Last week, Stephen Amell warned us that the penultimate episode of “Arrow”would feel like a season finale — so much so, that he was worried fans might not know to tune in next week. Somehow, we don’t think that’ll be a problem. We’re going to be in front of our TV ten minutes early so we don’t miss a single second of his “My name is Oliver Queen” intro next week.
Tonight’s episode, “Darkness on the Edge of Town,” was a game changer in a lot of ways. It touched on just about every aspect of Oliver’s life, from romance, to friendship, to rivalry, to family, ultimately leaving us dangling from a terribly mean cliffhanger in the final seconds.
So let’s discuss!
The Undertaking is no joke: Merlyn’s deeply unsettling plan is revealed. Thanks to a “seismic infringement” device created by Unidac Industries’ Dr. Markov — who died at the hands of the Dark Archer in the opening sequence — Merlyn now has the power to create an earthquake in the glades, leveling it without evacuating the people inside. It’d cause untold devastation and take out thousands of innocents along with the occasional hardened criminal.
Diggle remains flawless: Oliver couldn’t go talk to his mother wearing the hood. The last time he did that, she put a bullet in his arm. Instead, he went to her as himself, asking questions about the Undertaking and the book of names. When that didn’t work, Diggle put on Oliver’s leather pants and hood and kidnapped Moira and Oliver. Once down in one of the many abandoned warehouses in the Glades, Diggle got Moira to talk by beating the you-know-what out of Oliver right in front of her. While he’d promised to pull his punches, he got a few good licks in. Undoubtedly payback for some of the trouble Oliver’s caused him this year.
Moira’s very bad day: After getting kidnapped by Diggle and being forced to reveal her indiscretions in front of her son, Moira is served divorce papers by Walter. He’s a very smart guy and knows that she was somehow involved in his kidnapping. Her insistence that the abduction saved his life didn’t exactly fly. We can’t exactly blame him. Meanwhile, Oliver is disgusted by her involvement — even after she explains that her late husband Robert left her vulnerable to Merlyn.
Oliver’s romantic life: Last week, Ollie told Laurel that he couldn’t tell Tommy he’s not in love with her, because he is in love with her — and, because she is a human being, she hasn’t been able to think about much else. At first, when she showed up at Verdant and said that she had feelings for him, too, he backed off. “Nothing’s changed. My life hasn’t changed. I haven’t changed,” he said. But after a little clash with Tommy — more on that later — he changed his tune and went back to Laurel’s apartment. They slept together for the first time since his disappearance, and let’s just say that five years apart didn’t do anything to quell their chemistry.
The trouble with Tommy: Oliver had to go to the Merlyns’ office to take care of some vigilante retcon business, but he figured that while he was there, it might be a good time to make an attempt at rebuilding his relationship with Tommy. Tommy, however, has had a long time to stew in his bitterness, and the conversation didn’t go very well. It didn’t help that Oliver knew the truth about Malcolm Merlyn and had some suspicions that Tommy might know more than he’s letting on, but the root of the issue was still Laurel. “Laurel makes her own decisions, and she chose you, until you couldn’t handle it. Lord knows I am guilty of a lot of things between us, but not you and her. That’s all I came to say,” Oliver told Tommy. But when Tommy showed up at Laurel’s apartment only to spot her and Oliver getting hot and heavy through the window (like a creeper), those words seemed less than genuine. Judging solely by the shadowy lighting the director chose for Colin Donnell’s face, we’re guessing that the seeds of future nemesis have been planted.
Roy Harper has man pain: We’ve been waiting for Roy Harper to put on his official sidekick underpants, and it looks like he’s just as anxious. After a relatively hilarious first meeting with Oliver — in which Oliver thought he was being intimidating, but Roy still figured he was just some stuck-up rich guy with a strong handshake — Roy revealed to Thea the real reason he’s looking for the Hood. It’s not just because the Hood saved his life; it’s because Roy wants to be able to save lives, too. He’s lost someone (perhaps the drug-addled mother he mentioned in his first episode?) and he needs the vigilante to teach him how to prevent that from ever happening again. Thea and Roy parted ways at the end of the episode because his vigilante tunnel vision scared her. (For more on Roy, watch our interview with Colton Haynes!)
The Island: Edward Fyres’ dastardly plan is finally revealed. Taking a cue from the way the U.S. economy plummeted after 9/11, he’s looking to destroy China’s financial standing in the world — by shooting down all the air traffic coming into the country from the Island. But, of course, he needs a scapegoat. By threatening Shado and Oliver, Fyres coerces Yao Fei into shooting a Nick Brody-style video, taking responsibility for the terrorist attacks on China. “Consider this my righteous delivery of powerful vengeance,” Yao Fei says into the camera, dressed in his military garb — and then, horrifically, Fyres executes him in front of his daughter and Oliver.
The Felicity factor: Felicity gets a 10/10 tonight, for her brave portrayal of Big Belly Burger Delivery Girl No. 4 and of a “bimbo” swooning over Tommy Merlyn. “But I love him! He’s my man!” Oh yeah, and there’s also the fact that she managed to hack the entire Merlyn company mainframe and find the seismic device. A+ Felicity episode.
And, of course, the cliffhanger: So here’s how it all went down. Oliver, not realizing that Malcolm Merlyn and the Dark Archer were one and the same, donned his vigilante pants and went to inform Malcolm that he had failed this city, with the pointy side of his arrow. He was surprised to learn that Malcolm was a much more formidable opponent than he’d realized. They had an epic showdown in Merlyn’s office — and while it started off as a pretty fair fight, Oliver eventually got the you-know-what beaten out of him again. Merlyn even snapped his bow! (Don’t worry, he’ll get a new one.) In the last second, as Oliver lay concussed, Merlyn lifted his hood… and simply said, “Oh, no.”
Weigh in below on the episode, guys! Can’t wait to hear your thoughts on what’s coming up next.