Before we begin this week’s look at “Arrow,” let's take a moment to reflect on the time we live in -- a time when there’s a big-budget “Suicide Squad” film in production while a completely separate but awesome version appearing on television. Truly, it’s a Golden Age.
That said, good lord, is this week’s episode superb. First, you have a wedding, then a Suicide Squad mission and then a confrontation between two Justice League legends.
Let’s start with the wedding: It’s rare for a wedding on a series like “Arrow” to go off without a hitch, but that’s exactly what happens as Diggle and Lyla finally tied the knot. The most dramatic thing to occur during the ceremony is the meeting between Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak’s new beau Ray Palmer, which results in the best comedic line of the current season. When the protective Diggle meets Ray, he tells the businessman no one will ever find his body if he hurts Felicity.
As I said, the wedding goes off without a hitch, but not the honeymoon, as Amanda Waller sends Floyd Lawton to bring in the newlyweds for the latest Suicide Squad mission. Yes, a truncated version of the Squad is back with Diggle, Lyla, Deadshot and the newly recruited Cupid (no Bronze Tiger, boo) sent to rescue a U.S. senator captured by terrorists in a Balkan hotspot. The mission is secondary to the main focus of the episode, which is to illustrate that a quiet life of marriage can’t mix with a life of service, violence and action. That point is driven home by this week’s flashback, centering on the origin of Floyd Lawton. It’s a tale of heartbreak and brutality as we learn the future Deadshot returned from active military duty a broken man who couldn’t acclimate to a quiet life.
The mission has all of the trappings of a classic Suicide Squad assignment: betrayal, a twist and a high body count. After it becomes clear the entire operation was orchestrated by the scumbag senator to make him a hero in the eyes of voters, Diggle and Lyla realize they’re no longer willing to risk their lives on these missions. Instead, they have a newborn daughter to think about. Lawton sees their devotion to their child, and thinks about his own daughter. Through Diggle, Deadshot sees everything his life could have been if he were able to endure the horrors of war in the same manner the always rocksteady Diggle has.
We also see, via flashback, Lawton in prison being hired for his first kill by a member of HIVE, an old-school organization from DC comics that bedeviled Superman and the Teen Titans. In fact, Lawton’s first mission is to kill Diggle’s brother. It’s somewhat ironic, considering Lawton’s final act in the present (at least it seems that way) is to sacrifice his life so Diggle and Lyla can escape. This episode makes Lawton one of the most tragic and complex characters on DC TV; here’s hoping that Deadshot somehow survives the rooftop explosion so we can delve deeper into this magnificent character.
By the way, Cupid as a Squaddie is awesome and a way for “Arrow” to have a Harley Quinn-like character on the team. By episode’s end, Cupid has fallen in love with Lawton instead of Arrow and is distraught by the death of her new obsession.
All that action doesn’t mean things were quiet in Starling City. On the contrary, with Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassins masquerading as Oliver, life is getting just as hot for Team Arrow. The League continues its killing spree, and Oliver swears to get to the bottom of it. Sadly, while confronting three faux Arrows, Oliver is tracked down by Ray Palmer in his Iron Ma-um, I mean Atom suit. Using X-Ray tech, Ray discovered Oliver’s secret, and the drama is on.
But first, Ray had to deal with Felicity. After the Atom pours out his heart to his new lady love, he’s upset that Felicity didn’t confide her secrets to him. So he swears to bring down Oliver, legally, and takes his findings to Laurel Lance. Of course, Black Canary covers for Oliver and refuses to bring charges against him. Ray’s only recourse is to go the route of countless superhero team-ups and go toe-to-toe with the Arrow. After poor Roy gets sidelined by an electrical blast – I think that’s knockout No. 387 this season – the more experienced Oliver gets the best of Ray, shutting down his suit with a few well-placed arrows.
But then he allows the Atom to walk away, showing the neophyte hero Oliver’s true colors. The two part as sort-of friends and agree they will keep their relationship amicable for Felicity’s sake.
As “Suicidal Tendencies” ends, we’re left with Floyd Lawton dead, Lyla retiring from military duty, Diggle staying with Team Arrow, and Atom and Arrow as allies. It’s an alliance Oliver will need, as Maseo – disguised as Arrow – is shown assassinating the mayor of Starling City, and then setting his sights on Felicity.
It’s going to be a long week.