Arrow: Beyond Redemption review

Lexi Alexander directs the TV debut of a rather obscure DC character in this week's Arrow. Here's Mike's review.

This Arrow review contains spoilers.

Arrow season 4 episode 4. 

Lexi Alexander arrived to direct Arrow this week. “Beyond Redemption” was a stylish, expectedly action-heavy episode with a couple of genuinely emotional moments, but it was let down by the structure (more on that in a bit), and the general listlessness that I’ve felt has plagued all of season four so far.

I’ve been particularly wary about Oliver’s mayoral campaign, and this episode didn’t do much to ease my fears. In defense of this, though, in previous seasons, the campaign would have been in full swing last week and Oliver would be fretting over poll numbers already. Perhaps they’ve got a better handle on the pacing for this kind of arc than they have in previous years, but I remain skeptical. I’ll be happy if they prove me wrong.

Paul Blackthorne, however, delivered the best work we’ve seen from him on this show, particularly in his scenes with Stephen Amell. This is, by far, the most depth we’ve ever seen in their relationship, and this is some of the finest dramatic work Arrow has done in its history. I’m afraid that it may have made the rest of the episode look a bit weaker by comparison.

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Much like “Fury of Firestorm,” this week’s installment of The Flash, “Beyond Redemption” had a little bit of lifting to do in order to set up Legends of Tomorrow. Unlike that Flash episode, Sara’s story is already so deeply entrenched in Arrow mythology that it felt a little less obvious, and fit more snugly in the background of the story. On the other hand, I’m still not sure that enough actual reasoning on both ends of the “should we/shouldn’t we bring Sara back from the dead” was established before they went for it.

Another positive (and another similarity with this week’s Flash episode) is how little this week’s threat felt like a typical villain of the week. So much of the episode’s focus was on moving other elements forward, and the hunt for Liza Warner was really just here to advance all of that. I sincerely doubt we’ve seen the last of her, which is a good thing. Hopefully they give Lexi Alexander a shot at directing her return, too.

But for real, does anyone have any clue what Damien Darhk is up to? What’s more, and I really hate to say it since Neal McDonough has been awesome (loved his subtle reaction when the Lazarus Pit was mentioned), does anybody really care or feel particularly threatened? The mystery of Damien Darhk deepened a bit tonight, and he seemed to allude to having a daughter, something that his short lived comic book incarnation¬†never got around to.

“Beyond Redemption” was certainly a competent installment, with more visual flair and emotional heft than we’ve become accustomed to on Arrow, for sure. But this episode, and season four as a whole, hasn’t yet given me anything to hang on to.

Meanwhile…On an Island…

I give up. I really do. I’m not saying that there should never be a flashback ever again, but the traditional Arrow structure is now officially hurting it on a week to week basis.

I don’t know if the showrunners would ever consider abandoning what has been such a part of the process for so long, but after last year’s disappointment and the utter futility of this year’s sequences, well, I don’t know what to say.

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DC Universe Watchtower

– Liza Warner was the “superhero” known as Lady Cop, appearing in a handful of DC Comics issues. She bears absolutely no relation other than her name and her profession in law enforcement with the version seen here in “Beyond Redemption.” We’re doing better with the version on the show.

– The “Neal Adams” who Michael Holt suspects is Green Arrow is, of course, the name of the legendary artist who did some tremendous work on Green Lantern/Green Arrow in the ’70s. Just another way for this season to tease us with a sideways Green Lantern reference, perhaps?

– Man, the new Arrow lair is pretty gorgeous, isn’t it? This is one of the more impressive sets we’ve seen on the show, and other than an Arrowmobile (we’ll never get an Arrowmobile, calm down) it does feel like it marks the final piece in the puzzle in the show’s transition to full-on superheroics.

I know this review was ridiculously late, and I still don’t have my head all the way in the game…so I need my team on monitor duty to tell me what I missed!

Rating:

3 out of 5