Did you catch last night's 'Arrow': 'Dark Waters'? No? Then turn back now, because I'm about to blast out some serious spoilers!
'Dark Waters' was a seriously eventful episode, guys! Arrow is back on form and we loyal fans couldn't be happier. Yes, this season's crossover event was spectacular -- thank you CW, but 'Dark Waters' was truly an episode of Arrow, amalgamating qualities which made us love the show, with new elements which are honed to perfection.
So without further unjust rambling from this humble writer, let's dive into my weekly Arrow recap and discuss why 'Dark Waters' proves Arrow is better than ever!
Arrow is back on form and better than ever!
1. Damien Darhk.
Damien Darhk, played by Neal McDonough, is the villain of Arrow: season four and plays his role as a villain to perfection. 'Dark Waters' saw mayoral candidate Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) take a stand against Darhk who responded with a bloody vengeance against team-Arrow, who Darhk believed to simply be Oliver's loved ones.
The story was spectacularly crafted, with Darhk cheerfully referring to himself as the "bad guy" during his attempt to dramatically gas Felicity, Diggle and Thea to death. Darhk also notes that gas chambers were perfected by the Nazi's: drawing parallels between himself and Adolf Hitler.
Why, might you ask, does this reflect Arrow's return to greatness? It's simple; Arrow is a comic book adaptation and works best with a charismatic villain spearheading all-out evil against the masses: Malcolm Merlyn, Slade Wilson -- both are evil, cruel and saw their own darkness as necessary!
Darhk is the villain Arrow needs -- the soulless evil to counteract Oliver's goodness and give him a reason to play the vigilante role!
2. The Diggle brothers.
"The man I knew -- pulled me out of dark waters, convinced me to keep going when I didn't see the point."
What a line, spoken by Diggle as he addressed his brother Andy through the bars of a team-Arrow cell.
It's clear that for whatever reason Andy Diggle's loyalties lie with H.I.V.E. and Damien Darhk. The symbolism of the scene is beautiful -- there are literally barriers between the Diggle brothers as they address one another from opposite sides of a moral divide: good vs. evil, light vs. dark, Queen vs. Darhk, Diggle vs. Diggle.
This scene also prompted the naming of the episode, so it's importance is clear. Andy's storyline wasn't taken much further, so know Andy will be playing a significant role in the next few episodes. I can't wait to see this one play-out.
3. Family Drama.
Let's stick with the brothers Diggle for a moment. Although the Diggle family drama exists very much within the realms of subplot, the whole story underlines exactly what made Arrow great in the first place: grounded family drama amidst an otherwise surreal narrative.
Take away the family struggles and Arrow is a surreal superhero adaptation, which is fine. However, throw in a touch of sibling rivalry, parental issues, vigilantes battling to saving-this-city... and we get Arrow!
Diggle's role was always to keep Arrow grounded, which was something we lost somewhere is season three. But Diggle is back as the grounded figure, giving David Ramsey a chance to shine creatively, and I couldn't be happier!
4. The Darhkness.
What is Arrow at it's core if not grounded, superhero melodrama? It's a hell of a show, but so far it seems season four has been struggling a little with keeping Arrow on track, until now.
'Dark Waters' highlighted that which made Arrow great: dark vs. light. Damien Darhk showed himself as dark, charismatic and evil. Arrow is meant to be grounded and dark, but this has been clouded by the larger-than-life season three, followed by Oliver Queen embracing his softer side.
However, 'Dark Waters' really showed the contrast between the calm, moralistic, sensible-in-a-crisis -- Oliver Queen and Damien darker-than-dark Darhk.
The contrast between this pair is more apparent than ever, and it really works! I look forward to seeing the grand showdown between the Green Arrow and Darhk.
5. Malcolm and Laurel vs. H.I.V.E.
Stepping back from classic-Arrow elements and plot structure, some serious credit has to be given to the combination of Malcolm Merlin and Laurel Lance. It's not a team-up I ever would have considered, but it played-out wonderfully. The duo of Merlin and Laurel (John Barrowman and Katie Cassidy, respectively) was visually brilliant.
It's rare that Black Canary features prominently, dwarfed by characters such as the Green Arrow and Diggle, but she really held her own and dominated the scene.
This was no accident, as right after kicking some serious ass, saving half the main cast and leading a charge against a small army of devout H.I.V.E. followers, she's snidely told "Is that the best you can do?" Which is immediately followed by her father arriving in force and stating "I guess you decided you didn't need anyone's protection."
He was right: perhaps Katie Cassidy's Black Canary has proven she can stand alone without a constant backdrop of allies. I think it's about time they let the Black Canary show her true potential as a hero!
Why does this prove that Arrow is better than ever? Because when Arrow's vigilantes prove they can hold their own solo, then as a team they'll truly become a force worthy of the name "team-Arrow!"