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In a strange way, “Public Enemy” was the most complete episode Arrow has put together in weeks. That being said, something still just didn’t feel right about it as a whole. There is just something missing from the series now, and I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. Perhaps it’s simply that The Flash is delivering strong episodes week in and week out on Tuesday nights, while Arrow is opting to continually rehash the same things over and over, that is making Arrow‘s flaws all the more prominent. Whatever it is, something is off on the series. And “Public Enemy,” which does some things very right, just doesn’t have the emotional impact it is seeking and fails to really hit its big reveals.
Ignoring, for a minute, that the likelihood of being able to get an arrest warrant for the Arrow without having an actual identity for him would be next to impossible, Captain Lance could have easily issued a warrant for his arrest on first degree murder charges way before the mayor was shot. Remember back in the first season when Arrow was killing all the bad guys? Back before he adopted his “maim, don’t kill” code (although, the show hasn’t been super clear on whether or not he’s been killing the League members)? Each time he killed someone, even if they were the most horrific bad guy Starling City had ever seen, that was grounds for a murder charge. So, really, Lance could have started this whole thing in motion at the first sign Arrow was killing again. Which, knowing Oliver’s penchant for self-flagellation and guilt, could have potentially saved an innocent life. But, apparently the series can only refer back to Oliver’s past murderous ways when it is cause for him to mope around the Arrow Cave.
I was pretty impressed by Lance’s reaction to what should have been the episode’s most compelling moment: the reveal that Oliver is the Arrow. Sure, Lance likely had an idea it was Oliver all along, considering that both of his daughters and all of Arrow’s known associates just happened to be close friends with Oliver. But his measured response was a surprise. No flying off the handle, no freaking out at Laurel. It was the most calm I think I’ve seen him in weeks. Credit again to Paul Blackthorne for changing things up a bit upon the reveal. In an episode that was jam packed with over-the-top reactions to things (I’m looking at you, Felicity’s mom), it was a nice change to see the revulsion and seething anger lying just under the surface of Blackthorne’s portrayal. I was a bit mystified why, once it was clear the cat was out of the bag, Laurel didn’t just lay the entire truth out on the table (and explain that the League was out to get Oliver). There’s a chance Lance wouldn’t believe her, sure, but there was every chance he would have. He knows the power of the League and their reach. It makes no sense not to at least try and explain what was really happening.
Outside of Blackthorne’s strong work, there were some other elements that worked within the episode. It now seems clear that the show is laying the groundwork for Nyssa to eventually take over the League. Having her help out Team Arrow (while still refusing to admit that she is willingly betraying her father) is a huge step toward this endgame. And, I have to admit, I like having her around. She’s a compelling and layered character who embraces her darkness. When she’s done training Laurel, I hope that she can extoll a bit of her wisdom on this to Oliver.
I also enjoyed seeing Team Arrow finally working together for a common goal. With the addition of the League, Ray, Merlyn, and the (still annoying) Hong Kong flashbacks, it is becoming far too rare to have the entirety of Team Arrow working together to tackle an obstacle. Seeing the gang fighting together was nice, even though I would have preferred if there were higher stakes than the ones in this episode (no one really believes anyone on Team Arrow will actually end up in prison for this). I’m also less than thrilled at the idea of Roy sacrificing himself to save Oliver, since that will only mean Oliver lays on more angst as a result. Certainly there will be some miracle that will save him from a life behind bars, but I honestly wouldn’t be all that broken up if Roy disappeared into prison for a while.
“Public Enemy,” more than anything else, was an episode that pushed the show forward. It moved the plot ever closer to the final showdown with Ra’s and the League, and threw Starling City into even more turmoil. We know that Oliver and Ra’s must meet one final time before the season is out, and now that Ra’s has officially shown his hand, we are one giant step closer to that meeting. And for that reason, “Public Enemy” accomplishes what it set out to do. The stories that wind through the episode might not work all that well (I refuse to even dive into the mess that was the Felicity b-storyline), but the overall goal was met. Hopefully, the final series of episode will give us better stories to get us where we need to go, but based on the season so far, I’m not holding my breath.
— Man, that Felicity storyline was pointless (although I assume the nano-bots will result in the shrinking portion of The Atom). If we never see Felicity’s mother again it will be too soon.
— Turns out there is one person in Starling that can pronounce Ra’s name correctly: Captain Lance. Seriously though, could Team Arrow learn to pronounce that correctly?
— So Shado has a twin sister? Yawn.
— So, how did Roy fit so perfectly into Oliver’s Arrow suit? He’s way smaller. Or, does all of Team Arrow have their own Arrow suit?