By Josh Melo
Despite Laurel cementing herself as literally the worst, Beyond Redemption was really well done. With a focus on the strained relationship between Captain Lance and Oliver and a return to the main narrative of the season Arrow continues to impress in it’s fourth season.
After completely skipping over Oliver’s decision to run for mayor last week, Beyond Redemption brings that story-line back into the light. Acknowledging the many reasons he fails to qualify for the job was a funny and important point to bring up. Even though it has precedent in the comics, this Oliver Queen is far from ready to take care of an entire city (politically speaking). But by the end of the episode and his rousing speech (written by the surprisingly eloquent Thea) it is clear he is the man for the job.
As previously mentioned, most of the episode centered on Captain Lance and his varying fractured relationships. He’s on the outs with Laurel, he hates Oliver Queen and he has thrown in with Damien Dahrk. It’s tough living in a vigilante city with a heart condition.
Hands down the most powerful and memorable scenes of the week came from the conflict between Lance and Oliver. Paul Blackthorne has always impressed but never as much as he has here. The way Oliver and Lance put their entire beings on the table for audiences to soak in was something special. Having both of them reveal how much they actually respected one another despite their consistent antagonistic relationship made for some of the rawest emotion the show has seen in it’s entire four seasons. It was evident that Oliver had taken Lance’s words to heart when making the decision to run for mayor, but to learn that Oliver looked up to him the way that he does (almost like a surrogate father) was an intense and poignant moment. This was probably the best both of these actors have been on the show, without a doubt.
Not willing to rest on his laurels (pun intended), we are treated to another showcase of pure emotion from Blackthorne, this time revolving around his newly resurrected daughter. I appreciate Laurel letting Lance in on her secret faster than normal but I called the fact that it wouldn’t go down well weeks ago. Lance was in physical pain at seeing the creature inhabiting Sarah’s body, saying over and over, “that isn’t my daughter”. And it isn’t. Wanting desperately to fix his ailing daughter, her turns to Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough turns in another great performance though he wasn’t nearly as integral here). Following Dahrk’s advice, Lance resolves to put Sarah out of her misery.
If Blackthorne’s previous scene was an emotional punch to the ribs, this was a punch to the face. Seeing him break down in tears had me really feeling for the guy. In a time where his life has fallen apart in every way imaginable, to be presented with his daughter only to learn that it’s all just an illusion and on top of it all then to have to kill her himself, just damn.
Where one Lance is written with precision, the other continues to be dragged through the mud. Laurel remains the most insufferable character on Arrow. Having her reject the mountain of advice against reviving Sarah was already a low point for her. To have her than chain her sister up in a basement while insisting that everything is ok is just plain ridiculous. Sarah may be a crazy monster right now but Laurel is way worse.
The villains this week provided a nice change of pace from the usual villain of the week fare the show is known for (though they weren’t Dahrk or Anarky). Having a rogue SCPD squad performing their own brand of vigilante justice around Star City was pretty cool. There were no over the top theatrics or corny backstories, just a bunch of cops who have hit rough times (despite their code against cop killing being a bit wishy washy). Liza Warner (Rutina Wesley) as the lead of this vigilante task force made for a memorable foe and I wouldn’t be surprised if she found her way back onto the show at some point.
Lastly, it is now clear what Felicity and Curtis’ subplot is leading towards. After learning that the mysterious text messages on Felicity’s phone are coming from Ray’s old ATOM gear, I think it’s pretty obvious that Palmer is still kicking. Instead of dying in that horrible explosion he simply shrunk and now he has no way of growing back. Having him scurry around the lab trying to get Felicity’s attention must be a huge pain in the ass, considering she can be pretty scatterbrained when a full sixed person is talking to her. This is mainly just another secondary plot established to set up Ray’s eventual appearance on Legends of Tomorrow.
Beyond Redemption was a great all around episode, the lone exception being Laurel. The writers refuse to write her as anything other than intolerable.
This episode gets an 8/10.
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