ARROW Review: “The Candidate”
By Justin Carter
The last season of Arrow left people with a lot of questions, and based on what we know of the first two episodes this season, quite a bit of time will be spent making sure most of that critique is addressed. Last week was spent lightening up the tone and making sure Oliver faced some consequences for his previous actions, while last night’s “The Candidate” addressed another complaint: Thea’s resurrection.
Turns out that dying and coming back to life comes with a few strings attached. Over the past six months, Thea’s slowly been not good mentally and now she’s gone kill crazy and can’t even talk to homeless guys without breaking an arm. This naturally has Oliver concerned since the Lazarus Pit was the only way to bring her back, and his attempts to get her to calm down go about as well as expected.
As long as you can ignore the irony in a guy who literally shot a dude in the face with an arrow lecturing his younger sister on restraint, there is some actual drama in watching Thea come to grips with her issues, and it’s nice that the show uses this opportunity to bring she and Laurel together for a road trip to Nanda Pabat for some answers. Laurel deciding to bring her dead sister Sara along for the ride is an easy in to bring Caity Lotz back in time for her new role for Legends of Tomorrow, but I do wonder if the Pit can restore a body that’s been dead for nearly a year as opposed to a few hours.
Thea’s problems are bolstered by the arrival of bad guy Lonnie Machin, Darhk’s anarchist mercenary for hire. In the comics, Machin is the man behind bad guy Anarky, a Batman villain whose stories often focus on political themes. There aren’t many themes here at play (at least that I could see), but Machin shows up to kill Jeri Ryan’s Jessica Danforth. She plans on running for mayor in Star City, and Darhk isn’t too keen on that for whatever he’s got planned for Star City.
Machin is played ably by Alexander Calvert, a guy who relishes being let loose on an already messed up city, even though he’s chafing at the leash Darhk has him on. Darhk is a guy who uses logic and his own honorable (if not messed up) code to get what he wants, while Machin is the complete opposite and will kidnap Danforth’s daughter just to get her to drop out of the race. Machin leaves the episode alive, albeit with some facial burns (he gets set on fire and still decides to fight Thea instead of putting himself out), carving a bloody ‘A’ to signify that he’ll be back, and odds are that he’ll have a bone to pick with the Arrows and Darhk for stifling his fun. McDonough continues to ham it up as the HIVE leader, and even without showing off his freaky powers, he’s still got an air of authority around him, such as when he calmly warns Machin about touching him or tells Lance to watch his language. This is a guy who looks like he’ll be as physically imposing as Slade and as involved in the plot as Malcolm Merlyn was, and that’ll be a delight.
Danforth (and to a lesser extent, Lance) mainly show up this week to help Oliver realize that a simple name change and costume switch won’t cut it if he’s truly going to save the city. The show having him run for mayor is an interesting step to having him help the city on two fronts. Dual identities are all a part of the superhero trade. This isn’t an easy life they live, and life is full of struggles and balance to begin with. The heroes of Arrow have so much to do just within the superhero sphere, but their professions cause the problems to bleed into their personal lives too. Oliver doesn’t have that problem because, well, his personal and professional lives are practically the same thing (especially in the flashbacks, where he lies his way into a militia’s ranks), so it’ll be interesting to see how this all shakes out. As he points out, he’s probably the only candidate who can actually defend himself against the bad guys in Star City, so that should be enough to vote for him.
Oliver Queen…Aiming to fix Star City! Got a nice ring to it, right?
- Felicity wants a codename. I remember that the episode from last season that focused on her was originally called “Oracle” but that name’s typically associated with Batgirl. They wouldn’t steal that from her, would they…?
- Felicity also makes a new friend in this episode; Curtis Holt, a designer in Palmer Tech’s innovations department. Echo Kellum plays him pretty well, and he and Felicity feel like dorky best friends in the making. No clue if he’ll be taking up his superhero mantle Mr. Terrific, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he did.
- That shot of the Arrows, Diggle, and Canary all landing in front of Machin was super cool. Also cool: Oliver shooting an arrow for Canary to use as a zipline while she was in midair.
- Kudos to whoever did the makeup for Sara’s corpse, because it looked unsettling.
- “It’s one of the benefits of your girlfriend inheriting a multi-billion dollar conglomerate…we have money now.”
- “I still hungry. Is it wrong that I’m still hungry?” No, Laurel. That’s never wrong.
- Seriously Machin, forget about the fighting when you’re on fire. Put yourself out, man!