Week two of the new Green Arrow Arrow showed off a lighter Oliver Queen but took us deeper into a swirling, disturbing world where no one wants to run for mayor of a major city, and your little sister makes possessed Linda Blair in The Exorcist look sedate and controllable. Things got hairier and weirder on this week’s Arrow as another DC Comics villain makes his debut, members of Team Arrow decide to share for a change, and Damien Darhk stakes a claim as a gentleman villain. Meanwhile, Oliver’s new flashback island adventure gets interesting, and Laurel has an awesome, or possibly terrible, idea.
First, while we appreciate Oliver’s sunnier attitude in the present, maybe Stephen Amell could sound less chipper about spending “five years in hell” in the show’s opening voiceover. Having said that though, the new and improved Team Arrow proves itself a well-oiled machine at both fighting crime and bantering. Lingering just under the surface though is that Thea’s having problems. Her transformation thanks to a swim in the Lazarus Pit is becoming more and more pronounced, and this week Oliver goes from brotherly concern to “that girl is psycho!”
So can Willa Holland pull off the feral bear routine enough to be truly believably Lazarus Pit recovering psychotic? I wouldn’t have thought so, but the scene where Oliver windsher up and causing her to attack him is pretty brutal. As for the story itself, is it coincidence that Thea’s been getting more Hulk Smash-like since her brother’s return? And given Malcolm Merlyn’s warnings about the Pit changing you for the worst, was Oliver delusional or ignorant when he left town and didn’t think to warn the gang to keep an eye on Thea for a Hyde complex? For that matter, have Dig and Laurel just been not paying attention to Thea’s actions in the field or have they ignored the fact that when left unattended she breaks bones?
But Thea wasn’t the only one adjusting to the new normal of Star City. Felicity is confronted with the negatives of being boss in that sometimes you have to fire a few… dozen… people. Naturally, this doesn’t sit well with Ms. Smoak, but she’s painted into a corner by the Palmer Tech board, who I could have swore were about to be revealed as the bad guys, but turned out to just be a bunch of corporate jerks. Enter Curtis Holt (Echo Kellum), a tech savvy Palmer Tech employee that teaches Felicity the true meaning of employee retention. Curtis kind of reminds one of a younger, blacker, and gayer Felicity, and with his new boss they have six months to figure out a way to save Palmer T… Uh oh.
Yes, the timing on that was a little bizarre, but now we have to ask ourselves just what exactly is going to be the root cause of the mystery death we flash-forwarded to last week, is it Felicity’s still in flux plan to save Palmer Tech, or is it another development this week, Oliver’s decision to run for mayor of Star City?
The case of the week involved Jessica Danforth played by Jeri Ryan. Jessica is an old friend of the Queens, and is the titular “Candidate,” who’s inspired by her old friend Moira Queen’s example to bring some stability to Star City Hall. Obviously, that doesn’t sit well with Damien Darhk’s “let it die” plan for Star, but instead of sending his Ghosts (or H.I.V.E. if you will), Damien outsources the job as an initiation for Lonnie Machin (Alexander Calvert), who’s methods turnout to be a little too anarchistic for Darhk’s taste, especially when he kidnaps Danforth’s daughter Madison.
Neal McDonough didn’t get much to do this week, but he affirmed that Darhk is an interesting and engaging bad guy first by chastising Machin like a disproving father watching his son bungle through the family business, then later in his interaction with Captain Lance whose connection to Darhk remains unexplained. Like Captain America, Darhk disproves of harsh language, but you couldn’t help but laugh at the way McDonough delivers the line “the abduction lacked taste.”
Darhk will surely not like Machin’s further examples of bad taste because at the end of the hour, he kills a couple of paramedics and painted an “A” on the side of the ambulance in their blood, and Anarchy is born. Not bad for a guy nearly burned to a crisp by an out of control Thea. Anarchy is an interesting character in the comic book, one of the rare modern Batman villains that can stand up relative to the old guard rogues, but Calvery wasn’t really compelling casting for the part. He was petulant and not terribly charismatic, and while the comic book Anarchy leans more to the political meaning of the term, this Arrow version is more direct in its definition of Anarchy.
Speaking of anarchy, Oliver is going to run for mayor. While he’s right about the city needing a leader that’s hopeful and inspiring, but not as vulnerable and kick butt on his own when bad guys attack, just what qualifications does Oliver have to be mayor? Maybe he became mayor of Lian Yu, and that’s where the flashbacks are going. Fortunately for Oliver though, this is the year of the political outsider, and fighting crime in costume in a bow and arrow is way more impressive than anything Donald Trump or Ben Carson has done.
Of course, I’d like to see those guys survive on Lian Yu, which, despite being a desolate island in the middle of the perilous South China Sea, is one of the busiest resort destinations – for guys with guns. Oliver must infiltrate a group of armed men who are enslaving people to work in what I assume is an evil pumpkin patch. Or maybe it’s drugs. Still, Oliver manages to get a new job in the mysterious army, and in an unexpected bonus, flashback Oliver gets a haircut, which means no more terrible flashback wig.
But since this is Arrow, every good decision has an equal and opposite bad decision. When Laurel hears Oliver talk about the resurrection powers of the Lazarus Pit, you can practically see the cartoon light bulb appear over her head. Despite witnessing the dangers of the Pit first hand via Thea, Laurel says to herself, “Well this seems like a good idea for my sister.” On the plus side, Laurel and Thea’s trip to Nanda Parbat means the return of new Ra’s al Ghul Malcolm Merlyn. Hopefully, unlike last season, the appearance of Ra’s won’t mean shooting this new season’s momentum in the foot.