Wow. David Ramsey sure can lead Arrow when given the chance. For the second time this season, John Diggle was under the spotlight as the “freelancer” brought it to lead a new ARGUS squad on a dangerous mission. After weeks of familial melodrama and bad performances, this week kicked it up a notch. Easily one of my favorite episodes of the season, ‘Suicide Squad’ could have been a backdoor pilot for an incredible TV series of its own.
And with another comic book-influenced episode lined up for next week, Arrow is starting into a nice stride as we shoot toward the season finale in mid-May.
1. What is it?
Arrow Season 2, Episode #216, titled ‘Suicide Squad.’
2. Who’s in it?
Stephen Amell stars as Oliver Queen/Arrow; Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance; David Ramsey as John Diggle; Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak; Willa Holland as Thea Queen; Susanna Thompson as Moira Queen; Guest stars this week include Michael Jai White as Bronze Tiger; Ben Browder as Ted Gaynor; Caity Lotz as Sara; Audrey Marie Anderson as Lyla Michaels; Cynthia Addai-Robinson as Amanda Waller; Sean Maher as Shrapnel; Eugene Lipinski as Alexi Leonov; Lee Majdoub as Gholem Qadir; Celina Jade as Shado; and Tara Strong as the voice of the Deranged Squad Female.
3. Who made it?
‘Suicide Squad’ was written by Keto Shimizu & Bryan Q. Miller. The episode was directed by Larry Teng.
4. What is it about? (**spoilers galore**)
‘Suicide Squad’ is the second episode this season to feature John Diggle (Ramsey) in the lead. The episode opens with Diggle casing Felicity’s (Rickards) neighborhood trying to keep a protective eye on her with Slade Wilson on the loose. Felicity tells him she can handle herself and then Digg gets a mysterious text that tells him to meet at the Ostrander Hotel.
Once there, he hooks up with Lyla Michaels (Anderson), his ex-wife and now girlfriend. Once together, they are both called into ARGUS by Amanda Waller (Addai-Robinson) for an urgent briefing.
Waller has a mission lined up that requires Diggle’s expertise. He is to lead a new squad of convicts and criminals–affectionately known as “The Suicide Squad”–in a secret op to secure a deadly nerve agent held by a known terrorist Gholem Qadir (Majdoub), for whom Diggle once apprehended and then saved back in Afghanistan.
This leads to an interesting flashback sequence that calls back Ted Gaynor (Browder), who we met last season as the head of the corrupt Blackhawk Security, as Diggle and Gaynor meet Michaels during a village evacuation in Afghanistan. During the evac, Lyla figures out one of the refugees is Qadir, a wanted High Value Target.
Back in real time Diggle meets his unit. The Squad–made up of Bronze Tiger (White), Floyd “Deadshot” Lawton (Rowe), Shrapnel (Maher) and Michaels–must first gain Qadir’s trust and then infiltrate and steal back the deadly biohazard.
Diggle and team fake an assassination attempt, with Diggle once again saving Qadir’s life. In the chaos, Shrapnel tries to escape and his head blows up, as Waller controls the squad by threatening their lives. Diggle doesn’t like it, but stays with the group until the mission is over.
Diggle and Floyd Lawton have a moment where Diggle learns of Lawton’s daughter, Zoe, and discovers Lawton’s entire motivation centers around the young girl. Digg starts to see the man who killed his brother in a different light.
His act of valor with Qadir gets him invited to a private party at the terrorist’s estate in Markovia. Deadshot uses Diggle’s thumbprint to gain entrance while Digg gets past security by using Lyla as his unregistered guest. Deadshot locates the target substance but realizes that it is too big to just “pocket.”
Waller calls in a drone strike and Diggle works to evacuate the party guests and to save the Squad. He forces Lawton to escape with him–by using Zoe as motivation–and as they flee, the drone gives chase. Lawton realizes that his head bomb is also a tracking device and that was what the drone was targeting. Michaels quickly cuts out the bomb and tosses it onto the road and the drone blows up a section of Markovia’s roadways.
Back at ARGUS, Waller is furious that Diggle went off the mission parameters, and decides to plant the controlling bombs deeper into the squad members and Diggle asks that she not use him again.
He and Lyla have a moment and decide to keep seeing each other.
The side story this week was actually Ollie’s story, as he began to track down Slade Wilson in hopes of preemptively taking out his rival before Slade can fulfill his promise.
Ollie reaches out to Alexi (Lipinski) on hopes that the Russian can lead him to Slade’s bank accounts. Alexi wishes for a favor in return, but Oliver refuses. Alexi reluctantly gets the info–after Ollie is forced to flex his muscles a bit, and the Russian tells our hero to never come to him again.
Ollie and Felicity track down the last known address in Starling City for Slade Wilson, and Arrow pays the location a visit, only to find Alexi with an arrow in his eye.
Sara (Lotz) is worried about Ollie as he conducts his investigation, and to protect her, Ollie tells her to back off. At the end, he comes around–with a nudge from a sober Laurel (Cassidy)–and reconciles with Sara. The episode ends with Arrow visiting ARGUS and Amanda Waller revealing a “new player” in Starling City, a dangerous mercenary who calls himself Deathstroke. When she shows Arrow the only known picture of the merc, Ollie recognizes him as Slade.
5. Any revelations, tie-ins, easter eggs, etc.? (**SPOILER!**)
The Ostrander Hotel is homage to John Ostrander, the original creator of the comic book, ‘Suicide Squad;’ mentions of Kandaq and Markovia; and of course, the “deranged squad female” mentioning her background as a psychologist.
6. Will we watch next week?
Yes. After this very strong episode, Warner Bros. and the CW needs to consider a Suicide Squad spin off. I love the dynamic of the team, and I really loved how they got rid of the odd man out in Shrapnel. With so many other characters to bring in–including Harley Quinn–a Suicide Squad series would be a perfect counter to Arrow and the upcoming Flash.
Next week’s episode, called ‘Birds of Prey,’ brings back Helena Bertinelli and her alter ego, The Huntress. With The Huntress and Canary fighting together–and against each other–this will be another callback to the comic books. If Barbara Gordon appears in any way, I may pass out from the sheer power of the nerdgasm.