Arrow episode 22 review: Darkness On The Edge Of Town

The penultimate episode of Arrow's first season sets the stage for a treat of a finale. Here's Caroline's review...

This review contains spoilers.

1.22 Darkness on the Edge of Town

There’s only one week left guys, and how else could this exciting penultimate instalment end than with Oliver in some kind of dire straits? Darkness on the Edge of Town was a great example of how fun and engaging Arrow can be without the case of the week bogging it down, and included reliably entertaining elements such as a lengthy heist sequence, a face-off with the big bad and the consummation of a will they, won’t they relationship that even ardent shippers must be finding tedious. The question is what’s left for the finale?

Malcolm Merlyn/The Dark Archer returns to the A-plot this week, with the episode opening to a grisly mass murder Malcolm has staged so as to distract from his role in The Undertaking. There’s no doubt this is evildoing, and that Merlyn isn’t just planning a mass murder – he’s willing to kill just so he can pre-emptively cover his tracks. Poor Tommy has no idea what he’s gotten himself involved in and I have no doubt that, if it came to it, Malcolm would throw his own son under the bus to save his own skin.

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Oliver isn’t dealing too well with last week’s revelations, and Diggle is back on Team Arrow with little explanation. I guess they had a good talk after the credits rolled last week, since the only clue to any residual resentment are some non-pulled punches during a fake interrogation. Diggle, dressed up as The Hood for Moira’s benefit, attempts to pull some useful information from Mrs Queen by pummelling her son in front of her. It’s a clever plan, and one that nicely mirrors her own tactics at the beginning of the season.

It doesn’t take long for Team Arrow to get onto the same page as the audience, and now they have a definite target to go after. Cue an elaborate break-in that allows Felicity to hack away without pesky firewalls and protection. This was the best part of the episode for me if only because it was so much fun – an element that Arrow has struggled with all year. With the three of them planted all over the building, Diggle as a security man, Felicity as a fast food delivery girl and Oliver as the walking distraction he naturally is, they pull it off fairly smoothly. There are also some lovely Oliver/Felicity moments, if you like that kind of thing.

Oliver even finds time to speak to Tommy about Laurel, but his words fall a bit flat when Tommy sees his friend and ex-girlfriend going at it just a few hours later. I’m not going to go into the likelihood of someone walking past a window at the exact moment Oliver and Laurel were making out in front of it – that’s something that comes with having a love triangle on a CW show – but this discovery will at least serve the story in terms of Tommy’s turn to the dark side. I’m still not seeing the chemistry between these three (apart from Oliver and Tommy, interestingly), but at least the fans got some sort of closure to their season-long ‘dance’.

Some of the less interesting, but still important, stuff this week involved two of the peripheral relationships on the show. Walter returned to the Queen mansion just long enough to get divorce papers drawn up, so we may have seen the last of The Undertaking’s manhandled pawn. Then there’s Thea and Roy, who break up over the latter’s growing obsession with The Hood. We finally got to see Oliver interact with Roy without his costume on, and he doesn’t disappoint with a humorous ‘disapproving big brother’ speech that still doesn’t deter him from his investigation. He’s lost someone ‘who isn’t coming back’, and wants to become a fellow vigilante.

The final confrontation between Oliver and Malcolm was wonderful – satisfyingly brutal and charged with the tension from impending doom for The Glades. Diggle was supposed to recover the device while Oliver distracted Malcolm (whom he still doesn’t know is the Dark Archer), but he’s gotten to it first and taken it to some undisclosed safe place. With proper comic book-style devastation on the cards, it’s exciting to imagine Oliver also becoming a real superhero in response. Will Roy take part in the heroics? How will Malcolm respond to learning The Hood’s identity? Judging by this week’s episode, we’re in for a treat.

Read Carolines’s review of the previous episode, The Undertaking, here.

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