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ARROW “Genesis” Recap: Oliver Takes Self Loathing to a New Level

By on May 5, 2016

Pictured: David Ramsey as John Diggle -- Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW

By Justin Carter

Arrow’s been talking a big game this season about “the darkness,” that force inside everyone that compels them to do bad things. As Star Wars has shown us with the Force, everyone has both darkness and light in them; it’s just a matter of balance. There are those like Felicity who don’t really have a mean bone in their body, and are filled to the brim with love. Guys like Malcolm Merlyn and Nyssa al Ghul clearly have love in them, but they drown in their own despair and get others tangled in their grief. Then there’s men like Damien Darhk and Slade Wilson, who have basically gone full Palpatine and become the darkness inside themselves.

It’s easy to slot those characters in their respective alliances, but not so much with Oliver. Every time it seems like the show may be helping him get over his emotional problems, they yank that away from him to give him something new to loathe. The man clearly has a lot of love and respect for those that are part of his family — his letter to his son a month or so ago is still really well written — but the events of Lian Yu (and China, and the Amazo) have changed him in multiple ways. While it would be nice for him to get more than five minutes of actual inner peace, this week does present something of an interesting dilemma to all his self hatred; namely that he hates himself so much and has so much darkness in him that it could literally kill him.

Oliver and Felicity learn as much when they head to a casino in Hub City (or rather, Oliver goes and Felicity tags along) to pick up on a lead from Constantine. The shaman offers to train him so he can counteract Damien Dahrk’s magic, which leads to him remembering all the times that he’s failed all those he cares about and going up against mental apparitions of Darhk and Slade. The morality dilemma of these characters succumbing to their dark urges and becoming worse than the enemies they face has been explored multiple times throughout the series, most recently with Sara and Thea after they came back to life. It comes as no surprise that Oliver just accepts that he’s got so much darkness in his heart, and even less so when he manages to unlock the light in himself, so to speak, during his fight with Darhk at the end. Maybe this new light magic will lead to an Oliver that isn’t so gloomy!

Before Oliver and Felicity head out of town, the rest of the team decides to basically spend the night off, which never leads to anything good for this group of people. Diggle ends up getting jumped and kidnapped by his brother Andy, the consequences of which play out over the course of the episode. With the exception of Darhk, no one has more fully drank from the Kool-Aid than Andy, and it’s really creepy to see Eugene Byrd spout all this talk about a war coming with a dead-eyed stare.

It makes it all the more appropriate when his face changes to shock after Diggle shoots him. Logically, it’s the only way that things could’ve gone down but what makes the moment surprising in both in terms of character work and staging is that Andy is clearly goading John into doing something. (The show had staged this showdown earlier as ending with the younger Diggle captured again.) The reactions of both David Ramsey and Byrd are on point as Andy slowly bleeds out to death, displaying complete horror and shock. Arrow’s titular lead may have let go of his darkness, but for John, it’s just beginning.

Additional Notes

  • Out of everyone, Thea probably has the best time off from the heroics, at least until she learns that she’s actually spending time with her boyfriend Alex in Genesis. To best sum it up, just think of Tranquility Lane from Fallout 3, but inside a VR room.
  • Between Dahrk’s Genesis plan, Agents of SHIELD’s Hive and X-Men Apocalypse’s big world ending scheme, do comic book villains just all look at the “wipe out the world except for key individuals” playbook at the same time?
  • There are no flashbacks at all, thankfully. Can’t say I missed those all that much.
  • Rumors have been swirling around that Supergirl may make a move to the CW should it get a second season, and if that’s true, I absolutely expect for that to be some sort of three-night crossover event.
  • I’m just saying that if Phil Collins doesn’t survive Darhk’s Genesis, then they should not use that as their project name.

 

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