Less than 5 – Skip it, 6 – OK, 7 – Good, 8 – Great, 9 – Phenomenal, 10 – You owe it to yourself to watch this episode!
Introducing a whopping 4 new characters into the universe, a lot of ground was covered in The Candidate. Fortunately, it was handled pretty well. Seeds are planted for the future of the season, the villains are bigger and badder than ever and our current team is left in intriguing new situations.
The choreography continues to impress. The opening scene was one of the biggest action scenes so far and the way the camera seamlessly transitioned between each member of team Arrow was most impressive.
The Thea storyline has me very intrigued. Thea as the Red Arrow is a lot more compelling than Roy as the Red Arrow ever was (plus she looks a lot better in the costume). Her “resurrection” sickness lends itself to a number of interesting situations and Willa Holland plays the dual natured youth with aplomb. Giving her a role outside of her usual “stop lying to me” shtick is a god decision and seems to be working thus far.
Running alongside Thea’s inner conflict was Laurel’s burgeoning interest in the Lazarus Pit. Having seen the trailer for Legends of Tomorrow I know that Sarah Lance’s return to the land of living is only a matter of time. I just can’t stand how the show is going about it. The Lazarus Pit was a given (seeing as how that is the only way people have been resurrected on the show before) but having Laurel once again turning to secrecy is a huge let down. She has gotten herself into loads of trouble time and again when keeping things from her family and team mates, this will clearly be no different. Plus she is witnessing first hand the side effects of using the pit to bring someone back. Sarah won’t be the same person she was before, Laurel should know this, but the writers insist on writing her as an oblivious sucker (just when I was beginning to like her).
Damien Dahrk is still a badass. Ever since first seeing Neal McDonough in Justified as the lead villain of the second season I have absolutely loved him as a bad guy. He does not disappoint. It is very interesting to note that he does seem to have some sense of morality. When Anarky (Alexander Calvert) takes Jessica Danforth’s (Jeri Ryan) daughter hostage he becomes cold on hiring Anarky into his HIVE organization. There is clearly more to Dahrk than being the evil mastermind behind a criminal empire and I will be tuning in weekly to find out what that is.
Speaking of Anarky, in line with Damien Dahrk, he is a much more compelling and layered villain than we are used to seeing. He was taken care of within the episode (in a very violent and flashy sequence I might add) but he is far from being a one off villain. I like this new approach Arrow is taking and if it continues to the majority of villains down the line, the show will only get better.
The one thing that didn’t work for me this week was the introduction of Holt (the future Mr. Terrific played by Echo Kellum). Felicity’s sub thread here failed to bear any fruit aside from introducing a new character. We don’t know much about this new guy other than that he is smart. Hopefully whatever mind-blowing technology Felicity is convinced he is capable of inventing will turn him into an interesting character. His go with the flow attitude was a breath of fresh air, leaving me hopeful. But as of now, he’s “meh”.
For most of the second and third seasons Felicity was a mainstay in the stories of the men in her life, always dealing with the problems of Oliver or Ray. So it was a nice change of pace for her to have her own story not involving any romantic angle (with Holt having a husband the need for superfluous romance is cut out). Felicity asking for a codename also worked as a funny running gag this week and I actually kind of agree with her. There aren’t many Felicity’s running around and now that she is the head of a tech empire people will know who she is. Calling her by first name in front of criminals is bound to bite you in the ass sooner or later.
While tracking down Anarky, dealing with Thea’s worsening condition and trying to calm down an anxious Felicity, Oliver Queen struggles with turning a new leaf. Operating in the shadows and leaving thugs near death everywhere he goes, Star City is having difficulty differentiating this new Arrow from the last. In response to that, Oliver Queen wants to be mayor. This makes sense with the new outlook on life Ollie has adopted and it does have a precedent in the comics. Wanting to make a change in more ways than beating up bad guys, it is an inspirational move that will turn the Green Arrow into more than a simple vigilante.
Lastly, I am having a hard time connecting the flashback sequences to the current timeline. Typically the island scenes have, at minimum, a thematic connection to what is happening with Oliver and the gang in real time. This season seems to buck that trend and is telling a completely separate story. Without much context and relegated to a few minutes a week (so far) I can’t say I’m invested in this new plot line. There were a couple of cool action moments but unless they tell me why Oliver is back on the island and what the heck is going on, I’ll continue to tune out whenever the Oliver of yesteryear makes an appearance.
Arrow is on a roll this year even surpassing my love of The Flash thus far (last season The Flash was clearly the better of the two shows, now it is a much closer race). The new villains are a clear upgrade while some of the new heroes leave something to be desired. All in all though, The Candidate is a stellar episode.
The Candidate gets an 8/10.