TV Recaps

‘Arrow’ Review: ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ raises ALL the stakes

A lot went down on Arrow last night. The cast and producers promised the audience that “Darkness on the Edge of Town” would feel like a season finale, even though it was the penultimate episode, and the episode more than delivered. It was filled with action, secrets coming to light, a breakup, a death and a surprising core relationship development.

The episode began with Malcolm suited up in his Dark Archer gear, taking care of what he perceived to be loose ends. Basically, he murdered everyone working in the lab that had designed his earthquake machine. This led to some nice quips later from Detective Lance, who appreciated that the archers used different arrow colors (Malcolm’s are black) to make it easier to distinguish between them, but he didn’t understand why the bad guy would go after “a bunch of lab nerds.”

Oliver wanted answers from his mother, but she blew him off and then when he finally cornered her, someone broke into the house and hit them both with knockout darts. Oliver and Moira found themselves tied to chairs in a warehouse with an archer looming over them. Admittedly, when I saw the stills of this scene, I assumed Malcolm had discovered Moira’s deceit and kidnapped them, but it was actually Dig, wearing Oliver’s gear. Well played, show.

Photo Credit: The CW
Photo Credit: The CW

Moira gave them the answers they wanted and Oliver was thoroughly disgusted with his mother. But as he plotted with Dig and Felicity, he didn’t put together the fact that Malcolm and the Dark Archer were one in the same, so I had to take away some points for that. However, the next scene was so damn cool that all was forgiven. There’s no way my retelling of it will do it justice, but I’m going to give it my best shot.

Felicity needed to get into Merlyn Global to hack into their mainframe. So Dig posed as a security guard, Felicity put on a Belly Burger’s uniform to deliver his lunch and Oliver set up a meeting with Tommy. As Felicity and Oliver stepped into the elevator together, someone else got in and Oliver literally pushed his stuff out of his hands so he’d be forced to step out. Since Dig could only get them so high without being seen, Oliver and Felicity had to climb out of the car and swing across the open shaft.

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Photo Credit: The CW

Okay, full disclosure: I refuse to ship Oliver and Felicity as a couple. Yes, they have chemistry, but there’s no way a relationship with Oliver doesn’t end really badly for Felicity. Plus, I like their friendship/team dynamic and don’t want to see that ruined. Anyway, their scenes are still the best because Felicity has the greatest lines and when she tells Oliver that she imagined him saying “hold me tight” in a different, platonic setting, it was perfect. Felicity went to the computer room, Oliver and Tommy had a brief fight about Laurel (aka the show is slowly making Tommy darker) and then Oliver headed out, intercepting Malcolm to keep him from discovering Felicity.

But Oliver was forced to ride the elevator down to the lobby with him and before he could go back up to get the girl, he ran into Thea. She explained that she was there with Roy because they were following a lead on the vigilante. Needless to say, Oliver was not okay with that and he gave Roy one of those handshakes that only fathers, big brothers and jealous men can pull off. He sent Roy and Thea out of there while Dig raced to help Felicity, who had been busted by the other guard. Dig explained that she was some bimbo Tommy slept with and as he hauled her out, Felicity shouted, “But I love him! He’s my man!” Everything about this sequence was perfection.

Thea and Roy returned to his place and he implied Oliver was a wimp, which did not sit well with Thea. She echoed her brother’s sentiment and suggested he back off the search, but Roy adamantly reminded her that he’s lost too many people and he refuses to lose anyone else. This whole conversation made me nervous because it felt like foreshadowing. I hope I’m wrong because I will be very, very angry if Thea dies in the finale so that Roy and Oliver work together to avenge her next season.

When Thea headed home, she walked in just after Walter finished giving Moira divorce papers. She begged him to reconsider, but Walter pointed out that he could put two and two together and it wasn’t a coincidence that he was kidnapped right after she warned him to stop looking into things. He gave Thea a hug and then left. I like Walter, but I can’t blame him for wanting to get as far away from this toxic family as possible.

Photo Credit: The CW
Photo Credit: The CW

Laurel, on the other hand, was looking to rekindle things with Oliver. Early in the episode, she stopped by the club and told him that she still had feelings for him too and wanted to give it another try. But Oliver was still trying to bring down bad guys and he told her that he hadn’t changed at all and then left her standing there alone (ouch). Later, Laurel admitted to her father that she wanted Oliver back and she waited for him to lecture her, but the detective agreed that Oliver was a different person since he’d come back (Yet he still disapproves of Tommy…just in case anyone has missed the 47 other anvils that he’s about to turn evil).

Felicity was working on using her bug at Merlyn Global to figure out where the earthquake device was being kept. Oliver surprised Dig when he hinted that he would give up being the vigilante once they stopped The Undertaking. Dig attempted to argue, but Oliver pointed out that this was the mission his father had given him and he was almost finished with it. That seemed to give him the push he needed and then he headed over to Laurel’s to proclaim that he was the most important person in his life. This led to clothes coming off as he carried her to the bedroom and Tommy watched them through the window from the street.

This whole scene surprised me. Not the part about Tommy being a creeper; the series has been pushing him toward the dark side for a while now so of course he got to witness Oliver and Laurel’s reunion firsthand (Also, can we talk about how hard I rolled my eyes when he used the phrase ‘Why so serious?’ earlier? Come on, show). But I really did not expect Oliver and Laurel to admit their feelings and sleep together so soon. It defies all drama series logic where the main pairing needs to be dragged out forever. The show gets major points for this one and not just because I’m one of the few people who wants Oliver and Laurel together. This was unexpected and it’s not often TV surprises me.

Photo Credit: The CW
Photo Credit: The CW

But we all know it’s not going to last and the next scene gave us a hint as to what’s going to come between them. Dig called Oliver to let him know they’d found the device’s location. Oliver told Dig to go for the device and he would go after Malcolm. So he left without saying anything to Laurel (So obviously when she wakes up alone in the morning, she’ll assume Oliver freaked out and didn’t mean anything he said and we’ll be right back to romantic tension) and he suited up and headed to Merlyn Global to give Malcolm the “You have failed this city” speech.

Malcolm wasn’t impressed by the hood’s appearance and when Oliver fired an arrow at his chest, Malcolm caught it (THAT was impressive. Clark caught one of Ollie’s arrows on Smallville once, but he was made of steel. Malcolm is just super strong). He and Oliver got into a physical fight after Malcolm had some nice quips about how he’d almost killed Oliver the first time they met and then Oliver had saved him and now he was there to kill him and it was hard to keep up. Malcolm got the upper hand and immediately checked to see who was under the hood. He was stunned and very upset to realize it was Oliver (bad guys have feelings too).

A quick check to what was happening on the island in this episode: Fyers had Oliver, Slade and Shado brought to his camp and explained that his plan was for Yao Fei to take responsibility for the act of terrorism he was about to commit as he plotted to shoot down a Ferris passenger jet so it would make China look bad and cripple their economy. We got a glimpse of his boss; or we got a glimpse of her legs and high heels. Yao Fei was not okay with taking the rap so Fyers shot Oliver and Shado until he changed his mind. He managed to slip Oliver a knife before he changed into uniform and went in front of the camera to make his statement. As soon as he was finished, Fyers shot him between the eyes.

In case you couldn’t tell from all of that, this was a fantastic episode from start to finish and I hope the finale lives up to its awesomeness. It seems to be setting up the final showdown between Oliver and the Dark Archer (or at least this version of the Dark Archer) because I don’t see how Malcolm can survive after learning Oliver’s identity. Plus, he’s killed a lot of people and Oliver knows it so it’s not like he can just go back to being a CEO. Hit the comments below and tell us your finale theories. I’ll see you next week…

About the author

Mandy Treccia

Mandy Treccia has served as TVSource Magazine’s Executive Editor since 2016, formerly as Editorial Director from 2012-2016. She is an avid TV watcher and card carrying fan girl prone to sudden bursts of emotion, ranging from extreme excitement to blind rage during her favorite shows and has on more than once occasion considered having a paper bag on hand to get her through some tough TV moments. Her taste in TV tends to rival that of a thirteen-year-old girl, but she’s okay with that. Follow her on Twitter at @SourceMandy.

  • BobSmith111

    I like how the show has been progressing with Laurel and Oliver, and I can’t wait to see more of the Dark Archer versus Arrow in the finale! I can’t seem to live without Arrow, and because I work at DISH was thrilled to get my hands on a Hopper when it was released, and I’ve been happy with it as my DVR ever since. I really enjoy how I can use my DISH Hopper to record up to six shows at once during primetime hours. I use this technology to help minimize my personal DVR conflicts, so that I won’t miss episodes of Arrow.