*There's spoilers in here. Don't fail yourself by reading the review if you don't want anything ruined for you.*
"You hurt her, they'll never find your body. Nice to meet you!"
The Suicide Squad is finally back! Unfortunately, Bronze Tiger isn't with them -- he was apparently killed in the tie-in comic. Bummer, right? Now that Task Force X has returned for a totally safe and foolproof mission, the adventure places John Diggle, Lyla Michaels, and Deadshot in the spotlight. Also, this show has offered a ton of teasers about Ray Palmer gearing up and saving the city as Atom (or is it A.T.O.M.?), so they of course found a way to tie that into what's going on with Ra's al Ghul's violent operation.
When the show started juggling a Suicide Squad story and an Arrow story, I immediately thought, "Man, the Oliver back story is really going to get in the way of all this." Thankfully, the people behind the show had a similar thought and instead gave Floyd Lawton, a.k.a. Deadshot, some additional depth. It's a big departure from the source material and that's okay because honestly, his comic origin warrants more than a few scenes. Instead, they simplify his story and it's far more powerful. Arrow humanized Deadshot by making him suffer from PTSD -- something that unfortunately impacts many people -- and that brought some much-needed emotion to his story. It also gives the serious matter a little more attention, and if that potentially helps even one person out there, I'd say it was worth it to go in that direction. Plus, H.I.V.E.! Despite all of this, his death didn't hit me because I was too busy questioning the logic behind it. Wasn't he sniping into the building that was set to explode, so that means he was really on a different building? How'd he end up on the roof of the one he was previous shooting at? Are they connected? Why couldn't he head down and give them cover while also moving to escape? The dude is awesome with pistols, too, and the team can shoot and run, can't they? I get it's all about the message -- he's sacrificing himself so they can have the life he can't have -- but his sacrifice really didn't seem necessary to me.
While I didn't think Diggle and Lyla's story was as interesting as Floyd's, it is a big episode for them. Not only was the wedding sequence amusing (minus Oliver obviously being all kinds of dead on the inside as he sees Felicity and Ray together), but the ending is an especially important one for them. After all the nonsense they've had to deal with, they deserve a happy ending. I just hope it doesn't mean we've seen the last of them. As for Cupid, it's pretty clear she's there just to add a little levity to the story. None of her lines made me laugh, but if you enjoyed her debut, those remarks might make you smile.
My biggest criticism is people not saying what they need to say just so the drama can be stretched out a little more. Why didn't Felicity justify why Arrow's secret isn't her's to tell? Why didn't Oliver at least partially explain to Ray what really happened instead of just letting the guy think he went crazy after being on an island all by himself for several years? I wanted to leap into the scene and say, "Just open up and talk to them about it!" on both occasions. We can still have drama without people being frustratingly stubborn or not saying anything when they usually would. "Gregg, Oliver is stubborn. It's kind of his thing." Yup, I get that and it's even plainly stated in the episode. However, when he's dealing with a situation this big (e.g. Ray knows who he is and wants to tell the world), you'd think he'd at least try to talk the guy out of it a little harder. I mean, what was the backup plan to stop him?
Arrow vs. Atom may have not been that long, but it was a refreshing action sequence. I know the show has a hard-working stunt team, but it seems like things too often boil down to familiar showings of hand-to-hand combat or chase sequences. Here, it was simply fun watching someone who can zip around and fire projectiles that aren't arrows or bullets while also seeing Oliver use his brain instead of just rushing into a melee fight. Poor Roy, though...
Minor criticisms: First, Arrow totally walked away from the Atom fight while Roy was still on the ground and possibly injured, didn't he? That's kind of humiliating and selfish, no? "He could have gone to him after that shot!" Yeah, but the whole point of that shot was to make Arrow look cool as he walked away from the conflict with Ray, and I'm pretty certain he wasn't walking in the direction of Roy's body. And I thought Oliver didn't bring Roy last time because they're dealing with the League of Assassins? Why was this time any different? Secondly, when you have multiple people fighting one person, it's tough not to notice when the attackers are doing everything possible not to land a strike when the protagonist is vulnerable. I think I even saw one of them scuffle backwards for no good reason. At least none of them fell down without ever being touched! I also thought the Suicide Squad shootouts were a little head-scratching. There were so many moments when people had poor cover or none at all, very easy shots available, bad guys reacted terribly, so on and so on. I found myself way more interested in the scenes of them talking because the action just didn't seem like it was doing anything to really impress. The Suicide Squad material worked because of character, not chaos. Lastly, no one really thinks the person in the cliffhanger is in serious danger, right? Maybe they get hurt, but killed? I'm saying there's a 0% chance that'll occur based on what happens in the cliffhanger. However, the chances of someone else pushing said person out of the way and getting injured in the process, or said person suffering a non-fatal injury? I'm going with a 100% chance of that.
Random thoughts: Does everyone on team Arrow set their phone to give them notifications whenever there's a big story with the word "Arrow?" And everyone else agrees the bad guy in the Suicide Squad story had a pretty flawed plan, right? At least it produces something important in the end, but jeez, it's not thought out all that well. Also, Oliver says to Ray, "she chose you" or something like that. Isn't it really "I chose to push her away," though? I was also left wondering why Ra's was in the city in the last episode and is now nowhere to be seen, but maybe he's conducting this operation from somewhere within Starling City? This is a huge deal to him, after all.
I was never a big fan of Deadshot in this show (despite loving the comic version) and this episode changed that. Sure, I think the ending wasn't necessary, but it brought in a more compelling topic and gave me a very strong emotional connection to the guy. Finally giving Diggle and Lyla more insight was also hugely appreciated -- they deserve some extra love. While some characters are pretty frustrating back in Starling City, I'm pleasantly surprised they were able to resolve a conflict between two main characters in just one episode and they did so in an entertaining way. (I was kind of worried they'd drag that plot out for as long as possible.) Yes, I have a lot of criticisms about "Suicidal Tendencies," but many of them are pretty minor and overall I do think it's an improvement over last week's episode. Roy would probably strongly disagree with me, though.