As the title suggests, the focus of this week’s episode of Arrow is the Suicide Squad. A team of supervillains put together by Amanda Waller in the DC comic book world, here we see the group make their Arrow debut. In a variation of comic lore, this version of the Suicide Squad is similarly brought together by the show’s version of Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), with the team made up of Deadshot (Michael Rowe), Shrapnel (Sean Maher), Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White), Lyla Michaels (Audrey Marie Anderson) and, surprisingly, John Diggle (David Ramsey). As a result of Diggle’s involvement, Suicide Squad is certainly a very Diggle-centric episode of the show.
Whilst Diggle ends up enrolled in a Suicide Squad mission to take down a former member of the USA’s Most Wanted list that he has previous with, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) has other concerns. Now aware that Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett) is in Starling City and looking to make Ollie suffer in the worst ways possible, the Emerald Archer is just a tad on edge. Unable to sleep, keeping all of his closest allies at arm’s length, and finding it impossible to shake Slade from his mind, Oliver is doing his best to track down his former ‘brother’ and to get one step ahead of him in this revenge-driven game of cat and mouse. Despite exploring various avenues, Oliver is left stumped, frustrated and worried at his inability to find Slade and take him down before he can hurt anyone that Ollie holds close. In his desperation, we see some particularly great dialogue from Amell's Ollie during a tussle with the Russians that he occasionally leans on for assistance. This Oliver Queen ain't playin'.
As alluded to in the opening paragraph, this episode is very much about Diggle. In a rare moment, this episode actually utilises flashbacks of Diggle’s time in the US forces. Much like the island flashbacks have so often been key in exploring how the modern-day Oliver Queen came to be, these Diggle flashbacks give a brief glimpse at what made John Diggle the man that he is today. And in this present day, Digg finds himself heading up Task Force X on a mission to tackle an old acquaintance of Oliver’s right-hand man. As Deadshot labels them, this is very much the Suicide Squad, and it doesn’t take long for it to be made very clear that these characters are deemed expendable by Amanda Waller. For those of you who have been waiting to see the Suicide Squad make their long-awaited debut, there’s an absolutely brilliant cameo thrown in for good measures. The voice, the words that come out of her mouth and the briefest of brief shadowy looks… yes, that’s one Harley Quinn that we get treated to here, voiced by Tara Strong, who just so happens to have voiced the character for years in Batman: The Animated Series.
Of course, a world where Harleen Quinzel is Harley Queen as a member of the Suicide Squad means that it’s a world in which her puddin’, The Joker, exists. And where there’s The Joker, there has to be Batman. So that confirms, for the detail-driven amongst you, that Batman and the Arrow do very much exist in the same world here; a world that will shortly add The Flash to its ranks. Don’t get your hopes up too much, though, for the guys behind Arrow have already moved to play down that Harley Quinn was anything more than just a geek-exciting Easter Egg at this point. Here’s hoping that we get to see more of the sadistic, twisted, Mr. J-obsessed Harleen down the line.
Where Suicide Squad really excels is in the depth it gives to Floyd Lawton, aka Deadshot. As Diggle has to work alongside the man who killed his brother, the relationship between Digg and Deadshot becomes less hostile as we find out a little more about the master assassin's methods and backstory. On the Diggle character, David Ramsey does wonders leading the episode here. Even though Oliver’s time on screen is relatively short, Ramsey’s Diggle does enough to make you not notice the Emerald Archer’s relative absence. Diggle leading the Suicide Squad on their mission leads to moments befitting a team of superspies and master tacticians, all overseen by the manipulative, cold, calculated Waller. It feels like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. how it should be done, with elements of the James Bond and Borne thrown in.
All in all, Suicide Squad brings a great debut for the titular team, giving an impressive look into how these villains are being used as replaceable assets by a higher power, plus it’s shown what happens with these villains when they go into business for themselves. We also get to see some nice depth given to Deadshot; a character that grows more and more impressive and multi-layered with each appearance. But it’s David Ramsey’s Diggle that is the star of the show, which once again demonstrates how Arrow has done wonders in amassing and developing a whole host of fantastic supporting characters to Amell’s Oliver Queen. And yes, Deathstroke is now firmly upon us in Starling City.
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