Arrow season 2 episode 16 review: Suicide Squad

Review Caroline Preece 21 Mar 2014 - 06:59

The Suicide Squad assembles in this week's episode of Arrow. Here's Caroline's review...

This review contains spoilers.

2.16 Suicide Squad

Short of a Justice League episode of Arrow, which feels extremely unlikely even when the promise of The Flash is dangling in front of us, an entire hour dedicated to another superteam, the Suicide Squad, deserves all of the anticipation and fanfare this episode got. There’s something about a team that’s different and more exciting than following a single hero – which is why we’re so excited by the ever-expanding Team Arrow this season – so, even if that meant taking a brief hiatus from whatever’s going on with Slade and Oliver for a spell, I was totally on board from the start. As a bonus, we also got to focus on Diggle for more than one scene this week.

When we all saw the promotional photo for this episode, the immediate question was why Diggle was associating with a team of previously established villains, mortal enemy Deadshot included, and that was quickly explained in the episode. Amanda Waller’s A.R.G.U.S. squad of incarcerated supervillains are hired out on suicide missions on which Diggle is invited to join in on and, accompanied by ex-wife and rekindled flame Lyla, he’s forced to examine the grey area that he might not want to imagine exists in his own code just as much. It’s been a while since we saw Diggle struggling with this moral dilemma, but its back in force here.

With Oliver making a concerted effort to morph from vigilante to hero this season, that murky moral code so prevalent in season one has been left behind somewhat but, despite all of the changes that have gone on in the Arrow Cave since Oliver and Diggle first teamed up, they still did what they did in the beginning. Diggle justified his actions by being the one to keep a PTSD-suffering Ollie from going off the deep end entirely but, since their friendship was fractured by the Deadshot issue, it feels as if Diggle has just been standing around in the background a lot, not getting involved. In other words, we desperately needed Suicide Squad for his sake.

Aside from the very welcome element of Diggle being front and centre, this episode was a treat for comic book fans. There was obviously the Suicide Squad and Amanda Waller, which have been an untapped resource for fun all season, but also the Deadshot sighting and Harley Quinn cameo foreshadowing more goodies to come. Ahead of the backdoor pilot for The Flash in a few weeks, Suicide Squad even kind of operated as its own standalone episode, and gave us a nice little break from Oliver’s adventures to focus on another part of this rapidly developing world. With the tease that Oliver and Waller share a history, too, we haven’t seen the last of these guys on Arrow.

All of this leaves Oliver and Sarah relegated to B-story status for a change, and that allows their scenes to be more contemplative than would usually be allowed. We don’t really have time to deal with Slade (though we do get a glimpse of Deathstroke in costume!) with everything else going on, and that gives the show time to show us Oliver’s panic and drudged up guilt over Shado’s death and Slade’s revenge mission. He is a more formidable foe than Oliver has ever had to deal with before, and he knows it. Seeing him push Sara away and go into distant mode might not have been particularly original or essential to the overall arc, but it was a nice breather from the incoming mayhem nonetheless.

Slade’s cruel goading of Oliver showed how he is just as much of a psychological terror for our hero as he is a physical one and, while an enhanced Roy and a reliable team of sidekicks might be able to help with the latter, he really needs Sara to keep his head straight. She’s the only one who knows Slade, and Oliver’s complicated relationship with him, first-hand, and it’s that knowledge and understanding that makes Sara such an important and essential part of the show. At this point, to be honest, I don’t really know what we’d do without her, which probably means she’s going to die in the near future. See you next week for a Birds of Prey-centric episode, which features the return of The Huntress.

Read Caroline's review of the previous episode, The Promise, here.

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