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TV REVIEW: Arrow “Public Enemy”

By on April 2, 2015

Pictured (L-R): Charlotte Ross as Donna Smoak and Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak -- Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW

By Justin Carter

This episode of Arrow was firing on all cylinders. I’d go so far as to say that this was the best episode of the whole season. From the moment we’re caught up from the final moments of last week’s episode, the show moves at a fast pace and doesn’t give any time to breathe and catch sense of what just happened. Things move along so fast and so excellently that the subplot about Ray in the hospital that ends up bringing back Felicity’s mom feels like a welcome amount of humor that otherwise would have stuck out like a sore thumb.

When the first image of Arsenal came out prior to season three, I was worried that the show was going to try and make him out to be much more important than he actually is, that he’d be performing backflip arrow shots or taking guys down much faster than Oliver could. That thankfully hasn’t been the case; while he’s taken to showing off his parkour from time to time, Roy hasn’t overshadowed anyone and has actually grown into a competent hero in his own right. He’s gone from being jacked up on supersoldier serum to being able to help run the team without Oliver (aside from that one episode “Guilty” which tried and failed to show how his relationship with Oliver had changed). If the second season was about Oliver rising up to be a hero, and the first of this season was meant to show how broken he truly is, the back half of season three is surely about Roy stepping up.

After Maseo goes copycat and puts an arrow into the mayor, Lance is hellbent on capturing or even killing the Arrow and his accomplices. Revealing the Arrow’s identity to Lance is all part of Ra’s needlessly convoluted plan to get Oliver to join the League of Assassins. Things have never felt more tense here, because it’s the first time where it truly feels like Lance has nothing to lose and is fighting with the gloves off. Paul Blackthorne has to sell the Detective’s grief and anger, and he nails it, 1930s New Yorker accent and all. It’s a credit to him and the writing that his words to Oliver in the armored van aren’t entirely right, but they sting more than any pain Oliver’s had to endure. It’s easy to paint Lance as an idiot and a villain, not entirely unlike his depiction in the first season, but what makes the difference here is that it’s someone going through much more pain and trying to keep it together in a world that’s just bearing down on him. When he’s telling Laurel that all of this “has to end tonight,” it’s relevant in more ways than one.

The only other episodes I can think of that match the ambition of “Public Enemy” are “Brave and Bold” from earlier this season and the “Scientist/Three Ghosts” midseason finale from season two. This week wants to have a manhunt for costumed heroes, Ra’s turning Oliver’s most unlikely ally against him with just a handful of words, and Oliver angsting enough to turn himself in just hours after being outed on live television. Unless something happens that just wipes that particular news story from the collective minds of everyone in Starling City besides the main cast, this is going to have massive repercussions for the show going down the line. Roy’s gambit of revealing himself as the Arrow may or may not pay off, but it’s just as ballsy as the overall episode. This could be leading to Roy’s time on the show coming to an end, which I hope isn’t true–not only has Colton Haynes won me over as the kid, but this episode does what “Guilty” from earlier this season failed to do, and that’s give Roy his due.

 

Additional Notes:

  • Of course Roy couldn’t reveal himself without doing a flip in front of Lance. The parkour in him wouldn’t allow it.

  • Roy: “How’d you find this out?” Nyssa: “I am Daughter of the Demon.” The subtitles for that should’ve read: “Duh and/or hello!”

  • Felicity’s Mom: “At least you finally have a boyfriend!” Felicity: “Mom!”

  • New episodes of Arrow return the 15th, and hopefully the show doesn’t lose any momentum it’s got after this one.

  • The flashbacks this week with Shado’s twin sister Mei were basically a reason to get Stephen Amell and Celina Jade back on screen together, and they still have the chemistry they did back in season two.

  • Stephen Amell is apparently Casey Jones in the upcoming sequel to the Ninja Turtles reboot. I’m really hoping this isn’t just some elaborate April Fools’ prank, if only to hear Amell say “You have failed this city!” to a giant, CG turtle.

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