Arrow’s fourth season comes a close with “Schism.” Damian Darhk is on the loose, and he’s even more unhinged in the wake of his wife’s death. This means nothing good for Star City, and, as we find out, the rest of the world. It’s a finale with some weird twists and not so much a cliffhanger as a major status quo change at the end.
Picking up from last time, Darhk bursts into the loft. He confronts the surprised people, and uses his power to toss Curtis aside and grab Donna. He tries to push Felicity into helping him restore his Rubicon control of the world’s nuclear arsenal. Felicity, ever the smart one, points out that if Darhk nukes the world, her mother will die anyway. The impasse is broken when Green Arrow and Spartan come in. Darhk smothers Green Arrow’s explosive arrow with really disheartening ease before calling in yet more of HIVE’s ghosts. There really do seem to be a ridiculous number of them. Speedy then makes her own dramatic entrance, threatening to kill’s Darhk’s daughter if Darkh doesn’t let everyone go. New low for Speedy, there, threatening a young kid. Darhk and the Ghosts get away using some kind of flash-bomb, taking the girl with them and, more importantly, the Rubicon laptop. This isn’t good.
As an aside, I think this is a bad choice for Speedy. Not only is it really not heroic to threaten to kill a kid, and very much something her father would do, there’s another issue I’m not sure she’s thought of. This kid has been turning up off and on this season. She’s been talked about and even talked to. I don’t think they’ve ever said her name. I’m wondering if Darhk even knows it, since he just keeps calling her, “my daughter.”
That to one side, the team brings the wounded Curtis down to the Bunker. Diggle says Curtis has internal bleeding and broken ribs at the least. The team tends to Curtis and mostly commiserates about how they’ve all lost hope. Lyla shows up, because, why not? They might as well put a revolving door down there at this point. Felicity manages to trace the laptop, but they find an empty office building with the removed GPS. Worse, the screens light up with the delightful news that not only is Rubicon working again, but it has launched roughly 15,000 nuclear missiles. Even Superman would have trouble with that, and as far as I know, he doesn’t exist in this world. Yet, anyway (Supergirl is moving to the same network this fall, and we’ve seen Superman there).
Most of the missiles will hit in about two hours (no pressure), but one of the ones targeted on Star City is going to get there in about 45 minutes. The only active super the team is on good terms with at this point is the Flash, and he can’t fly, so he can’t do a lot about airborne threats. When a confused Captain Lance arrives, Felicity gives him an address and tells him the world will end in about two hours, please take my mother here, which is the best spot she’s come up with survive a nuclear war. Dazed, Lance agrees and leaves. There’s a feeling of resignation throughout the bunker.
This gets worse when Lyla ignores Oliver’s advice and sends a team of ARGUS agents in after Darhk in his cave under City Hall. Darhk slaughters them and becomes even more powerful. Just when Felicity starts making progress trying to hack Rubicon, more Ghosts suddenly show up and assault the bunker. Seriously, how many times has the team’s base been attacked/invaded/breeched/assaulted? The fight rages on, destroying a lot of the bunker. The team gets some backup when Malcolm shows up, naturally just in time to save Thea from being shot. Malcolm takes protective parent to new and bizarre levels. Diggle also freezes up when a Ghost gives him Andy flashbacks, Lyla saving Diggle just in time.
Rising from his sickbed, Curtis gives a morale speech. My, he’s recovered from being knocked out cold with internal bleeding and broken ribs quickly. At any rate, he talks about how he and his husband, Paul, almost left the city but ended up staying because of the big speech Oliver gave when he transitioned from Arrow to Green Arrow. Curtis succeeds in rallying the troops and getting things moving again.
Out in the streets, panic has ensued. There is rioting, chaos, people fighting, dogs and cats living together… you get the idea. Oliver pops up and does a speech to calm everyone. News cameras are miraculously in the right place to catch all this, which I guess carries his message all over the city. The team watches this on the news, and is also inspired.
On to one of the dumber scenes of the episode: As Oliver ends his speech, the missile aimed at Star City roars into view. Somehow or other, Felicity and Curtis get up to the roof before it hits, and manage to hack into the missile’s systems and send it off to… well, we don’t know where it goes. Maybe they nuked Havenrock again. It’s not likely to get much worse. That must be one fast elevator in the bunker.
Green Arrow goes to confront Darhk alone, telling everyone he will handle it. Because he’s done so well one-on-one with Darhk before? Diggle prepares to defend the bunker, laying out an armory and finally telling Lyla the truth about Andy’s death. What Diggle’s going to be defending them from, I’m not sure. Malcolm, Speedy, Felicity, and Curtis go off to find Seldon, Darhk’s pet hacker and Felicity’s ex.
The next few scenes cut back and forth between the Green Arrow/Darhk confrontation and Felicity’s team going after Seldon. Felicity talks Seldon into resisting Darhk’s power and lets her get to the computer, at a big cost for him. Green Arrow gets tossed all around by Darhk’s power until the fight ends up in the streets. Somehow or other, the crowd, still riled up from Oliver’s speech, manages to negate Darhk’s powers because the power of their hope and inspiration counters his magik. Darhk, however, was a fully trained member of the League of Assassins, so he and Green Arrow end up in a long, brutal fight. Around them, the mob takes on yet more Ghosts who have apparently either run out of bullets or forgotten they have guns.
SPOILERS, HERE BEGIN. WARNED, ARE YOU. SPOKEN, HAS YODA.
Felicity and Curtis pull off a clever trick and head the missiles off into space. Hopefully the Legends team wasn’t coming in for a landing at that point. Oliver and Darhk have a final confrontation that is, indeed, final. No more missiles, no more bad guy, this should be a great victory, right?
Well… Team Arrow gets whittled away as John Diggle and Thea both announce they are leaving. They’ve both been through a lot and need time off. Oddly, wherever Diggle is going, he’s wearing his military uniform again. Did he reenlist? Lance has also heard back from Internal Affairs, and is no longer a cop, and is also leaving, with Donna.
Felicity and Oliver chat at Laurel’s grave. They talk a lot about this recurring theme of Oliver being both light and dark. He’s really not sure what he’s going to do now. Well, aside from his new job. Ruve Adams-Darhk has continued the trend of Star City mayors dying in office, so there’s a vacancy. The episode comes to an end with Oliver and Felicity down in the bunker, which still looks rough, but a lot better than it did during the attack. Maybe Curtis has been cleaning? Felicity and Oliver fade out, staring at the wall full of costumes.
Flashback Theater wraps thing up on Lian Yu. Again. Reiter is dealt with, and Taiana (whose name I’ve been getting wrong this whole season) finds a sort of peace. Oliver speaks with Waller, who has the idol boxed up and shipped out, Indiana Jones style. She brings Oliver a familiar wooden crate which has Oliver’s father’s notebook in it. Waller asks if he’s going to back to playing vigilante, and he says no, he has a promise to keep. Presumably, he means telling Taiana’s family about her death. I’d guess next season’s flashback theater will explain how Oliver ended up being part of the Russian mob.
What I liked: Curtis’ speech was nice. It was good to see him contribute more than tech support and smart ass comments. Darhk and his family are done, finally, unless the nameless daughter comes back as a supervillain, and she’ll probably need a few years for that. The GA/Darhk fight in the street was really nicely done mostly. It devolved into haymaker punch exchange at one point, which isn’t how trained people fight. Oliver’s speech to the crowd was decent.
What I didn’t: I mentioned Curtis and Felicity getting up to the roof so fast. I also don’t like how the team walked off and abandoned Oliver, no matter how good their reasons might seem. Where the heck were the ghosts repelling down from when they attacked the bunker? How many damn Ghosts did Darhk have in the city? And how did they all manage to not fire a shot when the mob attacked them?
I’ll give this episode a low 3 out of 5. I will give them points for really shaking things up at the end of the episode and season. It easily could have been a series finale episode. I guess we’ll see what happens next this fall. Unless Flash’s big time distortion from HIS season finale sets more weird things in motion.