Last spring, Arrow’s Marc Guggenheim told Vulture that the season-three finale, in which Oliver gives up vigilante life for domestic bliss with Felicity, would “blow up” the show as fans knew it. Sure, sending Oliver into the sunset was a bold move, but it’s nothing compared to the creative choice in this week’s episode, which sets the series down a path far from where it began. To paraphrase Amanda Waller, sometimes the TV world requires you to be bold.
Even besides that “big moment,” there’s a lot to love about this episode, which begins with a misdirect. Andy, in the Diggles’ apartment in the dark, grabs a weapon from a safe. When Dig walks in and discovers his brother there, you think he’s going to be suspicious. Turns out, Dig is onboard with an armed Andy, who wants protection from H.I.V.E. Andy tells Dig about his meeting with a man “with perfect teeth and a missing hand” (a.k.a. Malcolm “the Magician” Merlyn). Malcolm wants Andy to help with Damien Darhk’s plan to hijack a truck full of missiles, but Andy’s not so sure it’s a good idea to get involved.
Back at the bunker, Oliver is uncertain about the plan as well. Throughout the episode, Oliver expresses doubt about Andy’s true intentions, even after Andy takes an arrow for the Arrow, but Dig shuts him down every time. David Ramsey really nailed Dig’s naïve desperation in these scenes. He has to believe Andy has changed.
While Oliver and Dig scope out Andy’s missile mission, Laurel and Thea watch over the bunker, where Darhk’s precious idol is being kept. Despite a “security upgrade,” Malcolm and his League of Freelancers waltz into the bunker and start a sword fight. One minion even drops down from the ceiling. (Like, I get that Oliver can’t exactly call ADT, but that’s some pretty terrible security, if people are just hanging in the rafters of your secret bunker.) It’s a slick stunt sequence, with a daddy-daughter fight between Malcolm and Thea as the main focus. As Thea places two blades against Malcolm’s throat, she hesitates, and Malcolm gets away with the idol.
Not that the idol is much use. There’s a special stone Darhk needs to activate its powers, and Dig has hidden it. Dig conveniently offers this info to Andy, much to Oliver’s dismay. Not long after, we see Andy rummaging through the Diggles’ apartment again, only this time the Arrow shows up to confront him. Andy claims he’s looking for hidden H.I.V.E. surveillance and not the stone, but the Arrow’s not buying it. He violently grabs Andy and digs his fingers into Andy’s fresh arrow wound. Dig walks in on the sadistic scene and pulls a gun on the Arrow. I am stressed by this development because I cannot take sides between these two characters, but the Arrow chooses for me. He yields.
Later, in the bunker, Oliver defends his choice to question/torture (po-tay-toe/po-tah-toe) Andy. When Dig points out that Andy has come out of H.I.V.E.’s “darkness,” there’s a stark, self-aware confession from Oliver: Oliver doesn’t think it’s possible to come back from darkness. He goes on to admit that he never fully came back from the Island. (Of course, his ability to recognize this about himself and share it with Dig is a great example of how far his character has come since Lian Yu.) Dig then gives the greatest burn in the history of Arrow since Oliver told Laurel he wasn’t running after her: “Some of us change. Some of us grow. Some of us evolve. You are stuck … That’s why Felicity left you.”
But enough about Dig and Oliver because this episode is really about Laurel. Oliver’s political nemesis, Ruvé, offers Laurel a job as the new district attorney. This proposition leads to a series of conversations with Thea, Oliver, and Quentin about what taking that job might mean for defeating Darhk and Laurel’s role as the Black Canary. Oliver encourages her to take the gig because the city “needs a hero without a mask.” Meanwhile, Quentin pragmatically explains that her DA security detail would all but put an end to her Black Canary alter ego. Ultimately, Laurel decides to take the job, but not before putting on her mask “one more time” to help defeat a prison riot that Darhk has started in Iron Heights.
Inside Iron Heights, the prisoners and Team Arrow fight. Meanwhile, Darhk is just hanging on the sidelines, watching all the “havoc” around him. (He’s literally chillin’ like a villain!) Team Arrow’s holding its own, but that changes when Darhk gets a gun and aims it at Andy. Darhk uses this as leverage to convince the Arrow and Spartan to throw their weapons down.
In that moment, I assumed Arrow was so heavy-handed with Oliver’s suspicion that Andy was obviously going to be good, but no! The Arrow twist this episode is that there was no twist. You got me, Arrow. Andy has been working for Darhk this whole time. He’s even got the missing stone. (I wish I could have seen Dig’s reaction to this discovery, but all I saw was his gigantic Spartan mask.)
Thea, fresh from a fight with Malcolm, arrives and shoots Darhk with arrows (yay!), but then Damien uses the blood from his wounds to activate the idol (boo!). Darhk has his magic again, and he freezes Team Arrow. He then reveals that, because of Andy, he knows all of Team Arrow’s alter egos: Oliver, Thea, Dig, and Laurel. He’s most interested in Laurel because of Quentin’s betrayal. He takes an arrow and stabs Laurel through the chest, not unlike Sara’s own demise. He then peaces out of the prison, like the big bad he is.
Cut to the hospital, where a panicked Arrow is running down a corridor with a bloody Laurel in his arms. As she’s rushed into surgery, the rest of Team Arrow arrives, including Felicity. Laurel comes out of surgery, and she’s okay! Now, I may have fallen for that Andy trick, but I am most certainly sure by this episode’s foreshadowing that Laurel is not okay. The Team gathers around her, and everyone, except Oliver for some reason, tells her how much they love her. (She’s so dead.) In the hospital room, Laurel and Oliver have a quiet moment to themselves, during which Laurel tells Oliver that she’s glad he found Felicity. She goes on to admit that while Laurel may not be the love of Oliver’s life, he’s the love of hers. (So, so dead.) To top it off, she asks him for a secret favor that we can’t hear. (Deader than dead.)
Moments later, Laurel goes into some type of seizure, and Dinah Laurel Lance, a.k.a the Black Canary, dies. An overwhelmed Oliver immediately leaves the room and stumbles down a hospital hallway. He looks up and sees Quentin, who knows that a shocked Oliver can only mean one thing. They both stare at each other for what feels like a minute, and the episode ends.
This final scene was fantastic. Paul Blackthorne and Amell managed to give heartbreaking performances without any words between them. I love that the show chose to put Laurel in the grave. Her character has often been the weakest link in the series, so it makes sense to go in this direction. Plus, I’m excited to see how the death affects the remainder of season four and opens up the show to different storytelling next season.
Now for the next mystery: Who’s the “him” that Felicity wants Oliver to kill? Damien? Malcolm? Andy?
Lots of good action this episode; the pace is finally picking up. Plus, hints of a trip to Russia! Da!
- Ironically, this was one of the best Laurel episodes in recent memory. Katie Cassidy performed well throughout.
- “Shocker!” Thea to Oliver, when he announces there’s something he hasn’t told the team.
- A lot of great stunt work this episode. I’m consistently impressed by whoever does Willa Holland’s stunts.
- Oliver touching Dig’s shoulder, when Dig blames himself for Laurel.
- Never thought I’d love such a Felicity-less episode this much.
- Malcolm’s “magician” explanations. Well, it’s better than he “used to be Ra’s”!
- Yeah, yeah, Laurel’s death, but did you see Felicity hug Oliver?
MISSING THE MARK
- I didn’t quite follow why Laurel keeps the picture of herself that Oliver had on the island in her wallet. I understand the urge to bring that detail back into the story for closure, but it was more confusing than moving.
- The “she’s okay” fake-out was a bit predictable; that said, it did allow Team Arrow to say good-bye to her. Sniff.
NUMBER OF SHIRTLESS STEPHEN AMELL SCENES: 0 (I would rather watch that hallway scene over a shirtless scene, anyway, and who am I?)
Come find me on Twitter and tell me what secret you think Laurel tells Oliver.