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‘Arrow’ Review: ‘Suicide Squad’ Provides another Missed Opportunity to Connect the Characters

Cate Cameron/The CW

People often ask me why I still tune into Arrow every week when I have so many problems with the show.

The easy answer is there must be something wrong with me since I willingly sit down for an hour of television that leaves me frustrated more often than not. But the truth is this show has a lot of fantastic characters and when it’s good, it’s really good. At midseason, I had a hard time choosing my favorite episode because there were so many awesome ones.

So every week I keep coming back with the hope that maybe I will start to connect with the show again and it’ll recover from this downward spiral it’s been in since episode 11. Last night, I went into “Suicide Squad” with very low expectations. I’ve never been a fan of episodes that are heavy with comic book characters because I don’t read comics so the winks and nods and Easter eggs mean absolutely nothing to me.

And that’s okay. People watch TV for different reasons and I know some people get super excited about episodes like this one. But even though I wasn’t expecting much from the episode, other than a chance for Digg to finally get his moment in the spotlight, I still found myself side-eyeing the TV even more than usual. The episode was filled with characters that I don’t care about and the ones I do care about (Laurel, Felicity) had cameo appearances while others (Thea, Roy, Detective Lance, Moira) were nowhere to be found.

So my mind wandered quite a bit during most of the episode and that’s when I started reworking the episode in my head to make it more interesting. One of the minor plots was Digg parked outside Felicity’s house in the morning because he’s keeping her safe from Slade. He mentioned that Sara was keeping an eye on Laurel and Roy was protecting Thea. It was a cute scene with Digg and Felicity (one of the episode highlights) and I realized how much I would have loved to see Oliver meeting with Digg, Roy and Sara to discuss the best ways to keep watch over their loved ones.

Yes, the exposition covered it in less than a minute, but I signed onto this show because I want to watch the main cast interacting. We have yet to see the expanded Team Arrow in the cave all at once. Sure, it would be pretty crowded in there, but isn’t the point of being a team to actually be a team? Maybe while they’re down there plotting their protection time, Laurel is in the club upstairs with Thea wondering where Sara and Roy disappeared to and maybe sharing a moment since Laurel is on her path to recovery and Thea notices that everyone around her is acting stranger than usual. There needs to be more female friendships on TV in general, but definitely on this show.

But fine, maybe that’s a waste of time in an action packed episode. So let’s do this instead. Digg is doing his thing with the Suicide Squad and preparing to stop the nerve gas attack on the party. Why did the party have to be in another country in a house full of strangers? Maybe it could have been a fundraiser for Moira’s campaign. Laurel would be there to support her. Felicity would need to be there on account of Queen Industries. Oliver and Sara are dating so they’d go together. Maybe Detective Lance is on security duty because Queen family parties tend to end badly so Starling City police were proactive (okay, that’s a stretch since they’re the worst except for him. Maybe Moira invites him. Maybe she invites Slade too).

That would have raised the stakes considerably. Not only is Digg forced to work with villains that he doesn’t trust, but everyone he cares about and everyone they care about are suddenly in danger. And he can’t warn them because Waller wouldn’t allow it, but maybe he’d find a way to get Oliver involved. Or maybe Felicity would pick up on the tension. Or maybe Slade would introduce himself to Laurel and Sara would freak out and Oliver would spot one of the criminals he put away…

Do you see where I’m going with this? It’s not that hard to find believable ways for the cast and the guest stars to coexist. The action scenes last night were fun and I really loved that we got to learn more about Deadshot and the part where he and Digg almost sort of came to an understanding. I don’t want to take anything away from that or any of the other cool moments with the Suicide Squad. All I want is for the main cast to have a purpose as well.

Instead, we got Laurel having to prop her sister’s relationship with her ex-boyfriend. But at least Laurel got a few good digs in and played the AA honesty card. I also enjoyed seeing Felicity remind Oliver that they still had other people to help, even why he was solely focused on finding Slade. The Oliver/Sara relationship drama felt forced and unnecessary; especially since Sara has proved that she can handle herself. She was a member of the League of Assassins, Oliver. Let’s not treat her like a grandmother who needs help crossing the street.

So for me, this episode turned out to be another missed opportunity. Next week, the Huntress returns for another villain centric episode, but this one will heavily feature the Lance sisters instead of Digg. Maybe we’ll get more interaction with the other cast in that one, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

Now it’s your turn. Did you enjoy the episode? Are you happy when guest stars take over the show or do you miss seeing the main cast too? Which Suicide Squad member is your favorite (Mine is Deadshot)? Did you feel bad for Oliver and Sara when he was pushing her away? Is this foreshadowing that Slade is going to kill her since Sara says she’s hard to kill? Hit the comments and share your thoughts with us!

About the author

Mandy Treccia

Mandy Treccia has served as TVSource Magazine’s Executive Editor since 2016, formerly as Editorial Director from 2012-2016. She is an avid TV watcher and card carrying fan girl prone to sudden bursts of emotion, ranging from extreme excitement to blind rage during her favorite shows and has on more than once occasion considered having a paper bag on hand to get her through some tough TV moments. Her taste in TV tends to rival that of a thirteen-year-old girl, but she’s okay with that. Follow her on Twitter at @SourceMandy.

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  • Guest2014

    I agree with your comment regarding the overall show, it’s like what the heck happened? I did however like the Suicide Squad story and the Lyla/Diggle relationship, as well as Deadshot. I saw quite a but of growth in several of the characters there, too bad Felicity couldn’t have been a part of it, we might have learned even MORE about her too! :) We at least got a brownstone!

    As for the rest of the show, I sadly concur. It is in no way shape or form the show I loved from earlier. I am skipping Birds of Prey, may watch it later.

  • Guest2014

    It’s interesting, I read a comment elsewhere stating how it angered them when people criticized the show, that the focus was about being a vigilant and catching criminals! That it wasn’t about ROMANCE. LOL I was so tempted to ask if we were indeed watching the same show! The ONLY think that has been front and center for the past few episodes has been Oliver relationship with Sara LOL Speaking as a fan of the entire show and not as a shipper, the flavor of the show has altered COMPLETELY. It is no longer focused on Oliver and the soon-to-be hero Arrow, it is focused on two people that I really don’t care for while the two that I DO like are shoved to the back (except for Diggle this week YAY). I fell in love with an entirely different show during the first part of the season, this mid season stuff is something entirely different. Not a fan at all. It’s like revisiting S1 but this time we have BOTH sisters in the story and it is even LESS APPEALING.

  • Laurie

    I always love seeing Diggle in action and I was glad to see his character get some focus after being shoved to the background for far too long but… was it just me? Was it boring? I expect more from the Suicide Squad. I felt like they really didn’t “do” anything. I think the episode would have been stronger if they’d just let the entire hour be the Suicide Squad focus and not bothered with the Oliver parts of it. I’m not sure what changed since around the break but yeah it feels like all the character stuff I loved about Arrow has been forgotten about in favor of plot point stuff. It’s getting old. I miss the Team Arrow stuff that I used to love with Oliver, Felicity, Diggle, and even Quentin. I miss Moira. I get that the DC Universe is large and vast and there’s a billion winks and references you can make to amuse people who are in the know but that’s not why I tune in to Arrow every week. I tune in for the great stories of a great crime fighting team. Now the canvas of the show feels so crowded with “others” that the main characters barely get on the screen let alone stories, development, and focus. What the heck happened to you, Arrow? Come back!

  • Jess

    Agree 100%. I love the team element. I love Oliver, Diggle, Felicity, Moira, Thea, etc. What I don’t like is that it’s become the Sara show. I have so much Sara fatigue. She’s in the flashbacks, in more scenes than Oliver, etc. Her and Oliver together are not compelling and interesting because they are the SAME PERSON. They can’t give each other anything, and they can’t take anything away from each other. Arrow is a fantastic show but needs to get back to its roots with the core team spending time together in the Arrow cave.

  • MC23

    I agree with everything, but have to point out that his great love (which I don’t consider Rebekah to be that because his love for power is greater than the love he had/has for her) was gone a month and he was lonely.

  • Androu Ska

    I’m getting fed up with the show frankly. The
    whole Oliver Sara drama leaves me cold. No cold, pissed, bored. I hate this so
    much it distracted me from the actions scenes. I used to love Arrow so much but
    right now, I’m just about to give up because everything I loved about the show
    is being tossed aside. I can’t take much more of the Sara Lance show. Team
    Arrow used to care about each other and discuss things amongst them. That was
    the strength of the show. Now, the team is no longer. You have Felicity and
    Diggle that remains the one good thing about the show and then, you have a
    whole lot of mess. Next episode sounds as exciting as getting a root canal.
    Every week, I hope and pray that the show I used to love so much will be back
    but every week, I’m so disappointed. Give me more Felicity, more Diggle, more
    Thea, more Roy and Moira and Slade but please send Oliver and Sara back to the
    island…

  • Lucy

    The episode actually made me so sad. I am not a Laurel fan at all, but I suddenly feel sorry for her. Watching recovering alcoholic hang out in a bar in order to be a good sister to the woman who refuses to apologize for all the pain she’s caused while dating the man she betrayed said sister for is not my idea of good entertainment. I loved Deadshot and hope we see more of him, but he was the best part of Suicide Squad. Yes, we all get that Arrow will need the Suicide Squad to defeat Deathstroke in episode 23 and we needed to set it up, but I agree that there are a dozen ways it could have been done to integrate the story better with characters we love. I did not feel sorry for Sara for one second. I loved her in her first episodes as Canary, but I have not liked her since the big lunge in 2.14 – and the more I see, the less I like. I hope this fake romance (and I say fake because it has been so badly written) is a prelude to her leaving in some way or another. (Total aside…watching the set up between Cami & Marcel on TO made me think how much better Arrow could have been….instead of a lunge from no where, Oliver says, “I’m tired of being alone.” Sara’s says that she is too – then they embrace. Don’t get me started, however, on the fact that Marcel had been alone 10 minutes since the supposed great love of his life had been gone. Still the same set up would have made the Oliver-Sara thing work – especially if they followed it up in the next episode with their have a conversation of how they wanted to try and make it work. Instead, the Arrow writers like to assume that we get their intentions. I guess they don’t realize that if they don’t tell us, we don’t actually know it. Anyway, I was so looking forward to this episode and was so disappointed because I realized that this new Arrow is just not the show for me any more.

  • theapplefour

    There was elements that I really liked and others not so much. I agree there was so much wasted opportunity in tonight’s episode, and under utilization of the main cast of late, I really don’t know they afford to pay everyone. What is it with parties in big houses? Perhaps someone enjoys all the leftover party food and drinks, so keeps writing them into the plot line. We have had a fair few this season so far, I wonder how many more they cram into the remaining episodes.

    There has been so much foreshadowing of the death of Sara, I think in just about every episode there has been some mention of her not dying. There was the conversation tonight, the one with Sin after her reunion with Laurel, plus at least one other. If I was Sara Lance I’d be pretty scared. Personally I don’t care for the Sara and Oliver story line, however I don’t think it will last too much longer.

    For me, i’ve been hanging out for next weeks episode the Birds of Prey, let’s hope they do justice to the original story characters as well as tell an interesting 42mins of TV.