Anarchy reigns over “The Candidate,” and not just because Anarky has appeared in Star City. The members of Team Green Arrow, and many of their friends and family, are leading lives that become more chaotic by the day as the city grapples with new threats around every corner.
And the terrors of the world are driving some to consider raising the dead, while others are doing all they can to prevent their loved ones from ending up in the ground (and as the end of the season premiere indicated, that fate awaits at least one person close to Oliver).
“The Candidate” also dabbles in the anarchy of the show’s constantly growing ensemble of secondary characters. Three new faces, all of whom have the potential to return, are introduced, including the person who, for most of the hour, seems to be the titular candidate, Jessica Danforth.
Jeri Ryan guest stars as an old friend of Moira Queen’s, who has resurfaced in Oliver and Thea’s lives, along with her red-shirt daughter, to run for mayor of Star City. Sure the position’s last few occupants were all murdered, but hey, Danforth believes she can be the symbol of hope for the city in a way the Green Arrow can never be: a face that is ever-present in the citizens’ lives.
Danforth wastes no time entering the mayoral race to compete against exactly zero other candidates, holding a public press conference to announce her intention to run. But like all good public gatherings in Star City, a gun begins firing in the atrium, which Thea goes to investigate. She finds an auto-firing gun meant simply as a diversion, and as Oliver catches up to Danforth, he realizes why.
Her escort out of the building isn’t actually part of her detail, which we learn from a security guard who this mystery man electrocutes. Ollie appears just in time to throw him over the bannister (self-defense classes, he explains to Danforth), but this unknown assailant flees, rushing out into traffic and escaping Oliver’s grasp when he’s struck by a car.
Luckily, they were able to pull some of this guy’s prints from a windshield by buying the truck the windshield was attached to. Felicity is rich now as head of Palmer Tech (more on that in a bit), but they have difficulty putting together his identity.
In the meantime, Quentin has put a 24/7 detail on Danforth to protect her, but he’s not quite ready to let Oliver and the team help out on their investigation. He doesn’t trust even the Green Arrow to be responsible, to act any differently than he did before, and so for now they have to go about their hunt without the police force’s aide.
But it looks like this mysterious anarchist has some assistance of his own in the form of Damien Darhk. The new Big Bad isn’t quite so happy with this man’s botched mission, though. He offers him a second chance to make good on his promise, but Darhk is not a man who gives third chances.
So Lonnie Machin (Alexander Calvert) decides to throw a little kidnapping into the mix, but not of Danforth — of her daughter. Oliver has Danforth call her daughter, who is supposedly at the library, only to find that no one is answering her phone. It’s a move Darhk disowns Machin for, but the troublemaker doesn’t mind. He continues his plan, bringing Danforth’s daughter to his torture chamber, where he has a cabinet full of weapons ready to use on his captive. Luckily by this point, Felicity is able to crack through on his identity and help the team find him.
They narrow down his location and break in through the skylights (“Something wrong with the front door,” he asks), but the fight soon literally heats up. Temporarily trading in his electrocution stick for a flamethrower, Machin diverts the team enough to find a new hiding spot.
Oliver and Thea search the building for him, only for him to spring up and electrocute Speedy. He begins fighting Oliver and proves he’s not a force to be trifled with. He beats down and shocks Oliver as well, but Speedy, spurred on by her recent, more violent behavior, re-enters the fray. She gives Machin a taste of his own electrotherapy, lighting him on fire in the process. Oliver is furious, and moves swiftly to put the fire out before another foe is added to the body count that he’s trying to keep down.
Danforth’s daughter is safe, and the concerned mother’s mayoral future comes into question as a result. But while she’s happy to see her daughter alive, Quentin is unhappy with how Oliver went about it. Shooting people with arrows was bad enough, but now he’s lighting them on fire? The Green Arrow sure seems different, and Quentin’s not too pleased with the result. (Tough criticism coming from a guy who’s paired up with a mystically powered man who oozes evil.)
But Oliver takes what Quentin has to say at heart, as well as Danforth’s reasoning for originally running for mayor.
“The city needs something the Green Arrow can’t offer. Hope, inspiration, someone who can do things in the light and who isn’t afraid,” he tells Felicity, right before explaining he plans to run for mayor. Because surely nothing wrong can come of that, right?
NEXT: Felicity’s in charge and Speedy’s got a violent streak. [pagebreak]
He may not want to give up too much time under the hood just yet, as Quentin soon learns that Machin has escaped captivity, killing his guards and leaving a graffiti “A” enclosed in a circle on the wall of the van he was being transported in. Sounds like a bit of anarchy — more precisely, Anarky.
However Felicity feels about Oliver’s split attention, she has more than enough to deal with as the new head of Palmer Tech. Her first day on the job and the board is already having her downsize the company. Palmer Tech has fallen on hard times, and with a list of names determined by Echo Kellum’s Curtis Holt, one of her first responsibilities is making the company profitable once again.
But Felicity soon learns Holt had no intention of making an algorithm to fire people. It wasn’t his idea at all, and after a surprisingly polite (yet still sad) firing meeting with an employee, Felicity is dying for an alternative. Particularly once Holt’s name comes up on the list (poor guy fired himself), she decides this isn’t the type of leader she wants to be.
So she re-hires everyone originally fired and promises the board that she and Holt (essentially a male Felicity, though fear not, he won’t be a romantic foil for her since he has a husband in the picture already) have something special planned. They’re developing a revolutionary, but proprietary technology that will save the company and erase the need for pesky things like mass layoffs.
They’re given six months, until the next board meeting, to present this piece of tech, and while Felicity has no actual idea what it may be, she’s hoping Holt just might. This looks like the start of a wonderful friendship, and a potential new terrific ally for the team.
And it’s certainly a team that could use all the help it can get. Sure they have little problems like Felicity’s frustration over not having a codename, but they also have major issues plaguing them, like a near-lethal Speedy. Their Ghost hunt opening “The Candidate” showcases a Speedy out for blood, and though her behavior kicks Oliver into protective-brother mode yet again, she’s not so willing to listen.
Thea also acts out during a reconnaissance mission by breaking a man’s arm when he won’t give them information. Oliver physically fights with Thea back at the Arrow cave to prove to her the extremes she went to, and her ignition of Machin in battle only confirms the bloodlust. He assumes it’s a side effect of the Lazarus Pit, but they don’t quite have an explanation for why it had such a delayed, obvious effect.
The mention of Nanda Parbat has Laurel suspicious (I had honestly forgotten she wasn’t in on the whole “raising the dead” aspect of season 3). Thea comes clean to her about her death (or practically dead) experience before being brought back to health in the Lazarus Pit.
It’s enough to give Laurel some ideas of her own. (ASIDE: Laurel is the only person to whom Diggle confides that he knows about a group called H.I.V.E. that killed his brother but kept that information from Felicity and Oliver. He doesn’t want to bring them in on a family member, and he thought Laurel would understand because she’s lost a sibling herself. And he understands that keeping all of the pain in will only hurt Diggle in the end. END ASIDE) So, hidden from Oliver, Laurel tells Thea that they’re going to take a trip to Nanda Parbat. If anyone will know what’s happening to her, surely it’s the League of Assassins.
But that’s not the only reason Laurel wants to, like Liz Lemon, go to there. She and Thea head over to the graveyard, where they did up Sara Lance’s corpse. Her intentions are obvious, but it may be tough to sneak that one by airport security.
Back to the Island
While the end of the episode hints at the revival of fallen character, “The Candidate’s” flashbacks herald the death of a longstanding pall hanging around the show: Oliver’s island wig. Yes, the shaggy mane that has become a less-than-beloved signature of Oliver Queen’s past is lost as he takes on a new role.
The flashbacks pick up right where the premiere’s ended, with Oliver taking out the soldier who finds him on the island. Using the soldier’s computer, he makes a connection and is given instructions to find a way to make himself trusted by those on the island.
So, he puts together a plan. Oliver throws the soldier’s body onto a land mine, drawing the attention of his fellow combatants, who bring Oliver back to base. Once there, the leader of the camp recognizes Oliver and, because he’s down a man, offers the famous Queen a job. Oliver accepts and becomes a soldier watching over a few forced laborers toiling in the field, but it appears the job demanded a haircut, as a much cleaner-cut Oliver is seen ingratiating himself into the ways of the new island order.