Arrow: 4.20 Genesis
We're not in Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan territory with this week's Arrow (though that reference did pop up). But we did finally get to see what Damien Darhk has been up to all season and it was certainly not a disappointment. The first two seasons saw Star(ling) City under threat from Malcolm Merlyn's 'Undertaking' and Slade Wilson's Mirakuru-enhanced army. While last year we had some muddled conflict between 'dark Oliver' and Ra's Al Ghul, this season's endgame is much, much bigger; the end of the world.
Genesis as a concept really had to deliver and the idea of HIVE obliterating the Earth by unleashing nuclear Armageddon and sitting it out in an underground dome ready to start a new world order is huge and dastardly in scale, truly living up to the fantastically evil character that has been Neal McDonough's Darhk. No matter what you might have thought of some of the season's more questionable decisions (the death of Laurel, the boring flashbacks), there is no doubt that he has been a fantastically engaging villain. I for one am excited to see how the lat three episodes play out.
It was also an episode that actually established a reason for Darhk being the latest villain to descend on Star City. It's sitting on a Hellmouth. Okay, not actually a Hellmouth but the closest the show will get, with the city sitting on a nexus of energy, making it the perfect staging point for Darhk to unleash his world destroying plan.
This year has been all about magic, with John Constantine and Vixen making their own debuts in the DC superhero universe established with Arrow. While neither made an appearance this week (I'm hoping for a magic-fuelled season finale team-up), Constantine did set Oliver on a path to encounter a shaman that could help him how to fight Darhk with light magic. Felicity joined him on a jet-set adventure of casinos and mystical caves and there were truly signs that 'Olicity' fans shouldn't give up hope yet. At least their connection seemed more genuine after last week's reversed and very forced distance over the death of Laurel.
With Oliver and Felicity out of Star City, we got to see the rest of the team on their solo adventures. Thea took a trip away with new boyfriend Alex; turns out he isn't fully evil as I suspected but he is under the control of HIVE thanks to those little yellow pills given to him by his employer Ruvé Adams. The episode built nicely to the reveal that was was trapped in the very dome that Darhk built to escape the Armageddon. That suburban street was all too The Twilight Zone to ever be real. That final revelation topped off the episode in style - not quite jaw dropping but surprisingly none the less.
And then we had John Diggle. He is such a great character when he is being cool, kick ass and wise and yet season four really hasn't served him well at times. With the angst over his brother I was prepared for forty minutes of broody Diggle (something I liked that his wife Lyla called him on) and for the first half that was what he was, particularly when he was captured trying to hunt down his brother Andy. But things really picked up in the second half of the episode as his brother, Darhk and HIVE drove down the mobile ARGUS facility Lyla and his daughter Sara had been hiding in. It proved to be a pretty amazing action sequence; Darhk taking on Lyla who continues to remain one of the best, underplayed characters in the show, while Diggle races away with an impossibly cute Sarah strapped behind him on the motorcycle.
Thanks god he finally did the right thing and put Andy out of his misery. Eugene Byrd has tried to bring something to the character of the evil brother but I've never really bought into his motivations; recent events have suggested that has been willing, rather than brainwashed, into falling Darhk but I never got why. He's also brought John Diggle from cool ally to brooding older brother and that hasn't always been a good thing. With this plot resolved at least he can refocus in the final fight ahead.
Genesis was an episode that pulled all the pieces together for the final three episodes. Darhk's evil plan has been revealed. Oliver seems to have finally started to get a handle on the magic needed to fight the villain, Andy is dead, Thea is trapped and the fate of the world is in the balance. The Damien Darhk storyline started off so strong and has floundered a little with the 23-episode format but as we reach the end of Arrow season four, things are finally starting to pay off.