Arrow: Public Enemy Review

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By: Ashley Binion (@ashleybinion)

It took an entire season, but Arrow finally found its direction. “Public Enemy” is the best episode of the season and arguably one of the best in the series.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

“Public Enemy” is an episode three seasons in the making. It’s an episode that was bound to happen. Since the beginning of the series, The Arrow/The Hood/The Vigilante has been in a precarious situation, wavering between outlaw and ally. With the emerging threat of Ra’s al Ghul and his League of Assassins, the public persona of The Arrow has swayed back into outlaw territory. As a result, Team Arrow was put on the defensive throughout the entirety of “Public Enemy.”

The episode rests firmly on the shoulders of one of Arrow’s most underutilized characters, Captain Quentin Lance. Life has kicked this man down more times than anyone should be kicked down. His troubles rival those of Oliver Queen. Throughout the series, Paul Blackthorne has had many standout and emotionally heavy scenes, but this is his episode and he was outstanding. He’s a man whose grief and anger set ablaze a citywide manhunt. The fact that he would even consider putting his daughter in jail demonstrates how far reaching his hurt is.

He’s the only policeman in the department who believed most in The Arrow, mostly because of the less lethal way he began taking down criminals and the fact that his daughter took up with the city’s nocturnal crime fighter. After learning Team Arrow, and his own daughter, betrayed him regarding the death of Sara, he was looking for some reason to take the group down and he was given it thanks to Ra’s.

Not only did he actively try to take down the hooded hero, he took down Oliver Queen. He’s had a long and complicated history with the young man, a history he’s more than happy to bring up in the back of the prisoner transport van. It was one of the episode’s more powerful scenes.

I loved the way the series dealt with the manhunt. In the first act alone, there was a chase scene that lasted a good five minutes, but didn’t feel like it was overkill as it was a plot necessity to show how hunted Team Arrow was. This was the first time since his mother’s death at the hand of Slade Wilson that his world was collapsing around him. As he told his friends, he had no other options, no plan to keep him or his friends safe.

What’s most gratifying about this is that Roy sacrificed himself to save his mentor. On the outside, life seemed to be good for Roy; he’s the perfect sidekick and recently reconnected with Thea. But deep down, he’s a young man with honor that still feels guilty about his Mirakuru-fueled rage a season ago. He wants to make it right. That’s why his sacrifice is so noble.

Ray and Felicity’s little subplot was an odd little detour. The only reason the scenes are excusable is because the episode needed some moments of levity. Beyond these scenes, the episode was quite dark.

I’m glad Mama Smoak was back. The banter between her and her daughter were the lightest moments in the episode. Her first appearance was a rounding success as it gave more insight to the background of Team Arrow’s hacker. This time, her appearance was once again there to give more insight into Felicity, more specifically her feelings regarding Ray and Oliver.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars


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