Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 2, Episode 16 - Suicide Squad

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.


As Ollie prepares for the coming battle with Slade Wilson, Sara tries to back him up only to be pushed away.  Meanwhile, John Diggle is called away by Amanda Waller to assist with some ARGUS business.  An Afghan warlord who Diggle once saved is believed to have stolen a lethal chemical weapon and it's felt that Diggle may be their easiest connection to getting close to him.  Naturally Diggle is all too eager to help... until he is introduced to the rest of his team.

Enter Task Force X - a program that offers time-off to criminals in exchange for service in off-the-books operations.  Everyone on the team is a criminal The Arrow helped to bring down... including Diggle's own sworn enemy, Deadshot!  With the lives of millions at risk, can Diggle afford to hold on to his black and white morality in a world full of greys?


The 1980s Suicide Squad by John Ostrander, the 2001 Suicide Squad by Keith Giffen, Gail Simone's Secret Six and the 2005 Deadshot mini-series by Christos N. Gage.


Why is a civilian like John Diggle allowed to walk into the cell-block housing Deadshot and the other Task Force X members?  Particularly after he told-off Amanda Waller and said he wasn't working for her anymore?


After spending the better part of Season Two on the sidelines, Diggle is finally given an episode in the spotlight and David Ramsey rises to the occasion.  Ramsey can steal a scene with one good line and the whole episode does a fine job of highlighting his talents.

This episode marks Michael Rowe's longest appearance playing Deadshot so far and it is the first episode where it feels like we really get a glimpse at the complex character that is Floyd Lawton.  Rowe captures both Lawton's death-wish and his dark sense of humor.  He said in an interview that the most interesting thing about Deadshot - and the main reason he loved playing him - was that there is something oddly likeable about Floyd and yet Floyd doesn't like himself at all.  To my mind, that sums the character up perfectly.

Though their parts this week are relatively small, Stephen Amell and Caity Lotz both capture Oliver Queen and Black Canary perfectly in this episode.  Pushing people away when he needs their help the most is vintage Ollie as is his desire to protect the woman he loves, even when she's perfectly capable of protecting herself and probably more capable than he is in a straight-up fight!  Lotz perfectly captures the comics' Canary's loving nature and desire to comfort her man, in spite of her frustration over what an ass he's acting like.


Lyla texts Diggle and asks  her to meet him at Room 1141 at the Ostrander Hotel.  This is named in honor of John Ostrander - writer of the 1980's Suicide Squad comic and the co-creator (along with Len Wein and John Byrne) of Amanda Waller.

The nation of Kahndaq is mentioned during Diggle's briefing at ARGUS.  In the comics, Kahndaq is a fictional nation and home to the supervillain Black Adam.  It is in the Middle East, located between Israel and Egypt on the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula

Part of the episode takes place in Markovia.  In the comics, Markovia is located in Western Europe between France, Belgium and Luxembourg.  It is home to the hero Geo-Force.

The blonde woman with the squeaky voice on the Task Force X cell-block is credited as "Deranged Squad Female".  Given that she is played by Tara Strong, and that the woman claims to be a licensed therapist,  it seems clear the woman is meant to be Harley Quinn - a member of the Suicide Squad in the New 52 Suicide Squad series.

The robbery that Ollie goes to stop only to find the robbers already killed by Slade Wilson is located at 5th and Giffen.  This is in honor of Keith Giffen, who wrote the 2001 Suicide Squad comic.

Diggle's call-sign with The Squad is Freelancer. 

As in Gail Simone's Secret Six, Waller's call-sign is Mockingbird

As in Ostrander's Suicide Squad, explosives are used to keep the criminal members of Task Force X under control. 

The idea of Deadshot having a young daughter, whom he provides for using his earnings as an assassin was first introduced in the 2005 Deadshot mini-series by Christos N. Gage.  This series centered upon Floyd Lawton discovering he had a four-year-old daughter in Star City and - lacking anything better to do - deciding to turn his skills against the corrupt cops and dangerous gangs threatening the neighborhood she was being raised in.  His activities gained the attention of Green Arrow, who - finding out the reasons for Lawton's rampage - agreed to patrol the area more often in exchange for Deadshot agreeing to leave town.

Gail Simone would later pick up on this thread in her Secret Six book, where Floyd actually visited Zoe and made an honest attempt at being a father.  He would later decide it was better he not expose her to the dangers of his life and he told her mother as much over the phone.

Deadshot is depicted as having a death-wish and not really caring about whether he lives or dies.  This is consistent with his characterization in the comics, where the kindest thing to say would be that Floyd has issues.  Serious issues.

The detonation code for Deadshot's implant is BATB-25.  This is likely a reference to Brave And The Bold #25 - the first comic to feature the original 1959 Suicide Squad. 

Dialogue Triumphs

Amanda Waller:
They're designated Task Force X.
Give me a break!  This ain't no task force.  Let's call it like it is.  Welcome to the Suicide Squad.

(To an arguing Diggle and Lyla)

Harley Quinn:
Do you two cuties need some counseling?  I'm a trained therapist!

Diggle: A girl needs a father.
Deadshot: Nah.  Not this father.  Best thing I can do for her life?  Not be in it.

Ollie: I can't...I don't know how to stop him.
Sara: You start by letting people help you.
Ollie: But he's going to come after you!  You're alive... because Shado isn't.
Sara: And when he does do you think it will make a difference whether or not we're together?  Let him come.  I'm not the girl he knew on The Island.  I'm not that easy to kill.  Together?
Ollie: Together.

Lyla: What about us, Johnny?
Diggle: Last night the man who killed my brother showed more character than the woman charged with protecting the world.  Good and Bad, it's not so clear to me.  One thing I do know for sure- Black and White - is that I can't ever lose you again.


Ollie and Sara are seen sleeping in the Arrow Cave at the start of the episode, indicating Moira's threat to kick Ollie out of her house in 215 was not an idle one.

Oliver makes contact with Alexi Leonov - his contact with the Russian Mafia in Starling City, last scene in 112.  By episode's end, Ollie with have cut all ties with the Russian Mafia and Alexi is dead by Slade Wilson's hand.

Waller's Suicide Squad is made up of villains Arrow was responsible for catching.  They include Bronze Tiger (last seen in 212 ), Shrapnel (last seen in 210 ) and Deadshot (last seen in 206).  We also see Amanda Waller for the first time since 212.  Shrapnel is killed after he attempts to escape.

We see John Diggle's current girlfriend/former wife Lyla Michaels for the first time since 206.

Ted Gaynor, whose death we witnessed in 111,  is seen in the flashback scenes.

The mask Slade leaves at the robbery scene is identical (if not the same mask) that we saw on The Island in the pilot episode.

By episode's end, Waller says they'll implant the kill-chips for the Squad members in their spines.

Ollie and Thea both hated swimming as children.

In the episode's final moments, it is revealed that Oliver Queen and Amanda Waller have some manner of prior relationship and that Oliver is aware Amanda knows his secret identity.  He also has some reason to hate Amanda but notes that she is much lower down on his list these days.

Waller reveals that Slade Wilson's assassin alter ego has been dubbed Deathstroke by ARGUS.


The flashbacks for the episode - six years earlier - are set in RC South, Kandahar, Afghanistan.

The majority of the episode takes place in Markovburg, Markovia.

The Bottom Line

For once, the interplay between Ollie and Sara isn't the focus of an episode nor is it the best part.  Forget a Flash TV series next season - I want more Suicide Squad!  With Harley Quinn as a series regular!  And Clock King as a part of the Squad!  And blackjack!  And hookers!

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