The mid-season finale arrives for Arrow in “Dark Waters.” It starts off well enough, following up on Oliver’s project to clean up the harbor. It looks like a huge success, with a lot of people turning out, and some good press coverage for Oliver. Of course, things don’t stay bright and cheery on Arrow for long, so I wasn’t terribly surprised when the event was attacked, although it was a new and different kind of attack, I’ll give them that.
Desperate for leads about what HIVE is up to, Diggle goes to have another chat with his brother, Andy, still locked in a cage in the back room of the lair. I guess it’s a well-hidden room, since none of the Flash crew noticed it during the recent crossover. Andy smirks, and says cryptic things, but is overall utterly unhelpful. No great surprise there. Diggle gets frustrated and leaves.
Felicity goes back to the apartment, which is when we find out Donna, her mom, is back in town. She’s helping get ready for a big holiday party Oliver is holding as part of his mayoral campaign (again, why is he campaigning so hard if no one is running against him?). Donna makes the blue Santa hat look pretty good. While setting things up, she finds the engagement ring Oliver hid, badly, some time ago. If that’s his skill at hiding things, I’m amazed the entire city doesn’t know he’s Green Arrow instead of just most of it.
After some debate with the team, Oliver holds a press conference. He publicly outs HIVE and Damian Darhk as being behind Star City’s problems, including the most recent attack. Calling out a villain, gee, where has that gone wrong? I guess Oliver hasn’t seen Iron Man 3. Damian and the HIVE Council are not happy about this turn of events.
Malcolm drops by to check in on Thea. He’s worried about whatever Darhk did to her, despite the fact that she’s enjoying being free of the bloodlust. Malcolm’s worry makes sense on a few levels- whatever else is wrong with him, he clearly cares about Thea. Also, he’s a major control freak, and he not only didn’t have any part in what happened with Darhk, he doesn’t know what it was. I could see that gnawing at him.
The team debates Oliver’s plans, and then decides to go ahead with the holiday party anyway. The party itself has a few amusing scenes, like Felicity finding out Captain Lance is dating her mom, and Lance finding out exactly who Donna is. Felicty’s reaction was really entertaining. Of course, the party is interrupted by Darhk and goons showing up, killing off Diggle’s extra security, and abducting Diggle, Thea, and Felicity. And you thought YOUR office holiday party went badly.
After Oliver recovers from Darhk knocking him out, Green Arrow hits the streets. It’s weird to me that he manages to find so many Ghosts to beat up, but can’t get a lead on their base. Are they just wandering around? Doing Christmas shopping? Posted on corners like those damn bell ringers? In the midst of all this is when Laurel finds out that A) her dad was working with Darhk and B) he’s now doing so undercover. Hey Oliver, how’s this keeping secrets from your friends and team working out for you? Malcolm comes by to offer a few clues and say he can’t get the League involved in a war with HIVE.
Oliver eventually arranges to give himself up to Damian. Damian has only read part of the bad guy handbook. Oliver gets a tour of the base, and a demonstration of the lethal gas chamber, but not the big “Here’s my plan” speech. Then, as Darhk is about to kill off his prisoners, Green Arrow shows up. It’s a nice plan that A) helps keep Oliver’s secret identity B) keeps the League out of things while allowing Malcolm to help and C) is a nod to the classic comic book trope of, “I have seen them at the same time, he can’t be (Insert Hero Name Here).” It’s an ugly fight with some tension going on, but eventually everyone makes it out.
Darhk and his Council talk about the growing vigilante plan as Darhk shows them around Project Genesis, whatever that is. Their tour eventually leads them to an underground chamber full of… corn? I admit I have no idea what’s going on here, or why Darhk comments that “The air is fully breathable.” Either I missed something or they haven’t told us enough about the plan yet.
Oliver presses on with his campaign/annoy Darhk plan. At a big Christmas tree lighting, he gives another speech, and then finally proposes to Felicity. Me, I’d be annoyed that he made it a public event and a campaign stunt, but she seems to be quite happy about it. Of course, this is a mid-season finale, so you know something’s coming. And it does. They end on a hell of a cliffhanger. It’s going to be a long month or two.
Flashback Theater is mostly about Oliver and Diana trying to figure out what Ryder wants on Lian Yu. He freedives into the wreck of the Amazo for maps, which look like they’re in great condition for being submerged in ocean water for months. When they hike to the wreckage, Oliver says, “We’re almost there, two miles to go.” How big IS this island, anyway? Flashback Theater also ends on a nasty cliffhanger.
What I liked: Malcolm makes a decent Green Arrow, which was entertaining. There were some nice moments throughout the episode, like pre-attack at the harbor, and at the party. I’m glad the proposal finally happened. There were a few nicely done moments in the big fight at HIVE, too.
What I didn’t: As I keep saying, the campaign to run unopposed makes no sense and seems like a big waste of money and effort. It makes a bit more sense now that Oliver’s using it to attack Darhk, but it’s still really weird. I could really happily do without Flashback Theater at all, and really, the Island seems to keep getting bigger. Diggle and Thea got captured pretty easily for being such accomplished fighters.
I’ll give this one a 3 out of 5. It had some good moments, but some really questionable ones, too. We’ll see what happens when the show returns.