Tonight’s episode of Arrow was a smorgasbord of references from Harry Potter to Under the Dome, it almost seemed as though the writers room was challenging themselves with the amount of Easter eggs per minute. That was the obvious part of this week’s Arrow, the less than obvious part was trying to sort our just what to think of the actual story. The action was tight, the stakes were high, but it seemed that by the end we were crossing a dangerous line into cartoonish super-villain mode as the complete picture of Damien Darhk’s plans are revealed.
The theme for tonight’s Arrow was decidedly in an Old Testament vain, as not only were the contents of Darhk’s plan, “Genesis”, were revealed to be exactly as advertised, but there’s was a pretty large focus on the Cain and Abel struggle between the Diggle brothers. Last week, I noted how the typically calm and cool John was definitely losing it in the wake of Andy’s double-cross, he wasn’t thinking straight and was being quite driven by his anger over letting Andy sucker him in again. Of course, if John had put his right head on, he wouldn’t have walked into some rookie mistakes.
At every stage of the plan there was enough to suspicion to suggest that things were not as they seemed. Sure, facial recognition just happened to pick up Andy out of nowhere. And then, Andy lead John on a fairly elaborate cat and mouse game though Star City. And then Andy captured John and “prepped him for Darhk” without ever saying what it was that Darhk wanted from John in the form of information. And then it was *so* easy for John to escape… Sensing a theme? Yes, this wasn’t about John at all, it was about finding Lyla, and something she was keeping on her person. It would have been a tad more creepier if it was Darhk’s intention to straight up kill the family of Team Arrow members, in keeping with Darhk’s initial desire for payback, but there was method in the madness this week.
The final showdown between the Brothers Diggle might have had more of an emotional oomph had Arrow ever explained a bit more thoroughly why Andy was evil and how he could have had a loving family while being an amoral henchman for hire. It also would have been nice to get a bit more reason why John was hoping that Andy was still a good guy despite all evidence to the contrary other than “he’s my brother.” Andy’s end, like his sudden reappearance, had really no meaning other than to muddy John’s hands, and there had to be a more interesting or compelling way to do it. On top of it all, John doesn’t even kill Andy with conviction, the gun went off when Andy went for it. A lame end for what could have been a more well thought out use for the character.
But while Diggle took a walk on the dark side (May the 4th reference everyone), Oliver and Felicity were looking into how to use the light. A Constantine suggested trip to Hub City – home of the Question, though no one mentions that – introduces us to Esrin Fortuna (no relation to Bib), an immortal shaman and Black Jack enthusiast. It’s not the idol that gives Darhk his power, she says, its all the dark energy he takes from murdering people. However, darkness can be confronted with light, but is Oliver capable of summoning up the kind of light needed to beat Damien’s dark?
It seems kind of easy to just tell Oliver to use the Force, even if it fits loosely the overarching theme of the year with Oliver finally trying to rein in his darker impulses and embrace justice and optimism. There has to be more to it then that, and this is where we turn and look at Felicity because, as Oliver so eloquently put it, she always brings out the best in him, and it was Felicity that Esrin Fortuna seemed to respond to (not to mention repeated refer to as “amour”). So are we to assume that Felicity is the Chosen One here? That should make the #NeverOlicity crowd happy to no end.
On the plus side, Oliver’s new Jedi powers do seem to have an effect on Darhk as the big bad can’t suck the life out of the Green Arrow like he used to, but how far can the Arrow take it, and does it really matter when Darhk has the very real power to activate all the nuclear weapons thanks to the Rubicon, the techno doodad that he attacked Lyla to get. How boring that all this planning and scheming has turned out to be all for one of the most overly-exploited endgames in super-villainy: nuke the world save for a small colony of chosen elites for the villain to rule. It’s so James Bond, that it’s practically a James Bond parody.
That brings us to poor Speedy who becomes the first member of Team Arrow to find themselves under the dome. Quite literally. I give Thea credit for cluing in that something was amiss with the idyllic vacation spot that Alex took her to, but when you find out your in The Truman Show, you don’t wait for your doofus boyfriend to confirm your suspicions, you get the hell out of Dodge! There were so many red flags in Bubble town – dead streets, no people, no cars, and apparently the same six seconds of “nature sounds” on a loop – were all the more dumber watching Thea take an hour to literally run into a wall.
The emotional stakes of this episode of Arrow felt right, watching Diggle resolve his own grief, as the other members of Team Arrow tried to confront their helplessness, but the details strained credulity. And on top of all that, there was no room for Quentin Lance in this one? His daughter died two episodes ago and all he gets is one hour to exercise his grief before we move on? As we go full steam into undoing Genesis here’s hoping that Lance doesn’t get lost in the shuffle, and here’s hoping that there’s something more of a twist to be tied as Darhk tries to make himself Noah of an underground dome-shaped ark.