Spoilers ahead for “Genesis,” the latest episode of The CW’s Arrow!
The short version: After getting a bit of (off-screen) help from Constantine, Oliver and Felicity try to learn how to counter Darhk’s magic. Diggle confronts his brother in the wake of Laurel’s murder, and actually pulls the trigger. Oh! And Thea has apparently crossed over to the subterranean version of CBS’s defunct Under the Dome.
Diggle steals the show, and rips out your heart in the process
Diggle’s arc over the back half of the season has really been built around his relationship with Andy, and that finally came to head in the most brutal way imaginable. Diggle never gave up hope that he could save Andy, until the moment he led Team Arrow into a trap and got Laurel murdered. After that, Diggle had his own blood lust (no Lazarus Pit required) to avenge the Black Canary and try to right this wrong.
Diggle had Andy in the crosshairs at least twice in tonight’s episode, but hesitated both times. After he leaves Andy the first time, it turns out his evil little brother dropped a tracking device on Diggle — leading Darhk straight to Lyla and baby Sara. It’s this moment that really shows Andy is beyond redemption and probably too deep down the Darhk rabbit hole to ever return. Diggle eventually gets the drop on Andy, again, but can’t quite pull the trigger. That is, until Andy tells him he’ll never stop coming after his family until he kills Lyla and Sara. David Ramsey does an amazing job of playing that struggle, and you can see Diggle finally snap as he pulls that trigger. He was a man truly out of options, and even though it almost had to be done, it still hurts.
So, Oliver is apparently magic now
Despite the fact that he only got to hang around for one episode, Matt Ryan’s brief cameo as John Constantine earlier this season has helped launch more than a few key plot points. The latest? Turns out that mystery tattoo he gave Oliver actually allows him to channel magical forces — much as that freaky head statue does for Darhk. Perhaps Constantine intended for Oliver to use it back on the island, but he failed to figure out how it worked until now? Maybe? However they explain that away, it looks like Oliver can now even the playing field when he’s going toe-to-toe with Darhk.
Having Felicity join Oliver on his sojourn to the shaman’s shady casino was an interesting choice, but it really worked for the most part. It’s still awkward to have them together, but not together, but this at least gave them a chance to show off some of that chemistry that launched Olicity in the first place (these two crazy kids have to get back together eventually, right?). Having Felicity nearby also helped with the magic mojo, since Oliver has always been adamant that she’s the light to his darkness. We’ve seen Oliver face his inner demons more than a few times before, but that magic-induced scene was a nice touch. Also, since he desperately needed to tip the scales to tap into the “good” magic, the writers did a good job of toeing that line here.
Darhk’s plan is finally revealed, and it’s kind of silly
We’ve spent most of the season wondering what, exactly, Damien Darhk is actually planning for his mysterious “Genesis” project — and now we know. HIVE has been building an insanely huge, underground dome to serve as a “ark” of sorts after he nukes the entire world. This is apparently so he can rebuild the world in his own image, maybe (After he waits a few centuries for the nuclear fallout, I guess?)? Yeah, this plan doesn’t exactly make a mountain of sense at this point.
Oh, and one other thing — if he needs the Rubicon chip out of Lyla’s arm, why drive her into maximum security hiding before trying to actually get it? Yes, the attack on the armored truck base was cool stuff, but he could’ve just popped by Diggle’s apartment and ripped it out with minimal fuss before he declared war on everyone’s families and sent them into hiding. A nitpick, sure, but a shoddy bit of planning on Darhk’s part. Just sayin’.
The giant dome was also a truly WTF twist. Yeah, still processing that one. Also, why bring Thea down into this thing? Yes, they needed a narrative toehold to introduce the concept, but that just seemed like a weird contrivance. Are they trying to trap her? In the super-secret HIVE hideout? Just weird. Also, so is their former political adviser (and Thea’s boyfriend) in on this thing? Just a pawn? So many lingering questions there. That plot just seemed like a weird fit, tossing tidbits from Wayward Pines to Under the Dome into a pot and stirring.
Other good stuff: The scene where Darhk stops the bullet was very, very cool. Having him take out his shady cabal was also unexpected, since after they left him to rot in prison, you thought there might be some type of power struggle brewing. Nope, he just kills ‘em. As Diggle is recounting the events of Andy’s death to Lyla, he fudges up a few of the details (on purpose). Basically, he told Lyla he was forced to do it, because Andy was reaching for his gun. It’s a sweet moment, really, because he doesn’t want to tell Lyla he did it for her. Sad, but sweet.
What’s next? Darhk’s nuclear attack plan kicks off, and we have missiles flying around and ticking clocks all over. Can the gang stop the world from getting nuked?