It looks like just as I was ready to give up on Arrow, the writers have turned it around, having successfully recognised the flaws in the series and doing their best to correct it. Characters are changing for the better, plots are developing, and Arrow did the one thing that I’d never thought they’d dare to do in the flashback sequences: the removal of the poorly done wig for Oliver’s hair. It, along with the developments elsewhere, allowed for some great moments to be had with the second episode of Season 4 as it, much like the equivalent episode in The Flash’s second season, introduced a few new characters, although they were very different to Jay Garrick and Patty Spivot.
First up, there was Anarky, who surprise, surprise, is another Batman villain (many of you may remember him from the side missions in Arkham Origins), and he originally shows up as an underling to Damian Darhk. He was a fun, interesting new character that adds another dilemma to the series going forward, and particularly progresses the whole Thea arc about her controlling her emotions brought about by the Lazarus Pit, of which Willia Holland did a good job portraying her scarily unhinged Speedy. The scene where she set Anarky on fire was handled well, especially in conjunction with Oliver’s efforts to stop her and try to save Anarky’s life. Lonnie Larchin was a very loose translation of Anarky’s character from the comics, but ultimately it felt like the character’s potential, especially given how interesting he’s been in the comics, was wasted here. He was another ultimately forgettable and generic psychopath that the show likes throwing at us all too often. However, something that’s worth noting is that even Darhk didn’t get on well with Anarky, and served as a reminder for the character that there are problems that come when he doesn’t want to get his hands dirty himself. Neal McDonough seems to be playing the character very well here, and has the potential to even rival Slade Wilson as a formidable antagonist; especially if he’s the one who ends up killing a major character whose death was teased in the grave.
Echo Kellum also played a man destined to become Mister Terrific this week, assuming the show sticks close to the source material. Adding a character to the proceedings in the form of Curtis Holt, who’s basically a male version of who Felicity was in Season 1, to the point where she even has to mention that herself. Holt makes an interesting new addition to the show and his arc should give something for Felicity to do beyond acting as a sidekick and a love interest, so you can expect some more developments on that approach.
The final guest star that was introduced in this week’s chapter was Jessica Danforth, a former friend of Moria Queen who wanted to run for mayor, played by Jeri Ryan who handled her material well. Whilst ultimately I would have liked to see this character have more to do, it was just what the storyline needed to develop in an interesting twist; having the city lose yet another mayoral candidate to the point where Quentin Lance may be the longest surviving person in Star City in a position of authority, and allow Oliver to step up to take the role as Mayor in a bid to announce his candidacy. How this develops from here could be interesting, even if ultimately, it came at the expense of Danforth’s character.
On the whole, The Candidate continued to show that Arrow is moving on the right track to becoming a good show again, and whilst not everything may have worked out quite as good as it could have done, it was still a solid outing that was better than most of the Season 3 episodes. Much like with last week it’s still too early to call on whether or not it’s quite stable enough to reach the heights of Season 2, but as always, time will tell. And with that cliffhanger concerning Laurel’s effective grave robbing and intended resurrection of Sara, things could be headed down a very mystical path indeed.
Catch the next episode of Arrow next Wednesday at 8pm on the CW.