Arrow – Season 4 Episode 4

Oct 29, 2015 | Posted by in TV

“Beyond Redemption”

Arrow carries on with Oliver Queen’s plan to run for Mayor of Star City in an attempt to do more to protect it than he can accomplish as the Green Arrow.

It was completely ignored as a plot point last week but the episode hits the ground running by Oliver showing Team Arrow the campaign office once used by Sebastian Blood all the way back in the second season. The reason that he chooses to use this office is primarily because it has a secret basement that can be used as a new HQ. This new Arrow Cave -I think it should be called Quiver- looks great. There’s lots of space, apparently lots of security and it accurately reflects the more team focused outlook that has been built up for a while now. Having a more well lit base of operations also helps to emphasise the lighter tone that the season is supposed to be taking. The frequent power outages are somewhat confusing. I’m guessing that they are connected to Ray Palmer’s return in some way though that wouldn’t make a lot of sense given that he is presumably stuck at Palmer Tech.

Oliver’s speech to the city announcing his candidacy is really well written and nicely follows on from a conversation he has with Thea about uniting the city in some kind of common cause. He seems sincere when he says that is what he wants and the integrity that Oliver has should stand him in good stead throughout his campaign. I liked that the speech wove in quotes from the opening monologue to show that his mission is still broadly the same but the way he is going about it has changed,


The new Arrow cave…or is it Quiver?

Connected to Oliver’s Mayoral campaign is Quentin Lance who gets to spend some well earned time in the spotlight on various issues. At the start of the episode he reluctantly helps Team Arrow as they are trying to track down a group of cop killers. Quentin is frustrated that his own forensics team are unable to help him quickly so he recognises that Oliver is his best hope for getting to the bottom of it. This also requires him to make compromises by supplying them unrestricted access to the police mainframe which includes all cameras.

A big theme for Quentin this season has been compromise. He has to compromise his principles by working with Damien Darhk and now has to find a way to be comfortable with trusting Oliver and his team with very sensitive access to police resources. This episode moves a lot quicker than I expected on someone discovering his connection with Darhk after Oliver spots him on a camera.

It leads to an excellent scene where Oliver confronts him over this. Oliver opens up to Quentin and reveals that he has always wanted to prove himself worthwhile in his eyes. He has always seen Quentin as incorruptible so the prospect of him betraying everything that he stands for is something that angers Oliver. Quentin tries to justify what he has one by saying that it was to protect Laurel but Oliver is even angrier at that and tells him to stop hiding behind his daughters.

Corrupting Quentin makes sense from a development point of view as it is a good example of role reversal. In the past he has always served as something of a moral compass for Oliver albeit a really angry and judgemental one. He always had a valid point even if the situation wasn’t fully understood. Now that Oliver has adopted the Green Arrow persona he is much more of a positive influence on both those around him and the city. Oliver in his personal life seems to be more sedate and at ease with who he is so turning this relationship on its head and having Oliver be the one judging Quentin from the moral high ground is dramatically fascinating and keeps the dynamics shifting into interesting places.


Laurel tries to reach Sara

It also feels organic that Quentin is corrupted at this point as he has lost a lot in his life. He has had to deal with one of his daughters dying twice, he has been lied to by his other daughter about Sara’s second death and there is also the problem of coping with his surviving daughter risking her life every night as a leather clad vigilante. Combine this with watching the city that his love fall into ruins at the hands of an increased criminal element and you have the ingredients for a man who is perfectly justified in losing his faith in everything around him. This vulnerability naturally leads him to Darhk who initially promised to protect the city but proved to be less than honest with his agenda. By the time that was realised it was far too late to go back on it and from his point of view the only thing he could do is keep going and do whatever good he could while he had the opportunity. None of this justifies his partnership with Darhk but it does make sense and these flawed decisions are what make him a compelling character.

I see the title of the episode as more of a question in regards to Quentin. Is he beyond redemption? I don’t think so. He has made some mistakes and has to do a lot to prove himself in his own eyes as much as anyone but this isn’t a choice that he can’t come back from. Having him as Oliver’s mole within Dahk’s operation will be a big part of his redemption.

Aside from that he has the personal emotional issue of dealing with Sara’s resurrection. Thankfully Laurel chooses to tell him about this right away so that we don’t have an endless angsty story where people hide the truth for him again. If we skip that then we can get to the real meat of the issue. It’s interesting to see a very reality grounded guy like Quentin have to deal with the supernatural. It isn’t something that he has encountered before nor is it something he is prepared for. It’s all told in his facial expressions when he sees Sara for the first time. There’s an uncomfortable mix of terror, confusion and sadness to his face as he can’t believe what it is he’s seeing. When he sees that there’s nothing about her beyond her physical presence to indicate that his daughter is in there it is completely heartbreaking to watch.

His decision to put an end to Sara after asking Darhk’s advice on it is equally powerful. Darhk comes across as more compassionate than he has ever seen showing that there is real depth beneath his rough, villainous exterior. McDonough expertly adds layers to this character every week helped by strong writing. It is pointed out that she may look like Sara but what the pit brought back isn’t her. According to Darhk Sara has no soul and the true mercy would be to make sure that she gets to return to being dead. Whether this is true or not is yet to be explored and I dare say will be when none other than John Constantine turns up next week -colour me excited- to sort all of this out.


Quentin can’t bring himself to kill his resurrected daughter

The real emotional heft of this can’t be ignored as Quentin points the gun at the head of what he believes is no longer his daughter. It’s another brilliant performance from Paul Blackthorne who nails every scene he is in this week. He can’t quite bring himself to do it and is stopped by Laurel who is still completely selfish by doing this. Hopefully Sara’s escape will show her how wrong she was to bring her sister back.

In terms of antagonists the two highly trained teams were very much a means to an end to further the character arcs on display. I didn’t have a problem with this as it shows that there are somewhat standard problems that plague the city without any need to introduce difficult adversaries each week. The Liza Warner (Rutina Wesley) character made for a capable mouthpiece for one of the groups and I hope she gets to return in later episodes.

I still like what is being done with Felicity who for the moment seems to be off doing her own thing some of the time like with last season. I have a feeling that it won’t take long for her and Curtis to become a bigger part of the main stories but for now they mainly exist to delve into the mystery of Ray Palmer’s “death”. Felicity is reluctant to investigate it because she doesn’t want to reopen a wound that she feels that she has made peace with and wants to leave it at that but it turns out Curtis tragically lost a brother and makes a strong case for Felicity to want to hear Ray’s voice again. There’s lots of comedy in these scenes and it’s perhaps a bit of a trope to have characters who seem to be goofing off get serious and have it be meaningful but when the friendly chemistry is as good as it is between these characters then I can completely forgive it.


Oliver announces his Mayoral candidacy

The flashbacks are starting to build up a narrative now but feel a bit thematically distant from the rest of the episodes they feature in. Perhaps that is the point as the intention is to show Oliver at a much darker point in his life compared to his current state of being at peace with himself. I liked his interactions with Conklin (Ryan Robbins) even though they were a bit heavy on the darkness inside Oliver. Both actors do a good job and there’s a visible undercurrent of mistrust bubbling just beneath the surface.

More episodes like this and Arrow will surpass the quality set out by the earlier seasons. This really is the show at its absolute strongest.

  • 9.5/10
    Beyond Redemption - 9.5/10


An outstanding episode that picks up Oliver’s desire to be Mayor of Star City while furthering the arc of Quentin Lance being in league with Damien Darhk.

Oliver’s desire to become mayor feels genuine and definitely comes from a desire to help the city that he loves. A conversation with Thea that inspire the speech that she writes for him effectively shows that and the speech that Oliver gives at the end of the episode is appropriately rousing.

The corruption of Quentin Lance completely makes sense given everything that his character has been through and the role reversal of having Oliver be the one who can judge him for his morally questionable actions deepens Quentin as a character considerably.

Finding out that Sara has been brought back is difficult for him as well as he has no experience with the supernatural so it is a lot to take in for him. His conversation with Darhk where he is told that what has returned isn’t really his daughter and the only merciful thing to do is kill her again brings a new compassionate edge to Darhk that helps add layers to his already fascinating presence. The scene where Quentin almost puts a bullet in Sara’s head was incredibly well acted by Paul Blackthorne who nails every scene that he has this week.

The antagonists felt like no big deal but served a defined purpose within the plot. They were used to further the character arcs and not much else which is enough for this episode. Focusing on the character development with a decent enough villain force is a good idea in this instance.

Felicity is still being handled well with comedic scenes also involving Curtis. They are currently working on solving the mystery of Ray Palmer’s death after Felicity is convinced to look into it following a heartfelt monologue from Curtis. There is a danger that it will start to feel like Felicity is on another show like last season but I’m sure that she and Curtis will be more in the fold soon enough.

The flashbacks feel thematically distant from the main show at the moment but that might be the point considering they are showing a darker Oliver Queen in contrast to the much more centred version in the present day. His conversations with Conklin are a bit on the nose about his inner darkness but they work well enough.

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