Arrow: The Candidate Review

Things get political (again) in Star City in the latest episode of Arrow season 4. Here's Mike's review.

This Arrow review contains spoilers.

Arrow Season 4 Episode 2: The Candidate

I’m going to come out and say it, even though it’s really early. I’m starting to worry about Arrow.

There’s very little overtly wrong with “The Candidate,” but it isn’t terribly distinguished, either. Like last week’s episode, it’s so aggressively bland, and so kind of roundabout in spelling out its mission statement, that I’m not quite sure what we’re getting this year.

The biggest problem, I suppose, is in the title. Any time this show deals with politics, it’s a bad idea. A very bad idea. The political (and judicial) machinations of Star City have always been portrayed as cartoonish at best, ludicrous at worst, often with an absurdly accelerated timeline. “The Candidate,” and by extension, Arrow season 4, would appear to be continuing that trend.

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That is not a good thing.

Did anybody buy Jessica Danforth’s motivation for her “shortest Mayoral campaign in history” bid? What’s more, does anybody buy Oliver’s? Yes, I realize there’s plenty of precedent in the source material for Ollie to pursue politics, but that’s a different world, where Oliver is a very different character. It seems more like the kind of decision that should come at the conclusion of a season, rather than the kick off of the second episode.

Just to be clear: Oliver went from giving up vigilantism entirely to returning to the hood and mask scene to running for office in about two weeks. I have an easier time believing in Lazarus Pits.

(whew)

Okay, that’s out of the way. Just as Arrow seems to be falling into one of its old traps, though, “The Candidate” also delivered plenty of rock solid moments that remind me why I’ve stuck with this show through thick and thin (and will continue to). 

They’ve really nailed the dynamics of team fights now. That Black Canary on the zipline stunt was truly spectacular, all in one long shot, with the battle raging around. I really buy this as a team of superheroes now. I wouldn’t overlook Willa Holland (or her stunt double) in that pretty spectacular fist fight with Anarky, either. If nothing else, these moments will always make this show worth tuning in for.

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While things with Felicity and the newly introduced Michael Holt (Echo Kellum) bordered on the saccharine at times, I like giving Felicity another “brain” to play off in Ray’s absence. The casual revelation that Michael Holt is gay removes any chance of us getting Ray Palmer sexual tension flashbacks, so that’s good, too.

Thea’s post-Lazarus Pit stress disorder, however, feels a little too similar to Roy’s arc from last season. I realize that right now it’s a necessary evil to get us back to Nanda Parbat so that Sara can show up on Legends of Tomorrow, but this is clunky. That was an appropriately disturbing shot of Sara’s corpse at the end, though. I like that they’re gonna give us some Halloween vibes for the season (and the return of Matt Ryan as John Constantine on Guy Fawkes Night!)

While I have yet to get any kind of real handle on HIVE or what Damian Darhk is really about (read more about him right here!), Neal McDonough is doing a lovely job. He’s got the necessary evil intensity without being a moustache twirler. I’m a patient guy. I don’t expect everything to be laid out for me, but this is definitely a situation where they need to do something in order to better distinguish Damian and HIVE from Ra’s and the League from last year.

Meanwhile…on an Island…

Man, they’re going to have to work extra hard with these flashbacks this year. I simply don’t care. They lost me in Hong Kong and haven’t gotten me back. The fact that I currently feel cheated out of a Coast City adventure isn’t helping, either.

At least Stephen Amell gets to lose that dreadful wig.

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As for the villain of the flashbacks, I get to him in…

DC Universe Watchtower

– Michael Holt eventually becomes the superhero known as Mr. Terrific. Holt is a genius level intellect, probably surpassing Ray Palmer and Felicity. He’s generally best known as a member of the JSA, and the overall Justice Society vibe on both Arrow and The Flash remains pretty strong.

I wonder if Felicity is going to help him invent his trademark T-Spheres as the revolutionary technology that’s coming to save the company?

– Anarky has very little resemblance to his comic book counterpart. He was a Batman supporting character and vigilante, originally pegged as a potential new Robin. It never happened, but interesting things tend to happen when Batman villains show up here.

He was never quite such a looney tune, though.

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Oliver Queen ran for mayor not once, but twice

The first time, during Green Arrow’s time as a back-up feature in the Superman/Batman title, World’s Finest, he didn’t win. But the second time, during DC’s “One Year Later” period in the wake of Infinite Crisis, the people of Star City had Oliver Queen as their Mayor (you can find that story in Green Arrow: Crawling Through the Wreckage by Judd Winick and Scott McDaniel). 

– Reiter, the flashback villain, bears very little resemblance to his comic book counterpart…Baron Blitzkrieg. As in, he’s a nazi. I don’t think we’ll be seeing any of that this year.

Did I miss anything? The answer to that question is “probably.” Let ’em fly in the comments or tell me I’m doing a lousy job on Twitter!

Rating:

3 out of 5