Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Arrow "Suicidal Tendencies" Review


Another very solid entry into the log of the CW's Arrow this week as we saw another split storyline between the (new) Suicide Squad and Oliver dealing with things in the city to take down a criminal obsessed with him. Honestly, he really has an issue with that. Although this time it was more of another superhero.

It really did feel like this episode was split in two and almost could have been one very different episode. It makes me hopeful that either the Suicide Squad will return more prominently in the next season of Arrow or be featured as sort of a "back-up" team to whatever Justice League forms in the upcoming new show featuring a bunch of new heroes and villains. Much like The Flash we saw some goofiness from our characters that has been sorely lacking in superhero live-action media, even in some of the Marvel movies where the jokes are written, not necessarily acted out. But I'm getting off topic.

I was sort of hoping that this episode wouldn't contain any flashbacks because, well, what would there be to flashback to if neither Oliver nor Diggle's stories related to what was happening? But, this week actually delivered one of the better flashbacks we've seen in the entire shows: the origins of Deadshot. Yes, there were very few of them but I thought they worked wonderfully. Michael Rowe did an excellent job handling his dismantling in the past to create the broken man we would later see. He did a great job of making us feel for him. He was just a man who wanted to be with his family but the fighting overseas inherently prevented him from the life he waned. It's something we've seen a lot of and is even something that Diggle has brought up more than once. I also felt bad for his family, and I can't say his wife overreacted on him since he did pull a gun on her in front of their infant daughter. It was a tragedy to behold.

Certainly one that carried over into the present. The material with Diggle and Lyla was fun, yeah, but it was all tied up nicely by the ever-growing character of Deadshot. If he weren't there it would have been just another mission for them. But Deadshot sort of whispering into Diggle's ear that if they wanted a family they couldn't keep doing this drove the episode forward. Not to mention that it hearkens back to the struggle Oliver and Felicity have been having all season (which was brought up yet again but in a much better way).

On an aside: Cupid's creepiness and her being seemingly aloof about everything but saving her lover was hilarious, and worked very well.

The wedding was short lived but getting to see our main characters plaster a smile on their face for more than about a minute was a nice touch. Plus, we got more bro moments between Oliver and Diggle, which is always a joy to see on the show. And hey, more Oliver and Laurel talking/ possible flirting/ they're totally gonna hook up aren't they...?

I wish we'd have gotten more with Amanda Waller because maybe she could answer the question burning in my mind: where the heck is Bronze Tiger? I don't recall him dying from the last episode featuring the Suicide Squad (Shrapnel took care of that nicely) and I think that the more the merrier in this situation. It's probably some behind the scenes thing or maybe the writers just forgot about him, but I just figure that logistically it would help to have a fifth, and experienced, member of the team. A minor issue I had was that when the Senator revealed himself as a selfish punk they were backed into a corner by only him but they were able to storm twice into the room and taken down all the guards? Talk about inconsistent.

Much like the last episode featuring the Suicide Squad mainly, this one had nothing at all to do with what was going on in Starling City. Again, it makes me want to see them have their own little miniseries but at the same time the fact that these two stories aren't crossing at all is probably for the best. It'd be too difficult to tie them both back into each other, especially when one is so personal and is exclusive to Starling City.

While the plot-based material with the Suicide Squad wasn't interesting, it was very good over in Starling City. It hit everything it needed to: it addressed the League impersonating Oliver twice (with a pretty decent cliffhanger at the end), it addressed Ray's suit, it addressed Felicity's relationship problems, and it even addressed Lance's continuing disdain for the Arrow.

There were some things here and there that felt a little rushed and as a long time fan who remembers the smallest of things, there were some moments where I twitched thinking of a slip-up made. For example, Laurel and Ray's talk in the precinct could all have been summed up with Laurel saying, "He took a lie-detector test about being the Arrow. He flatlined the whole thing." Boom. There is no better evidence than that. And from a realistic standpoint: how is Roy still alive taking a shock of lightning like that to the chest, and proceeding to crash into a metal fence with metal arrows on his back? And Oliver took a rocket-punch to the face but got up just fine.

Super-heroes, I guess.

The biggest gripe I have with the episode is with Ray. I'll talk about his character first. It was all over the place. It was the Ray Palmer from the 2009 miniseries "Cry for Justice." He ran around spewing, "JUSTICE!" without the first inclination about how to get proper justice. Apparently for him, justice is faking a 911 call (illegal), and beating the crap out of a guy whose never done him any wrong. In fact, Ray took over Oliver's company and stole his potential not really girlfriend. Oliver should be the one hunting him. Instead he has the most dangerous group of human beings hunting him, oh yay. Ray went from, "Yes, I shall take down the Arrow" to look downright psychotic to once again being buddies. The being buddies thing I don't have a problem with because Ray's a smart guy and he knows that when Oliver kicks you in the face and says you're lying he's probably not lying and you should believe the man dressed as a modern day Robin Hood with a (maybe) teenage sidekick in a world where people run through time.

Super-heroes, I guess.

The other issue I have with Ray is the obvious one: his suit. No, actually, not the suit. I like the suit. Not to crazy about the little windshield he's got going on but whatever. It's the abilities. Flight and lightning? Really?

It's not lightning but you get the point.

The armor is metal. He shoots energy from his hands. He is a billionaire with a powerful company and he can fly. Ray Palmer is Iron Man. WHY.

Ray Palmer is really a physicist. Ray Palmer is really a man with a suit that allows him to warp his shape. Ray Palmer is really a natural leader and a man quick on his feet to make (occasionally, in the hands of a good story) rational decisions. He is not Iron Man. He is not crazy (again, in the hands of a good story).

Yes, it looks cool. Yes, it provided for some pretty good special effects for a television show on the freaking CW. Yes, it was funny to see Oliver's reaction to the suit in action. But no, this is not the Atom. It's the A.T.O.M. which is, don't forget, spawned by O.M.A.C. designs.

My hope is that Ray will eventually steer away from this suit and go to the more traditional one. I don't know why he would do that, since he has expressed no interest in doing so, but I'm really hoping they leave this behind. It isn't Ray Palmer, and I have a tough time picturing the Atom as the man really on screen. Ray Palmer the businessman? He's a fine character, Brandon Routh is doing him some pretty good justice. Again, he had some moments, but the final scene in the episode and the end of the fight against the Arrow showed that the character is going to change to become a hero. Great. But, lose the lightning.

As for the fight itself? It was just what it needed to be. Roy didn't need to be there at all, so, he was useless. But Oliver finding the weakness in the suit and exploiting it, then proceeding to use his natural abilities of kicking people, was perfectly in character. The best part of the fight was the end, where Ray saw the error of his ways. Sure, that was a bit rushed, but it got the point across that Ray is going to help out the Arrow. Join Team Arrow? More like get his own show, but hey, he'll get to hang out with Firestorm and Caity Lotz, so whose the real winner?

I don't know, actually, Firestorm and Caity Lotz is a pretty good deal. Hmm.

I was a little confused as to Oliver's outburst that, again, he couldn't be a hero and a human being when being a hero requires one to be a human being with flaws, morals, and goals, but whatever. I get what they're saying and the point they are trying to make. Oliver's trying not to get anyone hurt. It was also a bit miffed (heh, funny word) when both Oliver and Ray expressed frustration toward Felicity about keeping the other's secret, and clearly Oliver forgot the golden rule about secret identities is to keep them secret, though in his case I do think Felicity should have spilled the beans so they could monitor Ray and prevent him from blasting God knows how many volts straight into Roy. Seriously dude, why was he there?

Diggle's proclamation that he's leaving Team Arrow also felt a little empty given that next episode Oliver, Roy, and Laurel are waging war with the cops, but I feel its foreshadowing for perhaps the season finale where he parts ways with the team. Or he is the character leaving the show in the upcoming episode Stephen Amell said was pretty brutal to film. "Broken Arrow" could mean "broken Team Arrow" because what's Team Arrow without Daddy Diggle, am I right?

Overall, like I said, a very solid episode. The Suicide Squad material was stringed together by the great flashbacks and character work of Deadshot (who can't be dead, I refuse to believe that, he probably went back to H.I.V.E. or something). The material in Starling City was at times frustrating but was overall better and advanced the plot. Hopefully the show is setting up a showdown between Oliver and Maseo, which would be a great tragic battle of two former brothers.

Final note: Oliver training with (I believe) a katana? Hopefully that's some real good foreshadowing.

Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @seanovan13 to stay up to date on when I post! Thanks for reading!

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