Arrow: 4.21 Monument Point
"The president asked me if the fate of the world is resting in the hands of an IT girl, a criminal, and two guys in Halloween costumes."
This week on Arrow...global armageddon! The stakes have certainly been raised; the US is at Defcon two, Damien Darhk and has taken controls of the world's nuclear arsenal and the world literally did rest in the hands of Felicity, her criminal father, Green Arrow and Spartan. Lyla might have delivered the best quip of the episode but it summed up just how big things are at this stage in season four. Despite a great introduction from Darhk, there has been a lot of treading water to get to the moment Darhk unleashed his Genesis plan but there has been some real momentum as of late.
It's not an episode without its faults of course. Felicity getting kicked out of Palmer Technologies just as she needed to get the device that could help reverse Darhk's plan was frustrating and contrived. The return of Anarky and yet another tired debate between Thea and Malcolm seemed like a retread of earlier themes and were there just to give Thea something to do. The return of Vinnie Jones' Brick proved he was still a terrible character. And the whole 'break in' to Palmer Technologies could have been resolved by getting Curtis to take the device out of HIS lab...in fact where was he this week?
Most frustratingly of all, there was a lot of talk of the President being informed about an impending nuclear holocaust and yet no one was doing anything to help. It was all Team Arrow with a helping hand from Lyla and her ARGUS soldiers. Given just how dramatic these events were, I would have expected something more; it just smacked a little of being apocalyptic on a budget.
And this week, the flashbacks proved just how unnecessary they have become to Arrow. This should have been the culmination of weeks of exciting build up. Baron Reiter unleashed his powers even as Oliver and Taiana helped the prisoners break free. The showdown with Reiter and Taiana's tragic possession by the idol should have been gripping but I found that there was very little tension - particularly given the apocalyptic events taking place in the present - and I was bored by the end.
But fortunately there were some very fun moments and while the heist was unnecessary, I did enjoy the scene, particularly Felicity being forced to work with her father Noah. It added some real levity in these otherwise dark events and I enjoyed the dynamic between Emily Bett Rickards and Tom Amandes as they tried to save the world. There were also some nice character moments throughout; Oliver checking on how Diggle was coping after Andy's death at his hands and the very sweet relationship that is Quentin and Donna as he took the high road and admitted that he knew Laurel was the Black Canary, even at the risk of his own career.
And then came the ending. Arrow has proved before that it isn't afraid to have the good guys lose. The season one finale should have ended with Oliver stopping the Undertaking and yet he failed to prevent it destroying half of Starling City. In this episode, it was obvious that the world couldn't be destroyed but it didn't survive Darhk's masterplan unscathed. The last desperate attempt by Felicity and Noah to stop the one last nuclear missile from destroying the titular Monument Point might have saved millions but the weapon still found a target, destroying a small town and killing thousands. Lyla argued that Felicity saved a lot of people but failing to stop the missile is sure to haunt her. And I am intrigued to see if the show deals with the ramifications of a Russian nuclear missile detonating on US soil.
Monument Point didn't pull any punches with its bold ending and it had a great pace throughout - the frustrating, unnecessary flashbacks aside. The return of Anarky didn't offer anything (cool fight with Thea aside) an the death of Alex didn't pack enough of a punch. And while contrived, the heist sequence in Palmer Technologies were a lot of fun. Now that Genesis has seemingly been foiled, just what the final two episodes will bring remains an intriguing mystery. But judging by the super-powered glowing Dahrk at the end, it can't be good for our heroes.