ARROW is All About Trust Issues

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Episode 317 “Suicidal Tendencies”

[Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW]

This episode is about trust. And the issues that come with it.

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The beginning of the episode launches our two story threads from a common point this week, so we’ll start there, as it’s one of those rare (for Arrow) happy times — John and Lyla’s wedding. Oliver is the best man. Felicity (sans glasses… more please) shows up with Ray. It’s a fun bit when Ray meets Diggle for the first time, as John tells Mr. Palmer “You hurt her, they’ll never find the body.” All buddies, right?

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Ray is one of those characters you either love or hate, depending on your point of view, which I think is the case for many of the characters on the show. Some of them probably aren’t quite sure what to think of him yet. He’s an usurper, but he’s also a very successful businessman who’s trying to help Starling City recover from so many burnings. So when the officiant for the wedding gets a last-minute deployment, Ray casually mentions that he just happens to be a minister (“long story”) and is able to step in. Which is one of those things that either makes Ray really cool because he can do so many different things, or it makes him super-annoying because he can do so many different things.

I’m starting to lean toward super-annoying. Mainly because scene after scene after scene convinces me this was supposed to be Ted Kord.

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This is also where Oliver gets his first hint that Laurel has a new trainer, as she shows up with her wrist in a cast.  And no one really has any time to react to that — or the fact that Felicity caught the bouquet — before everyone’s phones get the exact same multi-media text from the same news source (apparently there’s only one in Starling City…) with the headline that the Arrow has started killing again.

What does Oliver do? Sends John and Lyla on their honeymoon. Because even though he’s got absolutely no idea who he is himself, and his priorities are all out of whack for himself, he’s starting to understand that there has to be more to the vigilante act than just the vigilante act. Now, it’s a question of just how long before he realizes he can apply that to himself, but probably not before the season finale.

This is where our stories part ways, as John and Lyla get brought in for a Suicide Squad mission while Team Arrow tries to track down FauxArrow.

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Both of these threads are pretty extensive, on balance giving us plenty of material to chew on throughout the hour. It’s a new twist to see Floyd Lawton (Deadshot) get the flashback time this week, and it starts to fill in just how messed up he is and how he got there. But it also does some “let’s justify and redeem the villain” a bit, and that can sometimes get tired and overused. In this case, though, it’s handled well enough because it’s the setup to something bigger.

The Suicide Squad — John, Lyla, Deadshot, and Cupid — gets sent to Kasnia, where a U.S. senator has been kidnapped. Cupid is still obsessed with the Arrow, until Deadshot saves her life when the mission goes south. Then she’s all about Deadshot, her new love…

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See, the good senator set the whole thing up as a way to generate sympathy for the Rebellion in the Imperial Senate among constituents back home in the run-up to his presidential campaign.  So he’s hired mercenaries to act as terrorists. When Task Force X comes in to rescue the senator, he’s now got witnesses instead of hostages, and the Squad has to get them all out before the bombs blow up the hospital.

Deadshot actually gets a bit of an arc in this episode, and it’s ironic that he’s the one of the four who’s determined that the team will succeed so John and Lyla can get home to baby Sara. Lyla’s “What were we thinking?” is set at a perfect moment, as the two realize this is not something they can just cavalierly do anymore. But it ties in with Lawton’s flashbacks to his time trying to acclimate to civilian life while dealing with PTSD, which lands him in jail after pulling a gun on his wife in a fit of emotional confusion. This is where he’s first hired as an assassin. The target: Andy Diggle. The client: H.I.V.E.

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The fact that Deadshot sacrifices himself to save the rest of the team (although we never see a dead body) is another piece of the setup for a bigger thing, methinks. Deadshot’s connection to H.I.V.E. was a casual mention in one previous episode last year, and since then we haven’t really seen anything as a follow-up. Now it seems like Arrow is about to deliver H.I.V.E. front and center. What’s its connection to A.R.G.U.S.? How will it impact the Suicide Squad? Will we get a Suicide Squad spinoff?

Probably not, and now there’s a question of Lyla’s fate, since she’s resigned from A.R.G.U.S. Does that now make her a target?

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Meanwhile, the hunt for FauxArrow turns into a “A to B to C” plot for the week, as it serves to inform Team Arrow that the League of Assassins is in town to make things difficult for Oliver, and also to demonstrate just how much Maseo has drunk the Kool-Aid. He’s really into serving Ra’s Al Ghul, which makes me wonder just what happened to make him so dedicated to such an evil warlord. It has to be something with his kid. At this point, nothing else makes sense.

And while it’s fun to watch Oliver tangle with multiple archers in a knock down, drag out fight that actually doesn’t involve archery… (ahem), the scene only functions as a way for Iron Ray to use Felicity’s facial recognition software to learn the identity of the Arrow. And unlike Captain Lance, Ray is able to put two and two together and figure out the identity of Black Canary, as well. Because… well, clues. And stuff.

Lance has to know Oliver’s the Arrow. I mean, he has to at this point. Right?

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Ray’s knowledge of the Arrow’s identity makes him a threat to Team Arrow, especially after Ray figures out Felicity is still helping them. Despite her reassurances that Oliver’s not a killer (anymore), Ray sees him as a threat to the city. Which sends Felicity spiraling into the ArrowCave to announce Ray’s got it all figured out. Oliver: “When were you going to tell me this?”

Ray figures he’s got to confront the Arrow himself, since Assistant District Attorney Laurel Lance is giving him the brush-off. Of course, he figures since Laurel and Oliver were a thing at one point, and since she’s the Black Canary, she’s protecting the Arrow. So he uses a fake 911 call to lure Arrow and Arsenal to the docks, where they have a quick “heroes must fight!” scene that involves The Atom acting more like Iron Man than The Atom (I mean seriously… same sound effects and everything? Come on, show…)

Because of course the heroes have to fight. Pretty embarrassing for Ray, though, when Oliver takes out the suit’s power pack pretty quickly. And telling Ray, “I have nothing to prove to her (meaning Felicity), but you do. She chose you, so trust her.” is sure to send Team Olicity into a tizzy. Because it not only establishes a mutual connection between Oliver and Ray through Felicity, but it also shows Oliver acknowledging that he’s lost his chance to be with her.

And when Ray and Felicity kiss and make up, it hit me again just how much this character is not Ray Palmer. I’m so convinced it was supposed to be Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle, and that the writers have been forced to make the Atom character work within the confines of the plans they had for the Kord character. Which means at some point, we should have gotten an appearance by Booster Gold. Who was supposed to get his own show on Syfy.

That kind of cross-over is probably not possible now, but let’s not rule out the possible cross-over with Titans, especially since our last shot this hour was Maseo taking aim at Felicity’s back during a meeting with the mayor.

Oracle, anyone? It’s bound to happen sooner or later.

[Show web site at CW]     [Previous Recap: “The Offer”]

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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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