mrmazz's Arrow #318 - Public Enemy review

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Two Names No More

"Public Enemy" Directed by Dwight Little Written by Marc Guggenheim & Wendy Mericle

"The Arrow is Batman” and “Arrow is Batman without Batman”, these are common refrains because they are true. Arrow producers: Berlanti, Kreisberg, and Guggenheim, consciously used the visual iconography of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy in adapting Green Arrow to the small screen. With good reason, it was a popular and understood language. With the pilot to The Flash, the rooftop scene clearly sets up the super heroic spectrum that exists within DCWverse based on the one found in DC Comics proper, with Flash and Arrow on opposite sides. This distinction creates the division between daytime heroics and night vigilantism. Arrow clearly occupies Batman-esque territory but this does not make him Batman in a hood and arrows. It makes him an analogue to something. For me, this has always just been tool to view Arrow on this spectrum while still seeing it as its own unique adaptation.

Besides clear aesthetic differences, there is one key thing that separates Green Arrow from Batman. The Green Arrow doesn’t have a secret identity in some continuities, either being elected mayor to Star(ling) City or getting thrown in a prison in some cases. There is also the whole matter of trust, but just about anyone/thing is more trusting than Batman. With “Public Enemy”, Arrow strips away Oliver Queen of his dual identity as Oliver Queen and the Arrow to the Star(ling) City populace and Capt-Det. Lance. Now with Roy taking the fall for Oliver, things could annoyingly be repaired but Lance now knows whether he likes it or not. Oliver for the time being is rendered unable to compartmentalize how the public views him.

From the start, Arrow’s showrunner have said the proposed 5 season arc of this series was going to be the transformation of Oliver Queen from vigilante (the Hood) to Green Arrow. Season 2 was clearly a step towards this with both a lighter, but still distinctly Arrow, tone and implementation of the no kill rule. As narratives normally do, season 3 has been a reaction to season 2. In particular it has been a reaction to Oliver having some semblance of balance bordering on normalcy between these two identities. As Maseo says in the first reveal trailer, “A man cannot live by two names.” The past 17 episodes have thrown this perceived balance out the window. In turn pushing the man named Oliver Queen to forsake both names for the in theory more stable title of Ra’s Al Ghul.

I’m getting the feeling that once Season 3 is over, it will operate better both due to our ability to skip less than important episodes and watch multiple episodes at a time. Much like how Legend of Korra book 2 “Spirits” is far more enjoyable on Blu Ray than week to week. Worth noting that, Arrow manages to function on an episodic level, just a very slowly burned seasonal arc.

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Captain-Detective Lance is a man on fire, and he has every right to be. Oliver’s lies and sin eating is portrayed as part of his overall god complex (which they are) but they also have a cost to those he keeps in the dark. By not giving Lance the heads up and letting him believe his daughter was still alive, it made him foolish and has broken the faith he placed in the Arrow. Yes, Laurel is culpable in this area too but as the leader of Team Arrow it falls on him. Because of this, Lance is easily manipulated by Ra’s Al Ghul into hunting the Arrow down. That whole chase sequence, from the rooftop fight to the escape was a phenomenal watch. While Arrow often excels at staging hand to hand combat, this is reliant on creating a tight continuity between no less than 3 separate spaces all playing cat and mouse with one another in a tight space.

The second half of Arrow season 3 has been far more enjoyable, it has now clearly entered the end game with 5 episodes remaining. With recent leaks and official promotional material revealing a change in costume for Oliver, I’m curious to see how Team Arrow pulls off this transformation. Spoilers do not matter in so much as they are plot points, what matters is how those points are articulated in the work itself.

I am Michael Mazzacane and you can find on Twitter @MaZZM and at comicweek.com and weekntv.com

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