UK TV recap: Arrow Season 4, Episode 2
Unnecessarily grisly final shot6.5
Matthew Turner | On 24, Oct 2015
Warning: This contains spoilers.
The second episode of Arrow’s fourth season continues the forward momentum established last week, with things moving quickly in the case of two main storylines and plenty of character development for all the key players. The show-runners are on record as saying that they are aiming for a much lighter tone this season (similar to the tone in sister show The Flash), and that’s certainly the way things look for the most part, although how exactly that lightness tallies with that gratuitously grisly final shot (of which more later) is something of a mystery.
There are a number of pleasing developments for comics fans this week, primarily Oliver’s decision to run for Mayor of Star City, which is in line with the Green Arrow comics and gives Oliver the opportunity to help save his city both as Green Arrow and Oliver. There’s also a nice amount of instant tension there, since we know that Star City Mayors don’t tend to live that long and that this season’s Big Bad, Damien Darhk, already has designs in that direction. On top of that, it’s nice to see Arrow addressing its Mayoral shortage problem head on, instead of leaving it as a dark running joke, like the endless stream of Principals at Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s high school.
The main plot this week involves old friend of the family Jessica Danforth (Jeri Ryan, a nice casting touch, since both she and Moira Queen actress Susanna Thompson played Borg characters on Star Trek) announcing her candidacy for Mayor of Star City, only for Damien Darhk to throw a spanner in the works by employing a psychopath (Alexander Calvert as Lonnie Malchin) to kidnap her teenage daughter and force her out of the race. This essentially serves as a plot device for Oliver to decide on his own candidacy, so here’s hoping it’s not the last we see of Jeri Ryan, who makes a strong impression with a limited number of scenes.
As for Malchin, he’s loosely based on comics character Anarky and the episode certainly seemed to be setting up his future return in a more supervillain-like guise (burn scars and all), although, from the sounds of things, they haven’t done too much justice to his comic book origins in any other regard, which feels like a missed opportunity.
Danforth and Machin aren’t the only new characters introduced this week. We also met Curtis Holt (played by Echo Kellum), introduced as a super-smart colleague of Felicity’s at Palmer Technologies, although his name will be familiar to comics fans as superhero Mr Terrific. Palmer Technologies is clearly a veritable breeding ground for superheroes, what with The Atom last season, and it’ll be fun to see just how far they take that character this season.
Curtis’ scenes with Felicity are also interesting because they signify an entire sub-plot for her character that’s removed from whatever is going on at the Arrow Cave. There isn’t much to it this week, other than Felicity being initially forced to make a series of unwanted lay-offs, bonding with Curtis and then changing her mind about firing people and coming up with a solution that stalls the share-holders. Well, she essentially lies to them and assumes Curtis will come up with something lucrative for the company to develop in that time, but still. At any rate, there is a nice, sparky interaction between Curtis and Felicity (with any hint of romance nipped in the bud straight away by his casual mention of his husband), which seems very promising for the future. Expect to see Curtis joining the team in the Arrow Cave by – well, at this rate – somewhere around Episode 12.
This week’s other main plot, picking up from last week, involves Thea and her RAGE issues, resulting from her resurrection in Nanda Parbat’s Lazarus Pit. Oliver gives Thea a severe talking to after he sees her being overly violent during a confrontation – a bit rich coming from someone who used to routinely murder bad guys, but still – which leads to a nicely acted scene where Thea attacks Oliver, while practically snarling with rage. However, after she viciously sets Machin on fire (he’ll thank her later, essential part of his origin story, etc), she realises how bad things have become and, rather than get mad at her, the new, improved, more relaxed – and, yes, lighter-in-tone – Oliver tells her that whatever she’s going through, he’ll be there for her and they’ll solve it together.
Except he doesn’t get the chance, because in the meantime, Laurel has learned about the Lazarus Pit from Diggle and she decides to take Thea on a secret trip to Nanda Parbat to see if someone there (presumably Malcolm) can help her. Only Laurel, of course, has her own agenda and the episode ends with her opening Sara’s coffin and the sight of her sister’s decomposing corpse. That’ll be a fun trip, no doubt. (It is actually a pretty horrible-looking shot and a bizarre, ghoulish way to end the episode, but there you go.) We already knew from the Legends of Tomorrow trailer that this was on the cards for Sara, but it’s pleasing that they’re getting to it so quickly.
Meanwhile, on Flashback Island… Oliver infiltrates a military group headed by new warlord Baron Reiter (Jimmy Akingbola) and – GASP! – gets a haircut, so it looks like that floppy-fringed flashback wig is gone for the time being. We don’t know about you, but we’ll kind of miss it.
As for the flash-forward that ended last week’s episode, that wasn’t mentioned again this week, so the name on the gravestone is still a mystery.
Tune in next week, folks…
Arrow: Season 4 is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.
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Photo: Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.