Arrow Season 2 Review “Suicide Squad”

It’s fascinating how our emotions influence and, in some cases, cloud our judgment. I’m not saying that’s inherently a bad thing, but it can be. It can also be extremely inconvenient. In this week’s Arrow, both Oliver and Diggle’s emotions led them to make some interesting choices.

Since learning of the Slade Wilson threat, Team Arrow has spread out to protect the ones they care about. Sara is keeping an eye on Laurel, Roy is looking out for Thea, and Dig is watching over Felicity. Oliver is trying to keep an eye on everyone while also hunting down Slade, but that’s much more difficult than it sounds. Slade is basically a ghost, and Oliver is going out of his mind trying to find him before anyone else gets hurt. Oliver is having nightmares about Shado, he’s not eating, and he’s pushing everyone he loves away in an effort to protect them. Sara tried to get Oliver to open up to her, but in true Oliver form, he told her that he had to deal with Slade on his own. Sara kept trying, and Oliver kept pushing her away. Oliver thought he had a solid lead on Slade, but once again Slade was a few steps ahead of him. Oliver finally went to Amanda Waller at ARGO to help him find Slade, and as it turns out, they’ve been tracking him but didn’t know it.

Oliver kept saying that he’s not afraid, but by the end of the episode he finally had to admit to Sara (and himself) that he’s terrified. He’s usually the guy with a plan, but he’s got no idea how to stop Slade. Slade has been planning his revenge for years, and Oliver is scrambling. He knows that Slade intends to make him suffer, but he doesn’t know what the next attack will be or when it will come. However, one thing Oliver should have learned by now is that he cannot, and should not, try to face Slade on his own. Sara made a point of telling Oliver that she’s not the same person she was on the island, but neither is Oliver. He’s got people that he cares about, and they care about him. He needs to realize that he didn’t just choose his team, his team chose him too. It’s scary to allow people you care about to step into harm’s way, but Dig, Felicity, Sara, and Roy all chose to stand with Oliver and he needs to respect their choice. He needs to let them help him face Slade. Besides, if they put their heads together I have a feeling that Team Arrow can not only figure out how to put Slade out of commission, but they could also become a seriously unstoppable force.

While Oliver was busy trying to track down Slade, ARGO recruited Diggle to help them locate and obtain a seriously deadly nerve toxin that a terrorist had acquired. Dig was willing to go in and get the weapon, but Amanda had other ideas. She wanted Dig to gain entry to the terrorist’s home so he could get his team past security. The only problem is that Dig’s “team” consisted of Deadshot, Bronze Tiger, and Crazy Guy Who Tried to Blow Up Starling City. Basically, they’re all people that Dig and Oliver sent to prison. Dig was, naturally, less than excited to be working with these people but he didn’t want the nerve toxin getting released on innocent people. The team, dubbed the suicide squad, wasn’t working for Amanda out of the goodness of their hearts though. Amanda had implanted an explosive device in each of their heads, and if they didn’t follow orders, she would summarily execute them. The team was able to locate the weapon, but the terrorist had manufactured an enormous quantity of it, so Amanda sent a drone to destroy the compound and the toxin. Problem is, the terrorist was hosting and party and hundreds of innocent people would be killed too. Not that Amanda cared. Dig did care though, and he was able to clear all the innocent people from the building. As he and his team were getting clear of the blast zone, the drone changed course and started following them because it was locked on to the GPS/explosive device implanted in Deadshot’s head. Lila removed the device, the drone detonated without killing any innocent people, and Amanda was furious that she had to figure out how to explain a drone attack in a no fly zone. Not that Dig cared.

I have enjoyed watching Dig’s evolution over the course of the series thus far. He has always been, to my mind, the moral center of the show. He’s got a very clear sense of right and wrong, and he’s constantly tried to help guide Oliver on his path to heroism. Dig is a hero in his own right though, and watching him attempt to navigate the gray areas of life has been interesting because Dig doesn’t really live in the gray. Or at least he didn’t until he started working with Oliver. I’d still say that for the most part there is a clear right and a clear wrong as far as Dig is concerned, but he’s beginning to accept that very rarely are people’s choices so uncomplicated. Working so closely with Deadshot helped him realize that. Let me be clear, Deadshot is not on my list of favorite people. He’s a killer for hire, and that makes him inherently untrustworthy. However, it seems that Deadshot has more honor than Diggle (or I) gave him credit for. Deadshot apparently has a daughter, and most of the money he makes goes to a trust fund for her. I don’t think Diggle ever would’ve considered Deadshot as anything more than a murderer if he hadn’t been forced to work with him. Finding out about Deadshot’s daughter and having to trust his life to him gave Diggle a different perspective. I’m not saying that Diggle forgives him for killing his brother nor do I think Diggle necessarily trusts him, but he at least can see Deadshot’s humanity now. I don’t know that this experience necessarily changes anything between the two of them, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. I have been lamenting that for most of this season, Diggle hasn’t been given nearly enough to do. I really enjoy the Oliver/Diggle bromance, and there hasn’t been nearly enough of it. But I like Dig as an individual character, and I’d also like to see some of the storylines hinted at toward the beginning of the season start to pay off for him. Finally, after months of little to no movement on any of Diggle’s storylines, we get a pretty Diggle-centric episode and it was excellent. More please!

One thing that kind of bothered me was how Lila and Amanda kept arguing that what Dig and Oliver do is no different than what ARGO is doing with the suicide squad. Dig countered that it is completely different, and I agree. Even before Oliver decided to try a different way, his first response wasn’t always to kill someone. He attempted to compel them to do the right thing first. It was only after giving them that opportunity that he would put an arrow in them if he had to. Even then, though, Diggle advocated for a better, less murderous way to operate. Furthermore, Diggle and Oliver never agreed to sacrifice the lives of innocent people to achieve their personal goals. Amanda knew before she sent the suicide squad in to retrieve the biological weapon that there was no way for them to get it out. She didn’t care anything about the innocent lives that were going to be lost because I suppose she reasoned to herself that the loss of a hundred to save a million is an acceptable loss. But it’s not. Especially not when there are other, better options available. Why wait until the terrorist is having a party to destroy the weapon? Why not use the party for recon and then destroy the weapon when the house is empty? Amanda and Lila can argue all they want that Team Arrow is no different than ARGO, but they’re mistaken.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable hour. Arrow accomplished something with “Suicide Squad” that can be disastrous if not done well. They told two separate, parallel stories that were both highly engaging and which both had important stakes in the overall story arc. Thankfully, Arrow got it right. The writing was tight and some of the pacing problems evident in some of the earlier episodes weren’t a problem here. I’m still not entirely sold on the Oliver/Sara relationship, but it’s not nearly as annoying as the Oliver/Laurel relationship so at least there’s that. I also liked how sparingly Laurel was used in this episode. It was much more effective and served the story much better. I am both excited and scared to see what Slade has planned next for Oliver. And am I nuts, or was that Harley Quinn in one of those holding cells at ARGO? So what did y’all think of this week’s Arrow?

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