WARNING: This Review Contains Spoilers
Oliver may have gotten the most screen time in this week’s Arrow, per usual. But, he wasn’t awarded the best arc, neither was Laurel or Sara, who you may have expected to after last week’s exciting episode featuring Sara’s resurrection. No, it was Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) who really stole the show in “Beyond Redemption.”
The episode begins with your generic gang of bad guys doing bad things (ie buying/selling drugs/guns). If you think Team Arrow is going to swoop in here to serve out some justice though, then you’d be wrong. In a nice change of pace for this show, the police actually respond to the crime before our heroes can. In fact, two separate groups of Star City Police, show up. It almost seems like the police are doing uncharacteristically good at their jobs considering the corrupt nature of this city, but then the leader of the specialized task force shoots the other two cops and takes the drugs from the scene.
Quentin is frustrated with the slow pace the investigation of the slain cops is moving at due to the squad’s budget and employee cuts. So, he asks for Oliver’s help in processing evidence from the scene. Felicity determines that the killer was another police officer, something that deeply shakes Quentin.
Thea uses her old dealer connections to set up a drug purchase in order to lure in the corrupt cops, where Team Arrow along with Captain Lance are waiting. A scuttle ensues and they get away. Though no one is badly hurt, the dirty cops did see Quentin’s face and are worried he knows their secret.
I think everyone other than Laurel had a feeling that Quentin wasn’t going to take the news of his daughter (who he’s been forced to say goodbye to twice already) being brought back from the dead in a zombified state well. And, very understandably, he didn’t. Looking at Sara chained up in Laurel’s basement, completely unhinged and snarling, he doesn’t see his daughter at all. Laurel tries her best to convince him though it is her. She’s just “been away” for a long while and needs more time. Laurel almost seems crazy as she tries to speak to “Sara” and show her photos of her family. More than anything, it’s just sad, something Quentin picks up on as well.
Searching for answers concerning his daughter, Quentin meets with Damien Darhk, who he’s reluctantly become involved with. Knowing Darhk was formerly a member of the League of Assassins, he asks him about the Lazarus Pit. Sara came out different, wild, what should he do? “Father to father,” Damien says, if it was his daughter he’d put her down and let her rest. She may be back physically, but her soul is gone.
Oliver learns of their meeting (although not what they discussed) and feels betrayed. He angrily confronts Quentin about it in the episode’s best scene. Quentin yells that Oliver has no right to pass judgement on him after everything he’s done, but Oliver doesn’t let him off the hook that easily. Quentin always passed himself off as better than Oliver, more righteous. And he was, Oliver admits, until this moment. Quentin tries to defend himself by saying that he became involved with Darhk only out of concern for his daughters. Oliver isn’t having it though, and roars that he needs to stop hiding behind them. It’s a fiery moment between these two alpha males who are each, in their own way, striving to do the right thing and it’s played so very well.
Though it obviously pains him, Quentin decides to follow Darhk’s advice and kill the remnants of his youngest daughter. “I’m sorry, baby, you’re just not her,” he says, raising his gun at “Sara.” Laurel comes in though and manages to stop him and, crying, drops the gun and leaves shaken. Blackthorne, who we rarely see this emotional, is excellent here and it’s impossible not to feel for his character.
Leaving her apartment, he is kidnapped by the rogue police force. They want to steal drugs used in police cases that would be burned anyway and use him to gain access before leaving the city, just like everyone else. Team Arrow is able to locate them. In the ensuing scuffle, Oliver is stabbed, and about to be killed by the leader of the corrupt police squad, when Quentin talks her down. He appeals to her sense of justice and why she wanted to be a cop in the first place. He says while this city and everyone in it is desperate, they cannot stop believing that they and this city can be saved.
Oliver goes to make up with Quentin and thank him for saving his life. He asks if he really meant what he said back there. He did, and to prove it plans on turning in his badge. Oliver stops him though and asks him to be his man on the inside with Darhk, which he agrees to.
Meanwhile, in what is sure to be one of my least favorite arcs this season (aside from the flashback, which are really dragging), Oliver is following through on his plan to run for mayor. He assembles Team Arrow in full daylight and street clothes to announce the news to them at Sebastian Blood’s old campaign office.. Like me, they’re less than thrilled and question his total lack of experience, vigilante lifestyle and the fact that he’s not a politician. But hey, can we really judge considering several front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination have zero political experience as well?
While he was hoping for more support from his friends, Oliver is still determined to run as anyone else good or qualified is scared to, and not without reason considering the unfortunate fate that befell the last mayors. Underneath the new Queen campaign headquarters though is a brand new, totally revamped and updated Arrow lair, complete with new superhero outfits for everyone. This surprise, no shocker, goes over much better with the team. Unfortunately though the computers are behaving poorly and glitching.
As the episode progresses Oliver confesses to Thea that he’s beginning to have doubts about running. He wanted to unite the city once again, but now he wonders if that’s even possible. Thea turns around and surprises him though by putting together a campaign staff full of interns and writing his impassioned announcement speech. In it, similar to the show’s prologue, he tells the crowd that after spending five years in hell he came back with only one goal: to save his city, as Felicity, Thea, and Diggle look on proudly.
The episode concludes with Laurel bringing food down to Sara in the basement, only to discover that she’s escaped. Huh, who would have thought chaining up your undead, soul-less sister would end badly?
While this episode wasn’t much for action or villains, it did feature some great character development and acting, particularly for Quentin and Oliver.
Also in this episode: We find out what that bug was in Felicity’s phone. Curtis determines it has something to do with a password protected recorded message left from Ray Palmer right before he died. Despite knowing the password, she has no interest in hearing it though. When Curtis questions her as to why, she reveals that he was her ex-boyfriend and it would hurt too much. Curtis still doesn’t understand though and says if his brother, who died years, had left a message it would be a huge gift. His encouragement does the trick and she listens to the message: “I’m sorry Felicity. This is my fault.”
Next week: Oliver calls in a favor from John Constantine(!!!) to help restore Sara’s soul to her body! See the promo here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIR3G4NoC2I