Tonight’s anticipated arrival of the Suicide Squad made for one fast-paced and thrilling hour of Arrow. True to the episode’s title and the nickname of the task force itself, not all of its members made it out alive (or at least we’re led to believe that anyway). The fan-favorite team-up from the DC comics allowed for a plot-driven episode that also let John Diggle (David Ramsey) stretch his legs a bit, while Oliver/Arrow (Stephen Amell) took a relative backseat on the action. And in a change of pace, rather than “Island Time”, we got “Desert Time”! Hit the jump for tonight’s recap.
Let’s take a look back six years ago where Diggle and Lyla Michaels (Audrey Marie Anderson) are part of a military unit escorting a group of civilians. One of them points out a high-value target in their midst: arms dealer and sex trader, Gholem Qadir (Lee Majdoub). When their escort comes under fire, Diggle saves Qadir by taking out the shooter, who turns out to be a kid. Qadir then proves to be a valuable asset to the U.S. military as he provides them with life-saving intelligence. It’s a good thing we got this backstory, not only to establish Diggle and Lyla’s relationship, but to introduce the life-debt between Diggle and Qadir.
Jumping into our current time, Diggle and his now-ex-wife Lyla meet up for a sexy-time rendezvous. Thank God, because Diggle’s been pretty snarky lately; he’s also had nothing to do of late but watch Ollie’s back. Now, with the arrival of A.R.G.U.S. head Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), Diggle’s playing babysitter for a bunch of criminals assigned to a new task force, the aforementioned Suicide Squad. We knew that Lyla, Diggle, and Waller would be overseeing Deadshot (Michael Rowe), Shrapnel (Sean Maher) and Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White), but who saw Harley Quinn coming?! Granted, she’s only listed as “Girl with Pigtails”, as played by Cassidy Alexa, but there’s no mistaking Mr. J’s sidekick. Moving on!
The suicide squad is tasked with retrieving a dangerous and deadly nerve toxin acquired by none other than Qadir, who is now a wealthy entrepreneur set up in the fictional nation of Markovia. Waller makes good on her threat early on as Deadshot takes out Tiger (seemingly) to establish Diggle’s cover story as a “bad guy”, and then also assassinates Shrapnel when he refuses to follow orders. (This one is probably a legit kill to show how expendable the squad members are, but there’s every possibility that Shrapnel figured out a way to survive since we didn’t actually see him die.) Though Diggle takes offense at the way A.R.G.U.S. is handling things (very reminiscent of S.H.I.E.L.D. here), he stays to see the mission through.
Bad move. When Deadshot finds a lab full of the nerve agent under Qadir’s house, Waller sends in the drones to take out the whole houseful of guests, Suicide Squad included. As the team evacuates everybody, the drone’s missiles home in on Deadshot’s implant, which Lyla quickly digs out of his neck with Tiger’s claws (obviously). Amidst all of this chaos and fast-paced action, there was actually some great character work between Diggle and Deadshot. They’re bitter adversaries, but they’ve saved each other’s lives a few times now and seem to have established some sort of working relationship. The inclusion of Deadshot’s daughter was a very nice touch. I hope to see more of the squad in the future, but it almost requires a full spin-off since there was so, so much packed into this episode alone.
And speaking of that, we haven’t even mentioned the show’s title character yet! Ollie is super broody in this episode, consumed with his quest to kill Slade (Manu Bennett), haunted by the death of Shado (Celina Jade), and preoccupied by his concern for his friends, especially Sara (Caity Lotz). In order to root out Slade, Ollie goes to the Russian Brotherhood with the aim of ferreting out any information he can get (and presumably keeping Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) out of the loop as much as possible?). This doesn’t go so well, as not only does the Brotherhood cut ties with him, but Slade is at least one step ahead of him, killing Alexei Leonov (Eugene Lipinski) and setting up a nostalgic projection of clips of Shado. This realization gets to Oliver eventually, and he confides in Sara, who suggests that they team up to take Slade on. Makes sense to me. But Ollie wants at least one more ally: Amanda Waller. Turns out she’s been tracking Slade, too, she just didn’t know it. She’s been referring to the mercenary who’s left a trail of bodies in his wake simply as Deathstroke.
This wasn’t the strongest outing for Ollie and crew (especially for the rest of the Queen family, which only makes the briefest of appearances in a silly TV news spot), but it was a great departure from the norm for Diggle and his Gang of Bad-Guy Buddies. I’d love to see more of the Suicide Squad in future episodes or in its own spin-off series, but as tightly plotted and paced as this show normally is, this episode was friggin’ exhausting!
Oliver: “His name is Slade Wilson. He’s rich, he’s Australian, and he’s missing an eye. I need to know where he sleeps.”
Diggle: “Nice jammies.” Creeper.
Deadshot: “This ain’t no task force. Let’s call it like it is. Welcome to the Suicide Squad.”
“Girl with Pigtails”: “Do you two need some counseling? I’m a trained therapist.”
Shrapnel: “I won’t be conscripted into your army.”
Sara: “If you had chosen differently, it’d be me haunting you at night.” Oliver: “It still could be.”
Diggle: “When we talk, we tend to get divorced.”
Sara: “Let him come. I’m not that girl he knew on the island. I’m not that easy to kill.”
Diggle: “There’s an incoming drone strike.” Deadshot: “Psh, how contemporary.”
Diggle: “Last night, the man who killed my brother showed more character than the woman charged with protecting the world. Good and bad aren’t so clear to me.”
Sara: “I thought you hated swimming.” Oliver: “I detest swimming! So does Thea.”
Waller: “We’ve been calling him Deathstroke.”
Watch a promo for next week’s episode of Arrow, “Birds of Prey”, in which the Huntress returns: