Due to recent events, such as the state of militarised police in America, the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the recent report on CIA torture, certain programmes have become harder to watch. Pro armed forces and law enforcement shows that celebrate the badassary of the gun toting cop or paint the police force as an infallible bastion of unflappable morals are now larger and more uncomfortable pieces to swallow. Shows like NCIS: Los Angeles and Blue Bloods can become rage inducing.
So the themes of this episode of Arrow are either impeccably timed or hideously inappropriate, depending on where your opinion lies. I’m not going to tell you where your line should be, but I will tell you that Arrow will probably walk it, cross it and come back again several times.
The good thing about the episode is that it has a real debate in it. The Flash’s presence in this one isn’t to provoke some contrived fight scenario like in the last episode. To make the teaming more at home with Arrow’s tone, it’s more about their conflicting ideals. Arrow tortures people. Flash does not. Flash isn’t comfortable with Arrow’s torturing. Arrow is uncomfortable with what his worries insinuate.
The limitations and follies of torture are explicitly depicted in this program, but it isn’t an anti-torture tirade. There are times when the argument falls on the torturers side. Times when only extreme actions will stop the extremism of the antagonists. But that is the trouble with “Enhanced Interrogation”. You never know if you could have handled it differently until it’s too late.
Most interesting is when the show gets really meta and starts discussing the differences in their cites as if they were the programs themselves. Discussing how superpowers allow for a more idealised look at the world, while the realism of Arrow produces some hard truthes. And while it’s just as obvious as last week’s episode where the cast was surrogating for the audience it’s a clever enough observation to justify its existence without resorting to pandering.
But if you want pandering just wait for the end of the programme. It’s the biggest cock tease since the end of Rocky III.