Sometimes, episodes of television get us excited, delight us with sheer awesomeness, or result in some kind of air-punch moment; other times, though, episodes can frustrate to the point where we’re yelling at the TV the whole time. In the case of Arrow and “Public Enemy,” the second is definitely the case, but that’s exactly what the writers want. This show has a way of making the adage about it always being darkest before the dawn intensely true. Things do not look good for anybody right now, but that doesn’t mean it won’t look up in a couple of episodes. They’ve done this every year, though the end-of-year triumph is usually bittersweet, so get ready for that, I guess.
This episode is all about Captain Quentin Lance’s personal crusade and vendetta against the Arrow, whom he now blames solely for all the problems in Starling City, and specifically for his daughters being wrapped up in a world of danger and death. Is it the Arrow’s fault? It is not, but you can’t tell that to an angry, grieving father. Remember when Lance was a-okay with everything? He didn’t care that Sara was a crime fighter, or at least was okay with it, for a real long time and now all of the sudden he hates everybody. He’ll even go so far as to try to arrest his other daughter, though luckily her new mentor Nyssa shows up and stops him. And then, to make matters worse, Ra’s al Ghul kidnaps Lance and tells him Oliver is the Arrow, to which Lance, if he were any kind of detective, would have said “Oh. Duh. Obviously.” You know, cuz literally everyone Oliver knows has been discovered as working with the Arrow.
You know, the more I think about it, the more I think Ra’s al Ghul is a real asshole. Also, point of order: all the League of Assassin folk including Maseo, Nyssa, and even al Ghul himself pronounce the name “Raysh,” which is the way the character’s creator Denny O’Neill pronounces it. However, Oliver, Thea, and even Malcolm Merlyn (who, let me remind you, was ALSO in the League of Assassins) pronounce it “Roz,” which is the way they said it in the Christopher Nolan Batman movies. There’s no overselling how annoyed I am by this discrepancy. That’d be like if a bunch of people pronounced my name “Keel” and just refused to hear the way I said it and change accordingly. Why is this allowed to happen, still? For frick’s sake, everyone; it’s RAYSH. Ugh. Anyway, he’s a real jerk.
Oliver being on the run is not something new to him, but it’s definitely not something he wanted to have happen right now. And he’s in between a rock and a hard place, especially when Lance finds out the truth. He can’t even hide behind his real name. So what does he do? He turns himself in, because the truth can be a very powerful thing. However, ol’ Roy Harper doesn’t want to let him do it. He slept with Thea (good for them) and she wants to just run away, but Roy can’t. He still blames himself for having killed that policeman while drugged and he wants to get caught, so he does the selfless (and pretty stupid, actually) thing of turning himself in as the Arrow after Oliver’s already in custody, having made a deal for all of his friends’ immunity. Surely the DA’s not going to keep that plea around if someone else turns themselves in, right? It’s stuff like this that really irks me about these kinds of episodes. JUST DO LOGICAL THINGS. But, it’s a way to heighten stakes before the end.
Elsewhere, in the other show happening within the title Arrow, the freshly-believing-Oliver Ray Palmer has been shot by Maseo’s arrow following the murder of the mayor. Right in the chest, even. They take him to the hospital and remove the arrow, but it turns out he’s got some kind of blood clot and they can either attempt to remove it which could leave him brain dead or leave it alone and he’ll be dead-dead. But he has these nanogenes! That could save him! But, because the Starling General doctor is a coward, or whatever, he refuses to give it a try. Now, I know drama is a thing, but why wouldn’t they try something-ANYTHING-to save a guy who is basically dying/dead either way? And then, Felicity’s delightful mother shows up for moral support. What a lady! Ms. Smoak injects the nano robots into Ray’s neck and, save a jolt which probably means he’ll be able to shrink soon–so he’ll be completely fine, blood clot gone. He tells Felicity he loves her and she can’t say it back, and then immediately goes to talk to her mom about it, who already knows Felicity still loves Oliver. Again, BECAUSE DRAMA. Whatever will happen next?
And, finally this week, we had a resolution to the Flashback cliffhanger from two weeks ago when Oliver and the kid are running through the streets of Hong Kong and bump into Shado…whaaaaat? Only it isn’t Shado at all; it’s her twin sister Mei. Umm what? Oliver cops to knowing Shado so they can get off the streets and go to Mei’s house to hide. He says they were in medical school together, but doesn’t pretend to know what happened and why Mei hasn’t seen her sister or dad in 3 years. But, she sees his tattoo which is the same as the one Shado had in the conveniently-taken photo on her shelf and she gets mad and calls the police, but Waller’s people show up instead, destroying the place, before Maseo and Tatsu show up and kill the guys. Eventually Oliver tells Mei the truth and she’s actually relieved to know her family is dead, because now she doesn’t have to worry.
Now, this kind of thing is really annoying. I already can’t stand these flashbacks very much, and then they do something like “It’s Shado” but resolve the cliffhanger with “just kidding, it’s her TWIN SISTER YOU DIDN’T KNOW SHE HAD.” Why in the world? Just why? There better be some HUGE revelation at the end of the season with regard to these flashbacks or I’m really gonna flip. And, Misters Kreisberg, Guggenheim, and Berlanti: enough with the Oliver flashbacks. We’re done. We get it. He had a rough five years. I don’t need to know every single day of them. Any time the flashbacks involve someone else’s backstory, I’m immediately more interested. Floyd Lawton’s last week was very straight-forward, but endlessly more rewarding, narratively. Just a humble request.
Next week, we have episode 3×19 “Broken Arrow.” Sounds real uplifting. Looks that way, too.