Warning: This contains spoilers.
It suddenly occurs to me that I never actually wrote about Episode 9’s mid-season finale – I’m going to blame, uh, Christmas. Yeah, that’s it. Christmas. – so here’s a quick recap recap. Short version: Oliver vowed to take down Damien Darhk, rejecting his offer for the two of them to work together, and Darhk retaliated by having a squad of goons open fire on Oliver’s car, seriously injuring Felicity in the process and making us think that maybe it really is Felicity in that flash-forward grave, after all.
But obviously, they were never actually going to kill Felicity, and this episode makes that abundantly clear, ruling her out by having her appear in the car at the end of this episode’s return to that graveside flash-forward. Perhaps more significantly, she is fully behind Oliver’s graveside-motivated revenge quest, suggesting that the person in the grave is someone very close to her. Donna? Oh, man, please don’t let it be Donna.
After an opening graveside reminder with a) Oliver vowing to kill the person responsible and b) Barry still there for some reason (a little more mysterious, now we know it’s not Felicity pushing up the daisies), the plot of this episode unfolds as follows: Felicity is told she may never walk again (yeah, right – it would be amazing if the show actually did this and it’s not as if there isn’t a DC Comics precedent for it, but somehow I don’t see it happening), which sends Oliver into a revenge-fuelled hunt for Darhk. Meanwhile, Lonnie Machin / Anarky returns (you may remember him as the villain that Thea set on fire), hell-bent on his own attack on Darhk and leaving Thea worried that she may also be a target.
So basically, it it’s all about Revenge this week, from the flash-forwards to Oliver wanting revenge on Darhk and Anarky also wanting revenge on Darhk and possibly on Thea too. Just how much Revenge can one show take? Quite a bit, as it turns out. Except the show throws in some clever twists, chiefly the fact that far from wanting to kill her, Anarky actually wants to thank Thea for making him what he’s become (“You burned away my weakness”) and the way they play it, it’s almost like he worships her. Later, he recognises Thea’s own ongoing blood-lust issues and tries to taunt her into giving in to it, which she almost does, drawing blood by holding an arrow to his throat, before being interrupted by the arrival of the police.
That leads to one of Oliver’s most bone-headed plans to date, where he frees Anarky from police custody and urges him to kill Darhk, having secretly planted a transmitter on him, so that he’ll lead them to wherever Darhk is hiding out. Except that Anarky removes the transmitter, so it all comes to nothing. Oliver: “Um, that was the whole plan.” D’oh!
Interestingly, pretty much everyone is fully behind Oliver’s revenge plan, even though a) it goes against everything he’s been trying to become this season, and b) he looks like he’s going off the rails in the process.
At least Diggle’s sub-plot is actually tied to the main storyline this week. He’s still keeping his brother Andy in a cage (in a typically annoying bit of Laurel-based scriptwriting, she’s fine with Diggle keeping Andy locked up, but not okay with keeping Anarky locked up – honestly, Katie Cassidy must look at her scripts each week and go, “Really?”) and he attempts to administer a brotherly beating in order to find Darhk’s location. That doesn’t work, so Lyla counsels brotherly love instead and that, um, seems to do the trick? (No, I didn’t buy it either.)
Still, it nicely sets up the climax, in which Team Arrow arrive at Darhk’s house just in time to save Darhk’s wife and child from Anarky’s Revenge attack. This, in turn, leads Darhk to give Oliver (or rather, Green Arrow, since Darhk still apparently doesn’t know who’s under the mask) a few weeks’ grace, which is as good a way of postponing the finale as any, although it doesn’t quite explain why Oliver lets him go, given the Revenge he was supposedly after in the first place.
Oliver’s inconsistent revenge plan aside, there is a lot to like about this episode, particularly the creepiness of Anarky’s costume (a plastic burn mask), although they slightly undercut that when he takes the mask off and it turned out he isn’t all that badly burned, after all (think Kat Moon in EastEnders). Similarly, Anarky’s return, coupled with his martial arts skillz allows for some above-average hand-to-hand fight scenes, something that the show has been knocking out of the park on a regular basis this season.
I also like Darhk’s wife turning out to be just as evil as her husband, if not the driving force behind the whole Genesis Project, which we still know nothing about. I’m betting we’ll be seeing a lot more of Mrs Darhk (hereafter known as Darhk Wife) before the season’s end.
And finally, I am fully on board for the Quentin / Donna relationship, which Laurel finds out about this week and, somewhat refreshingly, given the way she’s usually written, takes it in her stride and approves, rather than giving her dad grief about it. Quite right too – the dude deserves some happiness. More Quentin and Donna scenes please, Arrow writers. Actually, given that Felicity and Barry were both at the grave and Quentin wasn’t, maybe that means it’s not Donna in there either?
So. Yes. The grave. Obviously, we’re supposed to think it’s one of the core cast, i.e. Diggle, Thea, or Laurel, but I can’t see the writers killing off anyone that valuable. Donna remains a possibility, as does Quentin himself (although, again, why isn’t Laurel at the graveside if that’s the case?), while the re-introduction of Oliver’s son and ex-girlfriend in the Flash crossover episodes suggests it could also be one of them, although that wouldn’t explain Felicity’s anger, given that she’s still in the dark about them at this point. Personally, I would feel a lot happier about the whole thing if I hadn’t read that the writers didn’t actually know who was going to be in the grave when they wrote the first flash-forward scene. Indeed, it’s possible they still don’t know, which is all very annoying. It’s also worth noting that no one has actually said Damien Darhk’s name either – it’s all “He has to die” or, “I’m going to kill Him”. So let’s not rule Malcolm Merlyn out just yet either.
Meanwhile, on Flashback Island, Oliver is captured and whipped by Baron Reiter, but the tattoo given to him by John Constantine starts glowing, getting the Baron all excited. Hopefully, the flashbacks are going to connect to the main story at some point, but so far they’re showing no sign of it, although Stephen Amell must be relieved that he doesn’t have to wear the floppy-haired wig or put on the slightly higher voice anymore. That’s character development, you see?
Amusing side note: Eagle-eyed types on the internets have spotted that Lyla and Diggle have exactly the same apartment as Patty Spivot on The Flash, complete with the same piece of artwork on the wall in the same spot. I wonder if there are any other examples of this across other shows on the same network?
Arrow: Season 4 is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription.
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Photo: Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.