Rubicon has been delayed for a day. But Felicity's old flame, Cooper Seldon, is now working for HIVE and all too eager to prove himself the better hacker once and for all. Now, as Noah and Curtis join forces with Felicity to protect the world's nuclear arsenal, Oliver and John must race to rescue Thea from HIVE's underground city before Anarky can destroy it. Unfortunately, Ruve Adams has turned the whole city against them. And Merlyn has turned Thea against Oliver!
In the flashback sequences, the dark power of the Idol begins to change Tiana for the worse. And Baron Reiter is not quite as dead as Oliver thought...
Green Arrow: Year One (the Lian Yu segments), Green Arrow: City Walls (Green Arrow fighting a magically-empowered villain inside a sealed city), the film Dr. Strangelove Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (centered around a doomsday device similar to Rubicon that could launch multiple nuclear missiles at once, name-dropped by Darkh), the film War Games (centered around hackers averting World War III, name-dropped by Curtis) the Fallout game series (Tevat Noah resembles the more idealistic visions of the underground vaults and serves the same purpose), the works of William Shakespeare (Cooper Seldon quotes Richard the Third and Hamlet), Brave New World (Spartan name-drops the book, there's some resemblance between the society HIVE is creating and The World State of this book), the James Bond novels of Ian Fleming (the destruction of Tevat Noah is pretty much every James Bond villain base going up in smoke, Darhk lets Green Arrow and Spartan live only so they can die a worse death while watching hiim win) and pretty much every Dennis O'Neil or Elliot S! Maggin story where Oliver Queen doubted his role as a vigilante doing real good for society at large.
There's a lot of weird lens flares and other oddities in the lighting that distract from the action.
Noah and Donna's argument is remarkably quiet until Felicity has sufficient time to ask Curtis what is going on and notice that he's drinking.
Granting that it's in a backyard, you'd think SOMEONE would have done something to clean up Alex's dead body!
Also, what genius decided that powering Tevat Noah with a power source so unstable that one arrow going into the machinery in its control room could cause the whole complex to explode was a good idea? Was HIVE contracting out to the lowest bidder?
Cool as the fight looks, it's impossible to beleive that Anarky is capable of fighting both Green Arrow, Speedy and Spartan to a stand-still, even in the middle of a collapsing room!
How does Merlyn know Ruve Adams was killed? He was busy evacuating people when she died. (Possibly he's working with Anarky planning a double cross of Darhk and the escaped Anarky told him? Or he just knows because he is/was Ra's Al Ghul.)
The sequence in which Spartan, Speedy and Green Arrow fight Anarky in the midst of a collapsing control room looks amazing, between the practical effects and the fight choreography.
As is tradition with previous seasons' penultimate episodes (i.e. Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Streets On Fire, This Is Your Sword), the title of this episode comes from a Bruce Springsteen song.
Taiana says her home village is ruled over by a "strongman" named Kovar, who works for the Russian Government. This could be a reference to Leonid Konstantinovitch Kovar a.k.a. Starfire a.k.a. Red Star. Kovar was DC Comics first Russian superhero, created in 1968 and first appearing in Teen Titans #18. The son of an archeologist, Leonid and his father investigated a spaceship crash that bathed the teenager with a strange energy when the ship exploded. Afterward, Leonid found that he had enhanced strength, speed and psychokinesis, A devout Communist, Leonid offered his services to his country and became Russia's first state-sanctioned superhero.
The nuclear missile which destroyed Havenrock was a long-range KN-08 ballistic missile.
Felicity's back-trace of Thea's phone signal has an accuracy rate of 99.9999%..
Diggle says that Tevat Noah is just like Mount Weather - a Continuity Of Government facility built by FEMA during The Cold War in case of a nuclear attack.
Oliver is either able to pick locks with an arrowhead or has a special arrowhead that is shaped like a lock-pick. He uses it to break into one of the houses in Tevat Noah while seeking cover from the guards.
Smartphones are protected by encryption. If you fail to enter the proper passcode or fingerprint after so many tries, the phone "bricks" itself (i.e. locks so no one can access it). Curtis suggests that rather than trying to break the encryption on Rubicon, they make it stop working in the first place by overwhelming it with too many access requests.
Cooper shuts down Felicity's system with an X-Axis Bi-numeric Algorithm virus. It's one she created back in college.
Cooper then sends electrical surges to all their previous IPs. Unfortunately, this allows Felicity to ping back to his location. This let's Noah hitch their own code onto the back trace. The code they use is an executable Curtis designs to overload Rubicon with access requests.
Tevat Noah is powered by a dwarf star alloy. Powerful, but touchy, as Anarky describes it. This means that a stray shot in the control center could blow up the whole complex.
(Oliver shoots two arrows at Dark. They vaporize before they come close to touching him.)
Darhk: Cool. You know, I didn't even mean to do that?!
Darhk: Today was supposed to be Christmas and I woke up to a lump of coal. Is it because I've been naughty this year?
Darkh: (To Cooper) Not that it's not scintillating to watch you type, but when exactly will I have Rubicon back?
Man: You can't win! You can't stop Genesis!
Spartan: Well, what are you going to do when you're not here to enjoy your Brave New World?
Green Arrow: Spartan! Easy...
Spartan: He almost got us killed.
Green Arrow: They're like Thea. They're not in their right minds.
Man: You mean the pills? We haven't taken any. Not even one. None of us have. We're here because we believe. Because we know the world is evil and darkness. It's beyond saving.
Green Arrow: How can you believe that?
Man: Because we lived it. Every day. So many promises were made to save the city. But it all just fell apart. And we were the ones left in the rubble. Damien Darhk has given us hope. Can you, with your masks and your guns, actually say the same?
Green Arrow: Do you ever think that maybe Darhk has a point?
Spartan: No. Darhk is psychotic. Everyone down here is.
Green Arrow: Are they? He's not wrong. The world is coming apart just like Star City. I mean, it is worse than it has ever been...
Spartan: That's because Darhk's been spending the past year trying to kill it.
Green Arrow: Then why is he giving these people more hope than we ever could?
Thea: (to Merlyn) Drug me again and I will kill you, you son of a bitch!
Spartan: So Machin is down here?
Merlyn: An ongoing pest we've yet to exterminate.
Thea: He killed Alex, who brought me down here because Ruve drugged him. Just like you did to me.
Merlyn: We can discuss my parenting philosophy later. Mr. Machin is the immediate threat!
Spartan: To Darhk and his wife and I still don't understand why we should care.
Merlyn: Because he has already tried once to kill everyone down here!
Green Arrow: Malcolm's right. We're not letting anyone else die. (turning the family whose house they took over) This place isn't safe. I need you to get them out of here in order to protect them. Please...
(Green Arrow turns back to Merlyn.)
Green Arrow: Now you know the way out. So if we can't stop Machin, then you are going to lead the evacuation.
Merlyn: I don't recall volunteering.
(Spartan draws his gun and puts it to Merlyn's head. Merlyn doesn't blink.)
Merlyn: And even if I did, where exactly where would I evacuate them to? Everything above our heads is going to be under a mushroom cloud!
Green Arrow: I refuse to believe that.
Merlyn: Because you're a fool.
Green Arrow: Because I have hope.
Green Arrow: The city's safe...
Felicity: You sound like there's a "but" to that sentence.
Green Arrow: People still need saving. They still need hope.
Darkh: Tell me.
Merlyn: It was Machin. He's-
Merlyn: I'm sorry.
Darkh: My daughter?
Merlyn: We're still getting reports of survivors.
Darkh: We're locked out of Rubicon. Momentarily. I know someone who can get us back online.
Merlyn: Damien... Tevat Noah is gone! It's buried under miles of ash! Even if you could regain control of Rubicon, they would be no place on Earth that is safe!
Darkh: If there's no place left on Earth that is safe... let it all burn.
Felicity: Go to hell!
Darhk: Why bother? I'm going to bring it to us.
Curtis makes reference to the city-threatening events that have occurred in Starling City over the past three years including earthquakes (Season 1), viral attacks (Season 3) and armies of super-soldiers (Season 2).
Curtis is apparently on the Dark Web and knows Noah Kuttler by reputation.
Cooper Seldon is seen for the first time since 305. He broke out of Iron Heights during Damien Darhk's escape.
We learn the name of HIVE's underground city is Tevat Noah.
Thea's phone signal comes from the corner of Berkeley and Childress, right in the heart of The Glades.
Taiana becomes more blood-thirsty and willing to kill as people die near her as she is holding the idol.
Merlyn drugs Thea to make her compliant.
Felicity tells Donna that she's been working with The Green Arrow for three years.
Taiana is from a village, Krasnoyarsk, which is ruled over by a "government strong man" named Kovar. She wants to use the power of the idol to free her people.
Noah claims he wasn't given any choice regarding abandoning his family.
Noah recognizes the virus Cooper uses as one Felicity designed, saying that he did keep tabs on his daughter and her work.
When Donna Smoak gets stressed, she folds clothes.
Donna Smoak confesses to Felicity that Noah didn't abandon them - she took Felicity and left him when Felicity was 7.
Felicity notes, however, that Noah never once tried to correct Felicity's belief that he was a deadbeat dad.
Thea is now a good enough shot with a bow and arrow that she can shoot the sword out of someone's hand.
Anarky refers to the events of 410 - the last time he took Darhk's wife and daughter hostage.
Tevat Noah is powered by a dwarf star alloy, much like Ray Palmer's technology.
Anarky stabs Ruve Adams to death with one of Speedy's arrows.
Anarky seems to escape the collapse of Tevat Noah.
Green Arrow saves Damien Darhk's daughter.
The destruction of Tevat Noah does damage to The Glades above it.
Donna asks Noah to leave and never contact Felicity again. As the episode closes, he seems to.
Curtis points out that Donna's refusal to believe Noah could change his lying ways mirrors Felicity's dumping Oliver over his lying.
The Winick Factor
Everyone - HIVE and Team Arrow alike - is nerfed so that Anarky can be built up as a threat. Ditto the return of Cooper Seldon, who is now suddenly a competent enough hacker to handle Felicity AND her dad at the same time.
The Bottom Line
Everything about this episode feels like so much padding. When everything should be racing to a conclusion after last week's exciting episode, this episode slams on the breaks so we can focus on Felicity's family issues (which still aren't really resolved) and Thea's fight with Anarky last week proves to be completely pointless so that we can have all of Team Arrow have a far harder time fighting him than they should.
The cast gives it their all but that doesn't change the fact that the first half of the episode revolves around people typing while spouting technobabble and - as Damien Darhk himself notes - that's not exactly scintillating. The second half is somewhat better, but Thea's being brainwashed is a waste of time as is Oliver's momentary consideration that he's failed the city as a beacon of hope.
And yet, I have hope that next week's finale will prove to have been worth this diversion. It's a dim hope, but it is there.