Arrow: The Candidate Review

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By: Ashley Binion (@ashleybinion)

“The Candidate” was a solid follow-up to the season premiere. The episode introduced a lot of new characters, dove further into Thea’s post-Lazarus Pit storyline, and took on Star City’s political scene.

Warning: Spoilers ahead.

What made “Green Arrow” so great was the main character’s dynamics. In that episode, they only introduced the season’s villain, Damien Darhk. “The Candidate” introduced a few new characters: Curtis Holt, Lonnie Machin (as Anarky), Jessica Danforth, and Baron Reiter. As a result, some of the material felt rushed. Besides that, this episode hit almost the same beats as “Green Arrow,” making for another solid episode to start the season.

Oliver’s arc in the episode was fantastic. It’s great to see a different side to the series’ hero. For three seasons he’s been brooding his way through saving the city, but now he has more pep in his step and actually cracked a couple jokes. That’s what I’ve been waiting to see: Oliver Queen not taking himself too seriously. You can tell Stephen Amell is having a blast actually being able to smile. Amell’s acting choices are quite subtle, so to see how much range he has is a testament to his acting ability. He shows this as he’s essentially playing three characters: Island Oliver, who now more than ever resembles a season one Oliver; present Oliver who is actually happy (He gave Felicity a fern for her office and packed her lunch. That’s the cutest thing ever.) and doesn’t let the darkness define him; and the Green Arrow who is now the city’s beacon of hope.

In the comics, Oliver did run for mayor, not once but twice. One time he won, the other he lost. Who knows if the writers have any intent of actually making him the mayor or they just like political storylines. They did touch on the mayoral office in season two when his mother ran for office against Brother Blood. Arrow even created their own character to run for mayor in “The Candidate,” Jessica Danforth. The character herself wasn’t interesting, but the fact that she’s played by Star Trek alum Jeri Ryan kept me interested.

It was hinted in the premiere that Palmer Technologies was going through a bit of a financial crisis. To actually see Felicity’s troubles at work was refreshing. The series has never been too interested in the former Queen family business. When it was Queen Consolidated, it was purely a backdrop for other affairs on the show. Besides now, the only time it was heavily plot-relevant was when Slade’s minion, Isabel Rochev, stole the company right out from under Oliver in the second season. So to see the show put some emphasis on the company is welcome.

What made this particular storyline so unique was that it’s purely Felicity’s storyline. It’s a storyline without a romantic interest. She’s an actual lead character who isn’t defined by the man she’s currently in a relationship with. It’s a testament to how much the series has let the character develop. The introduction of Curtis Holt – future Mister Fantastic – in the episode was a good one. Felicity needs a sidekick at work and Curtis fits that perfectly.

Thea’s trip into the Lazarus Pit continues to be a focal point of this season. Oliver’s trying to help her. If this was a season ago, he would’ve fallen headfirst into blaming himself and hiding the secret of the Lazarus Pit from his sister, but the writers are determined to hit a different beat with Oliver and not continue their repetitive pattern. Oh hey, look, Sara’s decomposing corpse. I didn’t think they would actually show her decomposing body in the casket.

In the flashbacks, Baron Reiter was introduced. He’s an adaptation of Baron Blitzkrieg. Finally Island Oliver got a haircut. Thank goodness the wigs are gone, for now. As we saw in the opening minutes of the series, he had long hair and a scruffy beard. Eventually he’s going to have to grow it out, unless they somehow find a creative way to work around that.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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