Arrow Season 2, Episode 16 “Suicide Squad”
Written by Keto Shimizu & Bryan Q. Miller
Directed by Larry Teng
Airs Wednesday nights at 8pm ET on The CW
It’s been a tough go for Diggle in season two of Arrow: with so many other interesting new characters with shiny costumes and big personalities to explore, the show’s most stoic character’s been mostly designated to the background, popping to the foreground in episodes like “Keep Your Enemies Closer” mostly as a plot device. There are some obligatory attempts to build out his back story – but again, those often seem to be in service of a larger, more intriguing plot. This is the case again in “Suicide Squad”, which features not one, but two fantastic story lines about powerful entities striking out on their own, but finding out that things go a little rougher when they’re alone. Yes, the great team-ups of season two continue in “Suicide Squad”, beginning with the titular squad, and ending with a very uneasy partnership between Amanda Loose Cannon Waller and Hell Bent Oliver Queen – and unfortunately, it leaves the emotional ‘team’ at the core of the episode (Diggle and his ex-wife/current lovah, Lyla Michaels) feeling underdeveloped, more of an afterthought than a centerpiece for the episode.
That being said, the broader strokes of “Suicide Squad” are thrilling – as an examination of various characters striking out on their own, it’s a fun little caper that punishes each and every character who attempts to. Of course, most didn’t have the same consequences as Shrapnel, but his demise underlies the core message of the episode: there’s no attacking problems in life alone, lest you want to send yourself on a suicide mission. Alone, characters in “Suicide Squad” face failure at every turn: Oliver in his hunt for Slade, Amanda and her mission to quietly retrieve the chemical agents, Diggle putting his ass on the line for a mission he didn’t quite understand… everyone in the episode puts themselves in danger when they try to handle things alone – and it’s only when other characters step in to smack some reality into them are they able to let their physical (and emotional) guards down.
Most people will point to Sarah and Oliver’s relationship “struggles” in the episode as the best example of this – but it’s really with Deadshot and Diggle that the episode finds the morally complicated center it wants to live in. Diggle feels empathy for the man who killed his brother, to the point he’s willing to talk him out of suicide, reminding him that while he might not be the guy there to hold his hand all the time, Deadshot does what he does for a reason (his daughter Zoey). He may sit alone in his cell, listening to the light humming of the detonator resting in his spinal structure (it was WAY too easy to remove that from his skull, by the way – Bronze Tiger’s claws are sharp, but c’mon!) – but he does the work to redeem himself in his daughter’s eyes, something that’s really hard to do when he’s in a million tiny pieces scattered across the lawn of some Starling City white guy with pockets full of cash.
Sarah and Oliver are a little more straightforward: his sudden need to push her away is not only contrived, but a bit condescending to a woman who has kicked some serious ass throughout the season (she took on the League of Fucking Assassins, dude – I think she’s good!). That being said, it allows both Oliver to display some emotional range, as a guy who resigns himself to asking for help on a mission he so desperately wants to solve alone (“It began with the two of us… it ends with us” he tells Sarah), and as a vehicle for the next step in The Great Redemption of Laurel Lance, who actually offers some helpful (yes… HELPFUL) advice to BOTH Sarah and Oliver, a character so muted and different than the one we’ve seen all season, it gave me whiplash. But, shit; as long as they continue rebuilding Laurel’s character in this new light, I can’t help but appreciate the abrupt turn of character – at the very least, it doesn’t make me want to run away from the television every time we get the obligatory introductory close-up of Laurel’s melodramatic face.
“Suicide Squad” is another great example of Arrow‘s talent at world building, blurring the lines further between hero and villain as Arrow prepares himself to kill again (well, kill the same man again.. but you get the point), and Amanda Waller sends murderous felons to loud, shrapnel-ridden deaths to complete dangerous missions. All it really needed – like most of the season – is more Diggle material – material not spent in a fake desert, talking ’bout “shoot a kid,win a medal” and faking an abrupt meet-and-greet/fake-assassination attempts for people he doesn’t really trust.
In other words, I’ll take a Diggle/Deadshot spinoff, please.
– holy fucking shit, that was Harley Quinn in the prison! For those unfamiliar, she fell in love with The Joker after being his therapist at Arkham Asylum.
– Diggle: “What, no marshmallows?”
– Felicity, to Arrow: “We’re still in the crime fighting business, right?”