It’s rare that the wedding of two main characters in an episode is actually the least interesting, or the least pertinent, development in an episode, but that’s the way it was with the latest episode of Arrow. Now this was vintage Arrow, people! It had solid action, character development, dense plotting, and more than a couple of decent Easter Eggs. Specifically, it featured a long-awaited superhero face-off and some insightful background into one of the series long-time antagonists. But it was also a compelling story in its own right with a good twist in the A story, and a killer twist in the B.
It’s worth noting again that this season has suffered from a distinct lack of focus, which is why “Suicidal Tendencies” turned out to be such a wonderful treat, you can tell that on this one the writers had laser focus. Perhaps it was the inspiration nature of the Suicide Squad, a group that by its nature is a contradiction: bad guys trying to do selfless things for the greater good. In their new mission, the Squad encountered their inverse, a good guy trying to do bad things for his personal aggrandizement.
What was supposed to be a simple mission to rescue good guy Senator Joseph Cray, turned into a fuster cluck when its revealed that Cray hired a mercenary group to crash the opening of his own charity hospital in the Republic of Kasnia. Why? So that when he “deflated” the situation, and “rescued” the hostages, then his straight shot to the presidency would be assured. Interesting that this episode comes in the same week Senator Ted Cruz of Texas was the first one to officially throw his hat into the real like 2016 election race, but thankfully Cruz isn’t ambitious enough to set up his own hostage crisis. Ironically though, attendance was mandatory for the students at Liberty University that were there for his speech.
In the end, it shouldn’t have been that surprising that Cray turned out to have messed up ideals, his portrayer was Steven Culp who has definitely carved a niche for himself playing white collar pricks on The West Wing, Desperate Housewives and recently in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Reversely, Floyd Lawton turned into the episode’s hero, sacrificing himself so that Diggle and Lyla can get home to their daughter, something he can never do. Kudos to Michael Rowe for believably playing Deadshot’s attempted normalcy, even if some of those flashbacks were a bit like American Sniper redux.
Back in Starling, Oliver was dealing with the imposter who was killing people dressed in green. Call him Faux-Arrow, or call him Evil-Arrow, but as Maseo said channeling HYDRA, if you take down one, two more will take his place. Nice that Arrow cut out the guess work for the team and made it pretty obvious that the League of Assassins was trying to push Oliver into joining up. What good does it do for the League to have a reluctant leader who was coerced into taking over? I don’t know. It occurred to me today, couldn’t Oliver just accept leadership of the League and as soon as Ra’s al Ghul’s left the room say, “Go home everyone. League’s over. Peace out.”
But the showdown this week wasn’t between Arrow and the League, it was between Oliver and Ray. The Atom’s super-suit is now full-blown Iron Man ready, and Ray’s on a mission to bring the Arrow to justice because, you know, Oliver didn’t already need enough of a reason to hate him. Ray’s got the company, he’s got ambitions, he’s got a good guy reputation, he’s an on-demand minister, and he’s got Felicity. What he doesn’t have is Oliver’s code, and that seems to be what brings them into conflict.
The Atom’s suit, it turns out, is pretty loaded. Not only can it fly, but it has x-ray vision and facial recognition, which is how he’s able to see though a wall, a hood, and a mask and find out instantly that Oliver is the Arrow. Ray shares his insights with Felicity, figuring out that the reason she’s always flitting off so suddenly on mysterious errands is because she’s helping her good friend Oliver “The Arrow” Queen. So while Ray feels betrayed by Felicity for being the Arrow’s blonde I.T. sidekick, Oliver is pissed at Ray for eating his superhero cake and having Felicity at the same time.
It’s tough to tell who gets the emotional ringer worse. Oliver, at this point, is used to confronting his problems with anger and arrogance thinking that Ray can’t possibly know what he’s up against, and is woefully out of his depth with no knowledge of the real danger. Really though, he’s pissed that Ray can do what he can’t, be happy as Felicity remarked. It’s not like people with a dangerous professional lives can’t have a fulfilling personal life too, Diggle and Lyla prove that, but this is a rare case where both sides of the argument have a point. Yes, Oliver can’t be happy, but Ray doesn’t know how far out his depth he may be.
To wit, he doesn’t know how deep the bench Oliver has for support, including an assistant district attorney that moonlights as another masked vigilante. He didn’t see Nyssa this week, but we got the nod that she’s putting Laurel through her paces with “great enthusiasm,” and besides Laurel was busy with her day job, which included trying to talk Ray out of accusing Oliver as the Arrow. It’s not often you can punch the air in celebration where Laurel is concerned, but her letter of the law take down of Ray’s I.D. was pretty sweet since he could not be convinced of Oliver’s imposter issues.
I’m not sure what changed Ray’s mind, because Oliver had a very personal reason in not wanting Ray dead; Felicity wouldn’t be too pleased if a potential suitor whacked her current suitor after all. Still, it all came down to a fight between Atom and Arrow and Arsenal, and once again the Arrow effects team outdid themselves showing the Atom’s flight powers and that wacky Emperor Palpatine lightning. Poor Roy got fried by the Force lightning, not that anyone seemed to care as Oliver and Ray worked out their problems with words. Maybe he can claim Lightning Psychosis with workman’s comp.
Regardless, the hour ends with Ray now an affiliate of Team Arrow, at least willing to say that no, he understands there’s now an Arrow imposter out there. But any chance of calling back the dogs is probably lost now that Maseo has killed the Mayor. Being the Mayor of Starling City is a little like being the principal of Sunnydale High now, a job you definitely don’t want to have if your ambition is to live a nice long life. The more interesting implication isn’t the fact that Maseo killed the Mayor, it’s what will he do with Felicity now in his crosshairs? I doubt that he have to worry about Felicity’s mortality, but it should be interesting to consider the reasons why Maseo would not kill Felicity, is it because he doesn’t want to kill someone who means so much to Oliver, or would it strain credulity for Arrow to kill one of his known associates?
In the meantime, let’s lament the loss of Deadshot, but only in a temporary capacity. He’s too good to kill, and with the Hierarchy of International Vengeance and Extermination, AKA: H.I.V.E., now officially teased as the big bad for season four by showing how Lawton was recruited into the group, it’s only a matter of time till he comes back to answer the other linger question, why did Andy Diggle have to die? Oh no, John Diggle, the game’s not over for you…