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With The Undertaking about to begin, Malcolm Merlyn is covering his tracks and killing everyone involved in the creation of The Markov Device he needs to destroy The Glades. Unaware of the enemy they are facing or the exact disaster they're trying to avert, Team Arrow turns their attentions on the one link they have - Oliver Queen's mother, Moira. At the same time, Thea Queen and Roy Harper continue their own efforts to track down the Starling City Vigilante and Laurel confronts Oliver over their mutual feelings for one another.
In the flashback, Eddie Fyers plan is finally revealed - use the missiles he's acquired to down an American plane and trigger a chain of events that will destroy the Chinese economy. With Shado, Slade and Ollie in custody, Fyers has everything he needs to force Yao Fei's cooperation with his plan and make the prisoner into a patsy for the plan.
Green Arrow: Year One (the flashback sequences on the island), Mike Grell's Green Arrow (Fyers' plan is reminiscent of the sort of international intrigues Fyers was involved in and Ollie was trying to stop) Ocean's Eleven (Ollie and company breaking into Merlyn's building and the increasingly unlikely complications) and the Bruce Springsteen album/song Darkness on the Edge of Town.
Cool as Team Arrow's infiltration of Merlyn's building is, if they were able to sneak Diggle into the building as a security guard and have him take over the security room, why couldn't they fabricate an easier way to get Felicity into the mainframe room disguised as an IT person? Surely that wouldn't be any more difficult?
Honestly, the whole ensemble cast does great and I don't feel like discriminating so I'm going to name something I liked that each main actor did well.
Stephen Amell: It really is amazing how this man can play so many variants of Oliver Queen so well. What Christopher Reeve did so well with just two identities, Amell manages with four - there's Pre-Island Douchebag Ollie, Ollie on the Island, Ollie as he pretends to be around his family and Laurel on his return and Serious Vigilante Ollie.
Katie Cassidy: The way she portrays Laurel's disbelief as Ollie says, despite her protests the the contrary, that he hasn't changed in the past year without saying a single word.
Willa Holland: Her perfectly, wordless expressions of sadness and annoyance throughout the episode.
Colton Haynes: His struggling to maintain his tough guy facade even in the wake of the revelation that he lost someone important and that is why he wants to find The Hood.
David Ramsey: Does a fine job of imitating Ollie as The Hood. In fact, he's so good we don't know for sure it's him at first and wonder if maybe Malcolm Merlyn is portraying The Hood in order to test Moira's loyalty again.
Paul Blackthorne: How he can convey so many emotions at once with a single sigh.
Emily Brett Rickards: Felicity ranting about Merlyn's security network. Specifically, the way her awkwardness goes away when her mind is focused on a problem. It's a nice touch, reminding me of many other nerds I know who are socially awkward until their minds are distracted away from focusing on the situation onto something else.
Colin Salmon: Walter's cool, even rebuttal of every single thing Moira tries to say to convince hm to stay.
Suzanne Thompson: Her tortured, wordless expression of pain as she loses another husband despite her best efforts, after Walter serves her with divorce papers.
Colin Donnell: The look on his face where he conveys how every last hope he had is dashed as he sees Ollie and Laurel together through her living room window.
Sebastian Dunn: He goes a little over the top, but he does seem to enjoy acting like a Bond villain. Somehow, it works.
Manu Bennet: Does a wonderful job of acting conveying the pain of someone just shot in the leg.
Celina Jade: Plays the distraught daughter well as her father is imperiled.
Byron Mann: Dies in a most convincing manner.
John Barrowman: The look of shock and torment as he discovers that Ollie is The Hood is perfect, though we don't know precisely why he's so upset nor why he says "Oh no."
The script does a fine job of balancing all the subplots and helping us keep track of who knows what secrets and why they're doing things the way they are in the modern day.
The whole heist sequence with Team Arrow hacking the Merlyn mainframe is brilliantly paced.
In the flashback sequences, we finally have some honest drama to push the story. Interesting as it is to see Ollie gradually become the bad ass we know he'll become, there's little sense of urgency since we know Ollie is going to survive his ordeals on the island. With Fyers' plan explained in this episode, we now have a specific stake for Ollie to fight for and that makes the island scenes more compelling than they've been in a while.
The final fight scene between Ollie and Merlyn is well choreographed.
The name of this episode comes from a Bruce Springsteen's fourth album and the final song on said album. His first album after hitting it big with Born To Run, Darkness on the Edge of Town marked the first time Springsteen performed more serious songs about the realities of working-class life. The song itself contains several lyrics that seem relevant to the stories of several characters, particularly Ollie (Everybody's got a secret, sonny, Something that they just can't face,) Malcolm (I lost my money and I lost my wife,
Them things don't seem to matter much to me now.) and Roy (Some folks are born into a good life, Other folks get it anyway, anyhow.)
The scientist responsible for building the Markov device is named Dr. Brion Markov. In the comics, Brion Markov is the name of the earth-manipulating superhero Geo-Force.
The plane Fyers plans to bring down is Ferris Air Flight 637 out of Berlin. In the comics, Ferris Air is one of the leading aerodynamic firms in the United States. It's also the employer of Hal Jordan a.k.a. The Green Lantern, as those of you who saw the Green Lantern movie might remember.
Thea: Walter doesn't really seem like himself.
Oliver: He's gone through a lot. It's just... going to take bit a little time.
Thea:(sighs) I'm getting sick of us all having to go through a lot, you know?
Ollie: That's a commercial airline, Fyers. It's not like it can land here!
Fyers: It won't be landing anywhere, Mr. Queen. I'm going to destroy it!
Quentin Lance: Arrows are black. Not green. Copycat archer again. Psychopaths are color-coding themselves, now. That's helpful.
(As Roy is staking out the cops working the Vigilante case)
Thea: Where did you even get that camera? Come to think of it, where did you get this car?
Roy: I borrowed it... illegally.
Thea: You know, when I imagined being in a car with you, this isn't exactly what I had in mind.
Moira: You know, I would never willingly be a part of anything like this.
Ollie: ... I don't know anything anymore.
Moira: You held him (Walter) for nearly six months! Surely you had him questioned?
Malcolm: He was.
Moira: And I assume, that if Walter knew something you'd rather he didn't, agreement be damned, I would be a widow again. Am I wrong?
Laurel: I know! I know! Say it! You think I'm crazy! I mean, Oliver... he cheated on me! He broke my heart! He lead Sara to her death! And you would probably rather drink acid than see me with him again! Dad? I'm sure you're disappointed in me.
Quentin Lance: (sighing) Since Queen's been back, he's... different. (pause) I'll deny having ever said that. Let's eat.
(To Tommy, regarding Laurel and both of them loving her)
Ollie: She's not anyone's property. Laurel makes her own decisions. And she chose you. Until you couldn't handle it. Lord knows I'm guilty of a lot of things between us, but not you and her.
(After Roy calls Oliver a wimp and Thea tells him not to say things like that.)
Thea: My brother survived five years, alone, on an island! Five years I thought I had lost him!
Roy: Yeah? Well, I lost someone too! And they aren't coming back.
Roy: It doesn't matter. That is why I need to find him. So he can teach me to be like him! I'm not losing anyone else, ever again.
Thea: I can't do this, Roy. If you don't give this up, you're going to lose me.
Roy: Better now than later.
Moira: (after being handed divorce papers) Walter... please... divorce is an extreme reaction
Walter: Well, considering the circumstances I thought it somewhat reserved. Or do you think I believe that my abduction on the night you told me that I was getting too close to your conspiracy was a coincidence?
Ollie: Ever since I've been back, we've been doing this dance. We come together and then I pull away. Something pulls me away. But I think.. finally... that something might be over.
Laurel: What are you trying to say?
Ollie: That... you know me better than anyone. And that you... are more important to me than anyone. I just hope I didn't wait too long to say it.
(Laurel kisses him)
Laurel: You're not too late. You're right on time.
Malcolm: There is nothing you can do to stop what is about to happen. And you shouldn't. This city needs what is about to happen in order to survive The people who are destroying it from the inside need to be erased from the map.
The Hood: Fine. Let's start with you!
(Ollie shoots an arrow, which Malcolm catches)
Malcolm: Ironic, isn't it? Last Christmas, I almost killed you. Three months ago, you saved my life. And now you're here trying to kill me. You should make up your mind!
The Hood: Done!
A week has passed between this episode and The Undertaking (21). Malcolm Merlyn kills six scientists and three guards at Unidac Industries as The Dark Archer. Diggle impersonates The Hood so Ollie can be in two places at once, despite swearing that he'd never do so again in Damaged (5). This is the first time Ollie and Roy meet face to face, officially. Walter serves Moira with divorce papers and leaves her. The SCPD know Feliciity by name and have evidence she hacked Merlyn's mainframe. Malcolm refers to his fight with Ollie "at Christmas" (9) and how his life was saved by The Hood three months earlier (16).
In the flashback, Ollie recognizes one of Fyers' men as Alan Durand - the man he met on the island who claimed to be a foreign exchange student, who Ollie suspected of being a spy (15). It is unclear if he was a spy or if he was recruited by Fyers after Ollie refused to help him, though the former seems more likely given his stone-faced expression as Ollie charges him. Yao Fei slips Ollie a knife. Fyers' employer is either a business woman or a man who favors wearing short-skirts and high heels at the office. By the end of the episode Yao Fei has been filmed making a statement claiming responsibility for the attack on the Ferris Air Flight 637 and shot dead.
The Bottom Line
An enjoyable episode despite being low on action and high on exposition. While most of the story is devoted toward setting up next week's finale, enough long-running subplots are resolved to make this episode enjoyable on it's own merits. It helps that most of the ensemble cast is given at least one moment to shine, even if their own storylines aren't being advanced this week.