You have no idea how powerful the truth can be.
This sentence is repeated twice in tonight’s episode and is ironic given how often Arrow‘s characters lie not only to the people closest to them, but also to themselves. Nonetheless, “Public Enemies” tackles it head on as we watch Arrow explore how traumatizing it can be when the truth about your loved ones’ survival is withheld from you. This is most notable in the main story line, which finds Quentin ordering a manhunt on all of Team Arrow.
Quentin’s renewed vendetta against Team Arrow is a reaction to having been lied to by not only his daughter, but also by the Arrow himself, who he believed was an ally. In fact, tonight’s episode is reminiscent of “Over the Edge,” a Batman: The Animated Series episode. In “Over the Edge,” Barbara Gordon, who is Batgirl, is severely injured in a fight against Scarecrow, which leads to her father finding out about both her dual identity and Batman’s real one. (Gordon goes as far as hiring Bane to kill Batman, however it all turns out to be Barbara hallucinating from Scarecrow’s toxins). It’s a similar set-up to tonight’s episode, because Gordon feels just as betrayed by the Batman as does Quentin by the Arrow.
For Quentin, the truth provides clarity. Not only has the Arrow led to his daughter’s death, but also to so much mayhem and destruction: Merlyn, Slade, Brick, and a whole host of other masked crazies who have plagued Starling since the Arrow arrived on the scene. The show raises, but never firmly answers, the question: How responsible is Oliver Queen for all of this? Is the Arrow worth all the drama that comes with him?
PRESENT DAY — STARLING CITY
We pick up right where last week’s episode left off with Maseo, dressed as The Arrow, firing on the Mayor’s office. In the confusion, the Mayor is shot and dies right on the spot, another one of her aids is hit, and Ray takes an arrow to the chest for Felicity. While Ray is in surgery, Quentin holds his first of many press conferences in tonight’s episode to announce that an arrest warrant has been issued for the Arrow’s arrest, he’s reforming the Anti-Vigilante Task Force, and that all the police officers have been ordered to shoot on sight. Tonight, Team Arrow learns that there ain’t no love in the heart of the city.
With nowhere else to turn, Oliver seeks out Nyssa for help. At first, she’s reluctant to help him, but Oliver plays the “what would Sara want you to do?” card—which persuades Nyssa to give up the location of the League’s hideout. Team Arrow suits up and heads out. Maseo and the rest of the League are waiting for them when they arrive, and after a fight sequence in which the editing obscured some of the action and Roy and Laurel actually perform rather well, Oliver eventually pins Maseo. This impresses Ra’s al Ghul, who makes a dramatic entrance. He gives Oliver two choices: ascend to the calling of Ra’s al Ghul, or spend his life in a cell because Ra’s, not caring that snitches get stitches because he has his lazarus pit, tipped off the SCPD.
If one thing is clear, it’s that Quentin isn’t messing around this time. What seems to be the entire SCPD appears, guns blazing, and starts cornering Team Arrow. The ensuing chase sequence through the alleys and warehouses of Starling City is exceptionally staged and drives home the idea that Ra’s al Ghul has successfully turned Starling City, Oliver’s city, into a weapon against him. At every turn, Team Arrow find themselves nearly cornered. It’s a situation they never dreamed they’d find themselves in—or, at least, not so soon. The police have lights everywhere, so they’ve even lost shadows as their allies. Eventually, Quentin chases his daughter in to a corner and is about to arrest her, but Nyssa rescues her, most likely creating even more Laurel/Nyssa shippers.
While all of this is going on, Felicity is at Ray’s beside. He made it out of surgery, however, a clot has formed in his system, which puts Ray between a rock and hard place: performing more surgery on his already weak body could risk brain damage (at the very least), and if they wait, the clot could move and kill him. But, Ray has a solution: He wants the doctor to use the nano-technology he created to shrink the clot and remove it. Hospital policy prevents the doctor from performing any sort of experimental treatment. Donna Smoak surprises Felicity at the hospital, and eventually convinces her to inject Ray with the nano-tech. It works and he’s saved.
Meanwhile, Maseo kidnaps Quentin and brings him to Ra’s al Ghul. Quentin responds to meeting Ra’s with a scoff. and it’s brilliant. Ra’s brushes it off and, in their conversation, reveals not only was Sara on Lian Yu with Oliver, but that Oliver Queen is the Arrow. Finding out Oliver Queen is the Arrow clears so much up for Quentin, but also further stokes his anger toward him. “It’s funny how things come full circle, right?” says Quentin noting how he blamed Oliver for Sara’s death before and now he’s back there.
NEXT: Coming clean