Season 4 of Arrow began with a flash forward to a funeral, where a bereaved Oliver made a vow next to a mystery grave to take vengeance on Darhk. Fans spent the next few months trying to figure out who it was that Ollie had lost. The midseason finale had us all but convinced that it was Felicity but she survived Darhk’s attempt on her life, although she was temporarily paralysed until a particularly bad dues ex machina device rendered the whole storyline moot. Chief Lance was the next most likely candidate, having recently testified against Darhk in court. But Lance’s punishment would be far worse than death as this week the mystery was finally solved and we said goodbye to a member of Team Arrow.
Last week it was revealed that Darhk still considered Andy Diggle to be his secret weapon, a fact that was all but confirmed by his clandestine meeting with Merlyn. It looks all the more suspicious when John catches him rooting through his safe. Andy “comes clean” with his brother admitting that Merlyn wants him to steal some missiles for Darhk. Dig tries to convince Olli that Andy could be used as a double agent, but Olli’s gut tells him that something isn’t right. Before they can discuss this Ollie must first attend Ruvé Adams acceptance speech where he discovers that he received 48% of the vote despite pulling out of the mayoral race. It comes as even more of a surprise when Adams asks Laurel to be her new DA.
While Team Arrow intercepts Merlyn’s missile robbery, Thea and Laurel stay back at the base where they are attacked by Merlyn and his assassins. Thea tries to fight off her father but Merlyn easily subdues her and is able to make off with Darhk’s idol. Merlyn delivers the idol to Darhk who reveals that it is missing a piece and is therefore totally useless to him. Ollie suspects that the missile robbery was just a distraction. Despite Andy having earlier taken an arrow for him, he still doesn’t trust him. He follows Andy to Diggle’s home where he catches him searching for the missing piece of the idol. Ollie tries to interrogate Andy but Dig walks in on them, he argues with Ollie and refuses to accept that his brother is a traitor.
Back at the Prison Darhk leads a mass break out, killing several guards and taking the rest hostage in an attempt to draw out the Green Arrow. After a conversation with Ollie, Laurel decides to hang up her mask and fight crime as the DA rather than Black Canary. She claims that this will be her last mission with Team Arrow. Ollie still doesn’t trust Andy, but time is of the essence and the gang storms the prison after the suspended Chief Lance creates a distraction by punching his replacement. They battle their way through the prison in a series of impressively choreographed fight scenes that unfortunately feel a little bit low budget in the wake of Daredevil, finally reaching Darhk who forces them to drop their weapons after drawing a gun on Andy.
Ollie’s instincts turn out to be right as Andy betrays them, giving the missing piece of the idol to Darhk. Darhk repairs the idol and kills some of the prisoners, absorbing their souls to replenish his power. He uses his magic to trap the entire team, freezing them all on the spot. Through sheer will power alone Ollie is able to fire off one arrow which Darhk easily catches. He reveals that Andy was always working for him and that he has known their real identities for quite some time. Darhk taunts Ollie then proceeds to act on his threat to Lance by stabbing Laurel with the arrow. Ollie rushes Laurel to the hospital allowing Darhk to make his escape with the idol and several inmates.
The team gathers in the hospital, Dig is particularly tormented as he blames himself for Andy’s actions. Against all the odds Laurel appears to be pulling through, she speaks with Ollie and tells him that despite everything he will always be her one true love. She asks Ollie to make her a promise, we don’t hear the vow but moments later Laurel goes into cardiac arrest and the EMTs are unable to revive her. In shock, Ollie wanders out into the hallway where he sees Chief Lance who collapses in horror when he realises that his daughter is gone. Darhk truly was a man of his word, he promised Lance that he would take his daughter away from him and that was exactly what he did.
After a run of fairly mediocre episodes this was a strong offering from Arrow. While the hospital scenes veered unabashedly into soap opera territory, it still managed to deliver a solid emotional punch. Laurel has often been the most unpopular character on the show but the impact of her death felt tenable. The flashback sequences helped to highlight the importance of Laurel to Ollie during his early days on the island and to showcase how he lost a large chunk of his humanity when he let her go. Taiana was shocked at the ease with which Ollie was willing to kill Reiter’s men before using Reiter’s own C4 to trap him in the tunnel. Of course with his own fully charged idol it is doubtless the last we will see of him.
Dead rarely means dead in the DC/CW universe and it seems unlikely that Arrow will be without its Black Canary for very long with time travel, the multiverse and magic all in play. Any attempt to bring back Laurel would seriously detract from the impact of her death, but it isn’t too much of a stretch to imagine that it will happen sooner rather than later. As is often the case with Arrow the flashbacks are starting to lag and it feels like the show would benefit from using them occasionally rather than in every episode. But season 4 continues to be a vast improvement on season 3 thanks in no small part to the incredible presence of Damian Darhk. A charismatic villain makes all the difference, but has he finally pushed our hero too far?
POINTS OF INTEREST
- It seems likely that Baron Reiter is in some way linked to H.I.V.E and even if Ollie kills him in the past I wouldn’t be surprised to see him turn up in the current timeline.
- Malcolm still believes he is doing right by his daughter, helping Darhk so they will both be spared from Genesis. Of course Genesis is only happening because he helped Darhk, idiot.
- This is technically the third time that Olli has cost Chief Lance a daughter, a fact that probably won’t be lost on Quentin.
- Taiana made Ollie promise to contact her family in Russia if she didn’t make it off of the island, could this be how Ollie gains his connections to the Russian mafia?