“Beyond Redemption” – aired 10/28/2015 – *** stars
Written by Beth Schwartz and Ben Sokolowski
Directed by Lexi Alexander
*Spoilers are contained herein.
Every Wednesday is a huge treat for us as it is Arrow night on The CW. We’ve been watching the series since the beginning and it on very seldom occasions disappoints. We were sold on the show a few episodes into season two, caught up on season one through Netflix, and have been watching ever since. If there’s something Arrow related, we’ll cover it. Just see our write ups and reviews of some of the great Arrow merchandise out there from Icon Heroes and DC Collectibles. Unfortunately, last night’s episode “Beyond Redemption” may have been the weakest episode of the third season which, all things considered, has been a terrific junior year for the series so far.
“Beyond Redemption” has quite a few aspects to it in regards to the production that make it an interesting episode. First, this episode of Arrow features director Lexi Alexander, best known for Punisher War Zone and Green Street Hooligans. We previously wrote about Lexi Alexander in our write-up on the casting of True Blood alum Rutina Wesley as Liza Warner a.k.a. Lady Cop. You could read what we had to say here. Since the beginning of Arrow season three, we’ve been waiting for two moments – Rutina Wesley’s debut and the return of Matt Ryan as Constantine. Well, Matt Ryan won’t be returning as the all trench coat and arrogance, chain-smoking hellblazer until next week’s episode, airing on November 4th. Rutina Wesley as Liza Warner made her debut tonight and despite being every bit as literally a “kick-ass” character as we hoped, it was done in a way that ultimately is too much of a disservice to an underused and obscure character with great potential. To say Liza Warner Lady Cop could have been used to an even greater degree than Claire Temple/Night Nurse on Marvel’s Daredevil is no understatement. iO9 in 2012 wrote that Lady Cop was “the most underrated comic book hero of all.” It’s a great piece and eloquently explains that while Lady Cop was a product of the 70’s, she’s one of the toughest characters ever to be featured in DC Comics. The writer even goes on to say “Lady Cop beats the **** out of a lot of people.” Casting Rutina Wesley as the character was perfect and the thought of Liza Warner being represented on-screen and by Rutina Wesley was tremendously exciting, even more so than Jeri Ryan’s appearance. Sadly, as it seems, both women are one and done and (for now) off the show!
As good as Arrow has been this year, it appears as if the series is attempting something different with the highly successful show based off of the DC Comics character. Last week, in conversation with my friend Michael R, he said ” I actually like the direction that the show is going in; it is different from what we are used to with the past three action packed seasons.” It’s a solid observation because this season has shown us a more mystical based and comic book-y series, while still grounded in a quasi reality, has moved further away from the Nolan inspired first season. Another trend that is picking up is the usage of notable performers as characters seemingly destined for greater things only to be underused and criminally! Within the context of “Beyond Redemption”, Liza Warner is a villain and goes head to head against the Star City Police Department, along with Team Arrow. The episode introduces us to Liza Warner as a Lady Cop who kills two officers in the opening moments, along with stealing drugs and depositing the money in off shore accounts. Lady Cop? More like Dirty Cop! They fight throughout the episode and Liza Warner is just as tough as I had previously envisioned the character to be after the casting announcement of Rutina Wesley.
Under the direction of Lexi Alexander, we get a stylish episode filled with well-coordinated fight scenes. The biggest treat for fans is having Black Canary (Katie Cassidy) use the Canary Cry not once, but twice in “Beyond Redemption.” That’s always sure to please a crowd and Katie Cassidy has grown tremendously as the Black Canary. Lexi Alexander has also managed to direct one of Paul Blackthorne’s best scenes in the series when he confronts his Lazarus Pit resurrected daughter Sara (Caity Lotz) who is currently possessed by demons. Captain Lance is instructed by Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) to “return Sara to her final rest” and to see a scene of a father struggling to essentially mercy kill his daughter is particularly gut wrenching to watch. Blackthorne plays the emotion perfectly. We also get the inevitable confrontation between Captain Lance and Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) after Oliver learns of Lance’s involvement with Darhk. “We’ve all been made to do desperate things” he confesses and it’s the A HA moment where the episode title “Beyond Redemption” clicks.
“Beyond Redemption” explores the themes of righteousness, trust, and team work and further reveals just how much those are the driving themes of season four. It appears as if Captain Lance has forgiven Oliver in the same way we saw Diggle (David Ramsey) and Oliver make amends in last week’s episode. Standing united, Oliver along with his team and sister Thea (Willa Holland) announces that he will be running for mayor. “I’m not a politician. I didn’t even graduate from college…” he begins to say and quickly we fall in love with the character Stephen Amell has very much defined in ways that go beyond initial expectations in season one. This year of Arrow is decidedly happier, more hopeful, and even with a few missteps such as the waste of characters with great potential, is certainly not “Beyond Redemption.”
We love Arrow just as much now, if not more so, than when we first started watching. Despite this not being the season’s best, it was still very well done.
Arrow airs on The CW, Wednesday nights at 8 PM ET. Check your local listings.