Arrow Review: “Suicide Squad” (Season 2, Episode 16)

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Arrow has been building up the debut of the fan-favorite Suicide Squad all season long, and things finally came to fruition this week. We knew that following up an episode like last week’s “The Promise” would not be easy, and though “Suicide Squad” isn’t quite as good, it does succeed in fleshing out the Arrow/DC universe just a bit more, while finally giving Diggle something to do other than sit around the Arrow Cave looking confused at Felicity’s techno-jargon. So, with that in mind, the episode was a rather enjoyable one. The writers even managed to give it a reason for existing by tying it in nicely with the overarching Deathstroke story that we’re all anxiously waiting for.

That in itself was no easy feat, considering the very Diggle-centric episode featured only about five minutes of Oliver screentime. We open with our protagonist unable to sleep, haunted by the ghost of Shado and the ever-growing threat of Slade Wilson. He turns to the Bratva Brotherhood for help, demanding that they track Slade down, severing his ties with the organization in the process. I’m curious if that will have any consequences for the future, as they seemed to be a pretty good ally for Oliver to have when need be and not the kind of people you want to have as an enemy.

The writers handled Oliver’s stress brilliantly this week. What could have turned into melodramatic moments played out rather nicely, especially when it came to his relationship with Sara. His first instinct is to distance himself from her to keep her safe, but as she points out, Slade is gunning for her regardless of how close she is with Oliver. They did a great job of showing Oliver near his breaking point, worried about those he loves while desperately trying to find a way to stop Slade before things get bloody. Stephen Amell may not have been given much screentime this week, but he made every second count, even making the scenes with Laurel tolerable.

As I said before, this hour very much belongs to Diggle and frankly, it’s long past due. He was such a prominent figure in the first season, but as Oliver’s circle of trust widens and more people are brought into the fold, Diggle has been slowly pushed to the sidelines. We got one Diggle-heavy episode earlier this season, but apart from that he’s felt like a third, or even fourth wheel.

Early on we get a great scene between Felicity and Diggle that further cements their friendship, making it one of the most natural and enjoyable relationships on the show. He’s been keeping watch on her every morning, in case Deathstroke shows up to take her out, but after bringing him hot cocoa, she tells him to go home. Felicity may be the least physically trained or badass member of Team Arrow, but she’s certainly as brave as the others and level headed enough to know that if Deathstroke wants her dead, there’s not a lot that Diggle can do about it.

When things quickly shift focus and puts Diggle front and center, it never feels like filler and all happens rather smoothly. While Diggle meets (okay, sleeps with) his ex-wife, the two are confronted by Amanda Waller, who has an assignment for them. From there, he’s reluctantly teamed up with a group of villains we’ve seen a few times throughout the show: Deadshot (who killed Diggle’s brother), Bronze Tiger and Shrapnel. Their assignment has a bit of a James Bond/Mission Impossible feel to it as it’s a globetrotting mission where they must go undercover, infiltrate an enemy’s elaborate house party and destroy some kind of weapon.