Robot bees, high-fives, and secret elevators take “Beacon of Hope” to entertaining heights
This episode is funny. That’s not something you hear very often when someone is talking about Arrow, but there’s genuine humor and it’s surprisingly solid in “Beacon of Hope.” Now to hear that you might think I’d be talking about the concept, when The Bug Eyed Bandit is released from prison and goes to get revenge on the hacker who put her there, Felicity Smoak, by bringing Palmer Tech under siege with a huge swarm of robot bees. Actually that’s not entirely true. Sure the Bug Eyed Bandit is back, once again played by Emily Kinney who’s having a fantastic time as the comic book villain who controls bees, but she’s actually after the one of a kind microchip that has enabled Felicity to walk (for reasons that I will leave out of this for you to discover yourself). Felicity, Thea, and Donna are all trapped in the Palmer Tech building, but the rest of the team is outside trying to figure out a way to get them out. This is a real Die Hard kind of situation, which is so obvious that someone actually says “Die-hard with bees” in the episode. It’s an interesting dynamic for the plot which sees Felicity and Oliver trying to deal with the same problem from different vantage points, calling back to their relationship woes.
The concept for the episode is strong. Despite being a bit comic-booky, there’s significant character arcs happening that factor in to Arrow’s overall themes of teamwork, heroism, and identity. In this way, it’s typical Arrow, but the best parts of it. However, it’s a prominent Curtis episode as well; and that makes things even better. Echo Kellum has a natural charisma and comedic proficiency that keeps the proceedings entertaining without diminishing the drama. It could be considered a step out for Felicity and a step in for Curtis, but it’s honestly too soon to tell. This episode doesn’t utilize all of its parts (Diggle gets a bit of the short end on this one) but the ones used are used effectively if not expertly.
Final Word: My gripes about the episode are small. Bee-man doesn’t really work as a concept, Diggle gets practically nothing to do, and I heard “Beacon of Hope” so much in the episode that I wanted to scream. Besides those minor problems though, “Beacon of Hope” is just a fun, funny, and characteristic installment of Arrow. Emily Kinney overplays the Bug Eyed Bandit to just the right side of camp, Felicity makes some bold yet intriguing character leaps, Donna is such a fun character to watch, and Curtis brings some much needed charisma to team Arrow.
“Beacon of Hope” gets a 8.8/10. Arrow shows off some of its best pieces and takes a step on the comedy side with excellent results.