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REVIEW: Arrow 4×04 “Beyond Redemption”

Every once in a while there is an episode that decides to slow things down a little bit and chooses to focus more on the characters themselves than the action that inhabits Oliver’s world. That was this week’s “Beyond Redemption”, an episode that chose to focus squarely on how great all of these actors are when they are given real material. Case in point Paul Blackthorne and Stephen Amell’s performances tonight, which were nothing short of excellent and really helped to move all of the pieces into interesting places. Now it feels like we are bidding our time, waiting for something really big to happen as everything is seemingly moving very smoothly. Of course when everything feel content and in the right places that is when the show decides to screw things up in the best possible way. This week was about having faults and what you do when you are confronted by how disastrous everything can turn out.

Goddamn, Paul Blackthorne is great, I mean seriously whenever he manages to get substantial screen time like in last season’s “Public Enemy” or this episode he just manages to make everyone else look like they are not even trying. Seeing Lance struggle to keep his life together in the face of Sara’s return, the dirty cops, being under Darhk’s thumb was a beautiful thing to witness. Hell, I could watch an entire episode of just Lance interacting with people and if it was at this high of quality it would probably be one of the best things I watch in the week. Man I could keep kissing ass all day, but it really comes down to that scene with Oliver in Lance’s apartment. It shows us who this man, the moral compass of our show, is truly just flesh and blood and able to make mistakes in the worst way possible. Lance believes that there has to be some way to restore hope to the city and that is what makes his relationship with Oliver so important.

Oliver wants to be mayor for a ton of different reasons, but the largest one is apparently his need to prove that he is not the screwup everyone believes him to be, and that he can actually affect change in the city on multiple fronts. That is why when Oliver is angry at Lance he is more losing his sense of hope that things can change as the man he deemed to be one of the best has become semi-corrupted by the darkness in the city. Oliver since day one has fought to “save the city”, but as Darhk told us the city apparently doesn’t want that. It wants to die, it wants the people to leave and never come back, but Oliver can’t accept that as a reality. To be the mayor, to actually be able to make some sort of major change in the way this city works is Ollie’s only true desire at this point.

That is what makes Oliver’s scenes with Lance so great as it is Oliver dealing with the idea of a fallen idol. We got traces of this way back in season two with Slade and just how much Ollie respects Slade as a person despite him going completely nuts, but this is Oliver’s first real confrontation with seeing his hero fail. Lance gave into the temptation of Darhk and the actually possibility of the city being saved and now Lance is being forced to redeem himself despite the ever present danger it puts both Laurel and Sara in. Oliver wants to believe in his hero, while at the same time evolve into someone the city can truly respect and admire. This is a gigantic step for Oliver and way more progression than a simple no kill rule and I am extremely excited to see how this plays out.

The one part of the episode that frustrated me besides the majority of the villain plot being completely irrelevant was that Laurel actually seems to be regressing into being the worst once again. She has put on blinders concerning Sara and refuses to see that things are not going to be ok and in doing this she is putting everyone at risk. She has to realize that what she did to Sara was completely stupid and wrong, and yet there is seemingly no remorse to her character. Hopeful somehow everything just manages to click with her and she realizes what she has done because as of right now Laurel is the biggest villain on the show.

Overall this episode success entirely on the merits of Paul Blackthorne and Stephen Amell’s acting ability, hopefully we will be able to keep this momentum.

Final Grade B+

+Blackthorne and Amell’s performance

+Oliver’s running for mayor speech

+New lair

-Inconsequential dirty cops plot

-Laurel being the worst again

Final Thoughts

-Oliver didn’t pull the knife out of his back at all. I get he is hard core, but damn.

-Hey Diggle didn’t shoot someone in the face this week, progress

-Constantine is next week guys. This better be damn good.

-New lair looks great, but we are oddly lacking a case for Barry’s suit it looks like.

About the author

Scott Swartz