"Beyond Redemption" was a return of many things to the "Arrow" universe: Sara Lance, the salmon ladder and the compelling themes and character moments that once made this show so great.
Though "Arrow" has flirted with a return to greatness with some consistently entertaining episodes this season, "Beyond Redemption" is the first time in a long time that the show's been able to deliver a cohesive yet ambitious story grounded in the worth of this city and the people who care about it.
Here are the nine best moments from "Beyond Redemption."
Detective Lance is having a really rough week.
Give all the awards to Paul Blackthorne. The man earned them this week with his portrayal of a Quentin Lance on the edge, as a man asked to encompass the larger theme of this entire episode (and arguably the season): that this city, and its residents, are not beyond redemption.
Lance basically pulled a Coach Taylor to stop corrupt cop Liza Warner (Rutina Wesley) from killing Oliver (Stephen Amell) and then convince her to turn herself in. He's that good. It was a speech about justice, desperation and the choices we make when we think we don't have any, and it was a great moment in an episode filled with great moments.
Sara is back, but she's not exactly... herself.The CW
Major Life Crisis No. 2 on Lance's List: Sara's (Caity Lotz) return from the dead. If Thea's (Willa Holland) lust for blood is what happens when someone almost-dead gets dipped in the Lazarus Pit, then you can only imagine what Sara's post-swim mental state looks like. Our beloved Canary is nigh unrecognizable — not only to her family, but to herself. She has no idea who she is and, we're just spitballing here, but being chained up in an abandoned warehouse is not exactly helping the process along. When Lance asks Darhk what he should do about Sara, the big bad suggests putting her out of her misery.
[Side note No. 1: So, "Arrow" EP Wendy Mericle went on record this past week shooting down the popular fan theory that Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) is Felicity's father. Here's the thing: there has been so much foreshadowing about Darhk having a daughter he still at least marginally cares about. In a previous episode, he took issue with his ghosts' nabbing of Seven of Nine's daughter. It is, apparently, a line he would rather not cross.
This episode, Darhk spoke of being a father. Are the "Arrow" Powers That Be being intentionally (and understandably) misleading here — or does Darhk have a different secret daughter kicking around?]
Lance's alliance with Darhk comes to light.The CW
Can we talk about that scene between Lance and Oliver in Lance's apartment? Damn. One of the best scenes of the entire series so far. Though these two characters have spent a lot of time together and we have always known where their dynamic stands, "Beyond Redemption" added a new layer by showing just how much Oliver wants Lance's approval. He's really the only father figure Oliver has left — someone who knew him when he was Ollie, someone who he's always looked up to and been (sometimes, justifiably) found lacking by.
Oliver finding out that Lance has been working with Darhk is that moment when you realize your parents are people who make mistakes, and your whole world view becomes changed by it. The fact that Oliver — someone who has seen and done terrible things, someone who has had every other parental figure he's ever known (Moira, Robert, Malcolm) fail him in some major ways — is still capable of that loss of innocence is pretty great. Well done, "Arrow." You still know how to surprise us.
Oliver makes his mayoral announcement.
Inspired by Lance's speech about Star City's chance at redemption, Oliver recommits to his campaign to run for mayor and, with Thea's help, the entire thing starts to take shape. He has a campaign office (complete with a new underground Arrow lair!!!). He has an army of interns. And he has an announcement speech delivered with Team Arrow looking lovingly on. What could possibly go wrong?
[Side note No. 2: Can we talk about how Thea thought that Oliver had proposed to Felicity?! Does this mean Oliver has talked to his sister about his plans? Has he asked for advice on how to best propose? And, if so, can we please see this scene? Thanks in advance, "Arrow."]
Sara has flown the coop.The CW
When Laurel (Katie Cassidy) gets distracted with Liza Warner's kidnapping of Lance, Sara escapes the warehouse, leaving all of the photos meant to remind her of her family behind. Ruh roh. This is probably going to get worse before it gets better, right?
Lance is now a double agent.
In other Damien Darhk news, Lance has agreed to turn double agent for Team Arrow. (Can we start calling him Sydney Bristow, please?) Frankly, it didn't take much convincing. The only reason he was working with Darhk, apparently, was because he seems like a helpful guy at first and — by the time Lance realized he is actually, you know, a sociopath — it was too late to back out of their alliance.
Becoming a double agent is exceedingly risky for our man Lance (he has a heart condition, you know), but it's also the first solid chance Team Arrow has at finding out more about Darhk's operation. And, on a narrative level, it goes a long way in uniting this cast even further. As tonight's episode proves, Lance has the capacity to be the best part of this show, but "Arrow" doesn't always know what to do with him. Now that he's a temporary part of Team Arrow, something tells me that won't be a problem anymore.
Ray gets one step closer to communication.The CW
In other news, Curtis (Echo Kellum) figures out that those weird texts Felicity has been getting were sent from Ray's work station in the event of his "death." (Kind of annoyed that Felicity, the computer genius, didn't figure this out herself, but whatever. She has a lot going on.) Frankly, this storyline seemed a bit shoehorned into an already full episode, which was disappointing because seeing Felicity breaking down over Ray's message could have packed an even harder emotional punch. Still, something tells me the "Felicity looks for Ray" storyline will be getting more attention in future episodes...
There are still flashbacks on this show.The CW
This week's flashback element was fine. Oliver manages to successfully convince the military-type drug dealers on The Island that he killed his Future Past Love Interest only to be foiled by his inability to hide things. Between that terribly concealed pack and the engagement ring, I'm beginning to seriously doubt Oliver's concealment abilities. It's like he's not even trying.
The salmon ladder is back.
And all was right in the world.