squad
I really wanted to bring up the whole ‘keep your friends close, but your enemies closer’ but since there was an actual episode earlier in the season called Keep Your Enemies Closer (2×06, in case you can’t recall – aka the ‘Russia’ episode), I’ll refrain. Now, this was a dynamic to the show I’ve been curious to see. It’s not very often that you get the good guys working with the bad guys. It was nice to see Shrapnel (Sean Maher, in possibly his final appearance – I’m not happy with that. He was highly underused.), Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White), and Deadshot (Michael Rowe) back in action. But Diggle wasn’t alone with them – he had his ex-wife now girlfriend Lyla Michaels (Audrey Marie Anderson) at his side.
And then we have Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson). The Squad’s boss. I can’t quite figure out whether I should trust her or not. She’s very ‘all work, no play’ and that makes it hard to get to know her enough to judge her. Especially when she gets a little too trigger happy while the Squad’s out in the field. (Poor Shrapnel.)
Just like in Keep Your Enemies Closer, Diggle can’t believe he’s working alongside those he helped Oliver bring down. On the other hand, I like that twist. Because it brings a lot of tension into the whole dynamic, and that makes for some seriously awesome drama. And it’s nice to see the spotlight on some actual drama, not this crappy, cringe-worthy we-have-no-chemistry-but-we’re-going-to-torture-the-fans-anyway relationship that is Oliver and Sara. Who knew they could stuff up the chemistry between Oliver and both Lance sisters?
Anyway, back on Diggle – I can complain about Oliver’s love life later. It was really great seeing Diggle outside of Team Arrow. Actually, it was good having an episode that was focused almost entirely away from Team Arrow (I’ve been feeling like us fans are being suffocated by the ever expanding team, while Oliver’s original two teammates get to play second fiddle to the Black Canary – oops, there I go bringing those two up again…). Suicide Squad is the first episode I feel like they’ve lived up to the promise of a character centric episode. The Executive Producers and cast promoted the episode as a Diggle-centric episode – and it definitely was. Unlike Time Of Death, which was promoted at the last minute as a Felicity-centric episode when it clearly wasn’t, or pick any of those supposedly ‘good’ Laurel-centric episodes 10-14, which were more like one giant train-wreak when it came to her story (like 3 minutes of Olicity in Blast Radius out-did 20 of Laurel).
It’s not often that the flashbacks don’t revolve around Oliver or his island gang (including Sara, whom we had a flashback to pre-island her and the Lances a few episodes ago, in Heir to the Demon), but this time we were treated to one very special flashback story – Diggle in Afghanistan, a story we first heard about via the man himself all the way back in Season 1 Episode 14 The Odyssey.
Diggle was joined by Lyla and Ted Gaynor (Ben Browder, making a nice return to the show, following his initial appearance in 1×11 Trust But Verify – who I loved seeing back, by the way. Even if it was a brief appearance.) as well as a bunch of other no-named soldiers. Tasked with escorting a group of refugees, Lyla’s told by one refugee woman that one of the men in the group is Gholem Qadir (Lee Majdoub) – a man on America’s Wanted List. Sure, the whole flashback was to help viewers understand why Waller wanted Diggle in the group for their mission – but the show’s known for using flashbacks to back up the present-day events (except for The Odyssey and The Promise, the two flashback-centric episodes so far).
Tara Strong’s voice as “Deranged Squad Female” (Easter Egg for the episode)
Now, I don’t usually discuss the show’s Easter eggs (frankly, I don’t have the knowledge to do it), but this one is connected to a rumor that has been buzzing around the fandom ever since that three minute trailer came out a few weeks back.
All we got was one line, said by a female whom we never got to actually see, during the initial Suicide Squad scenes. The credits only listed the role as ‘Deranged Squad Female’ – most likely because the writers either don’t want to reveal who she is quite yet. But what we do know is Tara Strong played the role. Now, my comic book knowledge is incredibly small – so I’d like to give thanks to greenarrowtv.com for all this info. Strong is known to DC Comics animation fans for her voice roles in animation and video games, including Raven in Teen Titans or Harley Quinn in several recent video games, including the Batman: Arkham game.
So why the buzz around her unnamed cameo? Well, in that three minute promo (which was a combo of clips from The Promise, Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey – and maybe now some of Deathstroke, since we now know more on that episode, which had been shooting around the time the promo was released) there was a quick shot of a blonde ponytailed woman’s back in a cell wearing the yellow A.R.G.U.S jumpsuit. Fans were quick to jump on this mysterious woman being a part of the Suicide Squad – because the other members of the Squad initially appear in the episode wearing the same yellow jumpsuit (and Deadshot ends back in it). And DC Comics fans were quick to suggest that the mystery woman is Harley Quinn – identified via those ponytails.
The Executive Producers of Arrow have been avoiding the topic ever since the rumors began, so it’ll be interesting to see how they deal with the fans reactions following this week. However, Stephen Amell’s tweet only backs it all up —
Everybody needs to relax… She’s just a trained therapist.
Oliver and the Lance sisters
One thing I’ll never get over is how quickly the two Lance sisters seem to have rebounded. Something as huge as what happened between them and Oliver – the whole cheating thing – is something that doesn’t get fixed quite as speedy as the Lance sisters seem to be doing. And that’s just another reason why I’m hating both of them right now. Though, must admit, it’s nice to see Laurel not bitching quite so much. Instead she’s weirding me out by giving her sister advice on how to handle Oliver being his usual broody self.
Like I pointed out earlier, I really think they’ve messed up big time on the chemistry between Oliver and Sara. Just like Oliver and Laurel last season, everything seems so forced it’s really hard to believe that they can be any more than sex buddies. I can’t help but think about how Stephen Amell and Katie Cassidy never had a chemistry screen test pre-season 1 (a huge mistake, given how much they pushed them as being lovers), and I wonder if they failed to do it again with Caity Lotz. Sure, Caity was initially introduced as the ass-kicking Black Canary who happened to be Oliver’s ex-girlfriend’s believed-to-be-dead-but-not sister who was also his ex. (I swear, some of this show is far more complicated to explain than the soapie that I watch. Almost to the complexity of trying to explain Once Upon A Time’s family tree to an outsider.) Sara and Oliver were exes-turned-friends back then, so maybe the chemistry side of things was a sub thing that no one bothered about. But now? Can we honestly believe them as a couple? Do the writers really think we’re dumb enough to be fooled by that? I mean, two minutes of Felicity with Oliver can yield more sexual energy than 35 of Oliver with either Lance sister.
And the one thing that’s been bugging me of late is this – are we getting so much of Sara in our faces because the writers are building up to her dying? Stephen Amell (who, by the way, I trust his words way more than I do with any of the Executive Producers) has mentioned a few times that the foundry is getting crowded (a fact backed up this week by David Ramsay during his interviews), and that Roy and Sara are, in his eyes, ‘only visiting’. Someone’s gotta go. And the last three episodes, I’ve had my eyes squarely on Sara. I once liked her – I really did. But these last three episodes she’s really lost all her acting credibility. And Sara’s the last one to officially join the team. When it gets too crowded, it ought to be the ‘last to join, first to go’ rule. Who knows when they’re actually going to kick someone off the team.
Oh – one last thing. Can we please quit making it out like Oliver chose Sara? The truth isn’t that he picked Sara over Shado. What he did was dive in front of the gun, offering himself as the one to die. Why the hell can’t anyone see that?
Oliver vs. Deathstroke
Oliver got dropped to the B-story this week. And to be honest, it’s a nice break. We need a cooling off period in the show, especially since things have been heating up of late. And I see that episode 19, The Man Under The Hood, will be when things really start to amp up in the build-up to what must surely be a really epic season finale. So Suicide Squad and next week’s Birds of Prey come at a crucial time for us fans – they allow us to have some time where the high tension Oliver against his one-time mentor is put on the back-burner.
Therefore, we didn’t get a huge amount of progression with this storyline. Most of Oliver’s scenes were with Sara. But we did get some very interesting scenes – like the opening where Oliver went to the Bratva. I seriously can’t wait for them to tell us in full how he’s involved with them – even if I have to wait till next season, I don’t care. I just need it.
But the biggest ‘OMG’ moment in that part of the show was ultimately that final scene. Now, I’ll refrain from giving too much away – as I’m sure there’s some people reading this without having seen it – but there were a few massive bombshells dropped in that scene. One, Oliver has a connection to A.R.G.U.S that isn’t Diggle or Lyla; Two, I’m pretty sure we just got an answer to the mysterious red-shoed woman who was behind Fyers and co on the island in Season 1; and lastly, the name ‘Deathstroke’ was actually used in relation to Slade (as far as I know, it’s the first time in the show anyone has called Slade Deathstroke – and I’m not including all that stuff from season 1 where we thought he was Deathstroke but it was really his partner Billy Wintergreen).
Diggle and Felicity
Since Olicity was only in one scene this week, I thought I’d focus on these two. I’m a little disappointed we only saw the outside of Felicity’s home (the way the writers are giving us tiny little bits about Felicity’s backstory is despicable – especially when she’s been it longer than Sara, who seems to have been pushed to front-and-center with plenty of backstory shoved in our faces), but we did get her in her pjs. She was there to give Diggle a drink – mainly to point out to him that she’s fully aware of him watching over her.
It was a really good scene. I’d like to see a lot more of these two talking. Because that would at least get Felicity in the episodes a lot more than she is right now.
The Diggle side of the episode – both the flashbacks and present-day events – was brilliant. However, the episode lacked in quality through the Oliver/Sara/Laurel scenes, which is really really disappointing. Had that been handled better, the episode would’ve been outstanding (therefore one of my favorite episodes of this back half of the season). And its sad to see the standard starting to slip because of the mishandling of one key storyline.
I really miss the way things were in Season 1 and Season 2A. There’s been too big a shift in things of late. I honestly don’t mind Roy being part of the team — that was something I knew would happen sooner rather than later. But the Black Canary should’ve stayed on her own — worked alongside the team, rather than part of the team. That’s the biggest blunder in the show.
Next Week: Birds of Prey and beyond
Helena Bertenelli is back next week. And she’s a lot darker this time. Jessica De Gouw, the amazing Australian actress, is back too as the Huntress/Helena. What I’m not looking forward to – the fact that Laurel’s allowed to try Frank Bertenelli. What the hell? Wasn’t she disbarred? Or at least in the process of being disbarred? Also, from the promotional photos, looks like we’re set for another Lance sisters centric episode. Hopefully Helena proves that she’s better than the Lance sisters. And here’s to hoping Felicity and the original Team Arrow gets the spotlight. If not, bring on Deathstroke the following week – because that looks epic, and we’ve only just been given the promotional photos.
Even after that we’re set for a number of exciting things:
- The Man Under The Hood (ep 19) – will Quentin Lance finally learn the identity of the Arrow? We’ll also get to meet The Flash’s S.T.A.R Labs’ bioengineering expert Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) and mechanical engineering genius Cisco (Carlos Valdes).
- Seeing Red (ep 20) the originally planned The Flash back-door pilot, though it’s now possibly more about Roy.
- and the newly announced title for the 21st episode, City of Blood.