Oliver may or may not be running for office.

Welcome back to ‘Arrow’ Season 4, which proved in this week’s episode just how hard they are trying to change the tone and feeling from the show from last season. Every time we saw Oliver smiling or making quips to Felicity and the team, or Felicity complaining that she needed a cool code-name too, it really brought home the idea that the show’s creators really wanted this season to be more light-hearted, and not quite as dark as last season.

Jumping in, the episode opens with the team at work going up against ghost agents, working more or less pretty well as a team, until Oliver spots Thea’s aggression while beating up one of the thugs. Oliver mentions it to her briefly afterwards, but she shrugs it off and reminds him that they were meeting an old family friend for brunch shortly, and that she does not have time for his lecture. At the brunch with Jessica Danforth and her daughter (Danforth was a close friend of Moira’s) Danforth reveals that she wants to follow in Moira’s footsteps and take a cue from the Green Arrow and run for mayor, claiming the city needs inspiration and hope, and that she can be that in a way the Green Arrow never could. She asks the Queens to back her, which they do begrudgingly (all are aware the last 3 mayors were killed, not counting Moira who was a mayoral candidate), later joining her at a press conference where she announces her intention to run. A machine gun opens fire on the press conference, and while Thea investigates the automatic gun, Oliver realizes that Danforth is being escorted out by a security guard who is actually the man behind the attack. He saves Danforth and chases the man outside, but loses him when Oliver is hit by a car. Fortunately, the man did leave prints on a truck he hopped over, which Oliver promptly buys so he can pull the prints. (he and Felicity have money now since she is running Palmer Technologies).

Meanwhile, while staking out Danforth to help protect her from ghosts, Diggle reveals to Laurel that he has had HIVE on his mind ever since he heard the term the previous week, and he reveals to her his information that HIVE killed his brother. He trusts her to keep his secret from Oliver and Felicity because he and Laurel both know a lot about keeping secrets in regards to deceased siblings, and what vendettas to avenge those siblings can do to a person. Oliver takes this time to appeal to Captain Lance to let the team help, but Lance still does not trust the Quiver Crew or Oliver, despite Oliver’s insistence that they are doing things differently now.

The man who tried to kill Danforth, who we know now is Lonnie Machin, visits Damien Darhk, who is displeased with Machin’s performance, offering him one last chance, and warning him HIVE does not give out third chances. Oliver and Thea go out on a reconnaissance run, but while interrogating a criminal Thea’s aggression comes out again, and she gleefully breaks the man’s arm, infuriating Oliver, who has it out with his sister once they return to HQ. To prove to her how vicious she is becoming, Oliver provokes Thea and they end up brawling in front of the team, proving that Thea is growing out of control when her bloodlust takes over. Oliver reveals to the team Merlyn’s warning about the Lazarus Pit, and how it changes a person, though they cannot figure out why it took over 6 months for the changes to start affecting Thea. Laurel starts asking questions about what happened to Thea (I, like many others, completely forgot that Laurel was not present during the Lazarus Pit fiasco in Nanda Parbat), and once Thea tells her about being resurrected, Laurel clearly has some ideas of her own, which most viewers can probably guess.

Machin abducts Danforth’s daughter to get the woman to drop out of the race, with Oliver being the first to realize that the girl might be in danger, as Danforth herself trusted that the police escort provided by Lance  would be enough to keep them safe. Lance visits his dark overlord Darhk in a rage, furious that he would sanction kidnapping like this, and Darhk threatens Laurel to keep Lance in line, telling the man to mind his tone next visit, but also giving him the address of Machin’s hide-out. Apparently kidnapping Danforth’s daughter did not sit well with the villain either. (does Darhk have his own twisted code of conduct?).

Felicity meanwhile, has been brought into Palmer Technologies to be more hands on now that she is back in town, which to the board of a faltering company means they can force her to lay off employees to make the company more “profitable.” She hates the work, especially when the bright young worker who’s algorithm was used to decide to fire employees in the first place (he explains it was supposed to be used to raise employee pay and benefits) is now on the chopping block. The man’s name is Curtis Holt, and since Felicity understandably sees a lot of herself and a lot of talent in the man, she decides to find another way to save Palmer Technologies. (and no worries about Holt becoming a love interest for Felicity, he explains he already has a husband. And thank God for that as I hate love triangles on these shows). She tells the board she and Holt have a new proprietary idea that will revolutionize Palmer Technologies and make a lot of money, so they give her 6 months to get it working before they reconvene. She rehires all the fired employees and turns to Holt for his idea, which he may or may not actually have at this point in time.

Lance gives Oliver the address, and the Team crashes through the ceiling to surprise Machin, who flees into the bowels of yet another Star City abandoned warehouse. While Diggle and Canary save the kidnapped girl, Thea and Oliver hunt down Machin. He takes down Thea first with his electrical prodder, than fights with Oliver, showing he has some serious combat skills, ending the fight with Oliver by hitting him with the electrical charge that took down Thea. Only Thea did not stay down. As Oliver hits the ground, she is back attacking Machin, her bloodlust clearly driving her forward, ending the fight by setting the man on fire despite Oliver’s yell for her to stand down. Machin burns briefly until Oliver puts out the fire, not wanting more bodies to be held against his team, and they leave Machin to the police.

Danforth decides not to run after all, knowing the danger it will put her and her daughter into. Lance accuses Oliver of being different in a bad way now, as before he would stick arrows in people, and now he is burning them alive, and Lance claims that the city needs more than a mask to inspire and save it (which of course is big talk coming from the man in bed with the villain this season).  Oliver thinks about Lance’s words and about Danforth’s goals in wanting to run for mayor, to be a public face that can inspire Star City and give it hope, and realizes that he is the ideal candidates for the position, as he can not only play on the Queen name and legacy of his mother, but he can also protect himself from Darhk and his ghosts should they attempt to take him out.

In the episode aftermath, Captain Lance arrives at the crash site of the ambulance that had been taking Machin to the hospital. Inside, the EMT’s are dead, horrifically butchered by Machin, while Lance spots the Anarky symbol scrawled across the inside of the vehicle. He alone recognizes it as a symbol for anarchy, and we figure a new villain is born. At the same time, Laurel proposes taking Thea to a spa to help her work through what is going on with her, asking Oliver if he and Diggle can take care of the city in their absence, which Oliver agrees too, though he does quip about it working as long as he and Dig do not kill each other. In reality, Laurel wants to take Thea back to Nanda Parbat to demand answers from Merlyn and the League as to what is happening to Thea, as well as one other task. We next see Thea and Laurel at Sara’s grave, freshly dug up, and Laurel opens the coffin, to find the remains of her sister. In the mind of Laurel, it seems that if Oliver could use the Lazarus Pit to save his sister, Laurel should be able to do the same.

In tonight’s flashback, we see Oliver take out the man taking him captive, then find out from ARGUS that he needs to gain the trust of the man’s comrades. Oliver sets it up to look like the man hit a land mine on the island, the explosion of which brings his allies to Oliver. The leader of the strange military force recognizes Oliver, and while he says he cannot send him home, he does offer Oliver a job replacing the lost solider, which Oliver accepts. Next, we see some forced labored going on in a field, with armed soldiers overseeing the workers, one of whom is now Oliver, who has finally cut off his long island hair and has the military cut he maintains in the present.


* Sara’s resurrection will clearly not be as easy as Thea’s, as she has been dead WAAY longer. Which is most likely why Constantine will be brought in, which does make me wonder if maybe Sara will come back possessed by a demon, or some mystical monster that Team Arrow cannot handle on their own.

* On the same token, could there be a little demon attached to Thea’s soul that makes her so bloodthirsty? Perhaps Constantine’s visit will not only be to help Sara cope with coming back from the Lazarus Pit.

* Was Lance trying to convince Oliver to run for Mayor? His words certainly pushed Oliver in that direction. But then again, I don’t understand a lot of Lance’s motivations this season. He knows Oliver is the Green Arrow and is not hunting him down. He’s working for a man he knows is a villain, but does not hunt him down. He’s trying to “protect” Laurel even though he knows she is a superhero now with a hero team to protect her. The man is an enigma, that’s for sure.

*If Oliver becomes the Mayor, and with Lance already aware of his secret identity, could all of Star City learn that Oliver Queen is the Green Arrow this season? I can’t remember whether or not his identity remained secret in the comics, but I believe on ‘Smallville’ everyone knew Oliver Queen was the Green Arrow, and it did not hinder his crimefighting too much.

* What are the workers doing on Lian Yu? What are they harvesting? Could they be using those plants to make some kind of poison? I’m hoping its not another bio-weapon, as I’ve had my fill of those after Season 3.

Pretty strong episode keeping up the higher quality of Season 4 so far, and I’m really enjoying the more laid back Oliver, as he feels a lot more like the Green Arrow from the comics this season and less like a brooding Batman knock-off. Looking forward to seeing the story open up and learning more about HIVE and the strange militia on Lian Yu as well. See you next week!