Review & Recap: Arrow
Season 4 Episode 2, “The Candidate”
Bechdel-Wallace Score: 3-1=2/3
(High on spoilers!)
Well they certainly do know how to start an episode. Two weeks in a row now we have been treated to an opening sequence of the team kicking ass, and this time the newly renamed Green Arrow was in on the fun. Both Speedy and Black Canary are now holding their own, or better, in combat and that is a nice break from the recurring “ladies need help fighting” sub plot from season 3. I am increasingly bothered by Diggle’s use of guns – he shot a guy in the face last night – but it is what it is, and it is still fun to see him in action with his new gear.
“The Candidate” introduced some new characters for the season. We met Curtis Holt (Echo Kellum) aka Mister Terrific (but not yet) as an employee of what-remains of Palmer Technologies. We also met Jessica Danforth (Jeri Ryan), as the show continues to address the collapse of Star City’s civil society by having her run for Mayor, get shot at and be undeterred, then have her daughter kidnapped and be deterred. (And it is too bad, because I would have loved to hear her say “attacks on my family are irrelevant, you will be governed” as just a little nod to her former life as a Borg.) The kidnapper was the bad guy of the week, Lonnie Machin (Alexander Calvert) who is going to become the villain Anarky after getting a mask. He needs the mask because he got burned a bit, or because he has the babyface-hipster thing going on and not even cow-prod-kung-fu will get people to take you seriously if you look like a 12 year old with a perfectly unshaved, but not quite bearded, face.
And that really was a problem for Lonnie, who earned the disapproval of Damien Darhk before Darhk sold him out to Team Arrow. (Apparently, Darhk draws the line somewhere after killing doctors on the job, but before abducting the adult children of politicians.) The final fight with Machin, wherein Speedy/Thea (Willa Holland) totally beats the crap out of the guy and then sets him on fire, continued a subplot that started in last week’s episode and became a major plot during this episode. I find this plot to be, so far, equally frustrating and exciting. On the exciting part, Thea and Laurel are now off to Nanda Parbat to find out how to help Thea deal with her newfound aggression… …oh and also to exhume and resurrect Laurel’s sister, Sara (aka Canary and soon to be White Canary, played by Caity Lotz). This is an exciting development, and seeing Thea kickass as Red Arrow/Speedy is also great. I’ll address my frustrations later on.
Damien Darhk was around a bit in this episode, but only to talk to Machin and Papa Lance. I really can’t tell you how much I am hoping Captain Lance gets a big finish, dying to save everybody and kill Darhk, at the end of the season. Or he could get offed next week. No offense to actor Paul Blackthorne, who does a fine job with the role, but seriously what is the use or purpose of the character right now? Or any time since season one? Put this guy out of his obstacle-to-the-narrative misery. (And no Lazarus Pit!) My boredom with Papa Lance not withstanding, I do think the show needs to develop Darhk’s character and schemes a bit more before he will stop seeming a bit cartoonish. He went from chest-grip-of-death mega bad guy in episode one to micromanager of thugs and conspirators in episode two. Why does this guy hire anybody to do anything if he is so powerful? We don’t know. (Tell us!)
I scored the episode a 3-1=2 out of 3 on the Bechdel-Wallace test. There was a scene with Felicity firing a Palmer Tech employee. The employee introduced herself by name (1/3), the two talked to each other while ignoring the only man in the room (2/3), and their discussion was not about a man (3/3). I suppose credit should also be given to some of the scenes between Thea and Laurel, but those discussion at least partly centered around a man (Oliver) and his concerns about one of the women’s behavior. This is my afore-mentioned frustration with the Thea-Gone-Wild plot and why I deducted a point from the episode’s B-W score: I’m not giving a 3/3 score to any episode where Oliver mansplains combat and restraint to Thea. I’m tired of it and I think the show would be better if Oliver expressed his concerns in a less condescending way. Perhaps over the course of the season he will figure that out and it will all get better, but if I were a betting man my bet would be that this Nanda Parbat field trip ends with the biggest, most intense Oliver-talks-down-to-Thea scene in the show’s history. On the upside, this frustration of mine made the scene where Thea beats on Oliver in the Arrow cave that much more enjoyable.
Final thoughts: The show is good. My frustrations with Papa Lance as a character, and the Oliver/Thea dynamic, are massively outweighed by my enjoyment of everything else going on in Star City. This episode included more day time shots of the city as well, and that always helps give the show a bigger feel than it gets from interiors and night time fights. Also, there is something really cool about the symmetry of the flashbacks with the present day. In season one, the flashbacks were about a yuppy Oliver stranded with no fighting skills on an island, while the present day was Oliver as lethal vigilante. Now in season four, present day Oliver has become Green Arrow and is trying not to kill anybody while he spreads a message of hope, while in the flashbacks he is a capable, cold, killer operative for Amanda Waller. I’m really excited to see where the flashbacks take us this season, as they have been a favorite part of the show for me (excepting season 3, because making me spend a season wondering when the kid will die was really mean).
#Arrow airs on the CW network on Wednesdays at 8pm Eastern. Reviews appear here the next day. Please send an email or leave a comment below if you like. I’m certainly open to somebody trying to convince me that I should appreciate Captain Lance more.