We’ve nearly reached the season finale of The CW’s Arrow and there are revelations around every corner as Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) goes after his arch enemy, Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman).
Let’s bitch it out… The dominoes are all set up and all Arrow needs to do is knock ’em down. Everything about ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’ is explicitly designed to set up next week’s finale as the writers return to several long simmering developments.
The first is the return of suspecting Moira (Susanna Thompson), whom Oliver first questioned after Diggle (David Ramsey) began to suspect her motivations in 1×13 ‘Betrayal’. Of course that experience ended dangerously when Moira shot Oliver, so clearly he’s learned from the past. Always helpful to use a second pair of hands to tie your mother up, right Ollie? (Side Note: Anyone else wonder if Diggle used the opportunity to wail on him a bit as payment for some lingering issues from 1×20 ‘Home Invasion’?). I really like the narrative symmetry at work here: questioning Moira acknowledges that there is unfinished business and she clearly won’t openly divulge information if it’s only her son inquiring (though his attempt to do is nicely underplayed by Amell). The question now is whether learning the truth has irreparably altered Oliver’s relationship with his mother?
The result of the faux-sting on his mother allows Oliver to zero in on Malcolm Merlyn and the Undertaking. While we’ve only really known the name of the plot to attack the Glades for a few episodes, we’ve long known that Malcolm is the evil Machiavellian villain behind many of Starling City’s criminal enterprises. Much like the inquisition of Moira, Oliver’s attack on Malcolm in the episode’s final moments marks a return to a previous storyline, here it’s the developments that began in 1×09 ‘Year’s End’ when the Hood and the Dark Archer first went head to head (Side Note: I love Barrowman’s smug delivery as Malcolm notes how these attacks contrast the effort to save his life in 1×16 ‘Dead To Rights’). Unfortunately for Oliver the result isn’t much better this time around as Malcolm whoops his ass again. And herein lies the cliffhanger and the night’s biggest WTF moment: why, after recognizing the face of Oliver Queen, does Malcolm Merlyn exclaim “oh no!”???
I have no idea…but I can’t wait to find out in the season finale.
- The Island flashbacks are also heating up. After Fyers (Sebastian Dunn) uses Yao Fei (Byron Mann) to capture Ollie, Slade (Manu Bennett) and Shado (Celina Jade), he reveals his plan in true James Bond villain fashion. Fyers’ employer (a woman we’re clearly meant to believe is Moira) wants to stop the growth of the Chinese economy by grounding its planes using the weapons on Purgatory Island. I’m unsure about the sustainability of this plan. How long could planes conceivably be shot down before someone attacks the island? Also won’t it be hard to pin the attacks on Yao Fei if he’s not around to record subsequent messages? ‘Cause he’s kinda dead
- There are two overly soapy moments in this episode: Tommy (Colin Donnell) seeing Laurel and Oliver making out through the open window from the street below and Roy (Colton Haynes) breaking things off with Thea (Willa Holland) so he can obsess on finding the Hood. The first has been a long time coming (sorry Tommy, you bland and boring paperweight!). The second feels inevitably temporary. I mean does anyone really think that Roy and Thea won’t get back together?! Come on
- Throughout this first season of Arrow, the show has paid homage to many films (most notably Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy). The trend continues in ‘Darkness On The Edge Of Town’ when Tommy asks Oliver “Why so serious” (the tagline for The Dark Knight) and Diggle confirms that he has Felicity (Emily Betts Rickards) in sight with “five by five” (a quote Faith always uses on Buffy). Is this superhero reference day?
- There are also strong echoes of Ocean’s Eleven (or your heist film of choice) in Oliver and Felicity’s infiltration of Malcolm’s office tower. My favourite moment: Oliver striking the flirty elevator passenger’s papers so that he and Felicity can ride to the exit point alone
- In case you ever wondered if it sucks to work for a supervillain, now you know for sure: those poor UNIDAC scientists come into work like every other day only to get arrow’d down by their boss. Sucks to be them
- Finally: Walter (Colin Salmon) serves Moira divorce papers and up and leaves her. Good for him, though that better not mean that he won’t still be on the show. We just got him back!
- Felicity (to Oliver): “The last time the vigilante paid your mom a visit you got shot and I got to play doctor with you. Oh – my brain thinks of the worst way to say things”
- Felicity (as she and Ollie stand at the edge of the elevators): “I should mention that I am afraid of heights…which I just learned now”
What do you think Arrow fans: are you excited that Malcolm and Oliver know the truth about each other now? Where is the UNIDAC device? Is Moira responsible for the island plot? Will this latest romantic set-back (and Malcolm’s inevitable death) turn Tommy into the Jr Dark Archer next season? And what is the meaning of the “oh no” that ends the episode? Speculate away below
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8pm EST on The CW