ARROW Mid-Season Finale Review: Dark Waters Puts Felicity’s Life on the Line
By Justin Carter
In the season premiere of Arrow, we got a glimpse of Oliver and Barry standing at a grave. For weeks, the mystery of who’s six feet under has been quietly looming in the background, and the mid-season finale finally answers that question. Would it be Diggle? Laurel? Thea? Lance?
The solution that “Dark Waters” comes up with is to let Damien Darhk come at Oliver and crew with no restraints, and it’s actually pretty fun. The “previously on” segment ends with Oliver looking at the grave to tip viewers off to be watchful for any signs of a character biting, of which there are many. A lot of this is due to the fact that Damien Darhk is actually attacking Oliver Queen and friends instead of going after Team Arrow. While Slade Wilson and Ra’s al Ghul weren’t any slouches to attacking Oliver outside of the hood, they were both fully aware that they were attacking one person and trying to get under his skin on two fronts.
Darhk’s just pissed at Ollie without knowing that he’s causing him double the headaches, and open defiance is enough for him to just decide to call in a drone to attack a bunch of civilians. Not being in on Oliver’s secret may actually be in the show’s best interest, as Darhk kidnapping Thea, Felicity, and Diggle to kill them via gas chamber isn’t so much him trying to draw out the Green Arrow as it is punishing Oliver for showing his face on national TV. Neal McDonough also being just a lot of fun in the role is noteworthy, but this episode feels like it’s him with the gloves off, and it’s great.
What certainly also helps is that leading up to the episode’s end are scenes that deliberately feel like they’re ending the arcs for certain characters. Admittedly, they’re probably a bit more heavy handed than they need to be, but not every show needs to blindside you like Walking Dead does. Laurel is aware that Lance is a double (triple?) agent for Darhk and Oliver, telling him before their rescue mission that it’s her decision to go out there and save their friends, while he flat out states that he’d lose it if she died. Diggle gets some time in with his brother to air out more of his grievances, and even Malcolm shows up to help save his daughter by donning the Green Arrow costume and face off with Darhk, which was going the latter’s way long enough for me to think Malcolm could end up dead dead this time. But instead of him, our victim is none other than…Felicity Smoak.
Well, maybe. She’s bleeding from gunshot wounds by the episode’s end, but the preview makes it clear that she could end up pulling through. I pointed out way back in the review of the season opener that her being dead would feel way too obvious, and I’m still thinking this is just a fakeout. Fridging, the term where a comic book has a typically female character killed to hurt the male character emotionally, is admittedly nothing new for this series. We’ve seen it twice in season two with Moira and Shado, and with Thea last year, though that one obviously didn’t take. Even though she’s kidnapped by Darhk midway through the episode and she declares to Oliver that he’s not her boss and she makes her own choices, Felicity’s demise would still basically be just for his pain and not because of some big sacrifice.
Which isn’t to say that the moment where Oliver and Felicity’s limo getting boxed in by the Ghosts wasn’t a legitimately well done scene. It definitely made me think that they’d get out of it unscathed, but that clearly wasn’t the case. It certainly wouldn’t be a day in the life of Oliver Queen if he wasn’t in mortal danger, but if this is indeed Felicity’s last hurrah, the show at least did its best in this week and last to show them at their best and worst, bringing back Mama Smoak so both women can find Oliver’s engagement ring and lead to some funny freakout moments with Felicity. It’s sometimes easy to take for granted the energy that Felicity brings to things, which is a gift in and of itself during the holidays. If Arrow is serious about killing her off, the new year may be more grim than expected.
- Malcolm’s “I’m Ra’s al Ghul” line should definitely be used more often, because that amount of snark was just perfect.
- If Felicity is indeed dead, then we’ll be missing out on lots of comedic material with her mom and Lance dating, and that just won’t do for me.
- Given how not very merry and cheery this holiday episode was (and the juxtaposition at the end of cheery Christmas music with violence), you could’ve told me this episode was written by Shane Black, and I would’ve believed you.
- HIVE’s Genesis project has to do with starting a new world, right? Maybe destroying Star City to rebuild it from the ground up with compliant citizens?
- Arrow returns on January 20, where we’ll learn if Felicity makes it or not. Cross your fingers!