Every week, Fangirlish writers will be discussing new episodes of Arrow and sharing their thoughts, feelings, and speculation about the hour’s hot topics in a little something we like to call Fangirlish Roundtables.
Today, we’re breaking down episode 4×20 of Arrow, “Genesis,” where we discuss one of Arrow‘s best episodes in recent memory, Oliver embracing the light, Diggle’s decision, Oliver and Felicity, and the threat of Genesis.
What were your overall thoughts on “Genesis?”
This was one of the best episodes of Arrow in a long time probably since “A.W.O.L.,” which was similar in its approach. There was a sense of urgency in the plot, which didn’t allow for downtime or a chance to brief, which was amazing to see that it was still capable. The performances were sensational, the plot was riveting, and the stakes are remarkably high leaving me terrified to what lies in store with Damien Darhk’s Genesis. This episode reminded me what it feels like when the story is functioning on all cylinders and not being bogged down. It’s remarkable really how one episode can be so disappointing (“Canary Cry”) only for the following episode to be one of the best of the season (“Genesis”). There was a high stakes present in this episode that hasn’t been felt since the end of season two. Arrow has the potential to top even the final run of season two, which was by far the show’s best. This is the show that I fell in love with.
I really, really enjoyed it. One of the best episodes of the season. Pacing was good, the fight scenes were entertaining, Olicity was entertaining again, Thea got a storyline, Diggle and Lyla were on point and Audrey Marie Anderson should be, at the very least, a recurring character, if not a season regular. That’s how badass she is. Also, I felt like the character moments were very well done in this episode, in complete contrast with last one. So, yes, if Arrow can deliver something like this every week, then why do we have to put up with episodes like “Canary Cry”? Why?
I feel like there’s been a shift in the air. A calm before the storm even though a lot of fun, crazy, emotional stuff happened in this episode. They’re setting the stage by breaking down, separating, and empowering our characters. Everything had a purpose for what’s to come. And quite frankly I have no idea how this season is going to end. They’re definitely not going to kill anyone big, that’s already happened. But something unknown and fantastic is on the horizon. I can’t wait to see it and how it leaves our team for Season 5.
One of the central themes on Arrow and with Oliver has been this parallel of light and dark, which was something we saw Oliver deal with head-on in this episode. What were your thoughts on Oliver’s initial denial of this light inside of him and how he eventually found it within himself to fend off Damien Darhk?
This has been one of those overarching themes throughout the series. Oliver isn’t your typical hero. He’s been bogged down by darkness for the past nine years, and since he came back from the island he’s been trying to fight that. But part of the problem is that Oliver has given in to the sense that there’s such overwhelming darkness inside of him that it’s what defines him. And that couldn’t be further from the truth. Sure, he’s experienced some pretty horrific things, done some terrible things, but that doesn’t mean he’s complete darkness. Part of his problem when it comes to being the “light” is that he hasn’t allowed himself to try to be his own light. In this episode Oliver told Felicity that she’s always been the light of the two of them. And in a way that’s true because Oliver has never attempted to be his own light. It stems from his belief that he is the darkness that he’s experienced. It also stems from his fear that he’s this person that is overwhelmed with darkness and unable to be someone that can change.
But for the first time we saw the power of the light inside Oliver when he took on Darhk in this episode. Not only did he take on Darhk, but he was able to fend Darhk’s dark magic off with light magic. Oliver learned that there is light within all of us if we choose to accept it. The experiences we have – the good ones – help contribute to that light. For so long Oliver has focused on how the bad experiences in his life have shaped him that he’s failed to acknowledge how the good experiences have changed him for the better. But when faced with danger from Darhk, Oliver chose to reflect on the good. He heard Felicity’s voice in his head reminding him of all of the good things he has in his life. He heard Diggle, Thea, and Laurel’s voices in his head reminding him to keep fighting and to not give up hope. That was significant character development for Oliver. That was a breakthrough. That is what will help him defeat Darhk and truly be a hero in the light.
I’m so proud of Oliver. You can be proud of a fictional character, okay? This is a journey and we’ve been with him every step of the way, and I’m just incredibly emotional thinking of the man he’s become. Go rewatch the Pilot and maybe you’ll feel the same thing I do. He was filled with darkness then, so consumed by it that he couldn’t even see a way out. Then, Diggle, Felicity…they helped pull him out. But he was dependent on them. He still thought he was that man from S1, or worse, the man from the island. He had no faith in himself, and that’s why he couldn’t channel the magic. Oliver needed to see himself the way other characters see him, the way viewers see him, if he was ever going to have a chance to stop Darhk. And he could only do that by using those people as his reason to go on. Not as a shield, but as an inspiration.
Harnessing your own light doesn’t mean dulling other people’s. It just means believing in yourself. And Oliver Queen is finally on the right path to doing that. Doesn’t mean he’s 100% there, no. But at least now there’s a way forward.
I don’t know how I feel. I understand what they were trying to do. But I feel like it was thrown off by Oliver’s eyes glowing and him “suddenly” having the power to defeat Damien. “But we’ve been dealing with magic” you say! Shouldn’t I be used to it? Well I’m not. It still feels out of place in the world of Arrow.
Now onto Oliver finding the light inside of himself. The concept is a beautiful one. He’s not alone anymore and he’s finally accepted it. His family, friends, and love for Felicity have changed him for the better. There’s no going back!
We saw John go down a dark road in this episode as he was hunting his brother with the anger and guilt nearly overtaking him completely. What were your thoughts on John in this episode, and how he was the one that killed Andy in the end?
This episode was the ultimate payoff for this storyline as it showed us what rage and guilt can do even to the best of people. The John Diggle we’ve known over the past four years has been a man who has been collected and restrained. But we got to see a different side to Diggle that even the Deadshot storyline didn’t show us. We saw just how worse something is when someone you care about betrays you. But John went off the deep end. He did some things that not even I expected him to do. He went too far to one degree, and he was one action away from completely losing it. While he did have to kill his brother it was an example of how good people have to make difficult decisions. John didn’t kill his brother out of rage; he killed his brother as self-defense. There’s a difference. And after Andy’s death, John showed remorse (“I had to kill my baby brother”) that you just wouldn’t see in someone who is a dark person. John is a good man who had to make a tough call. Is it going to stay with him? You bet your ass it is, but it’s not something that he’ll allow to break him. He has too much good to live for.
I love what they did with Diggle in this episode, especially because it was so real. He loved his brother. He was angry, yes, but he didn’t want to hurt him. And yet the Andy that he knew, that Andy was gone. He was never, ever coming back. This, of course is heartbreaking. At the end of the episode he couldn’t even admit to Lyla, his wife, and someone who would never, ever judge him, that he’d killed Andy not because he’d reached for his gun or something, but because he’d threatened his family. And that’s because he can’t handle the guilt of what he did, even though he knows he did the right thing. Much of this season has been about Oliver walking towards the light, towards becoming the man Diggle is, and maybe we’ve lost focus of the fact that this season has also had Diggle become more like Oliver was, a few seasons ago.
This is not a coincidence. It’ll take time, and Oliver, Lyla, Felicity and all the people who love Diggle to help him back to the light. But he’s got those people, he’s got a support group, and he’ll get there. He might not get there before season’s end, but he will.
IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME. He was giving his brother too many chances. Andy was gone and he had to do it. There’s darkness inside Diggle, can’t deny that, but he didn’t kill his brother because of it. He did it because Andy was a viable threat that wasn’t going away. No amount of wishing or praying was ever going to change that. In a way he did it out of love too. He couldn’t see his brother, twisted into the creature before him.
Now he has to decide what he’s going to do with the guilt inside of him. If let’s it mesh with the darkness already inside, he’ll transform into a version of John we’ve never seen. Here’s hoping that Lyla, Sara, and the team can provide him with the support he needs.
Oliver and Felicity went undercover in this episode to find a mystical way to defeat Darhk, and we saw more than ever how much they care about one another. What were your thoughts on Oliver and Felicity in this episode, and do you see them reuniting by season’s end?
First off, I’d like to say how much I enjoyed Oliver and Felicity going undercover together. It brought back season one emotions, and it shows us just how far they’ve come. With that said, I believe this episode was another solid step in the right direction for Oliver and Felicity in finding their way back to one another. This journey was never going to an easy one – but something worth fighting for never is. This episode we saw Oliver begin to open up more to Felicity about that inner turmoil that he feels was the reason she left him. Tying in with the theme of the light versus the dark, Oliver reminded us that he constantly has a voice in the back of his head reminding him of that darkness; just like there’s voice in his head reminding him that he’s always going to revert back to the man he was on the island. But the thing is that people can change, as Felicity told Oliver. What she told him about always reverting to that man on the island was said in a fit of rage. But if Oliver is going to change, he needs to believe that; he needs validation to convince him, as he got from Felicity.
One of the great things about Oliver and Felicity is that their relationship has never been dependent upon being romantically linked. That’s the beauty of their relationship is that it stems from deep-rooted friendship and trust, which is what made their romance so strong. So while they’re not “together” right now, that’s never stopped them from caring the way they do or reaching out and communicating in the unique way they do. “Don’t talk to me like I’m other people,” Felicity told Oliver earlier in the episode. It was a callback to Oliver telling Felicity when she was feeling insecure, “You don’t have to be funny for me.” Those are examples right there of how deep and understanding their relationship is. They never have to anyone but themselves around each other. They make each other better; stronger. And I can’t wait to continue to watch them grow and become stronger for this.
I’m not so sure they’re going to get re-engaged, but yes, I think they’ll be reunited by season’s end. I think Oliver did a big thing in this episode, a thing that maybe, not even Felicity though he could do, and that’s channel his own light. He did it by not shielding the people he loves, by accepting them, by internalizing them, by not making everything about him. Oliver Queen grew up, plain and simple. And that doesn’t mean he’s perfect, of course, or that he’s got it all figured out, but it does mean he’s finally on the path to being the man Felicity always saw in him. She didn’t need him to be perfect. She just needed him to stop letting his fear and his issues get in the way of his life, their life. And this Oliver finally seems like he can do that.
“Genesis” made me realize just how much I miss Oliver and Felicity working together. They fell into an rhythm easily because love still lives between them. It might be a little beat down, but underneath it all, Felicity and Oliver still have each others backs. Oliver is her rock through all this angst and change. And Felicity is the light that guides him home, every time. They’re destined.
Despite that, I don’t see them reuniting by the end of this season in a romantic sense. I see them coming together as friends before anything else. They need to work on rebuilding trust and TALK. Seriously, I need them to sit down and hash everything out to see where they stand and why Oliver’s secret destroyed them. This has to happen first before they get back together to ensure that it’ll never happen again. It’s a moment of growth if they take it.
Thea found herself inside the perfect nightmare with Alex in this episode. What were your thoughts on this Hunger Games arena of sorts that Darhk has instituted as the “Ark” so to speak in his Genesis plan?
Poor Thea just cannot catch a break, and she also made me nervous about going on my next vacation. Note to self: Remain conscious at all times. Something I appreciated is that Thea recognized from the start that something was wrong. From the moment she woke up in paradise she knew something was off, although it took her a little bit to realize something was legitimately wrong. Things were too perfect and they were looping. I’d have been freaking too being in abandoned suburban bliss.
With this bubble or whatever acting as the “Ark” of Darhk’s Genesis plan – and with Thea on the inside – it gives us a look at how dangerous things are about to get that something this technologically advanced needed to be implemented to protect those Darhk deemed worthy – or who he agreed to let inside. But it was a dead ringer for the Hunger Games arena, which made it all the more chilling as there’s literally no way out of it. Unless Thea has someone like Beetee in there and some arrows to take that thing down. But I digress. Regardless, there’s gotta be a way inside that Team Arrow can find a way to break Thea out. But they’ve got bigger problems at the moment…
Why Thea? That’s basically my only thought about this storyline, other than why steal President Snow’s ideas? Why Thea? Why would you want her there? Do you want someone to lead a revolt against you in a few years, keep things interesting? I don’t get it. I know Alex is under his control, and Alex is Thea’s boyfriend, but yeah, that still doesn’t compute. It’s likely to be the thing that brings him down, too, because Oliver is obviously going to look for his little sister, and we know how Oliver gets about Thea.
Also, how exactly did that arena come to be? I’m interested in the technology. I bet Felicity and Curtis would be too.
Damien is going to need a place to ride out the end of the world. Why not a picturesque little neighbourhood with the most interesting people? I’d be surprised if the other homes don’t have more prisoners with special attributes as well. Damien’s a planner. He needs something/someone to keep him busy and entertained when the world is covered in corn. That’s what he’s doing right? Destroying the world for his evil corn field farm of his dreams?
Now that Damien Darhk is in possession of Rubicon he’s going to launch Genesis. Just how terrified are you for this possibility of world destruction?
For the first time since season two I’m legitimately terrified about what lies in store for our team. While I believe that they’ll eventually find a way to stop Damien Darhk from carrying out his own genocide, the threat of this situation is unlike anything the show has brought in two years, which makes for brilliant storytelling. There was a disconnect last season with me as the whole Ra’s al Ghul storyline fell felt, but this season the overall plan they’ve instigated with Darhk is quite promising in its intensity and danger. We’re not just talking about tragedy here – we’re talking about nuclear destruction. And we’re not just talking about the destruction of Star City – we’re talking about world destruction. Darhk doesn’t want a new city to start over; he wants an entire world to start over with. With his intelligence and his sinister nature it’s the perfect recipe for terror and mass chaos. Bring it.
Much more than I was this time last week. Yes, Damien Darhk killed Laurel a few weeks ago, but we’ve gotten precious little in the way of his actual plans for the city, and so, in a way, he’s remained a sort of elusive bad guy, scary but not completely terrifying. He wasn’t going to kill another big character. This is TV, after all. And the general sense of fear was somewhat dulled because, well …You can only be terrified if you know what’s coming. And, now, well, now I’m a little scared. Now the evil not only has a face, but an actual plan.
Of course, I don’t think he’s going to WIN. But I am, however, properly terrified of the collateral damage he can cause while our heroes are trying to stop him. And that’s about all you can hope for as the season winds down, right?
Terrified enough that I want to GPS this underground hive and sneak into it with my mad sneaking skills. Yup. This.
What are your thoughts on “Genesis?” Sound off in the comments to keep the discussion going!
Join us for another Arrow roundtable next Tuesday.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.
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Teacher by day, writer by every other free moment | Obsessed with sports, TV, books, movies, and superheroes | Proud shipper and supporter of strong female characters | Co-executive Editor for Fangirlish | Managing Editor for Bears Wire at USA Today SMG | Producer/Co-Host of Buffone 55 for Bears Barroom Radio Network | Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.