In Arrow’s Season 4 premiere, fans were left with an episode-closing stinger scene that showed Oliver Queen mourning at a gravesite. Though the name was never shown, it was suggested that the death had to be a main character since even The Flash showed up (briefly) to offer his condolences. We then posted a poll to get viewers’ thoughts on just who might be in the grave, along with the caveat that whoever it is won’t be returning through magical resurrection, Lazarus pit, or any other reincarnation technique, at least as far as the showrunners can be believed. So with tonight’s midseason finale, we’ve finally got a very strong frontrunner for who’s in the grave – and is the current leader of our poll – but like any show on television these days, that death has not been completely confirmed.
Okay, let’s take a deep breath and dive into some flashbacks before we address the deadly events of “Dark Waters.” The happenings on the island of Lian Yu have been getting some flak from fans this season, perhaps deservedly so. Not much has happened since the arrival (and quick departure) of John Constantine except to say that Oliver has recruited a prisoner on the island to help him find something, something that Baron Reiter wants desperately. Tonight’s flashback scenes take us a few steps closer to finding out what that is as Oliver learns how to dive, locates a water-logged bundle of survey maps on board the sunken Amazo freighter, and narrowly avoids getting eaten by a shark (though he now has the scars to go with the story). Unfortunately, Conklin and his cronies catch them both red-handed on the beach. We’ll have to wait until the second half of the season for any sort of closure to this limping plotline.
“Waiting until the second half of the season” is a theme of this episode. Sure, the events at the tail-end of the hour strongly suggest that a certain someone is indeed dead (preview for the next episode aside…), but nothing is ironclad at this point. Pretty much the only thing I’m convinced of in this episode is that the opening sequence was one of the zaniest in the series so far. While cleaning up the bayfront as part of Oliver’s mayoral campaign, the gathered crowd of altruistic citizens is soon lit up from above by a militarized drone armed with machine guns. That’s crazy. Crazier still is Felicity deactivating the hatredcopter using her iPad. If it wasn’t so awful, I’d be laughing.
Yes, the drone attack was just the latest effort on the part of Damien Darhk and H.I.V.E. to prevent Oliver from cleaning up the bayfront. While we learn just what Darhk wants the bay for later in the episode (and it’s also very weird), it seems like he’s using the battle over the property as an excuse for wreaking all kinds of havoc on Star City and Team Arrow. Oliver, who’s fighting Darhk on two fronts, is fed up with the attacks; he tasks Diggle with getting any information he can out of his brother Andy (who’s still caged for Christmas) while publicly outing Darhk as the leader of the Ghosts who have been terrorizing the city.
Now that the team has exposed the magic-wielding monster to the public eye, they decide that this is the perfect time for a
Christmas Hanukah Holiday party. While gathering traditional holiday decorations for the event, Mama/Donna Smoak happens upon the ring that Oliver plans on using to propose to Felicity. Since Felicity finds out about this in short order, of course she’s going to be freaking out about it and acting awkward the rest of the episode. And of course there will be a payoff for it all by episode’s end, though on Arrow, any semblance of happiness is short-lived and punished severely.
Bringing a little extra firepower and intel to Team Arrow this episode is Malcolm Merlyn, who continues to fade into and out of the shadows in order to check up on Thea and boss Oliver & Co. around. While he’s still not sure what it is about Darhk that has quenched Thea’s bloodlust (or what it is about Thea that prevented Darhk’s powers from working on her), he does have some information that will prove vital to ferreting out the location of the supervillain’s headquarters.
Good thing, too, since Darhk and his Ghosts show up at Oliver’s holiday party, killing the guards, knocking Oliver out, and kidnapping Felicity, Thea, and Diggle. So while Green Arrow is busy busting heads of Ghosts in order to find out where Darhk is hiding, Malcolm finds a way for the two to meet in person. The only catch is that Oliver has to turn himself over to Darhk in exchange for his friends.
This certainly isn’t the first time that Oliver has put his own life on the line in order to protect his comrades, but it could very well be the most risky. Darhk has no code of honor that he abides by, and he has more tricks up his sleeves than Constantine himself. As expected, Darhk reneges on their arrangement and throws Thea, Diggle, and Felicity into a gas chamber … yeah, and right after he references the Nazis. (Fun fact: This gas chamber is a byproduct of H.I.V.E.’s harvesting of some sort of algae along the bayfront for Project Genesis; more on that in a moment.)
Thankfully, Oliver planned on having Black Canary and the Green Arrow (wait, what? Oh it’s Malcolm Merlyn in disguise) bust in and free everyone at the last second. Canary’s Cry actually comes in handy when it shatters the gas chambers (thanks to a final helping hand by Oliver himself), and Laurel actually gets to do some decent hand-to-hand fighting this time around. Even Quentin Lance and his random red-shirt police officers show up to take down Darhk’s hypnotized henchmen. Meanwhile, Green Arrow duels Darhk (Malcolm seems absolutely delighted by this turn of events) with the help of Oliver. Darhk is presumably taken out by an explosive arrow but utters a Latin phrase at the last second that appears to have saved his bacon.
Darhk is defeated so it’s time for another party, right? Right! Oh, once Diggle tries talking to Andy again. Their conversation went something like this: “Sup Andy? You still crazy?” “Yup.” “Okay then, Merry Christmas. Gotta go.” While Oliver and his gathered supporters unite at the bayfront for a ceremonial lighting of candles in solidarity against the darkness, Darhk himself is seen spending time with his previously unseen wife and daughter (presumably) in his secluded home. There’s actually a lot of happy imagery going on here, especially considering that Oliver proposes to Felicity in front of the crowd! She accepts, of course, and it’s all played out to the tune of “Little Drummer Boy.” Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
Then everything terrible happens. While Oliver and Felicity are enjoying a limo ride home from the event, two of Darhk’s SUVs stop their fun. A squad of heavily armed Ghosts light up the limo with machine gun fire, killing the driver and perforating every inch of the vehicle. Oliver is able to hop over the seat and steer the limo to safety, but Felicity is not so lucky. He pulls her bullet-riddled body from the backseat and cradles her bloody form in his arms, staring in disbelief as the camera cuts to black.
Even though you saw the proposal and the attempted murder scene coming a mile away, it was still pretty shocking in its execution. Darhk is clearly still kicking and is only upping the vendetta against Oliver Queen as the story moves forward. You can fully expect Oliver to return the favor in 2016, but it remains to be seen whether or not Felicity is actually dead. The showrunners might pull the old switcheroo in which Felicity falls into a coma or simply recovers in the hospital, only to have someone else unexpectedly bite the bullet. The real question here is, what will it take to force Oliver Queen to reconsider his code and commit himself to taking the life of Damien Darhk? The death of Felicity would probably do it, but would anything less force the same result? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! We’ll find out one way or the other when Arrow returns in January.
Rating: ★★★ Good
Okay where do we get those blue hats with a star that simply say “Queen”?
Diggle: “Chemically speaking, Andy, you’re no longer his bitch!”
Felicity: “Why’s it look like Santa Claus threw up in here?”
Oliver: “That is a whole lot of Hanukah.”
Darhk: “Do you know who perfected the gas chamber? The Nazis.” Well, he’s not wrong.
Malcolm: “Excellent! You’ve got your bondage outfit on!”
The Flash may have had King Shark, but Arrow had a real* shark. (*Nothing about that underwater shoot was remotely real, including Oliver Queen’s swimming skills.)
Darhk: “Kanjigar septum vohnostrum.”
I get that Project Genesis is supposed to rebuild the world, or a portion of it, once H.I.V.E. burns down the old one, but what’s up with the synthetically generated environment housing a cornfield?
Oh and don’t worry about Ollie’s kid running around in Central City, I’m sure they’ll wrap that up at some point…
That ending was some Scorsese-level brutality. I fully expect revenge plots in the second half of Season 4.