Episode four, “Beyond Redemption”, continues Arrow’s highly entertaining fourth season. This episode’s primary antagonists are cops gone bad, which is a refreshing shift from last week, when Green Arrow was tangling with a metahuman. Plus, while it was cool to see King Shark show up on The Flash, having Arrow go a slightly more grounded route, in a season that’s been far more comic book-y than its predecessors, worked well in this instance.
There was a lot to unpack in “Beyond Redemption”, though. Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) is quickly moving forward with his plans to run for mayor of Star City. He delivers the news to Team Arrow, and their lackadaisical reaction is fairly humorous. Meanwhile, a thought-to-be deactivated anti-vigilante task force from the Star City Police goes rouge, and start brazenly killing criminals and stealing drugs.
Additionally, after Laurel (Katie Cassidy) brought her sister Sara (Caity Lotz) back to life via the Lazarus Pit in last week’s episode, she brings the newly resurrected and highly volatile Sara back to Star City and keeps her chained up in a murky boiler room.
These two plot lines lead to a lot of emotionally charged screen time for Captain Lance (Paul Blackthorne). Not only does he have to deal with bad cops and Oliver finding out he’s been meeting with Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) in secret, but his daughter, whom he thought was once dead, then alive, then dead again, was in fact, alive again. Needless to say, he sheds many tears during an argument with Laurel about whether this chained up person was really his daughter. The episode’s end, however, is slightly predictable as Sara, who earlier was nearly killed by her own father before Laurel intervened, escapes from her chains. All of this is leading up to one of the season’s most highly anticipated episodes, as Team Arrow calls upon John Constantine, played by Matt Ryan of the now-canceled NBC show Constantine, for help with restoring Sara to her previous self. Now onto what worked and what didn’t work in “Beyond Redemption”.
Stephen Amell continues to be the best part of Arrow’s fourth season. This season’s less moody, more superhero-y approach is really working to make Amell less of the emotionless block of wood he sometimes was in previous seasons. The fact that Oliver and Green Arrow can smile, laugh, and generally act like a regular human being really works to develop the character. The mayoral run plot line is definitely the most interesting thing to happen to Oliver since the death of his mother, Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson), in season two.
The new Arrow cave is mighty sleek. Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) drops that it was built by The Flash’s Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes), who apparently has plenty of time to work on massive projects while still working at Star Labs and helping The Flash? Anyway, it definitely has the vibe of Batman’s lair in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. It’s brightly lit, with costumes on display and a phalanx of computer and gizmos. Technical glitch plot devices aside, it’s nice to see Team Arrow out of that dark and murky dance club basement.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
One of the oddest moments in this episode is when the main cop-gone-bad from the anti-vigilante task force, Liza Warner, played fiercely by True Blood’s Rutina Wesley, reiterates the task force’s point that they don’t kill cops when discussing the need to kill Captain Lance after he discovers they’ve gone rouge. A second later, another cop has to remind her that they did kill two city cops in the episode’s opening scene when they were infiltrating a drug bust. Seems like a silly line to have in the script when the viewer already knows for sure that they do kill cops.
Felicity’s actions in this episode don’t exactly align with what we’ve known her in the past. She’s a computer hacker with a nearly unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Yet when she, along with help from Curtis Holt (Echo Kellum) — the soon-to-be Mister Terrific — discovers a message from the thought-to-be deceased Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh), Felicity doesn’t feel the need to find out what the message says. It isn’t until Holt tells her he would do anything to get a message from his dead brother that Felicity has a change of heart.
NUGGETS AND TIDBITS
Near the beginning of the episode, Oliver has Team Arrow get together for the big news of his mayoral run. When Oliver and Felicity enter the room, Thea (Willa Holland) asks Felicity why she’s not wearing “it” (i.e., the wedding ring from this season’s first episode). Laurel then asks Thea what she meant by that comment, and thus our first indication that a love triangle between Oliver, Felicity, and Laurel may be coming sooner than later.
It’s only a matter of time before Ray Palmer returns. While Felicity did cry while finally listening to his message, it’s clear he’ll somehow contact Felicity to tell her he’s not dead, just really, really small.
Oddly, Thea’s bloodlust wasn’t really discussed in this episode at all. Not sure if killing Malcolm Merlyn’s (John Barrowman) assassins last week cured her, or the plot line was given a week off to breathe.
Green Arrow used a slew of trick arrows this episode, which is great to see. Still, this season is lacking a boxing glove arrow. C’mon, Guggenheim!
The flashbacks this season have actually been more entertaining than usual, mainly because of their brevity. They rarely go on longer than a minute, which works to keep the viewer’s focus on the present. In this episode, Oliver works to keep one of the drug field workers alive after his superiors order him to kill her. A commanding officer later asks Oliver to see the body. Oliver in turn uses some kind of ninja-trick to make her appear dead. But when the commanding officer leaves, he stumbles on Oliver’s computer telling him to infiltrate the group from this season’s second episode. Next week’s flashbacks will be interesting, to say the least.
Overall, “Beyond Redemption” is an above average Arrow episode that does a nice job dividing its time between action sequences, tear-jerking moments, and Oliver Queen’s continued character development. But most importantly, let’s take a moment to welcome Constantine back to the small screen with open arms.