TV Show Review

TV Review: ARROW: Season 2, Episode 16: Suicide Squad [The CW]

Michael Jai-White Cynthia-Addai Robinson David Ramsey Audrey Marie Anderson Michael Rowe Arrow Suicide Squad

The CW’s Arrow Suicide Squad TV Show Review. Arrow: Season 2, Episode 16: ‘Suicide Squad,’ finally brought together DC comics’ answer to the Dirty Dozen; but I waited this long (the writing was on the wall, with the announced appearance of the second would-be member), I can get to that later. First things first, The Arrow (Stephen Amell) was determined to catch Slade (Manu Bennett) before the playful stage of his vengeance plan came to an end. Slade managed to keep well ahead of him, however; at one point, seeming to capitalize on some burnt bridges, left in Ollie’s wake after he hit up a Russian underworld connection for info. Between Slade’s handling of Oliver’s less than reliable contact, and a staged robbery, meant to lead Oliver to an unmistakable visual aid, the message seemed clear. Bad karma adds up to an eye for an eye. There were also bits involving the reconciled Lance girls, and the comeback trail to usefulness, for one of them – but watch how fast I blow past that —

Right, so for the main event, John Diggle (David Ramsey) was called away from Slade protection duty, to clock some quality time with Lyla Michaels (Audrey Marie Anderson), only to find Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) waiting for them outside their suite. A.R.G.U.S. had a WMD threat to shut down, but the particulars required Diggs, specifically. Lyla was thrown in, for good measure, but some extra talent was needed. Extra special talent; extra expendable talent; extra special talent made expendable by virtue of being less than virtuous.

Draw curtains (and a “hell, no” from Diggs), aaaaand… Suicide Squad.

– Well, technically, the team was officially designated Task Force X, but fans know better. So did the inaugural members. The line-up included Deadshot (Michael Rowe), Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White), and Shrapnel (Sean Maher). Shrapnel seemed like an odd choice. Clock King seemed an ideal candidate; but I suppose his skill set would’ve meant Waller sharing command & control – which would be unlikely.

The flashback element was devoted to Diggs’ time in Afghanistan, fighting alongside Ted Gaynor (Ben Browder), and the events surrounding his formal introduction to Lyla. It also served to carry the episode’s narrative of evolving values in order to keep up with changing realities.

I gave ‘Suicide Squad’ points for two delightfully subtle references. First up: the Ostrander hotel, where Diggs and Lyla first rendezvoused, and where Waller recruited them, was likely a nod to comic scribe – and Amanda Waller creator – John Ostrander. Second: when the Squad members where taken out of their cells, and presented to Diggs & Lyla, another inmate offered her services as someone with a psycho-therapist background. It would be no stretch of the imagination to figure this was a Harleen Quinzel cameo. The fact that the New 52 version of Harley Quinn has run with the Suicide Squad added a bit extra to the moment. It was also nice to see Ben Browder back in uniform (albeit with less of a regulation hair cut than usual).

I am still not sold on the New 52 ounce sized Amanda Waller. Sure, for Arrow she has displayed the ruthless efficiency of the classic version, but Cynthia Addai-Robinson just does not seem to project the same presence of the character, and the fault may lie with the revised character, herself. I imagine the current Waller had been trimmed down to present a more dynamic, hands-on ring leader – a field commander, instead of a puppet master – perhaps to draw a more direct parallel to Marvel’s Ultimate Nick Fury.

For the time being, however, pimp-coat Fury trumps action figure Waller, and Agent Coulson’s team beats the Squad. It was their first outing, though, and the turn-over/ attrition aspect of the Suicide Squad allows for the kind of character & story flexibility that a locked-in cast for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. won’t.

If it sounds like I may be ever so subtly lobbying for a Suicide Squad spin-off, I am. Sorry, Flash fans, but I think Justice League fever has prompted DC/ Warner to back the wrong horse, coming out of the Arrow stable.

As enjoyable as it was to see this first incarnation of the Squad finally come together, ‘Suicide Squad’ the episode was probably not the most carefully put together of Arrow‘s second season.

However dangerous Harley Quinn is (particularly in the 52 oz. serving), putting her – or any female inmate – in with the soon-to-be Squad members seemed to carry on the Dark Knight Rises trend of unisex supermax prison sentences. Still seems like a bad idea.

The weak link of the outfit made the story’s point, in being made an example of, but only highlighted the questionable judgement that went into putting him on the team. It was nice to see Deadshot’s death-wish on display, but after all that went into humanizing him – by way of his daughter – did it really take Diggs to remind him of her? Did it really take Deadshot to demonstrate the world of grey values to Diggs? There was file footage shown of the objective (the exact same scene was used for the infiltration), so why did they (with the possible exception of Waller) think it was man-portable? Predator drones are not stealthy. Waller’s end game meant violating the air space of an industrial nation, with a more sophisticated air defense than, say, Afghanistan; so I’d say the drone should have done more to expose the operation than Squad shenanigans. The fact that it seemed to be a particularly slow drone (firing even slower missiles) kinda ruined the climax, for me.

Finally, there was Deathstroke. When Oliver finally took his quest to Waller, his claim of Slade’s status was met with disbelief; but Waller did have a lead in the form of Slade’s costumed alter ego. If A.R.G.U.S. had been on top of him well enough to coin the name, then Waller should have already known Slade was alive. I imagine there aren’t too many people affiliated with the trademark mask of Slade’s old Special Forces outfit; fewer still with only one eye socket to that mask.

I suppose ‘Suicide Squad’ was more fanservice, than anything else. Even though it was basically a filler episode, fans not only got the Squad, but Deathstroke by name (the Teen Titans animated series never took that extra step, oddly enough). Maybe next time, more effort could go into the actual episode such service is applied to; but with the spotlight time given to the sometimes under utilized Diggs, it wasn’t all that diverting an episode, as fillers go.

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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