‘Arrow’ Review: “Darkness On the Edge of Town”
‘Arrow’ lets loose another episode with its twenty-second and penultimate outing of the season “Darkness On the Edge of Town,” as Oliver investigates both Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) and his mother's involvement in the Undertaking, while Thea and Roy (Colton Haynes) attempt to get close to the vigilante, and Edward Fyers reveals his past island plans.
Previous ‘Arrow’ episode “The Undertaking” saw Oliver working with Felicity to rescue the captive Walter, while flashbacks to the past reveal the mysterious Undertaking and Malcolm Merlyn’s diabolical plans. So, what does the twenty-second episode of ‘Arrow’ bring? Does it hit the same bulls-eye as the first 21 installments?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Arrow’s latest episode, “Darkness On the Edge of Town!”
Two scientists at Unidac industries arrive to a secret server room to find the Dark Archer killing Dr. Brion Markov, before devastating the room and killing them as well. Meanwhile, Diggle reports to Oliver that he’d been watching his mother for days, without finding any apparent connection to Malcolm Merlyn’s dealings. Oliver heads upstairs to find Laurel, who thinks she might return some of Oliver’s feelings, but he assures her nothing about their relationship should change.
Moira brings Walter back home from the hospital, while Thea receives a text from Roy to meet her. Oliver attempts to confront her mother about Walter’s kidnapping, getting a brush-off, as Oliver sees on the news reports of the Unidac massacre. Oliver remembers back to the island, being brought to Fyer’s tent and seeing the captive student who confronted him in the cave. Fyers reveals that he intends to use his missile launcher on a Ferris aircraft, instructing it to make a course change toward the island’s location.
Detective Lance and his partner oversee the massacre scene, suspecting it to be the work of the copycat archer, while Roy and Thea survey the investigation from a distance. Thea points out that they barely know more than the cops do, to which Roy formulates an idea off her old CNRI connections. Back at the Queen mansion, Oliver again confronts his mother about her knowledge of Walter’s kidnapping, but she repeatedly denies any involvement. Before the conversation goes any further, both Oliver and Moira are hit in in the neck with tranquilizer darts from…the Hood?
Back in flashback, Fyers explains that he plans to shoot down any flights inbound to China, crippling the nation’s economy while identifying Yao Fei as the culprit. Yao refuses to take part, until Fyers attacks Oliver and lightly shoots both Slade and Shado, wounding them. Meanwhile in the present, Thea walks through the police station and overhears that the deceased Brion Markov made several calls to Merlyn Global, connecting the Dark Archer to the company.
Oliver and Moira awaken tied to chairs in a warehouse, as the Hood (Diggle) attacks Oliver to get Moira to spill about the Undertaking. Reluctantly, she admits that Malcolm has a device that will level the Glades via earthquake, but that she only went along with his plans to protect her family after Robert Queen’s death. Diggle frees the pair, and Moira rushes to Oliver, but Oliver angrily shrugs her off. Shortly thereafter, Oliver tasks Felicity with looking into Unidac, before learning that the Dark Archer caused the massacre. Back in the past, Yao Fei slyly puts a knife in Oliver’s hand, as Fyers calls a shadowy female figure to report his progress on the plan.
While Malcolm pays an ominous visit to check up on Walter, Colin meets with Detective Lance on behalf of Merlyn Global to deny any connection to the massacre. Laurel shows up for lunch with her father, awkwardly greeting Tommy, before telling her father in confidence she might have feelings for Oliver again. Reluctantly, Lance admits that Queen has changed since returning from the island. Meanwhile at the lair, Felicity fails to hack into Merlyn Global’s computers, before Oliver comes up with an idea to infiltrate the building’s private servers with Felicity.
Oliver enters the building for a scheduled meeting with Tommy, while Felicity poses as a Big Belly delivery girl, bringing lunch to Diggle, since outfitted as a security guard. Oliver and Felicity share the elevator up toward the private floors, stopping midway and exiting the car, using one of Oliver’s grappling hooks to swing to the private entrance. Once inside, Felicity gets to work in the private server room while Oliver goes to meet with Tommy. Oliver assures Tommy that he has no intention of standing in the way of he and Laurel, as Diggle observes security approaching Felicity earlier than expected.
Oliver attempts to head them off, but finds himself distracted by Malcolm Merlyn himself, and brought down to the lobby of the building, wherein Oliver catches Thea and Roy attempting to find Merlyn Global’s connection to the vigilante. Oliver sternly warns Roy about getting his sister involved with someone so dangerous, while Felicity finishes her work and runs right into a security guard. Diggle explains her presence to the guard as one of Tommy’s jilted girlfriends, and drags her off before they arouse any further suspicion.
Back at his house, Roy shrugs off Oliver’s warning and proposes a new strategy to get close to the hood, but Thea quickly grows tired and forces him to make a choice, leading Roy to break up with her. Meanwhile at the Queen mansion, Walter presents Moira with divorce papers, having deduced the kidnapping’s relation to his earlier investigation, which Moira can’t deny. Elsewhere, Detective Lance’s subordinate fails to hack into Merlyn Global as well, but observes evidence that Felicity Smoak had attempted the same previously.
Waiting for Felicity’s findings to decode, Oliver realizes that stopping Malcolm Merlyn might be the last item of his father’s list, and therefore an end to his vigilante persona. Uncertain of the revelation, Oliver heads to Laurel’s apartment and admits his feelings once again, explaining that his reason for keeping them apart will soon be at an end. The pair get down to sexy times, unaware that Colin can see them from the street corner outside.
Hours later, Diggle calls Oliver to explain they’ve located the device, and Oliver heads out to confront Merlyn himself. Back in the past, Yao Fei records his fake confession claiming responsibility for the attacks, before Fyers coldly shoots him dead.
Diggle explores the warehouse, only to find the Markov device missing from its crate, as Oliver confronts Malcolm in his Hood guise. Malcolm insists his undertaking will cleanse the city of its worst people, but when Oliver goes to fire an arrow, Malcolm stops it in midair. Malcolm attacks, and the two share a brutal struggle that breaks Oliver’s bow, before Malcolm finally knocks Oliver out. Malcolm removes the hood to see Oliver’s face , and lets out his exasperated surprise.
Well, that certainly moved things forward, didn't it? Honestly, we're almost at a loss for things to discuss with an episode like "Darkness On the Edge of Town," which expertly balances character revelations with some intense action sequences, and plenty of fan winks and humor to satisfy even the most passive of viewers. Not only have the major secrets of the season been spilled, paving the way for some exciting climaxes in both past and present day, but the personal conflicts seem to have reached a precipice as well.
That said, we're not hugely sold on the relationship dynamics between Oliver and Laurel or even Roy and Thea for that matter, given how little time we've spent building up the romance compared to that of Laurel and Tommy. It might have been nice to give Tommy a bit more to play leading up to the finale as well, given the work Colin Donnell has been putting in all season, but next week's finale may well allay any of our concerns. 'Arrow' has been juggling a number of plates all season, and judging "Darkness" as the penultimate episode of the season, we've great faith in the final installment "Sacrifice" to deliver.
What say you? Did you feel that ‘Arrow’ hit the mark with its twenty-second episode? What did you like about “Darkness On the Edge of Town?” Join us next week for another all-new ‘Arrow’ recap of season 1 finale episode “Sacrifice” on The CW!