Arrow S3.17 "Suicidal Tendencies" review

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“Palmer knows I’m the Arrow?” asks Oliver, incredulous. It’s not exactly an exclusive club – by this point most of Starling seems to have the lowdown on Oliver’s dual identity – but it’s a decent enough pretext for an episode that wants to explore contrasting approaches to heroics.

Brandon Routh impresses here, finally showing the steel behind the goofy cheeseball we’ve seen for the past few weeks. Ray Palmer’s a superhero in the classic DC Comics mould – clear-eyed, pure-hearted, out for truth, justice and the American way (it’s no coincidence that the episode is peppered with oblique references to Superman, from “X-ray vision” to “supersuit”). Oliver, of course, is at the grittier, growlier end of the spandex spectrum, but by the end of the episode we’re reminded his heart is in exactly the same place as Ray’s. The moment they shake hands feels like a classic beat in a comic book team-up story.

Arrow Trivia

Green Arrow comic book writer Brad Meltzer earns yet another shout-out. This time he’s commemorated with his very own power plant in Starling City.

Not that the TV incarnation of the Atom bears all that much relation to his ink and paper counterpart. Let’s leave aside the fact that he doesn’t shrink – the entire USP of the character – and the clear echoes of Iron Man and Robocop in the armour design. It’s hard not to shake the feeling that Ray Palmer’s being written as Bruce Wayne: the idealistic one percenter with the detective smarts, able to see through everyone from Oliver to Felicity to Laurel, just like the comic book Bruce has files on the secret identities of his fellow Justice Leaguers. I’m glad the Atom’s finally on the screen – and the sight of him battling Oliver and Roy, jet thrusters blazing, injects a nice dose of spectacle – but is it too much to ask that he could be a little more like the Atom?

Still, Ray and Felicity get a good confrontation scene. It’s a relief after weeks of cloying cuteness and Routh and Emily Bett Rickards play it well.

Deadshot’s the surprise recipient of the flashbacks this week. His origin story feels a little rushed but that’s the piecemeal nature of the flashback scenes, which are never allowed to properly build through an episode. The hints of domestic abuse bring a powerful, sobering note, in stark contrast to the shiny superheroics elsewhere, and Michael Rowe exposes the tragedy of the character beneath the cocky bad boy exterior. Not so convinced by Cupid suddenly swapping her romantic allegiances – it plays like a cheap way to ensure someone can cry “Noooo!” at Deadshot’s apparent demise. Not convinced by that either, of course. He’ll be back.

Arrow is broadcast in the UK on Sky 1 HD on Thursday nights, and in the US on Wednesday nights.

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WriterKeto Shimizu
DirectorJesse Warn
The one whereDiggle and Lylas honeymoon proves to be a Suicide Squad mission to Kasnia, while Ray discovers Olivers secret and aims to bring him to justice.

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Available platformsTV
Nick Setchfield
Editor-at-Large, SFX Magazine

Nick Setchfield is the Editor-at-Large for SFX Magazine, writing features, reviews, interviews, and more for the monthly issues. However, he is also a freelance journalist and author with Titan Books. His original novels are called The War in the Dark, and The Spider Dance. He's also written a book on James Bond called Mission Statements.