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*LIGHT SPOILERS*

Arrow has been one of the best superhero shows on television. It has consistently pushed the limits for a television production whether it be story, budget, or characters.

Unfortunately, a lot of that came apart in Season 3 and it disappointed a lot of fans (myself included). Season 4, with its first episode, ‘Green Arrow’, was a step in the right direction. It was entertaining, a bit cleaner in pacing and overall a much better episode than most of what Season 3 had to offer.

However, problems still remained. Arrow has always struggled with too many plot threads at once and too many characters pulling from said threads.

Enter episode 2, ‘The Candidate’.

The Candidate’ was a return to Arrow‘s problem form: too many characters and not enough time to settle a reasonable plot. The episode featured villain, Anarchy; however, fans of the character might be disappointed to hear that he is name only and nothing more. This, while serving as a bit of fan service in its own right, manages to unhinge some of Damien Darhk’s plans. Plotting and scheming, Anarchy manages to capture the daughter of Jessica Danforth, an out-of-the-blue friend, as ransom. The soon to be mayor, Danforth (played wonderfully by Jeri Ryan) is left to the good graces of Team Arrow.

If the description seems a bit aimless, that’s only because the show manages to do much of that on its own merit. Anarchy did nothing but divert attention away from season villain Darhk’s ultimate plans. Sure, Darhk was ultimately annoyed by the entire thing but it was hard not to be more annoyed by the entire divergence of attention. Thankfully Team Arrow, with the help of some well displayed, well shot and well choreographed action sequences, makes up for the effort.

The addition of Jeri Ryan is a nice surprise to Arrow. A once famed beauty for her good graces saving the spiraling and out of control Star Trek: Voyager, her presence is felt here. Her acting is as top notch as Stephen Amell, the only cast member that stands head and toes above everyone else. Which, unsurprisingly, Amell’s performance propels the episode as he manages to deal with action and inaction in a city of dire need.

However, the true problem in this season, beyond the plodding story development is the usage of supporting characters. Thea, for whatever reason, is drawing too much attention from Oliver. The result? A mixed bag of scenes that are awkwardly written and confusing. Oliver is against Thea being a murderer and an aggressive combatant, when he too came from similar roots. His lack of understanding is written entirely overwhelming. The same could be said for Diggle, a long time fan-favorite, as he has been relegated to “I can’t work with Oliver,” or “Oliver, I’m just not ready yet.” Team Arrow is in disarray, we all got that, but the continuous re-use of scenes just bogs down story and pacing.

VERDICT

Arrow still makes for some damn good television. It’s entertaining and always finds unique ways to setup its action sequences to keep viewers on their seats. However, ever since Season 2, the show has faltered on the character study of Oliver Queen and proceeded to irrationally focus on aimless subplots. One would hope, maybe after a few episodes, that the show could settle down.

[usrlist ” ‘The Candidate’:6″ ” ‘Green Arrow’:8″]

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