Star City is looking at some dark days (or Darhk days if you like puns). Laurel is dead and her secret as Black Canary revealed. Damian Darhk is on the loose. HIVE’s Genesis plan is moving forward. And Team Arrow is short on powers, especially ones to counter Damian’s magical abilities.
The show opens with a few of the HIVE council debating what to do about Damian. You know it’s bad when the terrorist group is saying someone might be too dangerous to be part of the group. Damian shows up and they debate his future with HIVE. Damian settles the issue in his usual definitive style.
Team Arrow gets a good indication that Damian is moving forward with his own agenda. Diggle, still hurting from the death of Laurel and his guilt about it, wants to go after Darhk. Oliver wisely points out that they don’t have a good way to counter his abilities still. However, Oliver has a plan. He’s gotten in touch with Constantine (sadly not appearing in the episode), and arranged for someone to give him some magic help over in Hub City (comic book home to the Question, and the only place I can think of that rivals Gotham for corruption). He tells the team to take the weekend off while he goes on his field trip. Felicity is worried about him, and invites herself along. Thea plans to use the weekend to take a trip with her boyfriend Alex.
Diggle goes to see Lyla, in hiding after Darhk’s escape. They talk about her being safe and Oliver’s “magical mystery tour” as Diggle puts it. Lyla can tell that Diggle is still upset about Andy’s betrayal and Diggle’s own mis-judgement. They gradually show that Lyla’s safehouse is actually an armored semi. That’s fairly clever, and harder to track down than a static location.
Diggle goes out to run an errand for Lyla, but his domestic efforts are interrupted when his phone gives him an alert that Andy has been spotted by facial recognition. I’m guessing that app is a Felicity special. This, of course, turns into a long, drawn-out firefight, which makes me wonder how much ammo both of them carry. Andy is taking advantage of how hot-tempered Diggle is at present, and leads him into a trap.
In Hub City, Oliver and Felicity go their meeting, at a really high-end underground casino. Felicity, confidently, says that blackjack isn’t gambling when she’s playing, and pretty much proves that. She’s generous to a fellow player who has some bad luck, and, naturally, this player ends up being their contact. Esrin Fortuna describes herself as an immortal shaman, and that blackjack is “just a hobby.” Fortuna takes them to a cavern like room via some door magic, and starts teaching Oliver what he needs to know. The trick, apparently, is to balance the light and darkness within him, which isn’t easy as dark as they’ve been painting Oliver on the series.
Thea wakes up alone in bed, and eventually finds Alex in the kitchen, making them breakfast. She’s weirdly impressed by him poaching eggs for her, which is really easy. I guess Thea doesn’t share Oliver’s talent for cooking. They’re on some idyllic vacation in what looks like a deserted suburb. Thea starts thinking this is strange, but Alex seems to both enjoy it and not see anything weird about it.
Diggle eventually escapes from Andy and staggers back to Lyla’s truck. Lyla’s berating Diggle for being stupid is interrupted when the truck comes under attack. Andy is being very smart, following Darhk’s lead, and put a tracer on Diggle. You’d think a secure location would scan for those, but I guess not.
Oliver finally learns something about what he needs to do in order to master Fortuna’s lesson, with a lot of encouragement from Felicity. He’s not exactly a master of the mystic arts, but might be able to counter Darhk’s magic. That’s well timed, since Darhk is part of the attack on Lyla’s truck. Felicity and Oliver arrive as last minute calvary, and Oliver manages to hold off Darhk’s magic. Darhk flees, surprised. Diggle has had enough, and he and Andy have a major confrontation.
Thea finally figures out something is really wrong. She flees from Alex and learns a few surprising things about where she is. Between the guards she finds and Alex’s “vitamins,” it’s pretty obvious what’s going on. The viewers also see something that gives a major clue as to what Genesis is all about, and finally a line of Darhk’s from earlier this season makes a lot more sense.
At the bunker, what’s left of the team regroups and compares notes. They can’t reach Thea, but they’re not worried since she’s supposedly off for a romantic weekend. What they eventually learn is why Darhk went after Lyla (although how he knew to I don’t get), and what he ended up taking. Genesis is a really nasty plot that could literally change the world.
What I liked: I’m sure Diggle’s confrontation with Andy will be controversial, but I think they handled it well. We finally know what Genesis is, and it’s really ugly. The truck was a clever hideout for Lyla and Sara.
What I didn’t: I get Diggle being off his game, but an organization like ARGUS really should have bug detectors. I think it would have been a lot more interesting to have the upbeat Felicity get a better handle on the whole “light magic” thing than Oliver. And I have no idea why they felt the need to make up a new character for this encounter. With the mention of homo magi earlier in the series, Zatanna would have been a good bet. Even more so, Madame Xanadu’s big thing is cards, which would have fit the casino theme.
This was a decent, not great, episode. I’ll give it a 3 out of 5. The build up to the season finale should be interesting.