‘Arrow’ Season 3 Recap, Episode 17: ‘Suicidal Tendencies’
The CW’s superhero series Arrow re-imagines Green Arrow for a TV audience as a tough, often ruthless vigilante bent on setting things right in his home of Starling City by punishing the wicked. ComicsAlliance’s Matt Wilson is back for the third season of the popular series in our recap feature we’re officially dubbing Pointed Commentary.
This week: No one sings the classic Suicidal Tendencies song "Institutionalized," but there is a guy in an Iron Man costume. Also, Deadshot gets a moment to shine, and the newly married Dig and Harbinger go on a mission full of twists.
This week's episode kicks off with the wedding of John "Dig" Diggle and Lyla "Harbinger" Michaels, and let me tell you, it's an awkward affair.
First off, Ollie jumps right into making everything about himself, asking Dig, the groom, who's got other things to worry about, if there'll be a photographer taking pictures. Dig says there will, but reassures Ollie that they'll just Photoshop him in later. Ollie is coming out of the gate being terrible.
Dig gets a call from Harbinger telling him the officiant had to bow out of the ceremony because he's been deployed to South Sudan. It just so happens that at that moment, Smoak and Palmer walk in, and Palmer, who happens to be a minister for some reason, volunteers for the job.
He's terrible at it. He makes the whole ceremony about himself, cracking jokes about how he barely knows the bride and groom, and how them writing their own vows means less work for him. It's how I'd imagine Marc Maron officiating a wedding. Just self-involved as hell.
Eventually, Dig and Harbinger get around to giving their vows, and they're super awkward. Harbinger kicks things off with "You really want to do this?" and it goes from there. It's like they're talking over a beer the night before, not getting married. I get being casual and all, but you're in formal wear, you two.
Finally, the terror that is the ceremony ends and thus begins the reception, which is apparently cut short when literally everyone there gets an alert on their phones telling them that Arrow if officially killing people again. What an awful wedding. I'd ask for a refund.
In the Arrowcave, Dig offers to help, but Ollie makes the ridiculous pronouncement "Go. Live!" and tells Dig to go on his honeymoon in Fiji.
The next thing we see is Dig and Harbinger getting into a limo, talking about how it is their time now, and they've got to live for each other. Of course, Deadshot is in the limo the second they get in, bogarting their champagne. "The Suicide Squad rides again!" he happily exclaims.
At ARGUS HQ, Amanda Waller (who I must note, has been a lot less sleepy this season) briefs the new couple on the mission: A terrorist group has taken a bunch of hostages, including a U.S. senator, in the country of Kaznia (the name of which is actually a nod to the DC Animated Universe).
Harbinger volunteers to go with the Suicide Squad herself, but Dig says he wants to go, too, because, you know, does their daughter really need parents?
Dig asks who else is on the team besides Deadshot, and Waller reveals that Cupid has joined. Unfortunately, no one asks what exactly Cupid, who I'll remind you was Arrow's stalker, adds to the team (the answer is "a stereotypical portrayal of a lovestruck woman"). Michael Jai White must have been busy.
The team sets out down a dirt road toward the facility where the hostages are being kept, and Cupid yammers on about how much she loves Arrow and wants to marry him. It's awful. Deadshot jumps in and says, "for people like us, love is a bullet to the brain." Connections to others drag people down, he says.
Harbinger and Dig argue that point--they say it gives operatives something to fight for — but just then Harbinger lets slip that the plan is to only save the senator, not the hostages. Dig isn't too pleased with that, but he lets it go.
After Deadshot snipes some guards at the entrance, the team rushes in and tries to save the senator, who's in the middle of reassuring all the hostages. The senator (who I should mention is a very loose adaptation of the comic's Joseph Cray) flips out and pulls a gun on the team. "You shouldn't have come here," he says.
He starts shooting and almost hits Cupid, but Deadshot tackles her out of the way and takes a bullet for her, transferring her affections onto him (ugh).
The team scurries into a nurse's office and for a second, it looks like everything's about to go all Metal Gear and the senator's going to turn out to be a crazy villain, but nah. He's just a careerist. He says over the radio that he hired mercenaries to set this whole thing up so he can look like a hero and run for president.
He explains all this in very clear terms, which means his hostages have become witnesses, and he can't have that. Just then, Harbinger looks at her tablet and sees that the whole complex has been rigged with charges to kill everyone except the senator.
She and Dig start resolving themselves to the idea that their daughter is going to be an orphan, and Dig admits that Deadshot was right about the whole love thing. Deadshot saunters in and acts really puffed up about that, but then he says he's going to make sure those parents get back to their daughter.
That attitude leads to this brilliant plan: The team (sans Deadshot) goes crashing back into the room where the senator and hostages are, guns blazing. I'm not sure how this is supposed to keep Dig and Harbinger safe.
The senator threatens to hit the detonator, but Harbinger calls his bluff. Then Deadshot starts sniping from the roof of another building and shoots the detonator out of the senator's hand.
The team gets the hostages out, and Dig radios Deadshot to meet them. Deadshot says he's not coming; he's got to cover the team to make sure they get out. He does, and they do.
Cut to: A timer on those charges (I guess the senator had a backup plan), which ticks down to zero. The building blows up, with Deadshot still on top. Cupid has a big old cry, because that's apparently all she's there for.
Back home, Dig and Harbinger watch Starling's One News Channel. Deadshot is being blamed for everything, and the senator (who survived somehow) is being hailed as a hero after all. Harbinger says that the senator paid all the hostages for their silence (which he could have done to begin with instead of trying to kill them). She says she tried to get the truth out, but Waller quashed it.
In their daughter's bedroom, Dig tells Harbinger that he's quitting Team Arrow. Harbinger says he shouldn't, because, guess what, she quit ARGUS anyway. They kiss and embrace and he says he's proud of her.
In the Arrowcave, Dig and Ollie drink some of Ollie's Special Occasion Island Vodka and toast to Deadshot (who still killed Dig's brother, by the way).
While Dig's off on his adventure, Ollie is trying to track down the impostor (who last week was Ra's al Ghul himself) who has been suiting up as him and killing people. In fact, Team Arrow immediately pins the whole thing on Ra's, but decides they have to investigate anyway.
Meanwhile, Laurel, the mayor, Captain Lance and Palmer go on TV for a press conference. Palmer says he's going to devote all his resources to bringing Arrow to trial.
In the Arrowcave, Ollie tells Roy to stay out of this Evil Arrow stuff, because it's too dangerous for him. This will be important later.
Smoak finds some satellite footage of an Arrow impostor shooting some drug runners to death in a warehouse (where else). Arrow shows up and starts fighting the fake guy, and eventually de-hoods him. It's... just some dude. Then two more fake Arrows show up and Arrow beats them all up.
Eventually, Maseo saunters in and tells Arrow that Ra's is trying to persuade him to take his offer to become the new Ra's al Ghul, Maseo chokes hard on the word "recalcitrance," but the general idea is that Ra's is making the hard sell.
Arrow and the fake Arrows go their separate ways, and Palmer in his very silly ATOM gear, stands on a rooftop and does a scan of Arrow's face. Within like, five seconds, he has identified Arrow as Ollie, because he has X-ray and facial recognition technology which you'd think many other people would have. (Yes, super-genius Smoak created the facial recognition thing, but come on.)
At Palmer Tech, Smoak walks in and Palmer immediately confronts her with what he found. He's pretty mad she's got this relationship, which was possibly romantic at one time, with Ollie, who was and may still be a murderer. Smoak says the person doing the killing now is an impostor. (She also expresses some surprise that Palmer got the suit working, which is a pretty neat character thing.)
She adds: "He really has not killed anyone in almost two years." Palmer replies: "That is not your best argument." No kidding.
He takes it a little too far, though, going on a power trip about how he can't trust Smoak and she can't be the partner he wanted. Then he promises to bring Arrow to justice.
Smoak goes to the Arrowcave and informs Ollie about Palmer's plans, and Ollie throws a massive baby tantrum. Roy says the ATOM suit thing is pretty cool, which is a nice character thing for him, too.
Palmer goes to police HQ to talk to Laurel (even though that's not where her office is) about what he found. Laurel immediately shuts him down, saying his photo evidence could be fabricated and his testimony can't be corroborated. She says Ollie will have a pretty tight defamation suit on his hands if Palmer goes to the press.
Palmer figures out pretty quickly that Laurel's protecting Ollie, because she, with her broken wrist, is Canary. Then why'd you go to her to begin with, you weirdo? You're just wasting time.
Ollie goes to see Palmer at the office and tells him that he should trust Smoak, which is advice he himself should also take. He also says he didn't kill those people. Palmer says the island probably made Ollie crazy, and that Smoak is blinded to who Ollie really is by her emotions. Our heroes, everyone.
Ollie goes back to the Arrowcave and tells Smoak Palmer is stubborn. Smoak quite rightly says that sounds very familiar. Ollie just keeps going, though, saying that Palmer hasn't figured out that you can't be a hero and have a life at the same time. He says he's worried Palmer is going to get killed by a fake Arrow.
Just then, a blip comes up on Smoak's screen: A 911 call reporting some gang activity at a power plant. Instead of questioning how super-weird that sounds, Ollie heads out and tells Roy to suit up, too.
Instead of a gang, Arrow and Arsenal find ATOM there, ready for a big old superhero throwdown. ATOM starts doing his Iron Man shtick, which includes blasting Roy with a huge bolt of electricity. It looks devastating.
ATOM toys with Arrow for a bit, and just when it looks like he's got him down, Arrow hits him with what (I guess) is an EMP, knocking out the suit's systems. Palmer takes off his helmet and just kneels there. Arrow says the man Palmer thinks he is would kill him.
Palmer says to go ahead and do it, but Ollie says he has nothing to prove to him, and again, that he should trust Smoak.
Then Arrow dramatically walks away leaving an incredibly injured Roy just laying on the ground. It's like he (and the writers) forgot he was there at all. And he just said a few minutes ago that the whole fake Arrow case was too dangerous, anyway!
I don't know what to tell you.
At Palmer Tech, Smoak returns and Palmer apologizes to her. She asks if he's still looking for that partner, and he says he is. They kiss, which means probably more macho jealous BS between him and Ollie. So that's fun.
Instead of focusing on Ollie's increasingly disjointed past this week, we turn to the origin story of Deadshot, which is in every way an after-school special.
Deadshot returns home from an unnamed war, wearing his uniform, to the surprise and joy of his wife. His very young daughter, on the other hand, is pretty frightened of him.
Cut to: What must be weeks or months later. A beer-swilling Deadshot makes his daughter a sandwich, and she doesn't eat it. This sends Deadshot into full-on screaming at a little girl about how she doesn't appreciate his sandwiches.
Deadshot's wife comes down to see what's going on, and tells Deadshot he needs help because he can't hold a job, isn't sleeping, and barely eats. He says no one understands him. Then things really escalate: Deadshot grabs his wife by the throat and pulls a gun on her. It jumps from zero to 1,000.
Eventually, Deadshot realizes what he's doing and lets go. His wife calls 911.
Jump ahead again to Deadshot in jail. A robotic woman walks in and says the organization she works for has posted his bail, and that they'll "pay happily" for his people-killing skills. Deadshot says he just wants to get out and go back to his family, but she says that's over, now.
"For people like us, love is a bullet in the brain," she says, familiarly. She also notes that she's a "drone" from a "hive" of sorts, which makes me think she's literally a member of the Hierarchy of International Vengeance and Extermination. This show's not that subtle.
The woman hands Deadshot a picture of Andrew Diggle and sends him out on his murdering way.
Palmer goes to meet once again with the mayor, Captain Lance and Laurel, to let them know he has changed his tune on Arrow.
Captain Lance says the city's approach to a vigilante shouldn't be reversed because some rich guy changed his mind, which is a valid point. Laurel argues back. The mayor shuts everybody up so she can just think for a second.
Then Maseo, in an arrow getup, shoots an arrow through the window and (seemingly) kills the mayor.
That's what, the fourth or fifth mayor or mayoral candidate who has died in a three-year period? Why would anyone want to be the mayor of this terrible city?
Maseo then lines up his next target; Felicity. We hear an arrow being fired.
- At one point, Palmer openly brags about his 140 IQ. That's only just inside Mensa territory, bro.
- Smoak catches the bouquet at the wedding. I hope she marries someone from another TV show. Someone from NCIS, maybe? Are they nice?
- This episode has the first scene of Ollie doing shirtless Arrowcave training that I can recall in a while. I still like the theory that the show's makeup team just got really tired of putting on his fake scars and tattoos for every beefcake scene.
- As Deadshot blows up, he looks at a picture of his family. He's just a softie, that murderous killing machine, you know?
I think this episode was something of a refreshing change of pace. I like when Dig gets to take some of the spotlight, and the Suicide Squad stuff is at least something different, even though it seemed super half-baked (why Cupid, again?).
And hey: This episode at least had a strong theme about how people who put their lives on the line to protect others have a difficult relationship with love.
That said, I don't know that the softening of Deadshot really helped much. This season has weirdly gone out of its way to rehab villains who were introduced in season one, and I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because Ollie was a murderer then too?
It certainly puts the whole thrust of the "Arrow is a killer again" plot into a different light. Like, OK, he's not killing now. He still killed lots of people two years ago. There's no statute of limitations on that, but people are just forgiving it. I guess Deadshot is just getting the same treatment.
There's a scene where Dig sees his brother's name tattooed on Deadshot's chest, and it makes him hesitate about helping Deadshot, but he does it anyway. Maybe there's some kind of deeper meaning there.
Or maybe I'm losing my mind.