‘Arrow’ Season 3 Recap, Episode 18: ‘Public Enemy’
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: Chuck D sadly does not appear, but there is a bit of fighting the power, as Captain Lance revs up an all-out manhunt for Team Arrow. Also: Hospital scenes galore.
This week's episode starts right where last week's left off, with the show's fourth or fifth dead mayor in a pool of blood on her office floor.
Her killer, Maseo, keeps shooting arrows through the windows, and manages to plant one right in Ray Palmer's chest before dashing away. More on what happens with him in a bit. (In brief, the show makes up for a season that seemed to lack Arrow's trademark hospital scenes.)
At the Arrowcave, Team Arrow watches Starling's One News Channel as Captain Lance gives a press conference in which he calls Arrow "a killer and a criminal." Which is true, just not this time. He announces that he has a first-degree murder warrant out for Arrow, and has put out warrants for all his accomplices, too.
At police HQ, Lance orders his officers to shoot to kill if they see Arrow, and Laurel says he doesn't understand what's happening. There'll be more confrontations like this.
Nyssa and Ollie meet in an alley (I guess he texted her "hey u wanna meet up in the alley?" and she replied "cool beans c u") and he asks her for help in tracking down Maseo, who Ollie immediately pegged as the mayor's killer. She initially refuses in a very theatrical way, but he gets her to agree by playing the Sara card and noting that she's got to be pretty mad that her dad passed her over for his successor.
She leads Team Arrow to Magnusson Plaza (perhaps a reference to Elsa, the wife of DC Comics magician Prince Ra-Man, but that may be a stretch), which is, what else, an abandoned building. Team Arrow scours the place, which looks to be entirely parking garage, and finds nothing, but then Dig catches some movement in his sniper rifle scope, and lo and behold, there's Maseo on the rooftop.
A fight involving some very shaky camera movement ensues, and Arrow eventually gets the better of Maseo. Ra's al Ghul approaches in full "Sarcastic Clapping Family of Southhampton" mode, congratulating Arrow on his victory.
He then turns on a dime and tells Arrow that he'll agree to his offer to be his successor or spend the rest of his live in a cage. Ollie says he'll never let Ra's take him prisoner, and Ra's says he won't have to. As if on cue, the cops arrive, with helicopters and everything. (Did Ra's call them, or do Starling City's cops just have great dramatic timing? U-decide.)
What follows is a full six-or-seven minute segment of Team Arrow getting away from the cops, and I have to say, it's all very well staged. The tension stays high throughout. The main beats are:
- Canary ends up face-to-face with her dad, who threatens to arrest her, but Nyssa shows up and puts an end to that. Laurel has to ask Nyssa not to hurt Captain Lance.
- Arrow tries to draw the cops' fire so Roy and Laurel can escape, but ends up with the easiest path out, running straight into Dig's van with seemingly little trouble.
- Roy gets cornered and ends up having to shoot a few cops. The segment ends with him looking sure to get caught.
- Dig watches from the rooftop and helps get the team through. He teleports into a van somehow.
Back at the Arrowcave, the team regroups and realizes that Roy got left behind. Just when it looks like that's what the rest of the episode is going to be about, up pops Roy, who says he managed to scurry away somehow, but had to pop some arrows in some cops. They're "just flesh wounds," he asserts, and, what? Did he check on each one after he shot them?
Ollie calls up Captain Lance and says Lance should know better than to believe that Arrow's wantonly hurting people. Lance insists that he turn himself in, and seemingly bounds straight off to hold another press conference about how Arrow is dangerous and must be apprehended.
Then we see the captain leaving through the back door of police HQ, screaming into his phone about how budgets don't matter, because this is a manhunt. You're really working for those taxpayers there, friend. He hangs up just in time to see Maseo in the alley, who chokes him out with great expediency.
Lance wakes up in a hallway where the League of Assassins has set up some torches and junk to make it look dramatic. I think it's a swim club. Ra's tells Lance that Sara spoke highly of him, and Lance starts flipping out.
But then Ra's drops two bombs on him: Sara was on Flashback Island with Ollie, and, guess what my man, Ollie is Arrow. Lance sits there and looks flabbergasted, instead of saying, "Well, yeah, I definitely should have known that before know. I've pretty much seen his face."
Lance is safely returned to police HQ, and Laurel goes to visit him. She lays it all out: She thinks her dad knows Arrow isn't committing these murders, but that Lance is upset that Team Arrow kept Sara's death from him. Lance says Arrow is directly responsible for Sara's death, because he started the whole masked vigilante thing. Plus, Sara was on Flashback Island with Ollie, who, by the way, is Arrow.
Laurel pulls out her phone, presumably to warn Ollie, but Lance says he's already got cops going to Theapartment, Verdant, and anywhere else Ollie might be.
Pretty quickly, the cops come and find Ollie at Verdant. He runs to Dig's apartment, where nobody seems to have thought to look, despite Ollie and Dig being together in public basically all the time.
In yet another press conference, Captain Lance reveals to the world that Ollie is Arrow. Team Arrow assembles at Dig's apartment to figure out what to do. Smoak suggests Ollie getting out of town, but Laurel says the cops have every egress blocked off. Not only that, Thea's assets have been frozen, so Ollie can't buy anyone off.
Ollie declares he only has one option. He walks out the door and into police HQ, where he turns himself in as every cop in the building holds him at gunpoint.
Somehow, Laurel manages to get Team Arrow ten minutes with Ollie in an interrogation room, despite warrants for all their arrests also being out. Captain Lance even runs into them in the hallway and lets them off with a stern talking-to. It's weird.
In the interrogation room, the team tries to talk Ollie out of sacrificing himself (yet again; has this guy got a messiah complex or what?), but Ollie says this is the way it's got to go and sends them away. "You have no idea how powerful the truth can be," he says.
In the Arrowcave, the team concocts a plan that isn't all that different from the previous plan when Ollie was more or less outed as Arrow.
After getting shot in the opening scene, Palmer finds himself in critical condition in the hospital (whoo!) with Smoak there for support.
He gets surgery to remove the offending arrow, and in the process the doctors find a blood clot that could kill him. They could remove the clot via surgery, but Palmer's in such bad shape from being shot that the surgery could cause brain damage, and that's the best case scenario.
After the doctor (whose bedside manner leaves something to be desired) breaks this news, Palmer perks up and says he has invented nanobots that can get rid of the clot without risking brain damage. The doctor says there's no way he can administer the nanobots because the hospital has a strict policy against experimental procedures. Smoak gets indignant, but the doctor peaces out.
Just then, Smoak's mom comes strolling in and goes wobbly-legged at poor ailing Palmer. Mom and daughter go out into the hallway. Smoak gets upset; her mom says, "At least you have a boyfriend." I still like their dynamic.
Later, as Smoak watches one of Captain Lance's dozen or so press conferences, her mom suggests that Smoak should simply administer the nanobots to Palmer herself. Smoak worries that she could go to jail for doing that, but Mama Smoak says sometimes it's worth taking the chance.
Back in Palmer's room, the doc does some tests and Mama Smoak starts having a hilariously fake pain attack to distract the doctor. Like a Three's Company-level diversion. The doctor sees her out and Smoak pulls out a vial of the nanobots to inject into Palmer.
Both have some momentary hesitation, but Smoak charges ahead and injects him. I'm sure it'll be fine. Hospitals don't usually have cameras in rooms or anything.
Palmer starts having a brief seizure, but turns out it's fine. Then Smoak pulls out a tablet to... control the nanobots? I think? I assume they don't just find problems and fix them. Someone's got to guide or program them, I'd think. Does she have medical training? Can she remove a blood clot?
Apparently she can, because the doc tells her in the hallway that the clot has completely disappeared. He asks if she can explain it, but the conversation just kind of trails off, and the doctor seems to drop this gross violation of medical ethics.
Smoak goes back into Palmer's room and they weirdly flirt for a bit, because that's who these characters are. After a while, Palmer blurts out that he loves Smoak, and she mutters something about getting Palmer some Jell-o and scoots out of there without reciprocating.
Outside, after some confusion about whether Smoak and Palmer had hospital sex, Smoak confides in her mom about how she couldn't tell Palmer she loved him back. He seems like he should be the perfect guy (he has Iron Man armor and knows about Doctor Who), but she just can't pull the trigger.
Mama Smoak says Daughter Smoak is clearly in love with Ollie, but since Ollie is kind of married to his work --- his mask-wearing, world-traveling, swordfighting, self-sacrificing work --- that she's going to have to make a choice, one way or the other.
Remember last week, when Ollie saw someone that looked just like Shado walking around on the streets of Hong Kong? Well, funny story. Turns out it isn't Shado at all, it's her twin sister, Mei. Her never-before-mentioned twin sister, Mei. Someone you might think Ollie would have perhaps mentioned when Slade Wilson almost destroyed a city trying to get revenge for Shado's death last season. (I guess there's a valid, retcon explanation that he didn't want to put Mei in a psychopath's sights, which is fair.)
Anyway, on the basis that Ollie knows her sister's name, Mei takes him and Maseo and Katana's kid to her house. She asks how Ollie knew Shado, and he lies about knowing her in medical school. Ollie also says he could use a shower, and Mei offers to babysit.
When Ollie takes his shirt off to shower, Mei spies the dragon tattoo on his back, which is identical to Shado's. So when he gets out, she says he clearly knows more than he's letting on. He says he's a dangerous guy, and the more Mei knows, the worse off she'll be.
She says she's called the cops to come get Ollie, and, again, as if on cue, Waller's ARGUS operatives show up and start shooting up the apartment. Ollie manages to lead Mei and the kid to the bedroom just as the Waller's balaclava men burst in, and Ollie starts taking the fight to them. One gets the jump on Ollie, but Katana and Maseo swoop in and clear them out.
In the aftermath, Mei and Ollie talk about what happened. She says living without knowing if her dad and her sister were alive has been simply terrible, so Ollie tells her that they're gone. She thanks him and says, "You have no idea how powerful the truth can be," making this the second week in a row that a direct quote from the flashbacks had a direct impact on the A plot. It's a tad on-the-nose.
Ollie gets taken to jail in a prison transport van, and the only passengers in the back are him and Captain Lance.
In a pretty great scene between Stephen Amell and Paul Blackthorne, Captain Lance seethes about how Arrow kept Sara's death from him.
Lance asks, "When did you decide that you knew what was best for my family?" When Ollie answers, "I love your family," Lance throws a punch that hits the wall. Both actors play the tension well.
Ollie tells Lance he can ask him anything he wants to know, and Lance asks why Ollie came back to Starling at all. Ollie says he wanted to save people, and Lance retorts that he's terrible at it, because so many people have died, including Ollie's own mother, since season one. Fair point.
Then Blackthorne really kicks into high gear, accusing Ollie of playing everyone around him: "You've made us criminals! You've made us liars and victims!"
Just then, the van has a blowout and Lance goes out to see what's happening. Roy, in full Arrow regalia, jumps down from the top of the van and says Ollie isn't Arrow, he is.
- Thea only gets a little to do this episode, mostly conversation with Roy to help build up the impact of his sacrifice at the end of the episode. At one point, she observes that there's clearly so much stuff she doesn't know, which seems to be her entire character this season. Remember when it seemed like she was going to become a cool villain?
- Roy's still reeling from the revelation that he killed a cop last season, and he reveals that he kind of feels like he needs to be punished. It's an oddly relatable thing, and I think it's honestly the best the Roy character has come across yet.
- Sacrifice has definitely emerged as the big theme of the season, hasn't it? This is Ollie's like, third seeming life-ending choice of the season.
- An ad for the Netflix Daredevil series came on during one of the commercial breaks, and it was pretty cool to see some cross promotion for Marvel's Not Batman TV show during DC's Not Batman TV show.
Despite my minor quibbles here and there, this was a good one. Maybe my favorite of the season.
As I said, that long chase sequence was nicely staged, and the whole Captain-Lance-as-antagonist thing injected some conflict that really added something to the dynamic of the show. There's an urgency and tension that the show hasn't had before. I like it.
I especially dug that last scene between Ollie and Captain Lance. More of that in the next five episodes, please.
Hey, I even liked the hospital stuff, even though everything with Ray Palmer feels like it's from a different show. I still really like the relationship between Smoak and her mom. They make a good team.