Contributing editor Trent Moore breaks down all the ins and outs in Starling City this week. Spoilers ahead for “Monument Point,” the latest episode of The CW’s Arrow!
The short version: With Darhk’s evil plan to nuke the world officially in play, Felicity is forced to recruit her semi-evil hacker father to help avert the apocalypse. Meanwhile, Thea is trapped Under the Dome with Merlyn and Lonnie Machin/Anarky and a whole lot of brainwashed folks. Oh, and all your favorite villains from the past two seasons are back in action.
Genesis begins as all hell breaks loose
Damien Darhk’s mysterious Genesis initiative has lingered over the season like a specter, but now that we finally know the details, it really does make the latest Big Bad the believable culmination of everything that’s come before. Heck, there’s even some (mildly on-the-nose) symmetry between Darhk’s plan and Merlyn’s mission to demolish the Glades in Season 1. Back then, Team Arrow was fighting to save a neighborhood — now they’re literally trying to stop full-on armageddon being brought about by a near-invincible magic madman. The stakes have certainly been raised over the past four years.
Though Felicity is certainly a super hacker in her own right, she quickly realizes she’ll need the help of former Villain of the Week The Calculator (oh, and he’s also her father) to have any chance of stopping Darhk’s plan to fire off virtually every nuclear warhead on the planet. Felicity’s relationship with her dad has always been a point of dysfunction, and if it weren’t for the mountain of charisma Tom Amandes brings to the role, it might not have worked. But man, it really was great seeing these two get a chance to work side by side.
An evil plan to nuke the world and rebuild on top of the ashes is heavy enough in its own right, but coupled with the fact that Darhk draws his power from death, it made the stakes even heavier. All it would take is just one nuke to super-charge Darhk’s evil magic, and judging by that final scene where he was basically a car battery hooked up to an evil power line, one looks to certainly be enough. Seeing Felicity forced to make a split-second decision to sacrifice tens of thousands of lives for the sake of millions was a brutal moment, and if anything, it could’ve used a bit more breathing room and emotional heft (but hey, it was a busy episode). But still a testament to how much things have changed in four years.
Baddies of the Week: Greatest Hits Edition
It turns out that when he broke out of prison, Darhk brought a few other guys along for the vacation. Along with Amendes’ aforementioned Calculator, this episode also featured the return of Vinnie Jones as Brick, Adrian Glynn McMorran as Murmur and Alexander Calvert’s Lonnie Machin/Anarky (who is, admittedly, working against Darhk). It was a great move to bring all these guys back as part of Darhk’s gang, and was handled with enough subtlety to really make it just feel like a believable part of this living, breathing universe. Darhk needed muscle, so why wouldn’t he turn to some proven commodities to beat the streets for him? Plus, it’s always a treat to see Vinnie Jones slugging it out with anyone.
But bringing Anarky back into the fold was an interesting move. He’s proven a very capable antagonist for Darhk, and you have to wonder if his presence in town might wind up turning the tide for Team Arrow down the line. His interactions with Thea were a little groan-worthy (*cough*”Mother!”*cough*), but Calvert has always played the character with a Joker-vibe that really works.
Under the Dome: Thea has the most screwed-up family ever
We got the big reveal last week that Thea’s “vacation” was actually in Darhk’s evil, underground bunker — and now we know why. As most suspected, Merlyn cut a deal with Darhk to ensure he and Thea would be guaranteed a spot underground when the bombs start falling. Why he thinks Thea would actually go along with this is anyone’s guess, but hey, it at least gives Team Arrow a foothold down there, right?
Thea has over gotten the short straw in the story department, and when she does get a B-story, it’s often tied to her romantic life (see: her snore-fest relationship with Alex). With some narrative space cleared out by the tragic loss of Laurel, here’s hoping the end of this season, and next season, might finally be Thea’s chance to shine. Oh, and speaking of Alex — I’m taking bets on whether that shock from Anarky killed him? What’s your money on?
Other notes: Felicity has been fired from Palmer Tech, which could set up an interesting story for next season. Will Ray come back and reclaim the company? (Or will he be sticking around on Legends of Tomorrow next year?) What will Felicity do now that she’s a free agent? The break-in subplot was a ton of fun, but it begged the question: Why didn’t they just get Curtis to grab the chip and bring it to them? Where the heck has Curtis been? Wouldn’t his hacking skills have come in handy this week? That omission at least deserved a quick sentence or two to explain it away.
It makes sense Felicity’s mother would want Capt. Lance to tell the truth, sure, but c’mon — just let the dude sign the paper and get back to work. It wasn’t like he was signing a statement to condemn Laurel’s action. All they were asking him to do was play dumb. That conflict felt a bit too manufactured. We finally know why Darhk’s wife ran for mayor of a city she was planning to nuke: Darhk’s magical lair nexus point is conveniently located right under city hall. Dude, anyone else notice Merlyn’s new robot hand? That thing is sweet.
Line of the night: "I think it's Mensa, actually," - Capt. Lance
Up Next: The season finale is coming fast and furious. Oliver apparently makes his way into Darhk’s bunker, but it looks like Thea has been taking the yellow pills (or she’s faking out Merlyn and Darhk).