*Contains some spoilers*
Arrow has been teasing the Suicide Squad for quite some time. Hell, I remember it being promoted at last year's SDCC panel. Well, the day has finally arrived and the TV show is prepared to show us how its version of the DC team operates. Luckily for us, it's a pretty good episode!
Despite being a fan of several characters on the roster, the show hasn't made some of these villains all that compelling in the past. However, when they're now put together and we're treated to smaller doses of them, the characters flourish and become way more enjoyable. For example, Deadshot missed an absurd amount of times when previously fighting Oliver and he came off as somewhat campy at times. Here, he's actually given a bit of depth and has some solid bits of dialogue with Diggle. Truth be told, he's the Suicide Squad character that received the biggest amount of attention in this episode, but they pulled it off well and I can definitely see this approach working with someone like Bronze Tiger and the other individuals on the roster. The opportunity to watch them work together is a pretty big treat and it's great to see they've pulled it off. Oh, and there may or may not be some major fan service if you like a certain Batman rogue.
Obviously, the idea of using bad guys for operations and planting explosives in their head (that really shouldn't be a spoiler for anyone here, right?) brings up some moral questions. The episode addresses these in a direct and concise manner; having Diggle on one end and his ex-wife/current girlfriend on the other end. Nothing here will give you an epiphany on the subject, but it's effectively handled and good to see they're not blatantly casting the discussion aside.
On top of the Suicide Squad's debut, the episode also juggles Oliver's inability to cope with the stress of Slade Wilson's reemergence. Fully aware that Slade wants him to suffer every bit as much as he has, this creates some predictable yet still enjoyable bits of drama between Oliver and Sara. I can't shake the feeling that they're giving us a stronger emotional bond to her just so they can try to break our hearts by killing her in the finale. It would be great if they didn't go that route -- especially since so many of us think that's what'll happen -- and instead hit us with something no one sees coming. But only time will tell, right? This plot also created some really cool scenes that showcase how long Slade has been planning this and how he's getting into Ollie's head. Additionally, this plot begins what I'm going to call "Laurel's road to redemption." She's not in this episode for very long, but her moments are sincere and goodhearted. What a wonderful change of pace for the character, yeah? It's nice to actually agree with what she's saying instead of wanting to groan after she speaks her mind. Felicity's also in this episode for a quick moment or two. Her appearance may be swift (can't help but recall that Diggle is no longer watching her...) although it's nice to see her remain strong in such a scenario. The series continues to make her likable even if she's in just one bit.
I'm happy this episode shined a strong spotlight on Diggle, but the flashback scenes felt like a missed opportunity. Who out there doesn't want to see the follow-up to Slade taking over the ship? Yes, it's cute seeing how Diggle and his loved one met, but, truth be told, it really didn't add anything to the greater picture. Minor gripe: did that feel like an awkwardly long handshake to anyone else? Plus, much of these jumps into the past were dedicated to establishing the arms dealer that played a relatively minor role and we may not even be seen him after this episode. I was expecting some act of heroism to justify his mentality, too. Instead, the way it played out left me questioning how he even knew he was in someone's sights and why he viewed that as being saved instead of someone shooting at their enemy. It's not a big deal, but I expected something a little bigger. Maybe something cliche like Diggle shoving him out of the way and taking a bullet to the leg or something along those lines.
Honestly, this was feeling like an episode that would earn 5-stars until the last few acts. I have quite a few personal gripes with the mission's final course of events. For the sake of keeping this review spoiler-free, I'll just say Amanda Waller's plan had some very questionable and frustrating decisions. There was no apparently justification for the "now or never" play. Lastly, can we please stop with the "Deathstroke reveal" cliffhangers? The meeting that took place prior to it would have been a perfect note to end on, but instead we get yet another cliffhanger where it just blatantly teases Slade instead of actually making any development with him.
Suicide Squad was totally worth the wait. Not only do the writers do an able job constructing the team and sending them off on their first mission, but it also does a talented job balancing the Oliver/Deathstroke story. I won't lie: as a Deadshot fan, it was great to see the marksman utilized so well, too. My complaints began to pile up as the episode started racing towards its conclusion, but overall, it's still a very entertaining episode and covers a whole lot of ground.