After HIVE's most vicious attack on Star City yet, Oliver takes the fight to them by outing Damien Darhk as the architect of the city's troubles. But things take a horrible turn when Darhk retaliates at Oliver's mayoral holiday party, kidnapping Thea, John and Felicity!
Green Arrow: Year One (the Lian Yu sequences) and the Green Arrow comics of Elliot S! Maggin (The idea of Oliver Queen running for mayor and fighting corrupt forces trying to thwart his campaign).
How did Laurel not know that her dad was working deep cover in Damien Darhk's organization? It didn't seem like Ollie was going out of his way to keep that fact a secret from the team.
How does Felicity get fatally wounded while Oliver doesn't get hit once when their car is shot up, when Oliver was trying to shield Felicity's body?
David Ramsey is phenominal in the scenes where John Diggle interogates his brother.
While the dialogue they're given in this episode isn't the best, Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards sell the hell out of every moment they're given as Felicity and Oliver together.
It's hard to say who is having more fun hamming it up among the villains - Neal McDonough as Damien Darhk or John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn. They're both fantastic though.
The ending sequence where Darhk's men try to gun down Oliver and Felicity inter-cut with shots of Darhk and his family celebrating Christmas is truly horrific.
Ollie taking particular offense at the idea of children being endangered is a long-running character trait from the comics.
The tactic of using an explosive arrow to catch a more powerful enemy off-guard is a time honored Green Arrow trick in the comics. Oliver used this same trick in his fight with The Flash in F108. Merlyn uses it here against Darhk.
Felicity says that if they could reduce 40% of toxicity produced by the bacterial micro-organisms that sprung up in Star City Bay, they'll be able to swim in just 12 days if the restitution rate stays consistent.
HIVE uses polyphasic-encrypted satellite phones to communicate.
As part of the Genesis project, HIVE had been cultivating a specific algae in Star City Bay - one that could be used to poison people secretly. This is referred to as The Bloom.
Oliver has Merlyn tag him with one of his own nano-tech tracker arrows, so they can use that to find where Darhk is holding the rest of Team Arrow.
The algae HIVE cultivated has somehow been used to make the air in a secret underground complex where corn is being grown breathable. This allows Phase Four of the Genesis project to begin.
Oliver: As today's tragedy reminded us, we are at war. For six months we have been besieged by a nameless and a faceless organization that seems hell-bent on destroying our city. You know them as The Ghosts. And while they me be anonymous, their leader is not. He has a face. He has a name. And I think that it is high time the people of Star City know the truth about who he is!
(Oliver holds up a picture of Damien Darhk)
Oliver: His name is Damien Darhk. He controls The Ghosts on behalf of an organization known as HIVE. HIVE wants this city to die! Now, I will be distributing this - the only known photograph of Mr. Darhk - to every news outlet and social media feed in the country. For months, this man has made us afraid to walk the streets. I suggest we return the favor.
(Alone in the Arrow Cave, Oliver drops to one knee next to Felicity)
Oliver: Can I ask you a question?
Felicity: (thinking he's about to propose) Now? Here?! I mean... what's the question?
Merlyn: Since you told me about your encounter with Damien Darhk, I had my minions looking into it.
Thea: You love having minions.
Oliver: Somewhere, someplace, there's a Ghost that's going to talk to me.
Laurel: And what if there isn't?
Oliver: Then I'm going to take great pleasure in trying to make them.
Oliver: You didn't kill my friends. You took them to make a point. You've made it!
Darkh: No. Not yet, I haven't.
Quentin: (To Laurel) Listen, sweetheart. You just be careful out there, all right? Cause I don't know what I'd do if anything were to happen to you. In fact, that's not true. I know exactly what I would do. And it would be ugly.
Oliver: We had a deal!
Darhk: Well, I think if you replay our conversation in your mind, our bargain was only, at best, implied. Even so - bad guy, remember?
Oliver: Let them go!
Darhk: I will. Existentially speaking.
(Merlyn is disguised as Green Arrow. He faces down Darhk and shoots an arrow at him. Darhk stops it easily with his telekinesis.)
Darhk: You really haven't learned anything, have you?
Merlyn: Oh, I might have learned a little.
(The arrow begins beeping before suddenly exploding and knocking Darkh off his feet.)
Ollie's questioning thugs after John, Thea and Felicity are kidnapped is goofy as all get-out, seeming like a bad parody of Christian Bale's Batman.
Taiana was a diving instructor in Russia.
Donna Smoak finds Ollie's engagement ring from 401.
Thea refers to Dhark's death-touch not working on her in 407.
According to Merlyn, Darhk had contact with The Lazarus Pit but this had nothing to do with why Thea was able to resist his death-touch.
Curtis and Paul have been married for five years.
Curtis' husband, Paul, proposed to him with a ring hidden inside a sea-shell.
They refer to straight people hiding wedding rings in a dessert, which was how Oliver had planned to propose to Felicity in 401 with a ring hidden in a souffle.
Donna Smoak refers to Quentin as her boyfriend. This astonishes him as much as Felicity.
Malbec is Darhk's favorite red wine.
Merlyn uses the same nano-tech tracker arrow that Oliver used to track him back in 304.
It is revealed that one of Oliver's scars came from being attacked by a shark while diving to retrieve maps from a sunken ship.
The flashback sequence ends with Taiana's survival revealed to Conklin and Oliver captured.
Oliver proposes to Felicity before a crowd at a tree-lighting ceremony.
The episode ends with Felicity near death, if not dead, following Darkh's latest attack on her and Oliver.
The Winick Factor
Pretty much all of Team Arrow has to be neutralized in order to make Laurel out to be a useful member of the team.
The Bottom Line
The performances are about the only thing saving this episode. The script is mediocre and there's no real progress on any of the subplots. There's no progress on Thea's blood lust or Diggle's issues with his brother. And Laurel continues to just be there.
No, this whole episode exists for two reasons - to throw out a few more vague hints about HIVE (which don't really reveal anything) and to give us more Oliver/Felicity drama. Which might work if Felicity weren't almost certain to survive the cliff-hanger.
Yes, I'm calling this now - Felicity is going to be fine. Because it's way too obvious that she'd be the one Oliver is talking about in the funeral flash-forward. Because it would go against the lighter tone the show is trying to adopt. And because there's no point in leaving us in suspense for a month if they're just going to kill her in the next episode when they could kill her in THIS episode and have us stew for a month over what happens next.