**This post contains spoilers for episode 3.18 of Arrow, “Public Enemy.”**
In the three years since the Arrow has appeared in his city, Quentin Lance, detective-turned-beat-cop-turned-captain, hasn’t figured out his true identity. This is besides the fact that the Arrow’s sidekick was Oliver Queen’s bodyguard, that his other sidekick was Queen’s executive assistant, that his daughter Sara Lance, aka the Canary, was dating Queen when she ran around saving the city, and that his other daughter Laurel, aka the Black Canary, has taken over that mantle.
I’m not sure how we can interpret this other than Quentin being a colossal idiot who is terrible at his job, but hey, at least he probably knew it on some level. Sigh.
It really undermines the incredible pathos that Paul Blackthorne puts into Lance’s storyline in this episode. He’s on a rampage to get to the Arrow because he’s grieving, he’s hurt, and he believes he’s lost everything. He’s reacting irrationally, but in a way that makes sense — he can’t trust Laurel because she burned that bridge, and he’s similarly angry at the man under the hood. In his mind, neither of them did anything to protect his daughter, and they spent the intervening months lying to him about her true fate. It’s awful that his inability to figure out the truth about Oliver has clouded this otherwise compelling story.
Lance is captured by “Race” al Ghul, who not only reveals the Arrow’s identity, but also tells Lance that Sara spent some time on Lian Yu. He announces the Arrow’s identity to the entire city, effectively shutting it down and forcing Oliver to turn himself in. Oliver tries to do it in exchange for immunity for his team, but none of them are thrilled with letting Oliver take the fall.
Ray, meanwhile, saves Felicity’s life or whatever. He ends up in the hospital and he’s still SUPER boring there, even on his literal deathbed, as he talks about his “teeny tiny robots” which can break up a blood clot. Then he goes from boring to psychotic in a teeny tiny robot second when he tells Felicity that he loves her. You know. Less than a year after he lost his “beloved” fiancee during Slade’s Mirakuvasion. This is definitely manipulation on his part.
It’s all gonna be okay, though, because Mama Smoak is back! “Hey! At least you finally have a boyfriend!” (Literally my mother. Like. Seriously.) Felicity confides that Ray said he loved her, and Donna lays it out for her: “You don’t love Ray, because you’re in love with Oliver.” She sweetly tells Felicity that it’s time to make a choice.
Roy abruptly goes off the deep end, consumed by sudden and random guilt over everything he’s done. It almost reads as out-of-character until we get to the end of the episode, when he dons the Arrow leathers and reveals that HE, in fact, is the Arrow. (Nice try, Roy, but are you saying that YOU saved YOURSELF from that man on the train back in season 1?)
“Race” al Ghul is still trying to bully Oliver into taking on his mantle, and make no mistake, this is actual bullying. Stephen Amell can tweet his faux-excitement to be “the next R’as!” all he wants, it’s not gonna fool me into thinking this is actually a good turn for him. This show needs a huge reset button for this storyline and I hate that they’ve driven me to the point of actually wanting time travel or Lazarus Pits or anything that will get rid of this stupid “Race” al Ghul storyline once and for all.
By far, one of the best scenes from this dismal season is the one between Lance and Oliver in the back of that van. “Well, was it worth it? All the pain and misery you brought back from that island? Merlyn, Slade Wilson… wouldn’t it be better if you just died there?” Then he goes on a heartbreaking list of the casualties of Oliver’s war: “Tommy. Hilton. Your mother. My daughter. And now you’re set on killing Laurel too.” It’s not fair for him to put all of this on Oliver — Tommy and Sara’s deaths aren’t on his hands, especially as Oliver chose Sara over Shado on Lian Yu — but it really punctuates Lance’s actions in this episode. None of this is fair, but we can see the thread of logic that runs through it all. Oliver IS the common denominator even if he’s not the instigator, and Lance, in his grief and anger, has boiled it down to its most simple solution.
“Do you have any idea what you’ve done, huh? What you’ve done to all of us, to the people you claim to care so much about? You’ve made us criminals! You’ve made us liars and victims! You, Mr. Queen, are not a hero! You’re a villain.”
And then —
Mmm whatcha saaaay…
– Nyssa is still around! She gives Team Arrow the absolute minimal amount of help when she gives them Maseo’s location, but that’s enough for me! #TeamNyssa
– In the flashbacks, Oliver runs into Shado’s (long-lost, never-mentioned) twin sister, Mei. SUSPICIOUS. This raises so many questions, but until we find out from a third party that Shado definitely had a twin, I’ll remain suspicious.
– “If your father were here –” / “He’d be arrested.” Bits of backstory on Felicity’s father.
– “You, Harper, Sara, the freak in Central City, the Huntress, I got a new guy flying around the city!” I love Lance’s breakdown of the various Starling City vigilantes.
– I assume something happens to Akio in the flashbacks, prompting Tatsu’s present-day grief and Maseo’s alliance with the League, but they keep dragging it out and it’s getting tiresome. This whole show is tiresome.
TONIGHT: Felicity and the punchable Ray Palmer make appearances in Central City where huge revelations are made, and probably reversed thanks to time travel. So watch The Flash if you need your Felicity fix.
TAX DAY: I just watched the extended promo for this week’s Arrow and while I’m looking forward to an Oliver-and-Roy centric episode, it’s also gonna be heavy on Bootleg Iron Man, so my mental countdown for when Ray goes to his own show has already begun. SPOILER: Supposedly someone will die, too. The internet is rampant with theories from Roy to Diggle, but like I listed above… Akio, to our knowledge, is not alive in the present day. And presumably, his death or disappearance has to happen soon. I haven’t delved too deep into online (okay, Tumblr) theories but I don’t know why people aren’t considering Akio to be a significant death… since it sorta sets Maseo’s, and by extention Oliver’s, current storyline in motion.
Are you excited, or are you dreading it?