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Captain Lance Goes the Straight And Narrow, Arrow “Beyond Redemption” 

Good, bad or somewhere in-between, it’s hard to tell where Captain Lance falls on the morality spectrum anymore. He wants more than anything to save the city, yet he’s working with Damien Darhk and had refused to accept true help, until now. Like him or not, it’s hard to deny that this episode was a rough one for the good ol’ Captain. He saw his dead daughter pit-ified to life, he discovered that his police force is doing more harm than good and he was undoubtedly put in his place by the one person he’s most often considered a scrounge on the morality of the city. But it’s this latter encounter that just may have set him on the right path. Or so we hope.

Photo Credit: Dean Buscher/ The CW
Photo Credit: Dean Buscher/ The CW

It goes without saying that Lance’s happy/sad, good/bad, understanding/bitter, supportive/vilifying attitude has given me a bit of whiplash over the past 3 seasons. And I imagine I’m not the only one. His relationship with Oliver, while always a bit chilly, had settled in to an amicable working relationship at one point, but with the creation of the anti-vigilante task force, it was clear those tides had turned. And then some. But crappy treatment aside, Oliver never stopped trying to prove himself to Lance, even when he probably shouldn’t have been doing so.

Let’s be honest, Lance treated Oliver terribly, even when he didn’t necessarily deserve it. After all, both men want the same things — to save the city. Yet Lance was often too stubborn to see that and acknowledge that there may be more than one way to achieve that goal. Vigilantism was wrong, bad, evil. He looked down on those who weren’t acting in the letter-of-the-law, which is why his recent pair up with Darhk is so interesting. It’s almost as if he realized that his way wasn’t working so turning to a man in a business suit, rather than a man in a tight leather suit. was the more righteous way to go. Nevertheless, that clearly didn’t play out as planned considering that Darhk is beyond evil and now how Lance under his thumb.

That being said, I loved that this partnership came to light and Lance was forced to accept the truth because his own squad of supposedly letter-of-the-law followers are the ones now wreaking havoc. And to add insult to injury, it was the one person who he sees as truly unrighteous and the ultimate havoc wreaker that called him out on it.

Oliver: For years you’ve looked at me with such contempt, utter disdain. So I’m wondering, do I have that same look on my face now?

Lance: What the hell are you talking about?

Oliver: I’m talking about you and Damien Darhk.

Lance: Okay, it’s…

Oliver: I didn’t know if you knew who he was or what he’s been doing to this city. But now I see this look on your face. You know.

Lance: It’s complicated.

Oliver: No it’s not. Do you have any idea how many people he’s killed?

Lance: Yea, I’ve got more of an idea than you. And listen, you, you of all people don’t get to come in to my house and pass judgment on me, alright?

Oliver: You always held yourself out as better than me, More righteous. And you were. Until tonight.

Lance: Actually, it’s been a little more than two months now, me working with Darhk. It started out benign. He said he had resources, people, money. He held himself out as just another guy who wanted to help this city. And we needed the help. You weren’t here. By the time I figured out who he was, what he was, that’s when he threatened Laurel.

Oliver: Laurel can take care of herself. You see what she does out there.

Lance: That’s what I thought about Sara too.

Oliver: Stop! Stop it! Stop hiding behind your daughters. They would be ashamed of what you’re doing right now. And you know the funny thing, you know the main reason behind me running for mayor? A part of me has always wanted you to see what kind of man I really am. I didn’t expect to wind up finding what kind of man you really are.

This scene totally blew me away. The fact that it was just the two of them in Lance’s apartment, rather than his office, where the conversation was man-to-man rather than police captain-to-vigilante not only leveled the playing field, it also gave it a personal element. I also love that Oliver brought the personal aspect into the dialogue as well, which is something that has always driven Lance but that he’s never had the fortitude to express. Oliver’s whole opinion of Lance, a man he’s always seen as a pillar of righteousness, took a total 180 in the episode and yet, even with that, he still has the decency to come talk to him man-to-man and eventually, even trust him as part of the team. That to me is more noble and honorable than any steps I imagine Lance would take if the tables were turned. Lance was looking for any excuse to vilify the Arrow and yet Oliver is looking for any excuse to allow Lance to redeem himself. He is giving Lance the opportunity that Lance never gave to him, to prove himself as a good person.

That being said, even when he had the chance to really open up and come clean, Lance continued to be as stubborn and defensive as ever. When he told Oliver that he turned to Darhk because “you weren’t here,” I had a total HOW DARE YOU! moment. You can’t chase the Arrow out of Star City for trying to help and then blame him because he wasn’t here to help! That makes no sense! I mean, it’s clear that Lance has a history of less-than-logical reasoning, but to me, this was at the top of his ridiculous arguments.

Nevertheless, after being kidnapped by his own squad and forced to partake in more city-ravaging activities, he finally had no choice but to take a long, hard look in the mirror. As his own cops more or less reiterated to him the argument that he had just used with Oliver, it became clear that making excuses isn’t going to get anyone anywhere. As the Captain, he had to  be the first one to speak up and be willing to make a change…after all, he’s been the pot calling the kettle black for so long now that he hardly has a leg to stand on when it comes to preaching right vs wrong.

Lance: Living in this city, dealing with what we’re dealing with right now, we’re all desperate. We’ve all been made to do desperate things. Terrible things. But I’ve gotta believe that we are not beyond redemption. I gotta believe this city can still be saved because once we stop believing, that’s when this city really dies and us right along with it. Now maybe, just maybe we start saving our home by saving ourselves first. And that means facing up to our mistakes. That means justice.

I loved this speech so much. He was clearly speaking to the officer in an attempt to get her to release Oliver and turn herself in, but everything he said came from the heart and he did an exceptional job of reflecting it back on himself. Obviously we never saw his first encounters with Darhk or what he was promised, so it’s hard for us to judge how this whole partnership really came about, but digging himself deeper in the hole and continuing down that path is obviously not doing anyone any good. And how can he tell people to do right, if he’s not doing right himself?

Photo Credit: Dean Buscher/ The CW
Photo Credit: Dean Buscher/ The CW

So to save the city, they first have to save themselves. It’s something we saw Oliver do at the beginning of the season as he changed his approach and now we’re seeing Lance do the same. That being said, doing so from behind bars would obviously make it hard to spread this message and inspire others to get on board, which is why I’m glad Oliver stopped Lance from turning himself in and instead presented him with another option. Stay on Darhk’s good side. Be the inside man. Turn your bad actions in to useful and productive ones. I have to admit that I am not fully convinced that Lance is entirely set on the right path quite yet. After all, it’s clear that he is easily swayed and prone to flip-flop decision making, but this is the closest we’ve seen him come to setting a good example and being a solid leader and as far as I’m concerned, it’s a darn good start.

Be sure to catch Arrow Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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1 Comment

  1. MByerly

    Right before Lance gave this speech, Oliver had lost his faith in the city, deciding it no longer deserved being saved, and he was no longer interested in being mayor. Lance’s speech gave him his faith back, too.

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