Diggle Brothers' Final Standoff: Arrow Season 4, Episode 20 Review
What a difference a week makes.
Without flashbacks, without Laurel, with hairpin plot turns and devolving Diggle (and even baby Sara escaping evil Uncle Andy by motorcycle with her dad)...
THIS is the Arrow we know and love, the Arrow we've waited all season to see.
The fact that I only just now noticed that one of my favorite characters, Captain Lance, was nowhere to be seen tells you how amazing last night's episode was. (Captain Lance's daughter just died. Understandable that he'd need a week off to grieve.)
John Diggle was front and center again this week, which is always welcome. He has a lot to work through, and to answer for. Mostly to himself, because you don't just get over killing your little brother, but also to Lyla, who called him on letting the ends justify the means.
He's acting like the man she divorced. Thin ice, Dig.
Although Andy's death was suicide-by-cop, the flashpoint was Andy telling John that his family would never be safe from HIVE.
(An aside about Eugene Byrd, who played Andy Diggle: we almost believed him when he joked that he trained with Cirque de Soleil to prepare for this role. Excellent parkour and stunts, and convincing portrayal of a man who went over the edge and never came back.)
Diggle's "green brother" and the rest of the Arrow family will be essential to him coming back from a place darker than we'd ever imagined he'd go.
So, here's where we stand, going into next week:
Thea is in Damian's Ark in Under the Dome meets the Hunger Games meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers. She went on a weekend getaway with Alex and never came home, most likely because Damian is keeping his promise to Malcolm not to harm Thea in the upcoming nuclear destruction of the planet.
Despite the upcoming episode titled "Lost in the Flood," the earth will be destroyed by fire, not by water. Equally Biblical, with similar results. Thea's first clue was that outdoor sounds played "on a loop," situational awareness that comes naturally to Speedy.
Alex has badly miscalculated. Thea Queen does not go quietly.
"Genesis" sets us up for the season finale, which promises to be the bloodbath Damian promised his wife. She's the one pressing for this "new beginning"; we have yet to figure out exactly why.
The next 3 episodes will occur over the next 24 hours, in which the newly configured Team Arrow - minus Thea and Laurel, plus Lyla - tries to stop Damian Darhk and HIVE from unleashing the world's nuclear capability.
We know from the preview photos that this will require help from Felicity's father Noah Kuttler. What role he plays and whether he can be trusted are TBD.
Key to success is Oliver overcoming Damian's magic, which leads him and Felicity to Hub City to reprise their underground casino caper from season 1, except with more expensive clothes.
Compare the two below. The Arrow writers do love their parallels.
Felicity's mastery of "probability and mathematics" continues to amaze Oliver; she owned that blackjack table like a boss.
Esrin Fortuna, immortal shaman and friend of Constantine - who isn't in this guy's Contacts? - gives Oliver some back room magic lessons.
And a warning.
If he can't channel his light, his darkness feeds Damian's powers. He does so by - you guessed it - hearing Felicity's voice in his head.
She's his light. Always has been. Always will be.
Battling against the darkness, Oliver's life flashes before his eyes, just like in the season 3 mid-season finale "The Climb," before Ra's al-Ghul kicked him off the mountaintop to his death. But this time it was a montage of every tragic and painful experience of his life. (The Arrow writers were live-tweeting and drinking heavily during this part of the episode.)
In both cases, Felicity was the last person he saw before everything went black. The first time, he saw their first and only kiss.
This time, he saw her give back her engagement ring.
For a man who spent 5 years in hell, that this heartbreak ranks right up there with his father's suicide and Slade running a sword through his mother's heart was a revelation, even to us.
To Oliver's surprise, Felicity told him that nobody's perfect and everybody can change. Oliver, she's talking about you. She opened the door.
Have the courage to walk through it before the world falls apart.
Coming up next, episode 21 "Monument Point"