On the D/L – Arrow
Season 3 Episode 18 – “Public Enemy”
Things escalate for Team Arrow as the Starling City Police Department begin an all out manhunt for the Arrow.
A secret identity is one of the most important things to masked vigilante if they want to keep being effective in their mission to protect the city. Oliver Queen has so far managed to keep the two sides of his life separate thanks to his double life but this episode blows that right open.
I really like how Ra’s Al Ghul is a slow and deliberate threat who bides his time and cuts off every possible avenue for Oliver to continue his career as a vigilante. As an antagonist he’s very different to Deathstroke and that makes this season feel distinct rather than repeating the same sort of villain relationship as last season.
It has been established that Ra’s Al Ghul doesn’t take no for an answer so is doing everything in his power to make sure that Oliver accepts his offer to replace him. Unfortunately for Oliver that power is near infinite and there’s nothing he can do to stop that. He will lose, it’s only a matter of time.
Oliver’s attempt to track down Maseo culminating in a really high octane chase sequence on a TV budget was nothing short of incredible. The chase was constantly building tension and the stakes kept rising to a point where my heart was pounding with excitement. It was also impressive that there was still time for emotional beats in the middle of all of this. Laurel’s confrontation with her father. Paul Blackthorne’s performance in this scene really sells it as he seems angry and disgusted with his daughter who is aiding a known fugitive despite her oath to uphold the law. Laurel’s status as a vigilante offends Quentin personally as well as offending his principles.
Generally speaking Paul Blackthorne makes this episode. He often gets the more emotionally weighty material on this show but it’s because he’s more than capable of nailing it whenever he does. He has a lot of ground to cover emotionally in this episode from his anger while pursing the Arrow to the renewal of his lack of tolerance for vigilante justice. He was willing to accept the Arrow when he was doing more good than harm but ever since Sara’s death he blames the Arrow for letting that happen and can’t forgive him for lying to him about that. There are some fantastic scenes where Quentin is on the verge of exploding the deeper into his obsession he gets.
Ra’s Al Ghul’s really complicates things when he tells Quentin the identity of the Arrow. This allows Quentin to apply a human face to his mission and gives him something to point his anger at. Quentin is the last member of the main cast to find out Oliver’s secret but I’m all for it considering the potential it has opened up. The scene towards the end of the episode where Quentin finally gets to talk to Oliver about everything he’s been feeling is fantastic and made some really interesting points.
Quentin tells Oliver that he wishes he had died on the island as it might have prevented all the problems that have hit Starling City over the past 3 years. It’s hard for Oliver -and me- to disagree based on the current setup. None of this would be happening if Oliver weren’t around and it’s not as if he even managed to stop The Undertaking. Oliver tries to dismiss it with a self righteous comment but Quentin is having absolutely none of it. There’s a lot of pain in this conversation it’s more powerful due to the fact that Quentin is more than a little right.
I can’t imagine how the show will progress from here because it has to be impossible for Oliver to operate as the Arrow any more. Even if there’s some debate over his identity he will be the first person that gets checked into by villains and the authorities alike. This episode really proves to be a game changer assuming there isn’t some massive retcon like Barry traveling back in time to prevent it or something.
Roy’s inclusion in the narrative was really small but it worked very well. It all seems to be coming together for him considering his reconciliation with Thea and the resulting happiness that it brings him. The problem is that he still doesn’t feel like he has been properly punished for killing that cop in season 2 so he finds a way to face the consequences. Turning himself in as the Arrow in an attempt to absolve Oliver of the charges is a bold move for him but I’m not convinced it’ll work. Oliver admits to Quentin that he is the Arrow and finally delivers a few more truths so there’s no real going back from that. I am interested to see how this pans out though.
I could really have just not watched the Ray/Felicity subplot here. It did give a potential origin for Ray’s inevitable shrinking abilities but the whole thing felt a lot like killing time. Having Felicity’s mother return added very little to the story other than the outright statement that Felicity is in love with Oliver rather than Ray. I did feel for the poor guy when he declared his love for Felicity and she fobbed him off. He deserves a lot better than that. I like Ray but I wish he was a bigger part of the tapestry of the show rather than feeling like the whole thing was a backdoor pilot for his own spinoff.
It’s also harsh for Felicity’s character since she only really seems to exist to bounce between the various men in the DC TV universe as a love interest. She’s been linked with Barry, Oliver and Ray this season alone without having anything else to do of real import. I really want to see more of her initiative as part of Team Arrow rather than who she might hook up with this week. Her character is so much better than that.
The flashbacks really feel like a waste of time currently. How long has Oliver been on the run now? It feels like forever. His encounter with Shado’s sister feels all too convenient as well. It’s good to see Celina Jade back but having her appear like this feels like something of a waste.
A really strong episode that promises to change the DNA of the show forever now that Oliver’s secret is out.
The notion of a secret identity is integral to Oliver working as the Arrow but now that he doesn’t have that any more how is he feasibly going to continue his role as the protector of Starling City? I am interested to see how the show will approach this change.
Paul Blackthorne carries this episode emotionally with a very powerful performance showing Quentin Lance dealing with his personal and professional problems. He has a full on vendetta against the Arrow and knowing his identity really helps him say some things that he’s really wanted to say. The scene towards the end of the episode where he tells Oliver a few home truths that are hard to disagree with is nothing short of excellent.
Ra’s Al Ghul proves to be a very different antagonist to Deathstroke in really interesting ways. His patience and deliberate planning is fascinating to watch. Ra’s Al Ghul won’t take Oliver’s refusal of his offer as an answer and uses his considerable resources to make that happen. It’s only a matter of time before Oliver loses this battle and he knows it.
Roy’s decision to turn himself in and take the fall for Oliver is a noble sentiment and it does allow him to face punishment for killing the cop last season but I doubt it’ll work given how Quentin knows that Oliver is the Arrow as well as the rest of the police force. Seeing how this develops will be interesting though.
Felicity and Ray’s subplot could have been left out I think. The problem that it suffers is that it feels divorced from the rest of the episode and it’s all a bit soap opera. Felicity also comes across as the bad one here as she dismisses Ray’s declaration of love while having it made clear that she’s really pining after Oliver. I’m also really dissatisfied with the fact that Felicity only seems to exist to hook up with whoever happens to be a superhero on this show. Her character is so much more than that.
The flashbacks are really dragging the show down at the moment. Oliver has been on the run for what feels like forever and there’s not a lot of narrative progression. Seeing Celina Jade return as Shado’s twin sister feels really contrived as well. The changed location for the flashbacks really isn’t working.