WARNING: MASSIVE spoilers ahead for Arrow Episode 21 "Monument Point." Do not proceed unless you have seen the episode!
After focusing primarily on Diggle’s personal family issues in last week's episode, Arrow kicked things up twenty notches this week and then proceeded to set the whole Arrowverse alight with the most explosive episode of the season yet.
By their very nature, comic book shows must regularly raise the stakes, putting both their heroes and innocent parties in potentially lethal situations (we're still upset about Laurel), but few would ever dare to venture as far as the team behind Arrow did this week, killing tens of thousands in a nuclear explosion.
Bit of a far cry from the early days of Ollie scrapping on rooftops.
Suffice to say, the ramifications of Darhk’s Genesis plan will be felt for a long time coming, both on a personal level for our heroes and throughout the Arrowverse as a whole.
All is not lost though, as it looks like DC might be setting us up for a revival sooner than we think.
While the show should be applauded for taking such a bold step before we’ve even reached the final episode, there were a lot of other great moments in "Monument Point" that set it apart as a clear season highlight. Take a look at some of the best:
1. The Flashbacks Didn’t Suck!
When Arrow first premiered, the flashback structure made perfect sense, exploring Oliver Queen’s mysterious past on the island while differentiating the show from less mature fare like Smallville. However, the format grew old fast and four seasons later, the flashbacks became nothing more than a handy toilet break for viewers watching at home.
This week though, the flashbacks worked better than they have in a long time and this is because the events of the past actually tied into the modern day story for a change. As Oliver and Taiana finally escaped the clutches of Baron Reiter with the Idol in tow, the talisman's dark magic began to take hold of Taiana — which probably doesn't bode well for her in the coming episodes.
2. Anarky Returns
The action in "Monument Point" also received an upgrade this week. The flips and falls our heroes took more closely resembled the likes of Marvel's Daredevil in places, despite the show's tighter budget, culminating in an impressive final fight between Thea and Lonnie Machin (Anarky).
Primarily a Batman villain in the comics, Anarky struck a chord with fans at the beginning of the season last year and his return here fleshed out what could have been a potentially dull subplot between Thea and Alex as they struggle to escape whatever the hell that Hunger Games-style dome is called.
The choreography of the staff fight between Thea and Anarky was perfectly executed, but perhaps the best thing about that entire scene was the potential death of Alex. His romantic ties with Thea never felt entirely genuine and lord knows she hasn't experienced enough trauma and death in her life already.
3. Why Have One Villain When You Can Have Five?
As if the the return of Anarky and the pending threat of Damien Darhk wasn't enough, this week also saw the return of Murmur and Brick as they hunted down the Calculator to stop him from preventing a nuclear holocaust.
While it could be hard to take someone named after a Casio too seriously, Noah Kuttler's performance impressed this week, particularly when working alongside his onscreen daughter Felicity. The two share a strong chemistry that adds another dimension to Felicity's character outside of her general moping for Ollie.
Murmur and Vinnie Jones's Brick may have received less screen time than usual, but it's a credit to director Kevin Tancharoen that he still successfully juggled this episodes huge cast of characters and arguably far better than the more seasoned filmmaker Kevin Smith on this weeks episode of The Flash.
4. Cracking One-Liners
Despite the heavy villain count and that whole nuclear explosion thing, Monument Point also contained some of the funniest one-liners of the season so far, balancing light and dark in a way that the DCEU could certainly take some tips from.
Much of the humor this week arose from Anarky's strange interactions with Thea, who easily wins the award for most awkward pun this week:
“Thea. You’re not a pawn…you’re a Queen...Get it?”
Yes, Lonnie. We get it.
Between that and his bizarre need to call Thea "Mommy" every two minutes, Anarky certainly made his mark on this week's episode.
However, the funniest moment of "Monument Point" belongs to the usually serious Lyla, who sums up the teams predicament with perfect accuracy:
“The fate of the world is resting in the hands of an IT girl, a criminal, and two guys in Halloween costumes.”
Green Arrow's response?
“They’re not Halloween costumes.”
It turns out even Ollie can crack a smile every now and again — sort of.
5. Don't Forget The Little Guys!
In all of the commotion this week, it could have been easy to overlook the supporting cast, but "Monument Point" also contained a few great scenes between Quentin Lance and Felicity's mother Donna as they struggle to deal with the legal repercussions of Laurel's death.
Donna usually brings some much-needed comic relief to the grim world of Arrow, but in this episode, actress Charlotte Ross reminded us that she's far more than just a ditzy blond and is capable of delivering strong performances in emotional scenes too.
6. Things Will Never Be The Same Again
Obviously, the ramifications from the nuclear strike on Havenrock are huge. By redirecting the missile to a less crowded area, Felicity may have saved the lives of millions, but thousands still died and this will take a huge toll on her in the coming episodes — unless of course the town was miraculously evacuated minutes before by the Flash.
If that happens, then the fan outrage will make Barry Allen wish he'd stayed in the Speed Force for longer.
As if the nuclear explosion wasn't climactic enough, the end of "Monument Point" also saw Spartan and Green Arrow discover Darhk in his secret lair, now imbued with godlike power. Ollie usually struggles to get even one shot in before Darhk wipes the floor with him, so everyone's favorite archer will certainly have his work cut out for him when Arrow returns next Wednesday.
Easter Egg Bonus
Aside from the return of villains like Murmur and Anarky, the most obscure Easter Egg to be found in this week's episode is a specific DC location that plays an important role in the comics.
The island of Corto Maltese was first mentioned in Season 1 of Arrow and then cropped up again unsurprisingly in the Season 3 episode titled "Corto Maltese." In Frank Miller's iconic graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns, this location became the focal point for a missile crisis involving the Soviets —
The Soviets have played an important role on Arrow before, most prominently through the character of KGBeast, who was heavily involved in Season 2, so there's a chance that he could crop up once again, linked directly with the island.