Arrow Review: “Darkness On The Edge Of Town” (Season 1, Episode 22)

John Barrowman in Arrow
You know who wasn’t asking for it? Walter Steele, with “it” in this case standing for “being detained and tortured for six months by your wife’s terrorist conspiracy.” Always a man of old empire class, Walter feigns relief at being back home with Moira, before serving her some hard truths, and papers (the businesslike manner in which he hands her the divorce docs is both hilarious, and extremely sad). Moira’s losing more and more with each inch of her secret life that slips through her fingers, and Oliver’s the one pulling the other end. Faking being kidnapped by the vigilante forces Moira to come clean to Oliver, and Oliver could have pretended to support her, as a means to establish trust. Instead, he spits Moira’s apologies back at her, unleashing some of the pent-up anger he felt after discovering the truth last week.

More and more, I’m worried the “with” on Susanna Thompson’s credit line is a sword hanging over Moira’s head. Oliver will need a reason to keep on keeping on in the vigilante business after next week. If he does manage to stop The Undertaking, and right his father’s wrongs, perhaps the loss of another parent will be the fuel for his future crime-fighting. Oliver will never give up The Hood persona until he can learn to forgive himself, as the crusades many of Arrow’s characters set themselves to are just distractions from their real emotional problems. Detective Lance chases the vigilante to kill time in his lonely, alcoholic, corrupt existence, just as Roy wants to learn from the vigilante how to armor himself, even if that means pushing away the one person who wants to bring him back into the world.

Oliver is the lynchpin holding the motivations of many characters, but even his are the product of another: Malcolm, whose obsession with destroying the Glades kicked this madness into motion in the first place. So why then, at the moment of his triumph, does Malcolm seem scared at the prospect of Oliver being The Hood? Both men discover the other’s identity within moments of each other, but react differently: Oliver sticks to the mission, trying (and failing) to kill his best friend’s father, but Malcolm looks like his world’s been shaken up ahead of schedule. What does he know that we don’t? While this week wasn’t Arrow at its most graceful, it does leave you with one hell of a tease for next week.

That perhaps means a bit of handwringing is warranted, considering next week has just as much time to tie up the season’s plots as “Darkness on the Edge of Town” had to leave them dangling off a cliff. But there’s one important note I neglected to mention about what made these last two episodes of Arrow memorable: there were no new major characters, or additions to be made in either week. Every conversation, action and choice was the product of the show’s slow build to this moment, The Undertaking, and everyone worth caring about is being drawn into the coming calamity. Unidac Industries didn’t invent an earthquake machine: they created a black hole…and Malcolm Merlyn is right at the center of it.

  • Stray Thoughts

-Island Update: *DEEP BREATH IN* So Fyres is using his anti-aircraft gun to shoot down commercial planes out of China to destabilize its economy and is using Yao Fei to take the fall by making him appear as an ex-nationalist radical so that Fyre’s mysterious backers will get rich and also the head of the mysterious backers looks like a woman and also the guy in the cave Oliver abandoned was working for Fyres but Oliver has a knife so maybe they’ll escape next week *DEEP BREATH IN*. Yeah, there was a lot to get through this week, hence the awkward insertion of each flashback.

-Slade gets shot in the leg, Shado gets a bullet in the shoulder, Yao Fei gets one to the skull, and Oliver gets punched. Fyres knows how to distribute punishment according to ranking of badass-ness.

-Another banger night for Emily Bett Rickards, though Amell gets the biggest laugh with a quick smack to a douchebag’s stack of papers. That, and introducing himself to Roy as “Thea’s disapproving older brother.”

-Computer guy at the SCPD (which Mad Men reviews always make me spell as SCDP) is able to pin Felicity to a hacking attempt on the Merlyn mainframe. Can no one get a break this week?

-While watching Malcolm in the final scene, I wrote down the following: Daleks Luthor. I don’t know why I decided to share that just now, but it’s probably a sign that I should go to bed.