This Arrow review contains spoilers.
“If you hurt her, they’ll never find your body.”
With that line, this week’s episode of Arrow peaked, never to return. “Suicidal Tendencies” wasn’t particularly memorable, despite opening on the wedding of a beloved character who has been with the show from the start. You’d think that, combined with the presence of, y’know, the Suicide Squad and a fully functional ATOM suit would make this one special.
I’ve been praising Arrow repeatedly in recent weeks for its sudden, well, I wouldn’t quite call it fearlessness, but it’s willingness to go against expectations and tell more its stories at a more “adult” pace. That isn’t to say that the show has gone up its own behind with “grown-up” pretensions or anything like that, but it’s almost resembled a cable drama a few times this season, and I thought it was ready to really take some chances.
It would appear that I was wrong.
As we’ve carried on through Arrow season three, things have been uneven. By this time last year, the show was locked into a real groove and I couldn’t believe the pace it had to maintain through that home stretch. Season three took awhile to get going, has hit some real home runs, but has mostly spent episode after episode studiously restoring a season one status quo. It’s not only frustrating, it’s ridiculous.
The fact that Ra’s al Ghul, one of the most badass villains in badass villaindom, has resorted to dressing up like his enemy to turn the public against him is such an inexcusably lazy piece of writing that it almost undoes all the good work Matt Nable has done with the character, and all of the interesting little tweaks we’ve seen to the Ra’s legend. For real, Arrow? You bring in one of the most memorable supervillains of the last forty years and this is his grand plan? Get the hell out of here with that nonsense.
Ray Palmer came off like he was legitimately unhinged this week. His sudden/immediate crusade against the Arrow felt out of character, his absolute disregard for Felicity (and the potential ramifications of a talk like that) were similarly out of left field, and it looked like Brandon Routh was suffering from a case of conjunctivitis in a few scenes, which added to his manic look. Nothing that Ray has done all season long seemed to warrant this kind of half-cocked stupidity, and it was all done in order to set up a cheap “hero fights hero” sequence.
Well, at least that “hero vs. hero” sequence looked damn good. I’m really impressed with how the ATOM suit functions. The flying effects were good (if not spectacular), and I like the general aesthetic. But it’s going to take me awhile before I can really accept the Atom in his current form as anything other than a bargain basement Iron Man. You guys had a chance to beat Marvel to the punch with a shrinking hero, which I understand makes for a less dynamic visual and fewer opportunities for stupid hero fights, but, I dunno. I like it well enough, I guess. I just don’t love it.
Really, though…”Suicidal Tendencies” wasn’t very good. It was just a series of inconsequential half-stories. Could that Suicide Squad mission have been any less exciting? Did they spend the entire budget on the ATOM suit this week? Because the Suicide Squad showdown in a cafeteria really didn’t cut it. The fact that they apparently just stormed back in the same door they went in the first time just makes everyone on both sides of the conflict (and both sides of the camera) look foolish.
The ending, where ol’ Douchebag Lance (remember him from season one before he got replaced by ol’ Loveable Lance?) gets to “witness” an “Arrow” murder. I feel like I’ve seen all of this before, and I don’t particularly care how it resolves. It’s like this wasn’t even the same series that we’ve been watching in the previous two episodes.
Meanwhile…On a…no, wait a minute!
I’m really happy that we finally got some more background on Floyd Lawton/Deadshot. I’m not at all happy that they went about this the way they did. If you’re looking to humanize this character, then a sum total of five minutes of flashbacks aren’t enough. And when you’re using those five minutes of flashback to illustrate that this character is suffering from severe PTSD, it comes off as flippant.
Good on the show for drawing attention to the Wounded Warrior Project at the end. They do good work and deserve our support. Learn more about them here.
DC Universe Watchtower
– I have to call shenanigans on the inclusion of the Suicide Squad this week. We all know damn well that Deadshot didn’t die tonight, which means we just got cheated out of a Suicide Squad death. It’s not a Suicide Squad story if at LEAST one participant doesn’t die. That someone really, really needs to be the genuinely offensive Cupid. The continued threat of another Cupid appearance is going to cast a long shadow over this season. “I think I do wanna die,” Deadshot quipped. Yes…I feel about the same way every time Cupid shows up.
– Holy moley! They introduced HIVE this week! This is exciting. This almost certainly won’t pay off in any appreciable form until season four, but HIVE were always among the more technologically flashy super-secret organizations in the DC Universe. They rose to prominence during Marv Wolfman’s often forgotten early ’80s pre-Crisis run on Superman in Action Comics.
– Joseph Cray, the irritatingly stupid politician talking about his Presidential ambitions on what I presume is an open channel, is a character who has popped up a few times in Suicide Squad history. He’s about as exciting as he seemed here.
– To the best of my knowledge, and what a cursory Google search yields, the nation of Kasnia has only ever appeared in the DC Animated Universe, showing up on episodes of Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, and Justice League Unlimited. I may need to watch an episode of one of those to wash the taste of tonight’s mediocrity out of my mouth.
– Ray and Ollie fight at the Meltzer Power Plant. Brad Meltzer has written some Justice League stories, notably the not as good as you’ve heard it is Identity Crisis, a story that at least put both Green Arrow and the Atom at the center of the story. He also did a nice run on the Justice League ongoing series where he put Roy Harper in the spotlight, too.