Last night’s Arrow episode, ”Public Enemy,” was so great. It was like a tasting menu of old characters in new combinations, as well as a few classic pair-ups. We’ll walk you through the moments that no Arrow fan should miss.
Let’s get the flashback mystery out of the way. New Shado is the secret twin sister of Old Shado. All of you who had your money on Secret Twin, congratulations! Those who bet on Hallucination or Impostor Placed In Ollie’s Way By Conspirators, better luck next time. I’m sure you’ll have plenty more chances to guess what’s up with inexplicably alive characters, either in this series or an upcoming spin-off.
Our first interaction of the night is courtesy of Felicity’s mom, who comes sailing back into town to brighten everyone’s day. And we need our day brightened, because Ray got shot saving Felicity and that is the absolute best thing that happens to Ray during this episode. Donna is so much fun, and can get away with saying the most awful thing in an episode full of people saying awful things. Ray learns he has a blood clot that will kill him or cause brain damage, he can’t use his nanotech to cure it because the hospital won’t allow it, Felicity is devastated, and Donna turns to her and says, “At least you finally have a boyfriend!”
Donna isn’t just there for comic relief. She does some useful things, both for Felicity and for the plot. For the plot, she drops many hints that Felicity’s dad was a techie, and not a good techie. Felicity she forces into two realizations: Felicity has to take a chance and inject nanotech into Ray, and then she has to drop Ray like she’s a mobster and he’s the body of a bookie who tried to skim too much off her profits. Because she’s in love with Oliver. Because duh.
Then Donna says, “Did you just have hospital sex? I’ve always wanted to have hospital sex!” Which, coming from a mother to a daughter, is the second most awful thing said in this episode.
Ra’s has been setting Ollie up for a fall, and his early attempt leads to a very tense and prolonged chase scene. (Also that part where Ollie, Roy, and Laurel jumped off the building and only Ollie and Roy had lines to rappel on so Ollie grabbed Laurel on the way down? So cool.) But it’s his second attempt that really changes things, and gives us an interesting scene. First of all there is a contrast of styles, because Quentin is very much a regular street cop and Ra’s is a warlord-out-of-time with an English (or at least New Zenglish) accent who says things like, “I apologize for the coarse treatment. I didn’t think I’d get you to speak with me of your own accord.”
Then there is the way Ra’s really plays off Quentin’s pain and rage. Revealing that Oliver Queen is the Arrow isn’t enough to make Quentin crazy, and he knows it. He wants Quentin to know how much of his daughter’s life he’s been cheated of, so he tells him about how Sara made it to the island, and that Ollie knew about it the whole time. This team-up works. When Quentin reveals that Ollie is the Arrow on national television, he and Ra’s make sure Ollie is out of options.
Quentin doesn’t look smart in this episode, but there’s one scene that’s pretty great in the way it shows he’s still got his head in the game. He waits for Laurel to come to his office, works Ollie into the conversation and gets her to mention the Arrow. Then he says, “Oliver, the Arrow, either way same guy,” and watches her reaction. It’s a tough scene because both actors have to let us know what’s really happening — Quentin forcing Laurel to lie at a moment’s notice and Laurel giving the game away — without saying anything. Well done!
Oh my god! Oh jesus! Oh that was so brutal! Oh, did you see his smile? Did you see how it slipped away when he said, “I love you,” and Felicity flailed like a woman trying to get into spanx in an airport bathroom? Oh, that was the most painful thing I’ve seen on this show and I’ve seen every single minute of Stephen Amell’s three-year struggle to shed his Canadian accent.
Look, I know this character was supposed to be Ted Kord, and up until now I really wished he had been, because that was a great interpretation of Ted Kord. But now I’m glad he’s not because I would never wish that kind of pain on Ted! Seeing Ray sit there, alone, in the hospital bed, with the realization that Felicity didn’t love him sinking in hurt so much that if it had lasted any longer I would have chewed through my own ankle to escape.
I’m sorry, Ray. I wish you the naughtiest of nurses during your recovery.
So Ollie turns himself in, and wants to take the fall for the other Arrow team members. And they have a sad scene about it. But the real meat is where Ollie and Quentin are in the back of a police van together. I liked the moment when Ollie said, “I love your family,” and BAM! Quentin hits him right in the face. But Quentin’s speech is, when you think about it, right on the money.
“You’ve made us criminals. You’ve made us liars and victims. You, Mr. Queen, are not a hero. You’re a villain. But you know that, don’t you?”
The police van gets stopped. The Green Arrow is on top of it. He announces that the police have the wrong man. He pulls his hood back. It’s Roy.
This was good. I’ve mentioned before that Roy has been kind of in the background this season. He’s been troubled, but mostly he stops by during other people’s stories to talk about how he feels bad about his drugged killing of the cop, or how much he owes to Oliver. It hasn’t been a lot of screen time, but all of it built up to us getting a clear picture of exactly why guilt and gratitude would get him to do just this under these circumstances. Again, well done, Arrow.