Arrow: 121-122 Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
There have been some big developments in Starling City over the past couple of weeks: from the revelation that ‘The Undertaking’ wasn’t always exactly what it seemed to be, to some interesting developments in the existing character dynamics.
Firstly, ‘The Undertaking’: with a considerable amount of help from Felicity, Oliver finally manages to track Walter down after basically forgetting about him for several weeks, and during his investigation he discovers Malcolm Merlyn’s involvement in the Undertaking.
Speaking of which, we discover through flashbacks that ‘the Undertaking’ was originally a benevolent organisation set up by Robert Queen to block corporate decisions that would negatively affect the Glades, but its purpose was warped by Malcolm into an attempt to level the Glades and kill everyone living there in order to cure the ‘disease’ that ails Starling City. It’s an unfortunate comparison, but what I took from the combination of Malcolm’s diabolical plan and his secret identity as the Dark Archer is that Malcolm is a mishmash of character elements from Ra’s al Ghul and Batman respectively. It’s fine to take ideas for characters from other sources, but considering the success of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, it’s only ever going to be an unfavourable comparison.
Elsewhere, Tommy tells Laurel that the reason he broke up with her was because he thinks that she belongs with Oliver. Then, when Laurel asks Oliver to talk to Tommy and tell him that there’s no way that’s the case, Oliver informs her that actually it definitely is the case. This is a fact which was obvious to LITERALLY everyone except Laurel, so it was not a surprising thing to hear.
Anyway, the final result of ‘The Undertaking’ is that Oliver has a new target in the shape of Malcolm, he reconciles with Diggle, there’s some soapy relationship guff and that Malcolm was the one who had a bomb planted on the Queen’s Gambit, leading to Robert’s death and Oliver’s subsequent shipwrecking.
Moving swiftly on to ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ (literally no idea why the episode is called that), and Malcolm’s plans are advanced: he dons his Dark Archer gear and murders a bunch of scientists working on what is later revealed to be an earthquake machine which will level the Glades. I’ll repeat that in all-caps, in case the point didn’t sink in: an EARTHQUAKE MACHINE.
So Diggle disguises himself as the vigilante and kidnaps Moira and Oliver, then punches Oliver in the head a bunch of times to draw a confession out of Moira. It works, and then the dream team of Oliver, Diggle and Felicity engage in a pretty awesome ‘heist movie’ scenario as they break into Merlyn Global to find out more about the earthquake machine (the EARTHQUAKE MACHINE!). Not only does Felicity manage to find the information, she also uploads a Trojan Horse to the Merlyn Global system just because she can. That’s the kind of awesome person Felicity Smoake is, and Quentin Lance has the nerve to ask ‘who the hell is Felicity Smoake?’. For shame, Quentin Lance, for shame.
So Oliver decides that he will hang up the bow and the hood once he has taken down Malcolm (removing the ‘disease’ rather than the ‘symptoms’, phrasing which makes him sound alarmingly similar to Malcolm talking about the city), and immediately goes and doinks Laurel while Tommy watches.
In fairness, Tommy only watches for a second, and it’s more a case of him accidentally spotting said doinking through Laurel’s apartment window while he was on his way to talk to her. Needless to say, Tommy isn’t too happy and leaves in something of a grump.
So Diggle goes to find the earthquake machine (EARTHQUAKE MACHINE) while Oliver goes to confront Malcolm. Naturally, this being the penultimate episode of the season, Malcolm has had the device moved and he subsequently kicks the ever-loving hell out of Oliver before unmasking him for a tasty little cliffhanger.
Meanwhile, on the island, Fyers reveals his plan to blow a passenger aircraft out of the sky to stop air traffic over China and destabilize the Chinese economy, then blame it on Yao Fei, whom he has dressed up in a Chinese military uniform to record a confession video. Obviously, because Fyers is a horrible bastard, he immediately shoots Yao Fei in the head once he’s finished the recording and creates the most awkward wrap party in filmmaking history.
Overall, the two episodes were a lot of fun, with the cliffhanger double-whammy of ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ going some way to cancel out the dull relationship fluff of ‘The Undertaking’. If the finale is of the same quality as ‘Darkness’, it will be a satisfying end to a slightly uneven season.