For being a comic show and especially since resurrection became a thing, Arrow has been criticized for being light on consequences. Yet let's not forget that the show has never shied away significant collateral damage, especially in its bigger episodes. Back in Season 1, although The Undertaking was thwarted over, 500 people still died in The Glades as a result of the artificial earthquake. In Season 2, despite Slade Wilson being defeated, there were no shortage of innocent casualties when his Mirakuru army took the city. This week Arrow presents its biggest ever stakes with a planet-wide nuclear strike in the works. You could be sceptical and say “it’s a comic show, nothing will actually happen” but you should be thinking, “This is Arrow... something could happen”.
Monument Point – Damien Darhk uses the Rubicon program to take over every nuclear silo on the planet, giving the team just 21 hours to prevent Judgement Day. When the program is beyond Felicity’s expertise, she reluctantly calls upon the one man she knows can hack it: her father, The Calculator. Meanwhile, Thea is stuck is Hive’s new beginning biosphere and Anarky is crashing the party.
There’s no hanging about this week, this is a very busy episode and with busy comes the danger of rushing. That is the case in some places, most notably around Vinnie Jones returning as Brick having being busted from Iron Heights. Jones delivered one of the best guest villain performances the show has ever produced in last season’s “Canary Trilogy” of episodes so his comeback here should be a triumphant one. Yet because of everything else in play, he feels far too smaller part of the episode and would have been better saved for returning in a bigger capacity another time. The same can be said for Anarky’s comeback. While his fight sequences with Thea are impressive and his mildly demented “mommy” dialogue oddly enjoyable, he takes up a much smaller part of the episode than he deserves. Really he’s just there to give Thea something to do other than getting bored in captivity. In fact, that wasn’t even required as throwing Merlyn in there with her provides plenty of material for the two to hash out over Merlyn siding with Darhk just to get the two of the under the dome of safety.
However, although some parts are rushed and under-featured, the main story itself is actually excellent. The simple ticking clock setup gives things a nice sense of urgency. Then the emotional angles of Felicity's father-and-daughter arc are highly effective in casting Noah/The Calculator in a different light: that he maybe a criminal but he is not a villain. He wants to live and steal within the world, having no interest in its destruction. His final conversation with Oliver is particularly good as it reflects on having to choose between being the father and the hacker because he knew he could never be both in the same Oliver has lost Felicity by trying to be both Oliver Queen and The Green Arrow. The main story also has a lot of great action to it from the smaller scale fights to the larger scale siege finale. Director Kevin Tancharoen gives us a lot of bang for buck from the team members bashing through henchmen ranks to bigger one on one show downs between Oliver and Brick. The episode and events conclude with a clear feeling of consequences.
With so much going on in the present day, the episode would have been forgiven for dropping the flashbacks but it is surprisingly stronger for keeping them in as their action content supports the theme of conflict in present day, and the faceoff between Oliver and Reiter adds greater meaning to the episode’s final scene --another good inclusion is the Quentin and Donna story. We really don’t get to see enough of them together these days, and even more rarely, they're included for dramatic purposes rather than comic relief. If anything, their scenes this week solidify the pair as a couple by showing that they are stronger together. Although it leaves Quentin’s future unclear, there is a lot to love about him refusing an as easy way back into his old job. by discrediting the actions of his daughter. In life or death, he remains a proud father. In terms of Quentin’s futur,e we could very well see him back within Star City Police. The idea of Oliver eventually becoming Mayor next season has already been teased and that will probably let him appoint Quentin as Police Chief.
Similarly, to The Flash this week, this is a very successful episode of escalation. Its events are big in scale with an aftermath that will be interesting to explore and it leaves the cast poised for climactic battle with a super powered Damien Darhk. This time, last year Arrow gave us one of its worst ever episodes and left us worried about the following 2 weeks. What a difference a year has made.
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