Assessing Arrow’s “The Candidate”

The department assessment report is due today at 5:00 and I am mired in data measuring student learning outcomes. Still, Arrow beckons. You’ll forgive me if one report, sorry, review bleeds into another?

Assessment Results and Analysis

Rubric #1: Audience guffaws, chortles, and snorts will occur less often now that Oliver’s flashback wig has been put out of its misery.

1. Agree Strongly
2. Agree Moderately
3. Agree Slightly
4. Disagree Slightly
5. Disagree Moderately
6. Disagree Strongly

Data from Rubric #1 indicates that the majority of audience members “Agree Strongly” with this statement. Writers should be praised for actively responding to data from last year’s assessment report that noted “Disagree Strongly” in response to the prompt, “Oliver’s straw wig adds gravitas to the character and does not distract from the weighty issues Flashback-Oliver deals with on a weekly basis.” This decision to bury the wig proves that the tedious collection of assessment data can improve curriculum storylines.

http://previously.tv/
http://previously.tv/

Let us hold a moment of silence for a valiant hairpiece that is no longer with us.

www.reddit.com
http://www.reddit.com

Rubric #2: Damien Darhk surpasses Slade Wilson and Ra’s al Ghul as the most terrifying and entertaining villain who has ever set out to destroy Star City. And he’s pretty hot. [Note from assessment committee – the second part of this statement presents an immeasurable variable and as such may not be included in the department assessment plan].

1. Agree Strongly
2. Agree Moderately
3. Agree Slightly
4. Disagree Slightly
5. Disagree Moderately
6. Disagree Strongly

Data from Rubric #2 indicates that the majority of audience members “Agree Strongly” with this statement, though one faculty audience member wrote in the margins of the assessment rubric, “Slade Wilson is the best villain Arrow has ever had and I think whoever wrote this statement is biased and why isn’t Malcolm Merlyn even mentioned?” [Note to assessment coordinator: explain to this faculty member again that he must submit rubric results electronically and not in paper format].

Those who noted “Agree Strongly” can see that Damien Darhk pursues his objective to destroy Star City with single-minded efficiency and prefers orderly, not chaotic destruction. His plans, while diabolical, are explained clearly and allow no space for Anarky. Writers chose to insert Darhk into the narrative after last year’s assessment results indicated that audience members responded, “Disagree Strongly” to the statement, “Ra’s al Ghul is a magnetic villain whose lengthy speeches about prophesies and destiny inspire fear and anticipation.” Darhk promises to reinvigorate student learning audience enthusiasm for Arrow.

Arrow -- "The Candidate" -- Image AR402A_0063b -- Pictured: Neal McDonough as Damien Darhk -- Photo: Katie Yu /The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Arrow — “The Candidate” — Image AR402A_0063b — Pictured: Neal McDonough as Damien Darhk — Photo: Katie Yu /The CW — © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Rubric #3: Laurel Lance considers the consequences of her actions before making life and death decisions.

1. Agree Strongly
2. Agree Moderately
3. Agree Slightly
4. Disagree Slightly
5. Disagree Moderately
6. Disagree Strongly

Data collected from Rubric #3 indicates that a majority of audience members “Disagree Strongly” with this statement. Laurel’s decision to extract her shriveled sister Sara from her grave and drop her body in Malcolm Merlyn’s Lazarus Pit supports these findings. She has observed Thea’s newfound desire to burn men alive and rather than see that desire as a sign of deep-psychological despair brought on by submersion in the Lazarus Pit, Laurel finds inspiration in Thea’s resurrection.

As an aside, some evidence points to Thea’s aggression not as the result of her resurrection, but as the welcome culmination of anger and rebellion in the face of a mountain of lies and misdirection from her closest family and friends [Note from assessment committee: these findings are not supported by evidence collected from Rubric #3. What instrument did you use to draw this conclusion?] Laurel is putting her own emotional needs ahead of common sense and this choice will have devastating consequences for Sara.

Arrow -- "The Candidate" -- Image AR402A_0406b -- Pictured: Katie Cassidy as Black Canary -- Photo: Katie Yu /The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Arrow — “The Candidate” — Image AR402A_0406b — Pictured: Katie Cassidy as Black Canary — Photo: Katie Yu /The CW — © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Assessment Summary and Trends

The department will continue to collect data and monitor gaps between storylines and audience enthusiasm. Since the last assessment cycle, adjustments have been made to remove unsightly hairpieces and add invigorating villains. The department struggles with the decisions of Laurel Lance and given pressure from higher-ups will likely continue to do so [Note from assessment committee: this remark sounds like an unnecessary swipe at the administration and might lead to the rejection of this report]. Future reports will assess Felicity Smoak’s tenure as CEO of Palmer Technologies and Oliver’s role as nurturing partner. The trends for both are promising and reflect significant student audience admiration and swooning.

6 Comments »

  1. That was beautifully tongue-in-cheek. And “Laurel is putting her own emotional needs above common sense” should be tattooed on her forehead. Why is Tommy dead again? Oh yeah, because Laurel a bunch of files were more important than getting out of the Glades when warned of future destruction. This has always been a major character flaw the writers never address – her entire season 3 storyline was about making bad decisions for emotional reasons, but the audience is supposed to let her escape the consequences by writer fiat.

    Last year there was a “scandal” when John Campea, host of the Arrow Aftershow on YouTube gave a giant rant after “Midnight City,” the middle of the “Black Canary Trilogy” (or, as some call it, the Laurelpocalypse), saying that the entire arc simply showed how low in intelligence the writers thought the viewers to be, if we’re supposed to believe having Laurel go fight while Diggle stays in the foundry was a good idea. He was a complete a-hole about it, but he was right. Similarly, after returning Oliver made the point that Laurel’s inexperience put others in danger while in the field. Again, he was a complete a-hole about it, but he was also right… even if the end of “Canaries” showed Laurel had “more light” than Sara and was therefore legitimized as the True Black Canary by Felicity’s character shilling… and Oliver made some gesture intimating that he was “wrong” about Laurel and “deserved” his respect.

    I don’t know if it’s because it’s early in the morning and I haven’t had my coffee, but between this post and the last I’ve been really harsh on Laurel. I didn’t watch The Flash alongside Arrow last year, but now that I am it makes all the Laurel-related mistakes more glaringly obvious, in very much a “one rotten apple” sense. They learned from Laurel, as seen in how Iris has been integrated into the show and given a role as the Felicity-like “Hero Whisperer” with the encouraging speech available when necessary. However, they probably screen tested Candice Patton and Grant Gustin together, instead of making one of the worst casting decisions since Halle Berry thought being Catwoman would be fun.

    I feel like I’m so mean right now. I’ll go have my coffee, and hopefully next week I’ll have more to say than just ranting about Laurel.

    Of course, it’s going to be a Very Special Halloween Episode, complete with raising someone from the dead, and I don’t think even seeing Barrowman or Nyssa again will counteract the bad decision making.

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    • Laurel’s poor decision-making is bad for the character but good for Arrow and essential for Legends of Tomorrow. Her decisions generate storyline and some of those storylines are interesting. I think the character’s choice to keep information from Lance about Sara’s death last season was annoying but probably deepened both of them. It sent Laurel toward Nyssa and perhaps sent Lance toward Darhk in some way. No matter what the writers end up doing with Laurel, Katie Cassidy must yearn for greener pastures. The show has not been kind to her.

      I love The Flash and the ensemble they have created in Central City. When Iris turned “hero-whisperer” [great phrase by the way] I also thought of Felicity immediately. Iris is not the lightening bolt Felicity is, but she has a purpose. The writers kept the designated love-interest in the dark just long enough for her to be out of reach, but now not out of touch.

      I have high hopes for Sara’s resurrection. I love Cady Lotz’s Canary. She has to come back one way or another. I do wish the writers could have come up with a slightly more forgiving storyline for Laurel. She will be faced with a lot of “What were you thinking?!” and rightfully so.

      Thanks for writing!

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      • I’m now wondering if my “I’m a scholar so I need to dissect production reasons for storytelling choices” thing has exacerbated my frustration with Laurel. In hindsight I can recognize how unnecessary the whole Sara/Laurel thing is, but it’s done and I suppose the potential to generate conflict should be acknowledged. As long as they’re making Laurel’s story about Sara (it’s one of the two best things they can do with the character, the other being distancing her from Oliver so she no longer associates him with being her ex-boyfriend, but sees him as Thea’s brother or Felicity’s boyfriend or Diggle’s bromance that needs to be fixed. Lauriver needs to be dead and buried, and tension between Laurel and Oliver needs to be resolved to the point where it’s never a direct link between the two of them… but that won’t be happening). Going back to Whedon, season 5 of Buffy is my favorite because even if we had Spike’s creepy-but-adorable crush and Riley being an insecure a-hole, the season was basically Dawn-as-boyfriend, filling the emotional role that had been used by Angel and Riley in previous seasons (and Spike in season 7 – I love season 6 for being the most accurate portrayal of what it feels like to have depression, but there are still major Issues). This is what I want for Sara and Laurel – their romance is as sisters, moving the Black Canary as far from the Green Arrow’s love interest as possible and putting her in the girl solidarity land of Birds of Prey. (In a perfect world Laurel would move to Gotham, become Harvey Dent’s ADA, meet Barbara Gordon and a Helena who is seeking redemption, and get their own spin-off. Helena would be a rare woman-seeking-redemption case – like Faith, again referencing Whedon – and Sara, Nyssa and Tatsu would definitely find places in the cast, and maybe throw in Richard Dragon for some testosterone? Or add Dick Grayson, like they were rumbling about at some point on Arrow? I’d love as much Bat Fam as possible, with Bruce being some distant figure who exists but is always referred to as “the Bat” and rarely, if ever, seen. And you can add Lucius and Commissioner Gordon. And you’d be getting some awesome disability representation with Barbara – I have a friend with cerebral palsy who loved her as Oracle because she was kickass while in a wheelchair… so I have different priorities from the producers, obviously).

        I remember at the beginning of the summer the producers were mentioning that an Arrow character would become a “floater,” bouncing between all three shows to connect them together, and I think that’s going to be Laurel. My fantasy is for Felicity the Hero Ambassador (another title aside from Hero Whisperer – all the good guys love her; at least literally at some point in a few cases (; ) would instigate a Justice League element between the shows (they could use Justice Society, right? It hasn’t been commandeered by the move franchise yet, has it?), but this is also a good use for Laurel. Her bit on The Flash with Cisco was generally well received on all counts (though I was annoyed that she was essentially riding on Sara’s reputation… but again, emotional viewer with a history of being frustrated with Laurel), and more of that interaction could go a long way.

        Thank you for always being the space where I can talk myself down from the more emotional reactions to something much kinder and more reasonable, btw! I don’t have time to lose myself on Tumblr, so this is my meta place.

        Like

      • I don’t watch Gotham so I can’t comment too much on that. It would be interesting to see Laurel in a Birds of Prey trio with Barbara Gordon if that character emerges on Gotham, but it think their timeline is very different from Arrow’s. Maybe there is room for her on Supergirl? It makes sense that Laurel will be the floater between the CW shows given Cisco’s fan-love for her and the fact that her sister will be on Legends. I am really not worried about Laurel and Oliver getting back together. They have a brother-sister relationship at this point.

        I am happy to be your Arrow refuge!

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      • One of my grad school applications asks us to describe our favorite show and a show we’d like to create in the same question… talking about the Flarrowverse would easily lead into my Birds of Prey show…

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