Arrow: 4.02 The Candidate
After delivering a very confident season opener, Arrow continued to build on the threat of new series villain Damien Darkh as his grip on Star City tightened. As a threat it delivered a believable reason to keep Oliver Queen back in the fray after he and Felicity ran off into the sunset just two episodes ago.
This week Star Trek: Voyager's Jeri Ryan entered the explosive mix as old family friend Jessica Danforth, ready to take up the challenge of becoming the city's next mayor. Admittedly her sudden appearance as a friend the Queens seemed a little out of the blue but Jessica was a strong presence, even when her daughter was inevitably kidnapped by one of Darkh's men in an attempt to force her to stand down. I liked that she supported the Green Arrow and was prepared to become the city's equivalent of Harvey Dent to clean up the chaos and was a little disappointed when she eventually gave in. She could have been a great recurring character, supporting the heroes of the city while leading it and I hope she returns to continue the fight a little later down the line.
Lonnie Machin / Anarky was a terrific addition to the show, a psychopathic villain that went toe to toe with Darkh, was prepared to torture Jessica's daughter and then had the skills to fight off but Green and Red Arrow simultaneously. Alexander Calvert's performance was delightfully unhinged and I am excited to see what he does next - being set in fire by Thea wasn't enough to stop him from butchering the paramedics in his ambulance and escaping alive.
And talking of that scene, this was the episode where we really started to see what the effects of the Lazarus Pit had had on Thea. Her over-enthusiasm for beating up band guys was obvious last week but this time Oliver was right to be concerned for his sister. Breaking their informants arm was one thing, setting Anarky on fire was something even Oliver wouldn't have done in his darker season one days.
I am excited to see what happens next on Thea's little jaunt to Nanda Parbat with Laurel and I worry about the path her travelling companion is taking too. Laurel seemed far too eager to learn more about the resurrection qualities of the pit from Oliver and I had a horrible feeling she was going to do something with Sara. Yes, admittedly everyone knows that Caity Lotz is returning to the Arrow-verse as Sara Lance / White Canary in spin-off show Legends Of Tomorrow but there was still something rather disturbing at seeing Laurel dig up her sister's grave and open the coffin to reveal her sister's corpse. I just wonder how she is going to set Sara through customs on their little jaunt across the world. The smell alone is going to be unbearable.
There wasn't much of Diggle this week though the cold tension between him and Oliver was still there. At least we are continuing to see a much lighter side to Stephen Amell's performance. It's still rather surprising to see him smiling so much, but perhaps that is all to contrast the dark Oliver stuff we're getting back on the island in the flashback scenes. I must admit, it is great to see the past returning to this setting even if the establishment of another military force seems a little repetitive. I just hope it turns out a lot better than last season's surprisingly dull Hong Kong based action.
Oh and the 'Felicity has to fire her employees' side plot was a little too random for my tastes - more silly than humourous balance to the main drama unfolding - though Echo Kellum made an instant impression as Curtis Holt and I am looking forward to seeing how he fits in working with Felicity on new and exciting secrets projects.
The Candidate was a good follow-up to last week's season opener with a great new villain and some great supporting cast too. Thea's descent into darkness is being very well played and Laurel's actions over Sara are disturbing if very intriguing. There's still a lot of season four building going on, but it's all on the right track. And I can't wait for what is coming up at Nanda Parbat, particularly when we're bound to see a couple of old faces too...