Welcome back to ‘Arrow’ Season 4′! After the long hiatus full of TV spots and trailers teasing that Felicity might end up in that grave from the season premiere (which pretty clearly was just meant to throw us off the right trail), tonight we finally see what Oliver’s fiance and everyone’s favorite hacker’s fate will be.

arrow ollie at gravesiteThe episode opens with that pesky grave scene again, just to remind everyone of the stakes for the season, and the fact that Oliver is ready to kill once more because of the actions that led to this beloved person ending up in the grave. We then get a quick montage of Oliver taking Felicity to the hospital following the limo shooting, while he later suits up as the Green Arrow and goes out on the streets to beat information out of any ghosts he can find. While his ventures as the Green Arrow are fruitless, we do learn that Felicity is going to survive, though she still has more surgeries and recovery ahead of her.

While the gang visits Felicity sans Oliver (who has assured them that Felicity would rather have him out there searching for Darhk), Diggle decides to press his brother for information about the villain, ending with John beating up Andy to try to force him to give up whatever information he has. In a conversation with Lyla later, she reminds him that deep down he and his brother still share a strong bond, with a lot of love between them, and if Diggle cannot reach Andy, it is because Diggle can only see his brother now as the enemy who betrayed him, not as his brother.

arrow anarky with maskThea meanwhile is worried that her bloodlust might be making a comeback, and decides to let things cool off with her campaign manager boyfriend, as she is unsure she is in full control of herself these days. And even while Thea wrestles with her own demons, Oliver decides it is time to use his best lead with his current demon, Darhk, and ask Captain Lance for the location of his meeting place with Darhk, fully aware that in doing so he is blowing Lance’s cover. Team Arrow arrives at Darhk’s hide-out, only to find ghost bodies littering the floor, and the Anarky symbol painted on the wall in blood. Lonnie Michan is back.

The team analyses the blood the symbol was drawn with (which takes a little longer than usual because they do not have Felicity), and discover it belongs to Lonnie Michan’s former foster parents. They track Anarky to the house of those parents, and find the man waiting for them, only Anarky had hoped Darhk would find him first. Some well-placed motion sensor guns almost allow Anarky to escape, but Thea runs him down, confronting him alone and learning that Anarky does not hold his facial scarring against her, as he was reborn in the fire she caused. Fortunately Laurel shows up soon after and uses her Canary cry to help them apprehend the man, and Oliver takes Michan to another abandoned Star City Warehouse to torture him for information (sometimes I think this show would not work if Star City was thriving, as there would be no warehouses for all the costumed folk to take advantage of). Oliver’s interrogation is interrupted by news from Thea that Felicity is out of surgery and needs to see him ASAP, and Oliver runs to the hospital.

Donna greets Oliver when he arrives, angrily asking where he has been all this time, and then informing Oliver that the doctors could not repair the nerve damage to Felicity, and that she will never be able to walk again (which I truly do not believe, they will find some way to fix her spine). Before Oliver can go in to see his fiance, he sees on the news that Laurel has led the Star City Police Department to Michan, as she does not like Oliver’s more aggressive attitude since Felicity was shot, and does not agree with torturing Michan for information.  Oliver takes off from the hospital and stops the Police Truck carrying Anarky, setting the villain loose so he can hunt down Darhk, for apparently in Oliver’s eyes the enemy of his enemy is clearly his ally, even if he is a sociopathic killer.

Diggle has another talk with Andy, this time reaching out to him as his brother, and explaining that he still cares for the man, and desperately needs his help to bring down Darhk and avenge his friend. Andy does not offer much, but does give a name of a place, and talks about how Darhk spoke about the leaves changing there. It is a lead though, and Andy helped, which is more than enough for Diggle.

Blood DebtsThe gang is pissed that Oliver set Michan free, but Oliver quickly explains that he put a tracker on the man, though said tracker fails pretty quickly after (we assume) Anarky found it and disposed of it.  Diggle reminds Oliver of all the progress he has made in the last couple of years, and warns him not to lose his humanity, as that is what Felicity fell in love with in the first place. Fortunately, by using the tracker location and the information Diggle got from Andy, the team is able to figure out where Anarky is going, and they head out in pursuit of the villain. Anarky meanwhile, has ambushed Darhk’s (helpless?) family, tying them up in the living room while waiting for Darhk to return, brandishing a flamethrower to give them the same rebirth by fire that he received. Blood DebtsFortunately, the Quiver Crew arrives in time to save the family, though Oliver and Thea have to track down Anarky, who has fled the building. Splitting up in order to find the man, Oliver instead runs into Darhk, who once again demonstrates how little chance Oliver has of beating him in single-combat, using Oliver’s own arrows to stab the man repeatedly. Fortunately, Darhk knows that the Green Arrow just saved his family, so he mercifully lets Oliver lives, telling him he will grant the man 2 weeks to be with his family before Darhk and his men come to kill them all.

Thea meanwhile tracks Anarky to a small forest (or park) near the house, where she uses a trick arrow to lash him to a tree. He taunts her, fueling her bloodlust, wanting her to open up with her mad rage, and while she does take aim at the villain, she fortunately maintains control and shoots past him. Anarky is disappointed, easily breaks free and escapes, leaving Thea behind.

In tonight’s flashback, the wounded Oliver is taken back to Baron Reiter, who finally believes Conklin’s accusations that Oliver is a spy, even after Oliver tries to lie and say he was retrieving the maps to help Reiter. Reiter decides to punish Oliver, and has Conklin whip the shirtless man in front of Taiana, During the whippings, Oliver’s handy new tattoo glows, and the mark is spotted by Reiter, who realizes Oliver might still be useful. He makes a deal with Oliver to let Taiana live if the man helps him find what he is looking for, and the episode ends with an enraged Conklin tossing Oliver and Taiana into a cell, and the woman desperately trying to clean Oliver’s wounds (both his shark bite and the whip cuts), as Oliver has lost a lot of blood and needs to be bandaged.

arrow felicity in bedIn the episode aftermath, Oliver and Felicity talk, with Oliver assuring his bride-to-be that walking or not, he’s in for the long haul with her, and gives her back  the engagement ring. They speak of perhaps leaving for Bali, a callback to an earlier conversation, though Felicity says only if Darhk is there, because she knows they need to deal with the man before moving on. Thea meanwhile decides that perhaps she has more self-control than she thought, and decides to give it another go with Alex. Laurel is now aware that Donna Smoake is dating her dad, and she seems pretty ok with it. And Diggle visits his brother just to spend time with him. He does not let Andy out of the cell, but he brings along a deck of cards that they can play together. And Darhk, reunited with his wife and daughter, is berated by his wife for not killing the Green Arrow, though he assures her that Genesis is still in motion, and their new beginning is still on track, right after he brings about the end of the world.

4 MONTHS LATER – We see Oliver leave the gravesite that has plagued us all season, entering a waiting limo outside. Inside, we find an emotional Felicity waiting for him, demanding that he kill the man responsible for this death. Boom, we know it is not Felicity in that grave, so at least we can cross one name off the list.

arrow queens confront anarkyBOW-STRING THEORIES:

– Well, now we know for certain it’s not Felicity in that grave. But based on her reaction it is definitely someone close to her as well, my money is on either Diggle (which would be heartbreaking for her and Oliver) or still on the obvious choice of Detective Lance, who I suspect will be getting closer to Felicity and her mom in the coming episodes.

– So after the events of the mid-season finale, and with how Moira Queen died, we can now safely assume that if a Queen is running for mayor, one SHOULD NEVER get into a limo with Oliver. Those things might as well have targets on them.

– I noticed that they quietly snuck in the whole “blowing Lances cover with Darhk” storyline in this episode, which I believe we are meant to forget about since Anarky got there first, but I would not be surprised if Darhk is all too aware of Lance’s duplicity now, which is another argument in favor of Lance ending up in that grave.

– How can Oliver deal with Darhk? Will this require a Constantine re-appearance? How would Darhk fare against the speed of the Flash? Will Oliver get magical arrows? It just seems pretty clear that the Green Arrow cannot take on the man one-on-one, but knowing this show, it might just take the added pressure of a season finale to fuel Oliver to man up and finally take out the villain.

Definitely glad the show is back, and even more glad it is not Felicity in the grave! The show has definitely stepped it up in the mid-season premiere, and I hope they continue that momentum for the rest of the season. See you back here next week!