Arrow “Dark Waters” Review (Season 4, Episode 9)

Oliver’s war with Damien Darhk came to a very violent, very deadly head in the Arrow mid-season finale. For most of this season, Darhk has been the presence looming in the background working on some as yet unnamed horrible scheme that will destroy what’s left of Starling City. I suppose a part of that plan is making sure that the city is so socially and economically destroyed that it won’t matter what happens to the city physically. As I’ve said many times before, I haven’t read any of the Green Arrow comics, so I don’t know the significance of the gas and the corn Darhk was growing. At least, not outside the context of the show, but Darhk was willing to kill Oliver and a whole bunch of other innocent people just to make sure that super special algae could continue growing in Starling City Bay. That must be some seriously awesome algae. My primary issue with Darhk is that I don’t understand the necessity of having Oliver (or whoever the next mayor is) get on board with his plan. Darhk has apparently been able to accomplish his goals without the city leadership up to this point, so what’s changed? Why is it suddenly so mandatory for city leadership to let Darhk do whatever he wants? Hasn’t he been doing that all along anyway?

It was pretty much a foregone conclusion that as soon as Oliver blasted Darhk on the evening news, Darhk was going to retaliate in the most public and painful way possible. With Felicity, Thea, and Dig in jeopardy, Oliver’s head was even more out of the game than it has been lately. He was especially worried about Felicity, and I can’t say I blame him. In addition to being in love with Felicity, Oliver knows that Felicity hasn’t been trained the way that Thea and Dig have been trained. So even though he was definitely worried about them too, Felicity was his primary focus. The thing that Oliver doesn’t seem to realize, though, is that Felicity is a fighter. She’s always been a fighter, and she always rises to the occasion. No. She’s not particularly skilled in hand-to-hand combat, but she has other strengths that she’s not shy about using to her advantage. The fact that a lot of bad guys view her as a non-threat has actually worked to her advantage on several occasions.

Laurel finally discovered Captain Lance’s involvement with Damien Darhk, and she was none too pleased. She got all bent out of shape not just because Lance was working with Darhk but because he didn’t tell her he was working with Darhk. Laurel has pretty much lost the moral high ground when it comes to keeping secrets, but I’m just going to let that go. The important thing here was Laurel trying to make her father stop protecting her. Obviously, Laurel is not a parent. It doesn’t matter how old your children are, they will always be your children. As a parent, the willingness to do whatever you feel you must to protect your child doesn’t just go away because the kid turns 18 and thinks they’re grown. This is especially true in Captain Lance’s case because he’s already lost one child. His instinct and drive to protect his other child would quite understandably be much stronger. Laurel was right about one thing though. Lance has done things that he will never forgive himself for, and even though he may justify it to himself that he was doing it to protect his kid, it still doesn’t change what he’s done. Nor does it change how many people were hurt because of choices he made.

It seems that Dig has completely given up on Andy now. For a while it looked like he was trying to dig deep and find the Andy that he knew, but Dig seems to have accepted that that Andy is gone. The crazy thing is, Andy seems to be working very hard to make sure Dig comes to that conclusion. Andy keeps telling Dig that his brother is gone and to stop trying to bring him back, but I’m not sure I’m quite ready to believe that just yet. It feels like Andy is putting on a front and trying to hold out until Dig give up. But why? Maybe it’s true and maybe Andy has joined the Cult of Darhk. Maybe he’s one of those believers that Darhk was keeping in those cages in his lair. But if that’s the case, why was he trying to spare Dig’s life when Oliver and Dig attacked Darhk a little while ago? Was he trying to save Dig just to recruit him into the cult? I’m not sure. But I do think Andy knows a whole lot more than he’s saying, and maybe his silence is a means of protecting Dig from whatever Darhk has planned.

As mid-season finale’s go, this was kind of weak. That’s not to say it was a bad episode overall because it wasn’t. It just felt more like a weekly episode than a mid-season finale because it was missing the emotional gut punch. Last season’s mid-season finale had such an impact because we spent a lot of time working up to that confrontation between Oliver and Ras. This season, we haven’t spent enough time with Arrow. The CW is trying to do for television heroes what Marvel did for movie heroes, and I applaud them for it. The problem for Arrow, though, is the fact that it’s spent the majority of this season serving as a springboard for The CW’s other comic book pursuits and neglecting its own stories. We haven’t spent enough time developing the animosity between Darhk and Oliver for Darhk’s display to be as emotionally effective as it could have been. We haven’t spent enough time figuring out what Darhk’s evil scheme is for it to create any sort of anxiety or urgency. We haven’t spent enough time with Dig trying to get through to Andy for that to have as much of an impact as it could have. We just haven’t spent enough time developing this season’s stories for this mid-season finale to be as strong as it could have been. I will admit, though, that Felicity getting shot and bleeding out in Oliver’s arms did hurt. It wasn’t unexpected, but that didn’t make it hurt any less. And I just want to go on record as saying that if Felicity is gone, I’m gonna be super mad. She’s my favorite and if they don’t figure out how to save her and/or bring her back, I may never forgive the show. Arrow is on a break until January, so we’ll just have to see how all of this plays out then. So what did y’all think of the Arrow mid-season finale?