'Arrow' Episode 4.1 "The Candidate" (7 out of 10) Starring Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, David Ramsey, Willa Holland, Emily Bett Rickards, Paul Blackthorne. Guest Starring Neal McDonough, Echo Kellum, Alexander Calvert, Jeri Ryan. First aired October 14, 2015
"The Candidate" opens with Team Arrow still trying to clean up Star City's ghost problem. These agents of HIVE are all over the place, and it's taking all four team members to keep them in check. Felicity is behind the scenes as always, giving them the intel they need to stop a bomb threat. There's bantering back and forth between Oliver and Felicity, as usual...what's more unusual is that Oliver's actually smiling now and then as he's using a spray (?) to stop the explosive from...exploding. I'm liking this lighter Oliver, and even as parts of the episode turn dark, he doesn't. Also, I agree that Felicity needs a code name. A lot of nerds want "Oracle." I don't know about that. She's certainly the Oracle role, but that's Babs, man. Babs.
During this opening battle, Speedy loses her shit (again) beating a HIVE agent nearly to death. And then later she breaks a thug's arm. Viciously. Still later, she burns a guy nearly to death (although that one could have been accidental, I mean she intended to electrocute him sure, but not necessarily burn him with fire). Oliver has been trying to hide her (and the other team members) from the possible side effects of resurrection via the Lazarus Pit, but the truth comes out. Thea is alive, but pretty damn nuts. As the episode plays out we learn more about the magical restorative/crazymaking effects of the Lazarus Pit, and Laurel (bless her heart) sees only that this would be a great way to bring her dead sister Sara (aka the Canary, aka the Better Canary, aka, I'm starring in a spinoff coming in January, so I need to be reanimated somehow) back from the grave. Which leads us to her grave by the end of the episode. Another reviewer said it was a mistake to show her dessicated corpse. I think it was gross, but I also think we needed to see Sara dead. And not pretty "she's only sleeping" dead. We need to know that she was really really dead, and that the Lazarus Pit will really bring someone back. Anyway. That's one thing going on.
The A-story is ostensibly about a new mayoral candidate for Star City, Jessica Danforth (played by the still incredibly gorgeous Jeri Ryan). She's a friend of Ollie and Thea's parents, so she should know better than to run for Star City mayor...but she does anyway. And is immediately attacked by Lonnie Menchin, a guy working with Damien Darhk. Alexander Calvert plays Menchin with a kind of unhinged charisma that "Arrow" doesn't always have in villains, and with a level of crazy that makes him unpredictable. We get little details like he cut off his own fingerprints and rearranged them in order to be anonymous, he enjoys ripping teeth out of people, overall, he wants to bring anarchy to Star City. In the Batman comics, he's "Anarky," and that's who he'll be by the end of the episode. Jeri Ryan was fine as Danforth, but I felt like she was wasted in this one-off role. Having someone that connected to the geek community, it would have been nice to have her in a stronger, multi-episode arc.
We don't get much more about Darhk in this episode, which is okay, because the story is already overstuffed. Oliver is still mulling over how to be something different -- is "Green Arrow" enough of a change to help Star City? Captain Lance doesn't think so. By the end of the episode, Ollie tells Felicity that he wants to run for mayor of Star City. Which...is something from the comic books, he was mayor of Star City for a few years...but I don't think I was ready for "Arrow" to go there quite yet. It could open up some interesting stories, but also just make an already crowded series have one more layer of...busy-ness. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet.
This episode also introduced us to Curtis Holt, played by Echo Kellum. He works for Felicity at Palmer Industries (she inherited the company when Ray Palmer blew himself up), and he's got the cute geeky stuttery awkward but brilliant thing going for him that Felicity did in season one. And still does sometimes. She actually stops him at some point and says "Hey. I'm the only one allowed to talk in sentence fragments around here." He's funny, he's smart, he's married to his fella (but, as with Sara Lance's bisexuality in season two, it's not a big deal, it doesn't define his whole character), and he's able to help Felicity out of a jam with the board of directors. We like him. After knowing him for one episode. Of course, he's going to end up the superhero Mister Terrific, a tech-based hero who's kind of like a mashup of Steve Jobs and Tony Stark and Stephen Hawking. That may be a bad example. Anyway, he's cool. Yet another DC Comics superhero I never thought I'd see on the big screen or small screen or any screen that wasn't a cartoon.
I'm the only one allowed to talk in sentence fragments around here
This was a good episode; even with everything going on, there was enough cohesion that it didn't feel as messy as many of last season's episodes. We got nice moments for every major character, making for a nice ensemble piece. The action scenes were intense, with Thea pulling her own weight (and more) -- I like adding her dynamic to the team. And there's one shot of Ollie, Thea, Laurel, and Digg jumping down through four skylights that was gorgeous. My one complaint about the action is with Laurel...I think she's only used her upgraded Canary Cry twice. We need to see her use that more. Come on. She's Black Canary.
Next week's episode features the villain Double Down. With a title like "Restoration," I'm guessing we're gonna see Sara's corpse take the plunge into the Lazarus Pit. Gross.