ARROW Goes Public With Action! And Not Much Else…

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Episode 318 “Public Enemy”

[Photos: Diyah Pera/The CW]

Oh, I think this show just jumped over a nuclear-powered refrigerator full of sharks.

Action sets are great, but you can’t put them in just to distract away from how much of a mess the script has become. And this episode, while so many people were saying how great it was, really … wasn’t.

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To be honest, I’ve been putting this off and finding all sorts of other things to do — besides the freelance day job finally giving me something to do — because I was underwhelmed with this one. Like so many of this season’s episodes, it keeps giving us the identity crisis of the week for Oliver, and just spins out into lazy crazy sometimes. I know the tone is different than the one on The Flash, but sometimes it’s hard to believe these two shows are being done by the same team. Arrow has just gotten too angsty this season.

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Besides that, pulling Diggle out of the field and sidelining him because he’s now in a family way is almost as destructive to the show’s main narrative as giving Felicity relationship complications and putting her in the role of scorned lover (although that looks to be changing next ep…).

This hour gives us more of a descent down into the prediction Ra’s Al Ghul made: that Oliver would become Public Enemy #1 in his home city. Captain Lance, still angry that his daughter lied to him, spends a lot of time chasing Team Arrow through warehouses and over rooftops while Team Arrow tries to stop the League of Assassins from killing any more bad guys.

Got that?

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Lance also gets his chance to come face to face with Ra’s, who surprises the good captain with the offer to help. Even tells Lance the identity of the Arrow.

Now, at this point in our narrative, I’m really questioning the show runners, the writers, and Paul Blackthorne for letting them do this to the character he plays. This is a detective Captain with years of investigative experience, whose two daughters have both taken up vigilantism, whose two daughters have both been involved with Oliver Queen. This is a guy who already knows Roy’s identity, already knows Queen Consolidated tech guru Felicity Smoak is a “known associate”. Lance has seen all of these people in the vicinity of Oliver Queen’s nightclub. You’re trying to convince me that Lance hasn’t been able to put two and two together to come up with Oliver Queen?

Granted, the show even acknowledges that when Lance was convinced this was the case back in season one, Oliver was able to convince him otherwise. But let’s be real here. I know plenty of people who are capable of reassessing their original conclusions in the face of new information.

This was Hand of the Writer.

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The other HOTW moment was shooting Ray in the chest with an arrow so he could go to the hospital, where the doctor refuses to try Ray’s experimental nanites to keep Ray from having an aneurism. First, it’s not illegal for them to use an experimental treatment. (I don’t think. If you know different, please enlighten me.) Second, is that the only hospital for miles and miles and miles? This is just to get Iron Ray switched over to Nanite Ray — with Girl Friday Felicity (who should have taken that arrow in the back) giving the nanite injection herself to save Ray. Which is going to give Ray the power to shrink somehow. Just watch.

Oh. And he says “I love you.” She doesn’t say it back.

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Mama Smoak returns this episode, as well. Nice to see her. Nice to see her flirting with the doc to distract him. Because she’d distract most red-blooded men, I’m sure. Because she’s Mama Smoak. That apple didn’t fall too far from the tree…

Mama Smoak figures out Felicity still has the hots for Oliver, which puts Felicity in a quandary since Oliver’s already blown off the relationship as unworkable. Remember when he told Barry Allen “Good guys like us don’t get the girl.” over on The Flash cross-over?

(The same Barry Allen who married Iris in the comics and they had a relatively happy marriage. The same Barry Allen whose nephew Wally West married Linda Park and had kids and a pretty stable home life. Oh, wait. Not this show.)

Lance issues an arrest warrant for Oliver Queen, and he turns himself in on the condition that Team Arrow gets a pass. Then Team Arrow comes in to tell Oliver he doesn’t have the right to do what he’s doing. He’s wrong to surrender. And some other ABC Afterschool Special stuff.

On the way to … somewhere … Lance and Ollie have a heart-to-heart, and this is really the only well-crafted scene this week: Lance anguishing over the fact that his love for his daughter blinded him to the fact that he was aiding and abetting a vigilante with a track record of killing bad guys. “You’ve made me an accomplice. You’ve made everyone criminals. You’re not a hero. You’re a villain.” And that’s the setup to put Oliver at Nanda Parbat to take on the mantle of  Al Sa-him, Warith Al Ghul, heir to the demon.

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Because now Oliver has to break Roy out of jail. Because Red Arrow turned himself in (“I am Spartacus!”) as the real forREALZ Arrow in green. Because Lance is gonna buy that Roy’s been switching back and forth from red to green like a Christmas decoration, right? (Although we did get some decent character moments between Roy and Thea this outing…)

Lance did have a good line concerning Oliver: “Oliver Queen. The Arrow. Either way, same guy.” Which is what the writers need to let Oliver figure out so we can get past this season.

Flashback City gives us the explanation of how Shado can be in Hong Kong after she died on the island: it’s — surprise! — her twin sister! Who figures out Oliver knew Shado, because he’s got the same tattoo on his back that she had. Oliver admits the truth just before ARGUS shoots up the place. So… action sequence covers that scene, too.

Your mileage may vary, but I was pretty disappointed this time.

[Show web site at CW]     [Previous Recap: “Suicidal Tendencies”]

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Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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