With the team now moving past the death of Laurel, it seems that the end game for Season 4 has finally begun. To start, we have Damien Darhk returning to HIVE after his escape from prison, along with his henchmen Andy and Merlyn, asking why he needs HIVE anymore if he escaped from jail himself. To that end, Darhk murders a few members of the ruling HIVE council and ostensibly takes control of the organization, dumping the bodies around town where they are found by Felicity and the Quiver Crew. Yep, you heard that right, it seems that Felicity returning to the team after Laurel’s death might just be permanent, at least until they have finally dealt with Darhk.
For now, Oliver orders the team to stand down, as he knows they cannot face Darhk until they have found some way to counteract his magic. With that in mind, Thea asks if she could go out of town with Alex for a little while, and the team agrees while John heads out to visit Lyla and Sara, who are in hiding now that Andy is a known traitor. Oliver meanwhile, has received a message from Constantine, pointing him in the direction of a shaman who can train him to be able to repel Darhk’s magic. So Oliver is heading out to Hub City (you know, right next to Cap City) to meet the shaman, but Felicity does not like the sound of things. She decides to tag along, and Olicity shippers rejoice as the couple starts working together again and acting civil toward one another.
They arrive in Hub City and are told to not go anywhere “spiritual” to meet the shaman, but instead to head to a swanky underground casino, where Felicity takes control of a blackjack table as, when she plays, there is no luck involved. They whittle down the competition until there is only one woman left, and even then she only remains as Felicity gives her a few chips to play with. As Oliver comments that the guy they are waiting for is not showing up, the woman informs them that they are actually there to meet her. Her name is Esrin Fortuna, and she leads them through a doorway into another plane of existence that looks just like the Nexus Chamber on Lian Yu, with Fortuna informing the pair that there is another chamber like that one in Star City, which is why Darhk chose that city. She explains how Darhk’s magic comes from darkness and death, and must be countered by light and hope, and that if Oliver lets his own darkness overwhelm his light, he will only feed into Darhk’s magic. They decide to try out Oliver’s magic, which apparently he can activate thanks to the tattoo Constantine gave him, and at first, he does well, his eyes glowing white and repelling the small attack Fortuna launches his way. But when she decides to try something bigger, Oliver is swallowed in the darkness and has a vision of all of his former foes beating on him (Hey it’s Deathstroke!) and of all of the tragedies and deaths that have befallen him during his time on the show. Fortuna says that Oliver is not ready/ strong enough, and says she cannot train him, leaving him alone with Felicity for a pity party. He says that he has accepted that he is the man he was on the island and will never change, and that is why he does not have enough light in him to fight Darhk. Felicity gives him a pep talk (which, of course, is her superpower) and tells him he can change, there is light in him, blah blah blah, and that when she told him he would always be the man stuck on Lian Yu, she was just angry.
Meanwhile, after visiting Lyla and baby Sara who are roaming the streets of Star City in a mobile command unit (designed to protect them from almost any attack), Diggle is out buying diapers when he learns his brother has been sighted, and he takes off to take down Andy on his own. As he chases his brother through an abandoned warehouse district (it’s the Arrowverse, of course there’s a part of town that is ONLY abandoned warehouses) he asks Lyla for back-up, but she needs 5-10 minutes to get her people there, and Diggle cannot wait. Diggle attacks his brother and inadvertently walks right into a trap, being captured by Andy and some ghosts. John awakens to find himself chained to the ceiling in a what looked like a horror movie scenario, with Andy promising that he is prepping John and that Darhk is on his way. He tortures his brother and then prepares to take him out of there. Luckily, John has enough strength left to break free, take down the Ghosts, and then lock Andy to a pipe, holding his gun to his brother’s head. Andy goads him into shooting, but John is not yet ready to do that, as he still thinks he can save his brother. He leaves, and soon enough Andy is visited by Darhk, who congratulates him on his performance. Apparently the entire ordeal with Diggle was designed to put a tracking device on the older Diggle brother, so he can lead Darhk to Lyla.
At the mobile safe house, Lyla chastises Diggle for going after Andy alone, even as she cleans his wounds. Soon enough, they are attacked by Andy and the Ghosts, and just when Lyla says the truck was designed to hold back an attack like that, Darhk arrives, proving the truck was not designed to stand against magic. He easily stops the truck, and Lyla realizes they are after her. She orders John to take Sara and flee, reminding him that she is not Amanda Waller, and would easily cave if they tried to use her family against her. John rockets out the back of the truck on a motorcyle, with baby Sara safely (?) strapped to his back. Darhk orders Andy and the Ghosts after him, and after a quick chase, they finally trap Diggle in an alley, where he is saved at the last minute by the arrival of Felicity (apparently Diggle had been calling/texting the team but no one responded), who uses her signature move of crashing into bad guys while driving the team van to take out the Ghosts. Diggle gives Sara to Felicity and chases after Andy, fighting him and holding him at gunpoint once more. Andy makes it clear that Diggle’s family will never be safe, and that his devotion to Darhk is undying. He continues to goad Dig into shooting him, and then finally, Diggle does it, and he kills his little brother, a decision which looks like it is going to cost him.
Meanwhile, Darhk gets into the truck and faces Lyla, and though she tries to fend him off, she can do nothing against his magic. He grabs her wrist and uses magic to extract something from beneath her skin, and in that moment the Green Arrow shoots Darhk with a handful of arrows in the back, knocking him away from a now unconscious Lyla and hammering his face with blows. After the surprise attack, Darhk knocks Oliver back, rips out the arrows in his torso, and tells Oliver that he will enjoy killing all of his family and friends. But first, he grabs Oliver and begins draining out his life force, which appears to be working, until Oliver’s eyes glow white once more, and he repels Darhk’s magic, the magical energy physically knocking Oliver and Darhk to opposite sides of the truck. Oliver recovers, and finds that Darhk has fled, but at least Lyla is safe. He later finds John standing over his brother’s body, and assures his friend that there was nothing else he could do, not if he wanted to keep his family safe.
As for Thea, she awakens in a house in a strange neighborhood after having “passed out” on the car ride out of town (creepy alarms going off already), and Alex is very cagey about where exactly they are. They go for a walk in the idyllic neighborhood, and Thea can swear all of the background noise sounds like it is playing on a loop, which is very unnerving to her, but Alex does not seem to mind at all. Later on, as she continues to wonder about the fake ambient noise, even pointing out the exact second a dog bark will sound, Alex offers her a vitamin pill, which Thea accidentally knocks over, revealing they are the bright yellow mind control pills of HIVE. Alex says Ruve gave them to him, and Thea knows they are in trouble. She flees the house and attempts to leave the neighborhood, but finds Ghosts patrolling the streets. She evades them and thinks she has made it out to a safe field outside of town, but she is knocked back as the field was just projections onto the wall of the compound, which we learn is Darhk’s “ark,” where he plans to safeguard the future of humanity while he enacts project Genesis. And now Thea is trapped within.
In the episode aftermath, Lyla informs the team that Darhk took Rubicon, that she had implanted it in her arm for safe keeping, but Darhk knew about it and came after her family just so he could take it. She tells the team that Rubicon was designed to prevent any country from being able to use its nuclear missiles, but could be subverted into activating all nuclear missiles around the globe. Diggle points out that Andy told him “Genesis” was coming, and the team realizes that Darhk plans to destroy the world the same way God did with the flood in the bible and that somewhere he has an Ark where he will safeguard choices members of humanity for the new world he wants to create.
Now at last, they know Darhk’s endgame, but how they are going to stop him is anyone’s guess.
– Anyone else worried that Andy was going to force-feed Diggle some of those yellow pills and force him onto the side of Darhk? I wonder if that will be the fate of Thea now that she is trapped down on the “Ark”
– I wonder if Darhk wanted Alex to take Thea down to the Ark to appease Merlyn, who still wants to see his daughter safe
– Is there a character on television who has worse luck with boyfriends than Thea? We’ve been waiting all season for things with Alex to go south, but at least, this time, he’s brainwashed, and not necessarily evil.
– So Merlyn is now relegated to henchman status to Darhk eh? I mean, sure, he’s less powerful with only one hand, but still, for him to fall this far makes me like his character so much less. I suspect we’ll see him turn on Darhk in the coming episodes, and maybe reveal he was working with Oliver all along, or else he always planned on helping Oliver’s team, he just could not let them know.
– I’m calling it, the final Darhk/ Oliver battle will occur in the Nexus Chamber of Star City.
Pretty solid episode, and a great lead-up to the final batch of episodes for the season. I cannot wait to see Oliver use more magic against Darhk, and to see how the team will manage to subdue a nuclear apocalypse and save not only Star City but the entire world this season. See you back here next week!
Nick is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, who belongs to the privileged few who enjoyed the ending to ‘Lost.’ For more of Nick’s thoughts and articles, follow him on Twitter.