Wednesday, October 28, 2015

REVIEW: 'Arrow' - Oliver Announces His Run for Mayor While Captain Lance Learns About Sara in 'Beyond Redemption'

The CW's Arrow - Episode 4.04 "Beyond Redemption"

Laurel must deal with the repercussions of taking Sara to Nanda Parbat. Meanwhile, Oliver asks Captain Lance for a favor and while he's not surprised at the response, he is surprised at what he finds out next. 

Things look more bleak and hopeless this season in Star City than ever before. The city needs saving now more than ever. Team Arrow is united once again. They are fighting to protect this city because they believe it is still worth saving. Everyone else wants to get out before it dies. That's the main source of tension in "Beyond Redemption." Characters are forced to do questionable things because they are desperate. A dying city has forced them into a corner. How they react to that added stress determines if they are good or bad.

"Beyond Redemption" is a really terrific showcase for Captain Lance. He has always been a reliable source of tension for the show. The face of the police department who can stand in opposite to Oliver and his team a bunch of the time. But now, he knows that Oliver is the Green Arrow and that his one remaining daughter has become a crime-fighting vigilante as well. Despite their best efforts, Star City is still on the decline to obscurity and destruction. At the beginning of the season, it was revealed that Lance was working with Damien Darhk. It was a weird reveal because it has hard to understand why the devoted to justice captain would align himself with the big bad of the season. This episode highlights just how Lance made that decision and whether or not he can still make a difference in this city.

Oliver and Lance have had many differences over the course of the series. It's because of Lance though that Oliver has decided to run for Mayor of Star City. He wants to be a leader that can unifying this city in a way that saves it and makes it flourish. Oliver wanted to step out of the shadows in order to bring about change in a way beyond the mask. Lance helped make that happen. So it's incredibly disappointing to Oliver when he learns that Lance is working with Damien. It's this massive betrayal because he always expects Lance to do the right thing no matter what. It's a situation that Lance got sucked into and didn't realize how bad it was until it was too late. But this is a mistake he has to take the blame for. He can't hide behind excuses. He knows that Damien is a bad guy. He even seeks him out in order to get advice on how to handle the return of Sara. And yet, Lance's humanity is still intact. He still wants to be the leader that this city needs right now.

All of that conflict comes to a head in this week's episodic story where a bunch of corrupt police officers are stealing drugs from drug dealers in order to earn enough money to protect their families after Star City collapses. They were good police officers who stood by Lance as he formed his anti-vigilante task force. But now, they are desperate. They are just trying to protect themselves but are breaking the law in order to do so. That makes them a unit that needs to be stopped. They have equipment to deal with Team Arrow during their first encounter together. It's a learning curve for the team. And yet, they are more successful in stopping them during the second battle. But the most crucial moment comes as Lance asks the leader of this crew if she is beyond redemption. It takes the overall themes of the hour and puts them in dialogue in a very blunt way. Not only does the former officer have to answer that question, so does everyone else.

Lance is very remorseful for everything he has done that has potentially harmed this city. He loves it so much. He can't betray it even if that's the right thing to do. The same is true with his handling of Sara. Laurel didn't keep that a secret from him this time. And yet, he couldn't pull the trigger either when Damien told him he had to put Sara down. Lance wants to do better by the city. That's why he agrees to Oliver's plan to have him serve as a double agent in Damien's organization. It's a precarious situation that could get deadly very soon - especially now that Sara has escaped. And yet, it's something that Lance feels he must do in order to be redeemed in the eyes of the city. That's a character arc that's much more exciting than anything he has previously done on the show. It may doom him as a character. He may be the person in the grave a few months from now. But at least his story is becoming very meaningful to the rest of the show. It impacts the narrative is so many ways that it is so engaging to watch as it evolves and Lance starts hitting his emotional limits.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Beyond Redemption" was written by Beth Schwartz & Ben Sokolowski and directed by Lexi Alexander.
  • Oliver informs everyone that he is running for Mayor - which gets a lukewarm response at first. But everyone rallies around him in the end because this is a story he needs to do and which already has plenty of upcoming tension because of Damien going after anyone who declares their intentions to be Mayor of Star City.
  • That new secret lair is amazing. Yes, the technical glitches became annoying after a little while. But that didn't take away from the sleek look of this new environment.
  • Sara being brought back to life is a secret that Laurel and Thea keep from the rest of the team. That's unlikely to continue now that she has escaped from the chains that held her down.
  • Oliver and Lance had a couple of truly outstanding scenes in this episode. They are the reason why this episode was so successful. Stephen Amell and Paul Blackthorne were fantastic.
  • Curtis knows that Felicity is working with the Green Arrow. And now, he is determined to figure out who he is. He doesn't seem to be anywhere close to learning the truth though.
  • Felicity's phone is still acting up. That's a plot that needs to be getting somewhere exciting soon. Right now, it's just really boring. It could be signaling the return of Ray though seeing as how it forces Felicity to listen to the final conversation he had before the big explosion.
  • In the flashbacks, Oliver is able to fool his new business associates that he killed the woman he took into the jungle last week. However, that also leads the leader right to the A.R.G.U.S. equipment Oliver tried to hide - and failed spectacularly. 
  • The salmon ladder is back - which Felicity notices right away.