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Arrow Ep. 3.17 “Suicidal Tendencies” continues to be all over the place

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Arrow Season 3, Episode 17 “Suicidal Tendencies”
Written by Keto Shimizu
Directed by Jesse Warn
Airs Wednesdays at 8pm ET on The CW

Hey everyone, the Suicide Squad is back… to tell us an heartwrenching story about love, PTSD, and sacrifice? “Suicidal Tendencies” is an odd episode of Arrow, though one that benefits from one very important thing: the resurrection of John Diggle, whose been reserved to background fodder for most of the season while Ra’s wreaked mayhem and something happened in Hong Kong with some virus not named Mirakura (Alpha/Omega; but you get my point). And in an episode that mostly involves Laurel and Quentin bickering (yawn) and the increasingly grating arrowhead tip-shaped love triangle of Ray, Felicity, and Oliver went for another spin.

While everything in Starling City might be ridiculous, at least “Suicidal Tendencies” offers us the presence of one John Diggle, who is trying to reconcile being a father with being a trained military badass, a journey he gets to take with the Suicide Squad and his wife overseas, as they try to save a US senator that turns out to be a corrupt douche. If there’s anything that works in this story, it’s the two parents realizing the differences in working for Arrow and A.R.G.U.S., and how ultimately, neither of them make them prime candidates to be spouses or parents. It’s simplistic, sure, but Arrow works best in broad, well-defined strokes, and every conversation and shared glance between John and Lyla express this, right down to when they both decide to walk away from their jobs (something that I doubt will last, but makes for a nice emotional arc in the context of the episode).

The overlaying Deadshot story? Not so well-handled, a series of groan-worthy cliches (old military soldier goes PTSD, threatens his family with a gun “on accident” trying to convey what war is like) overladen with this unwarranted change of character by Deadshot from slimy survivor to pariah for the power of love, an utterly odd turn – though an obvious one, given how quickly Cupid gets obsessed with him (which itself makes for a lot of annoying one-off jokes in the episode), and how all of a sudden, Deadshot’s getting a back story no other villain (no, not even Deathstroke) has gotten. His number was written from square one: and given how we’ve seen him all of four or five episodes in the show’s run, it makes for a pretty obvious emotional ploy, one I think was unnecessary in selling the changes in perception from Diggle and Lyla’s point of view.

The rest of “Suicidal Tendencies”? Well, it gives us an Arrow vs. Arrow, Arrow, and Arrow fight scene – and not much else, unless Ray acting like an arrogant dick (out of nowhere), Oliver a jealous baby (pretty consistent), and another mayor getting attacked (murdered? who knows), begging the question as to why anyone wants to have any political power in this city at all. The bickering between Ray and Oliver, which literally adds nothing in the way of dramaitc or emotional stakes, (since we’re rehashing material that’s been rehashed for the last 10 episodes) continues until they suddenly decide to be buddies when Oliver shuts down A.T.O.M.’s gizmo suit, which apparently just works perfectly now, and Ray has perfect command of after a week), leading us to another speech where Felicity and Oliver explain to each other and us exactly how they feel, since all their actions are basically random at this point.

There are small pockets of “Suicidal Tendencies” I really enjoy  – Layla/John scenes, Laurel giving her dad (who is just annoying again) sideways face, Arsenal getting electrocuted – but this episode features the same problem much of the season has had, with superficial tensions and ever-shifting character behaviors and motivations turning the season into a mush of cyclical stories (this week… Laurel actually doesn’t kick butt or get her butt kicked, so there’s one that changes) centered on a romantic story I’m quickly losing interest in, a doubly disappointing turn given how it was one of the show’s lone brights spots in the early going.

 

— Randy


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