Arrow: 4.04 Beyond Redemption
"We're all desperate. We've been made to do desperate things. Terrible things. But I've gotta believe that we are not beyond redemption. I've gotta believe that this city can still be saved cause once we stop believing that's when this city really dies and us right along with it. Maybe, just maybe we start saving our home by saving ourselves first."
Save the city, save yourself was the motto of this week as Beyond Redemption delved deep into the motivations of Oliver (past and present), Laurel and Quentin and continued the emotional fallout of Sara's resurrection last week. It was a somewhat sedate episode of Arrow but it delivered some great performances, particularly from Paul Blackthorne as Quentin Lance.
Not only did he discover that his daughter had been resurrected as a rabid animal, but his own anti-vigilante task force had gone rogue. In truth the bad guys this week were a little underwhelming, particularly when Damien Darkh was still lurking in the shows being evil and awesome in equal measure. At least there were a couple of good fight sequences - something the show has always done well - and Rutina Wesley (True Blood) brought some real conviction as task force leader gone bad Liza Warner. It is a shame her morally grey character was lost in the mix, particularly as it was never really clear why the police officers had gone bad in the first place.
But for Quentin, the worst moment was surely the moment Oliver confronted him in his apartment after discovering he was working with Damien Darkh.
"You know a funny thing. You're a main reason behind me running for Mayor. A part of me has always wanted you to see what kind of man I really am! I didn't expect to wind up finding out what kind of man you really are."
You could see Quentin crumble, his efforts to save the city falling short as he had come to realise that his closest ally was the one sewing the chaos. A newly-positive Oliver, filled with the conviction to run for mayor and save the city both under a mask and in public, stumbled too. Quentin might have always had an antagonistic relationship with him but Oliver had always known Quentin's motivations to be honest. Stephen Amell and Blackthorne's performance helped to deliver possibly the strongest scene in the episode as they faced the truth about each other's motivations and I am intrigued to see where they go beyond this moment, with Quentin becoming a double agent for Team Arrow and potentially supporting Oliver's bid for mayor publically too.
Talking of Oliver's motivations, his decision to run for mayor was a surprising one, but one that suits his more positive demeanour. I would still quite have liked Jeri Ryan's Jessica Danforth to have become the leader of Star City but this role gives some interesting direction for Oliver moving forward. And he has a rather spectacular Arrow cave under his campaign headquarters too.
I loved the the new lair, developed with the help of Cisco and Star Labs. It is a great set piece and the various suits on display represent the new team of heroes emerging after the darkness of season three.
Meanwhile Sara remained chained in her feral state - I wonder just how Laurel managed to get her back through customs in that state! - and Laurel's scenes with her father and sister were powerful stuff, particularly when he contemplated shooting her at Damien Darkh's somewhat sage advice. Her escape at the end is sure to bring some interesting possibilities, not least the arrival of John Constantine next week.
The flashbacks continued to show Oliver's struggle to stay good against his penchant for violence; it's not the best part of the season by far and needs to develop to stand out like the scenes in season two, but is has great potential. Again there are some interesting possibilities coming up with Conklin's discover of Oliver's ARGUS gear on the island. And in the present day I am really enjoying the scenes between Felicity and Curtis at Star Labs. As for the interference on her phone - it has to be Ray Palmer right?
Beyond Redemption was a great episode for Oliver and Quentin though the main threat was underwhelming. There is still very much a sense of the show building up to something big and it probably needs to deliver on that soon. But at this stage, Arrow is delivering some great TV.