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‘Arrow’ Season 2 Episode 16 Recap: “Suicide Squad”

At long last, it’s time for a Diggle-centric episode. It’s cause for celebration, especially when The CW gets to do their take on a villainous Avengers in “Suicide Squad.” Of course, there are frustrating leaps and logic gaps, but enough good stuff to overshadow that. Let’s start with one of those…

Problem: at the end of last week’s episode, Diggle had lined up a shot on Slade Wilson, going for the headshot to kill him. Instead, he clearly got knocked out and taken away, or at least that’s what Slade intimated when he said he had people looking out for him. There’s no mention of this moment in the episode, as Diggle seems hunky dory, waiting outside Felicity’s house, staying vigil in case Slade makes a move. Felicity, ever adorable, comes out in her pajamas and brings Diggle coffee. She also says that he can’t stop Slade if he wants to kill her, so why bother? Dark, but true, Smoak.

Diggle gets an urgent text and leaves immediately anyways (sorry Felicity), to find ex-wife and current squeeze, Lyla Michaels (Audrey Marie Anderson), hoping for some sexy time. She seduces him fairly easily.

The flashbacks this week take place in the Middle East, showing how Diggle and Lyla first met, in the military. Diggle and his superior engage in casual sexism, directed toward Lyla, but she ends up uncovering a terrorist in their midst. Meet Gholem Kadir (Lee Majdoub).

While this is all happening, Ollie continues to have Shado-centric nightmares in the lair, while sleeping next to Sara. There’s a disconcerting amount of smoke billowing behind them, which can’t be a healthy atmosphere to sleep in. But it sure as hell looks cool. Ollie’s determined to kill Slade, to take him out, and Sara thinks he’s out of control and on edge. He certainly is…but I don’t understand why Sara’s not freaking out with him. This is a man who came back from the dead, has super powers, taught everything Ollie knows, and wants to kill Oliver and everyone he loves. Yeah, Oliver should be antsy, and I don’t like how it’s used to make a comment about how he always pushes women away. Ugh.

Ollie’s play is to go to Alexi (Eugene Lipinski, December of Fringe), and take over command of the Russian Brotherhood, and enlist them to track down Slade. Instead of swapping favors, Ollie takes out Alexi’s guards and threatens death if he doesn’t. Considering he came to Alexi as Oliver…you’d think Alexi could blackmail him, or at least his actions would have consequences for his “secret” identity. But no.

Back to the lovers: Diggle and Lyla’s fun is interrupted by A.R.G.U.S. head Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), who has a job…one that concerns Lyla AND Diggle, despite Diggle being out of the game. Apparently Kadir was released, and now possesses a dangerous chemical agent, described as apocalyptic. He also was the man trying to purchase Merlyn’s earthquake device earlier in the year. “Thanks for that,” Waller says, all snark. They need Diggle to go into Markovia and recover the chemical, and he’s in. What he doesn’t know is that he’ll be leading Task Force X on the mission. Cue Floyd Lawton AKA Deadshot, coming out of his cell, “This is no task force, just call it as it is. Welcome to the Suicide Squad.” Mark Rowe’s delivery is the definition of overacting, but it’s hard not to get excited anyways. Deadshot’s joined by Michael Jai White’s Bronze Tiger and Shrapnel (Firefly‘s Sean Maher making a return), who somehow make Deadshot seem badass and cool by comparison.

Diggle’s pissed:

Har har. But Diggle agrees to help anyhow. Before they leave, however, Arrow producers give us a HUGE nugget of awesome, when a crazy woman yells from her cell about being a “trained therapist.” Could it be?

The voice comes from Tara Strong (a cartoon veteran), who’s labeled in the credits as “Deranged Squad Female,” but the episode’s IMDb page indicates Strong as the voice of one Harley Quinn.

Marc Guggenheim described it as an Easter Egg, but considering the excitement engendered by such a small part…it’ll be interesting to see what happens next. Of course, Gotham might muddy the situation further. But Arrow and Harley Quinn is a combo that needs to happen. Evidence. More evidence.

In the flashbacks, Lyla, Diggle and company come under fire, and Kadir tries to make a break for it. Kadir’s about to get gunned down, when Diggle saves his life by shooting down the sniper. Kadir owes him his life…

…Which is why they need Diggle to gain access to the chemical. Diggle shows up, “bumps” into Kadir, saves his life AGAIN from a sniper (which is actually Deadshot), and Kadir invites him to a benefit party. Of course, we also learn how right Deadshot was to call the gang Suicide Squad: Shrapnel tries to make a break for it…and Waller activates the explosive device in his brain…and it’s game over for Shrapnel. What a waste of Sean Maher.

Again, Diggle’s not very happy about it either. He doesn’t like ARGUS using supervillains, and doesn’t like them murdering them either. How else can they keep them in line?

Diggle backs down, and ends up going to Kadir’s benefit, with Lyla (aka Harbinger, though I doubt she’ll be splitting her identity or flying any time soon) as his security guard/date. Kadir either doesn’t recognize her, or pretends not to, neither of which make sense. They’re allowed in without checking in with security, allowing Deadshot to use Diggle’s fingerprint to gain access to the party. Deadshot is a creeper with an eye patch, and doesn’t look like Diggle in the slightest…but no one cares. Apparently the fingerprint was all the security Kadir needed. Considering how powerful the chemical agent he houses downstairs is, it strains belief a tad.

Back in Starling, Ollie and Felicity track down Slade’s bank account number and reach his office…only to find Alexi’s head impaled with one of Deathstroke’s arrows. On the wall, videos of Shado are on loop, because it’s terrifying/insane. The problem? When did Slade get a chance to videotape Shado on the island? I suppose he could’ve found some footage of Shado once he returned…but I’m not sure why Shado would be flirting with the camera.

Diggle can’t believe what Lyla’s turned into, willing to work with ARGUS and make compromises of her morals. He also has the best line of the night: “When we talk, we tend to get divorced.” While they bicker, Floyd Lawton actually works, and locates the package…but learns it’s not something he can walk out with; it’s far too big for that. Waller knew that already, and merely needed to confirm the location of the deadly agent. So she sends in a drone strike to kill all in the building, and destroy the chemicals. Diggle and Lyla are allowed to leave, but everyone else is collateral damage. Diggle refuses to follow that order, and outs Kadir as a terrorist (sending everyone in the house running and screaming way too easily), and goes downstairs to “save “Deadshot. Floyd doesn’t want saving, however, ready to die honorably/for no reason. But he leaves with Diggle for Zoe (his daughter). The Suicide Squad is more like Amanda Waller’s Murder Squad, since there’s no reason Deadshot and company should’ve ever been sacrificed…but I guess Waller was content to use the mission as an excuse to kill off these villains. As such: the drone is really trained on Deadshot’s location, and not the chemical’s, and Lyla calmly rips out Floyd’s explosive device before the drone blows them all away. Easy enough. Waller knows Lyla helped…but glad to know how simple it is to remove the device. She plans to move the explosive into their spinal vertebrae. Nice of her.

Throughout the episode, Laurel gets virgin drinks at Verdant, chatting with her sister, and giving her advice about Oliver. Apparently Laurel has made tremendous/unfathomable strides in that department. Ollie’s pushing Sara away, to protect her, the old superhero adage, but Laurel implores him to open up, and he eventually does. They pledge to take on Slade together, and actually, this is the best Sara’s been for awhile. Her annoying voice is toned down, and I actually kind of liked the two as a couple for once.

After all the crazy, Diggle’s confused by the whole ARGUS and Suicide Squad thing (and so am I), but he’s not confused by his feelings: he can’t lose Lyla again, despite Floyd Lawton showing more character than his lover in the most recent mission. Cue smooches.

Back in Afghanistan, Diggle’s awarded a medal for saving Kadir (“kill a kid, get a medal”). Lyla calls him Johnny for the first time, and they officially meet and get on a first name basis, love blooming.

We’re not done with Amanda Waller yet: Ollie pays a visit, and apparently the two have a tumultuous past. Waller was on his list, even, and clearly it has something to do with the island (further prove that the island flashbacks will last as long as the show does). But that doesn’t matter now: Ollie needs her help to take out Slade. Waller believes his comeback is impossible…but then shows him an image of Deathstroke.

The showdown is approaching, but they’re definitely going to slow play it for a bit longer, but when the Suicide Squad and the Birds of Prey are the reasons for delaying, I think we’ll be okay with it. Of course, this also means Arrow has basically forgotten other subplots, like the mayoral race (though it does get a casual mention on a newscast), while Sebastian Blood has been M.I.A. for a long time, not that I’m complaining.

GRADE: B+

GIFs come from the lovely Queens Arrow tumblr.