As Oliver and Felicity seek a magical means of countering Damien Darhk's powers, John gets a lead on his brother's whereabouts. Meanwhile, Alex takes Thea away on a dream vacation that quickly becomes a nightmare.
The Bible (referenced in the title, Genesis, references to the Biblical flood that led to the rebuilding of a better world), The Dresden Files novels (the ideas behind light and dark magic presented here, while common to many fictional and real-world magic conventions, match up fairly well to the ideas on magic presented in this series) and numerous science-fiction stories about underground cities being used to survive a cataclysm.
David Ramsey. Just... David Ramsey. All through this episode. Flawless.
The fight sequence with John chasing Andy is a great one.
The sound editing on the sequences with Thea is remarkable. The sound-effects that tip Thea off that something is wrong are present from the very first moment and it makes repeated viewing of these scenes all the creepier when you realize the clues were there from the beginning.
The fight scene where John escapes from Andy is great, even by the standards of this show.
The special effects when Oliver is practicing magic with Esrin are movie-level quality.
The entire fifth segment of the show is perfectly executed on ever level. The stunts. The direction. The writing. It all gels perfectly.
Felicity and Oliver travel to Hub City. In the DC Comics universe, Hub City is the home town of the superhero The Question.
Esrin Fortuna is an original character unique to the Arrow universe. There was a Mama Fortuna who looked after the street children of Gotham City's East Side (aka Alleytown) in the Batman comics. Her Alleytown Kids became a spy network of sorts for the villain Black Mask and was later utilized for nobler purposes by the second Catwoman, Holly Robinson.
Esrin is an anagram for Siren - a creature from Greek myths, whose singing could lure unwary sailors to their doom.
The Rubicon is the name of a shallow river in north-eastern Italy. In Roman times, it marked the boundary between Gaul and Rome. Julius Ceaser once famously crossed The Rubicon with a single legion, setting into motion the events that would see him made dictator of Rome. Since then, the phrase "crossing the Rubicon" has come to mean passing the point of no return, particularly in regard to a risky action.
The name Rubicon seems fitting for the ARGUS technology that Lyla describes in the end of this episode - a device which is capable of preventing an entire nation from firing their nuclear weapons.
Black magic - such as Darhk's idol - can take a good person and turn them dark, soulless and inhuman, according to Oliver's experience.
A shaman is someone who has influence in the world of good and evil spirits.
Lian Yu is a place of nexus - a central point connecting many other points - as is Star City and Hub City. It is for this reason that Damien Darhk chose to operate in Star City.
Immortals like Esrin Fortuna generally do not get involved in the affairs of men.
Idols do not give a magician power - merely a means of channeling their power.
Darhk's power comes from death. The more people he kills, the more powerful he becomes.
In magic, all things have an opposite. As Darhk draws power from negative energy and fear, so could another person draw power from positive energy and hope to repel his power. Esrin Fortuna refers to this as La Luz Del Alma - "the light of the soul".
If a person whose inner darkness is stronger than their their light tries to draw upon the light of the soul, instead of repelling dark magic it will fuel it and make the dark magic user more powerful.
The tattoo John Constantine gave Oliver Queen in 405 is capable of many things, according to Esrin Fortuna. She does not go into detail in describing these things, but apparently one of them is acting as a totem or idol for Oliver's personal power.
Esrin Fortuna describes magic as a manipulation of primordial energies. Primordial, in this case, also meaning pre-linguistic. This is why her magic lessons are more physical application than rote-driven.
Rubicon was a stored in a subdermal implant under Lyla Michael's skin. It was a ballistic launch override protocol, designed to prevent any country from firing a nuclear missile. With some work and the right expertise, Rubicon could be corrupted and used to trigger a nuclear missile launch rather than preventing it. This could, potentially, given Damien Darhk control over the entire world's nuclear arsenal and the ability to trigger an extinction-level event by setting them all off at once.
Darhk: What happened to Ian and Judy? They come down with that nasty little flu that's been going around?
Armitage: Some were wary of this meeting, given that -
Darhk: - you all abandoned me to my imprisonment?
Merlyn: Well, I visited! Somebody should teach THIS evil organization a lesson in helping their fellow man.
Darhk: I'm sure it's all just a simple misunderstanding. After all, why would I rely solely on the word of Malcolm Merlyn? He can be so... underhanded.
Darkh: I had a lot of time to reflect while I was in prison. Mostly about religion and bundt cake.
(John is chasing Andy into a dark alley, trading shots, when his phone rings.)
John: Hey, honey! It's a little tough for me to talk right now!
Lyla: You'll want to hear this. Satellite track just picked up Andy.
John: Let me guess - he's somewhere south of Main, between Grammercy and Addison, right?
Lyla: ... how do you know that?
John: Because I'm trading shots with him right now!
(John handcuffs Andy to a column, takes his gun and draws it on him.)
Andy: Do it. Do it for Laurel.
(John stares at Andy and slowly lowers the gun)
Andy: She'd be so disappointed in you.
John: The only reason why you're still breathing is because one of us is still human.
(As Oliver fights dream images of Malcolm Merlyn, Deathstroke and Damien Darhk)
Esrin Fortuna: The darkness and light are within you. In truth, you are only fighting yourself. The friends you've failed. The people you've killed. They have no place in this. Don't give in. Cast aside your doubt. Resist your darkness.
Felicity: We'll find someone else to teach you magic. Someone with more patience and less smelly incense.
Oliver: She was right, you know. It's not about the magic. It's about me.
Felicity: If she didn't see anything worthy inside you, she never would have dealt with us.
Oliver: She didn't deal with us. She dealt with you. She didn't reveal herself until you offered her your chips. And that has always been the way with us, Felicity. You are the one who brings the light. You know, I told you that I've seen magic that's turned good people dark but all Fortuna did was show me who I really am.
Felicity: Don't do this. Every time you face a setback, you throw yourself a pity party.
Oliver: It's not a pity party. It's acceptance. You said it yourself. No matter what I do, I'm always gonna revert back to the person I became on the island.
Felicity: Yeah, when I said that I was hurt. I was going through one of the most painful experiences of my life. No, Oliver. You are not perfect. None of us are. The good news is that all of us can change.
(After being chased by two HIVE agents on his motorcycle for some distance, John pulls over and draws his gun as the two agents stop. He looks at them and they look at him, not seeing the van that suddenly guns down the alley and hits them both. Felicity hops out of the van.)
Felicity: Oh, it's been a while since I've hit anyone with this thing!
Darhk: You seem like a likable guy, Oliver. I bet you've got a lot of friends. I'm gonna enjoy killing every last one of them.
(John draws his gun on Andy.)
Andy: It isn't over.
John: You haven't been paying attention, Andy!
Andy: Darhk got out. I got out. I'll get out again. That mobile safe house you got looked really homey. Bet it gets cramped when Sara gets older.
John: (lowering his gun) Shut up!
Andy: She's got to go to school eventually. And Lyla, well, you can't watch her 24/7.
John: (grabbing Andy by the shirt) I said shut your mouth, Andy! Shut your damn mouth!
Andy:You're the one who's obviously not paying attention. Because this is war.
John: And women, children - they're expendable in your war?!
Andy: Genesis is coming, John! Lyla and Sara won't be the only women and children who die. (pauses) Tell me - how's it feel knowing that you have no problem pulling the trigger to protect a bunch of Afghanis that you never knew but you don't have the guts to do what's necessary to protect your wife and child?
(John raises his gun and shoots reflexively. The look on his face stunned as he looks at his brother as he drops to the ground dead.)
Felicity: You okay?
Oliver; Earlier with Darhk, it worked. He tried to use his magic on me and I was able to repel it.
Felicity: That's incredible! How did you do it?
Oliver: I heard your voice in my head. And you were reminding me of all the good things that I have in my life. I heard Thea. I heard John. I heard Laurel. Just telling me to keep fighting. To never give up. Just telling me to have hope.
Milo Armitage and Phaedra Nixon are both killed by Damien Darhk.
Thea mentions Lonnie Machin - last seen in 410 - when discussing about who might be killing HIVE's leadership.
Oliver says he made contact with John Constantine - whom we were told was literally in Hell in 415 - and it was he who referred him to Esrin Fortuna.
Lyla and Sara have been hiding out in a mobile ARGUS base, hidden inside a heavily armored 18-wheeler.
Oliver has been living in the deepest parts of The Bunker since breaking up with Felicity.
Felicity makes reference to the fern that she got Oliver to decorate the original Arrow Cave.
Constantine's directions send Oliver and Felicity to Hub City, where Roy Harper had reportedly made a new life for himself in 412. It is also where Ray Palmer and Kendra Saunders lived together for two years in the 1950's in L109.
As first revealed in 121, Felicity is a master gambler.
Esrin Fortuna describes herself as an immortal shaman. John Constantine owes her money.
The images Oliver sees as he is attacked by visions of his own darkness include the death of Tommy Merlyn (123), the death of Moira Queen (220), his near-death at the hands of Ra's Al Ghul (309), his near-death at the hands of Baron Reiter's magic (417), the death of Laurel (419), Robert Queen's suicide (101) and (apparently) the death of Taiana before he finally sees Felicity returning his engagement ring (415).
Esrin Fortuna declares that Oliver's darkness is greater than the light and that there is nothing she can teach him.
The looping sound that Thea notices in the background of wherever she and Alex are is three bird chirps, a bark, and then four chirps.
Alex has been taking the pills HIVE gives their soldiers to make them fanatically loyal, told by Mayor Adams that they were vitamins.
Thea has no memory of how she got to wherever Alex took her., She concludes this is because she was drugged.
Ollie refers to Felicity's speech in 416 about how he will always revert back to the person he was on the island.
As in 221 when John was nearly killed by Isabel Rochev, Felicity hits someone (i.e. two HIVE agents) with a van in order to save John.
Oliver is able to resist the effects of Darhk's death-touch. He says later he was able to do this by focusing on Felicity, John, Thea and Laurel saying positive things.
John kills Andy. He lies about the circumstances to Lyla later, making it sound like Andy had gone for a weapon when John shot him.
Darhk steals the codes to Rubicon - last mentioned in 411. They were kept in a sub-dermal implant under Lyla Michael's skin.
As the episode ends, Thea is trapped in HIVE's "ark" - a town hidden in an underground dome beneath Star City.
The Fridge Factor
Thea is reduced to being the damsel in distress in need of rescue. To her credit, she does figure out something is up with her vacation destination within a day of arrival.
Averted with Lyla, who does a damn fine job of defending herself against Darhk's men.
The Bottom Line
Another solid episode. The season continues to improve with every passing episode as we enter the climax. There's not a single wasted scene or subplot and David Ramsey gives perhaps his finest performance yet.