Review: ‘Arrow’ Runs ‘The Candidate’ for Mayor of Bad Ideas
What? Eww. We in no way needed to see the decaying corpse of Sara Lance to enhance anything about the character’s return. It was frustrating enough, the manner in which Season 3 killed off a great character like Sara to spur its early plot, and only further frustrating that DC simply walked back the decision to spin her off into an entirely different series. Not to mention, the logistics of rejuvenating a year-old corpse in the Lazarus Pit seemed wonky enough, before factoring in an entirely different series to return her to a functional state, and you know what all that awkwardness didn’t need?
A full-on shot of Sara’s decayed corpse in a bustier, to cap off Laurel’s already-insane decision to dig up her sister’s body, transport it around the world, and throw it in a pool neither she, nor Thea know anything about. No. Bad idea. Bad idea in general, bad idea in execution.
That’s not even the worst decision made throughout “The Candidate,” of which there are multiple contenders vying for implausible ends to legitimate problems. Much as we love and adore Felicity as a boss bitch with wi-fi, it’s justifiably questioned that she shoulder the future of Palmer Tech against a beleaguered board, and it seemed like a smart move on Arrow’s part to heap some of the soul-crushing dirty work her way, given the state of the company, and city at large.
You know what’s a bad idea, made solely for the sake of a happy ending? Walking back the layoffs, lying to the board about a miracle invention that will turn their fortunes around, and heaping that burden onto someone you barely know. Yes, we know that Echo Kellum’s Curtis Holt will indeed prove himself Mister Terrific and save the day, and thereby Felicity but in the moment? Just a bad, bad idea. Sometimes people have to be fired! It's okay to lean into that.
Bad idea number three? Oliver Queen running for mayor. Yes, it has roots in the comic, and makes sense as a means with which Oliver can finally step into the light and inspire his city without the aid of a mask, but we know Arrow itself will never function longterm with Oliver as (a wildly underqualified) Mayor. Therefore, we’ve already telegraphed this story’s outcome by the end of the season.
In earnest, the entire hour seemed noticeably preoccupied (and thinly veiled) with the idea of living up to its own Season 4 promise of taking the series in a different direction, and it’s frustrating to have to watch those wheels turning in Oliver’s head when Jeri Ryan’s Jessica Danforth and Captain Lance plant the seed. We know Arrow intends Season 4 to take the series in a different direction, and we know Oliver needs to find a way to inspire beyond his nighttime* heroics; what we didn’t need was to see that sentiment verbalized at every turn, and without a practical resolution in the end.
*It occurred to me the other day that if Oliver (and by association Arrow) intends to differentiate himself as a lighter, more inspiring hero, shouldn't that at some point evolve into the Green Arrow actually fighting crime during the day?
The rest of the hour seemed sadly relegated to the filler between bad ideas, introducing us to the commendably sinister, but forgettable Lonnie Machin, who took aim at Danforth herself, before kidnapping her daughter. Apart from Alexander Calvert’s creepy smile, and some well-choreographed fight sequences with Oliver and Thea, Machin’s presence here seemed more of a setup for the character’s “Anarky” return, mask to hide his newfound burns and all. It didn’t exactly help that Damien Darhk’s backstory exposition came across a bit unclear, compounded by questions as to why Damien would have outsourced the job in the first place, leaving “Anarky,” at best, a means with which to flesh out Thea’s worsening mental condition.
Let’s end at the beginning: Tonight’s outing opened with an impressive, well-executed fourway fight scene of Oliver’s new team in action, an always-reliable table-setter for the hour to come. Then, Oliver appeared to defuse a bomb with Bat-Bomb Diffusion Spray (or Carousel-Reversal, if you prefer). I don’t know what it meant, but it felt emblematic of “The Candidate” in general. Good starts! Bad ideas, and awkward resolution all over.
AND ANOTHER THING …
- Couple-chemistry Oliver and Felicity, thankfully still adorable.
- If I had to pick a fourth bad idea, it’d be ditching the flashback wig. Yes, it’s been awkward from the start, and Stephen Amell surely relishes the loss, but again, we know Oliver’s just going to end up shaggy again anyway.
- Does Arrow have a president? What about a Governor?
- Independently bad idea: Only using Jeri Ryan for one episode.
- “Uh … self-defense classes.” Also, “… We have money now.”
- More Diggle / Laurel bonding, please.
- Did anyone else see Lonnie gesture to the box, and take it to mean he’d killed Madison?
Arrow Season 4 will return next Wednesday with the Canary-tastic “Restoration,” airing at 8:00 P.M. on The CW.
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