'Arrow' 4×21 Review: 'Monument Point' [Gone Nuclear]

When it comes to Arrow at its best I always point to the final three episodes of season two. What was basically a three-hour season finale set over the course of a day brought an insane amount of action, emotion, storytelling, and high stakes that inspired fear within. I was convinced that nothing would ever top it. Until now.
Following an impressive episode in last week’s “Genesis,” this second to last hour of Arrow’s fourth season was absolutely phenomenal from top to bottom. Much like Arrow’s second season, these final three episodes will take place over the course of a short time where Team Arrow must attempt to stop Damien Darhk’s global nuclear attack.
“Monument Point” served as the jumping off point as Arrow was sent spiraling into a global catastrophe. This wasn’t Malcolm Merlyn conspiring to use an earthquake machine or Slade Wilson unleashing a super-powered army upon Starling City or Ra’s al Ghul setting a bio weapon upon Starling City, from the beginning Darhk’s plan has been about obliterating the entire world so that he might be able to rebuild it as something better (his thoughts, not mine).
But this episode still managed to blend a certain amount of heart, humor, heart-pounding action, and high stakes together as it sets the stage for the final two hours of the season where the world literally hangs in the balance and the only ones capable of stopping it are Team Arrow, Lyla, ARGUS, and refined criminal Noah Kuttler.

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As H.I.V.E. unleashed the Rubicon codes that would send nuclear missiles across the world, Team Arrow was able to stop all but one headed towards Monument Point, which Felicity was able to redirect to a smaller city near it, which resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of lives leaving our favorite blonde genius feeling some serious guilt but saving millions in the process.
Felicity and Kuttler were able to pinpoint Damien Darhk and Oliver and Diggle were able to track him down, where they found him bathing in the magic of tens of thousands of lives lost. Now we’re left to wonder if Oliver can harness that much light to thwart Darhk’s immense amount of magic that makes him virtually unstoppable.
For the first time in this series I find myself wondering how the big bad can be stopped. How can Darhk infused with the power of tens of thousands of deaths be brought to his knees? How can Team Arrow manage to protect the world, save Thea, and stop Darhk at the same time?
This is the kind of high stakes that Arrow brought in its second season that blew people’s minds. This is the kind of high stakes that legitimately could make the end of this fourth season even greater than season two. This is the kind of high stakes that has me shaking as we enter the final two hours of what has been a pretty solid fourth season.
Let’s break this down:

Original Team Arrow Leads the Charge

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As I’ve begun to compare these final episodes of this fourth season to those final three episodes of season two, one of the similarities is how Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity were leading the charge to protect the city – well, now in season four, the world – from the big bad’s master plan of destruction. With Thea stuck inside the Hunger Games, Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity were at the forefront of the action with some assists from Lyla and ARGUS, as well as Noah Kuttler. There’s just something special that happens when these three are center stage. Their talents and chemistry are unmatched.
That’s not to say I have something against Thea on Team Arrow – I love her as part of the team – but getting to see Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity team up again brought me back to season two, where it was just the three of them kicking ass and taking names. Their dynamic has always been something truly special. I might’ve started Arrow because I love superheroes and Stephen Amell is drop-dead gorgeous, but I stayed for Original Team Arrow. I’ve always said that the most important thing a superhero show or film needs to do is make its audience care; make the audience care about the person/people underneath the costume otherwise they won’t give a damn. The team of Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity have always been the heart of this show. Oliver might be the titular hero, but it’s his relationships with those he cares about – particularly Felicity and Diggle – that breathe emotion and heart into the Green Arrow’s story.

Unspeakable Tragedy

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There is no doubt that Felicity Smoak is one hell of a strong, empowering, brave, and caring woman who has faced her fair share of adversity and has remained strong in spite of it. But she faced perhaps one of his toughest professional challenges this week when it came to the nuclear missiles that H.I.V.E. planned to unleash in 21 hours.
While Felicity and her father were able to stop most of the missiles there was one that they weren’t able to get to due to Murmur’s little interruption where he shot Kuttler. The missile in question was headed towards Monument Point – located a short distance from Washington D.C. – and Felicity was able to recall a situation where she played a prank where she convinced everyone they were somewhere they weren’t. In short, Felicity decided to change Monument Point’s location on the GPS to a town called “Havenrock,” and instead of hitting Monument Point it hit Havenrock directly. To be honest I wasn’t expecting that to happen. Not so soon at least. It was one of those moments of complete silence where your jaw is just hanging wide open.
This is something that I’m interested to see moving forward into next week: how will Felicity handle this? While she obviously made the right decision – thousands of lives instead of millions – Felicity won’t be able to help but feel responsible for those thousands of lives lost. That’s just who she is. If we were put in the same position who’s to say we wouldn’t feel the same? But you could see it in on her face, in her eyes. All of those people dead because she couldn’t stop all of the missiles from launching. She’s obviously going to feel guilty over it, but when you’re in the middle of this war you don’t have time to focus too much on what happened in the past when you have to address a chaotic present. But I still feel like this is something that will stay Felicity. And perhaps she’ll need a bit of Oliver’s light to help her.

Don’t Call It Father-Daughter Bonding Time

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While the central storyline in this episode centered on Team Arrow and co. combating Damien Darhk’s attempts at launching Rubicon, one of the other focuses was on the relationship between Felicity and her estranged father Noah Kuttler, whom she had to call upon in order to stop Rubicon. Basically Felicity put her pride and her feelings of contempt aside in order to help save the world. You know, things a badass like Felicity Smoak does.
Felicity teamed up with her father on a couple of occasions in this episode, including a hilarious and memorable breaking-and-entering of Palmer Technologies after the Board had her fired as CEO. There was a piece of technology in there – don’t even ask me what it was – that they needed to help in hacking Rubicon and stopping those missiles from launching.
Throughout this episode we saw Felicity’s father trying to reconcile with his daughter – whether that was because it was possibly the end of the world or because Kuttler didn’t know if he’d get another chance – about how she only seemed to be focused on the “criminal” half of his dual person. But, to be honest, the “father” half wasn’t so good either considering he abandoned her when she was younger. There was a nice conversation between Noah and Oliver, where Noah told him that Felicity was only focused on that criminal half. And Oliver was able to give some words of wisdom in regards to living a dual identity: that’s the reason Noah lost Felicity. It’s also the reason Oliver lost Felicity when he kept their life and his life with William separate.
But ever since Kuttler came back into Felicity’s life he’s wanted to make amends with her. While he might’ve stolen from her the last time they met – and she later had him arrested and he escaped from Iron Heights when Darhk did – Kuttler made it clear that it didn’t mean he didn’t love her or care for her. So this episode was all about him trying to make it clear that he does love her and wants a chance to be her father. Does he deserve it? Probably not. But that’s for Felicity to decide. Eventually.
One of the things I’ve been questioning since Noah made his debut was if he really did care about Felicity. And to be honest a part of me believes that he does care about her in his own way, but there’s still a part of me that questions if he can truly be trusted entirely. Sure, we saw him take a bullet for his daughter, but when push comes to shove will he choose himself over his daughter if presented the chance? Redemption isn’t just about saying you want to change, it’s showing that you want to. While it’s good that Noah wants redemption – something Andy Diggle never did – it’s time him to show Felicity that she can trust him to build a relationship there.
The Felicity/Noah dynamic was something I really enjoyed. There was a humor to it when the pair were breaking into Palmer Technologies and the banter between them that was all the evidence you needed to know they’re father and daughter. You could begin to see what Donna had meant when she said Felicity was a lot like her father. I’m enjoying their dynamic more than I thought, and I’m curious to see what next week entails when Felicity works for her father again, along with Curtis.

Thea Is A Queen – Don’t You Forget It

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While Team Arrow was thwarting off Damien Darhk’s nuclear apocalypse, one of its members was stuck on Darhk’s Ark of sorts dealing with her father and the return of an old friend (heavy sarcasm on the term friend).
It must be entirely frustrating to be confined to a place that you know you can’t escape surrounded by people that are brainwashed or the ones doing the brainwashing. Then you throw Anarky into the mix, and you’ve got one hell of a hell-cation. While we learned that Alex was being brainwashed into believing that Darhk’s Genesis plan was a good idea – this guy has really worn on me lately – Thea had a bigger issue with Anarky as what he was planning to do to Darhk might end up killing everyone inside of this dome.
While Anarky might be batshit crazy, he did spill some serious truth tea in regards to Thea and her being controlled by men.

“You can make your own decisions, Thea. You’re not a pawn. You’re a QUEEN.”

Thea has seen her fair share of men trying to control her or use her, most notably her birth father Malcolm. But Thea isn’t a whiny girl who can’t protect herself. Thea is a badass in every sense of the word. She’s as strong emotionally as she is physically — and given the things she’s endured mad props to her for maintaining a good head on her shoulders.

But the other thing about Thea is that she’s someone is very caring and protective about those she loves. There is nothing that she wouldn’t do to protect her loved ones. Thea is a Queen in every sense of the word.

The Lying Game [Featuring Oliver and Diggle]

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During last week’s pivotal episode, John Diggle was forced to shoot and kill his brother as he bantered on and on about how John’s family would never be safe. When Lyla had asked John what happened he told her that Andy was reaching for his gun and he had to shoot him in self-defense.
See, this was something that had been bothering me for this past week. With John saying that it was self-defense and it not looking like Andy was reaching for his gun, I wasn’t sure what really happened. But “Monument Point” cleared that confusion up when Oliver went to Diggle about his concern of lying to Lyla about what really happened. Turns out Diggle was worried about coming clean to Lyla about really happened – that Diggle shot his brother because he knew that Andy would never stop coming for his family – and John didn’t think that Lyla would look at him the same way again if she knew.
As Diggle said, Oliver is definitely not someone who should be lecturing about being honest with your significant other. But as Oliver countered, it actually kind of made him the perfect person to reaffirm to Diggle that he needs to be honest with his wife about what really happened. Oliver knows firsthand what can happen when you keep something from your significant other – something that you should tell them and in a way want to confide in them because they’re your partner in life. Ever since Felicity broke up with Oliver we’ve seen him gradually becoming a better man – a man that recognizes right from wrong in terms of how open you need to be in a relationship. This was Oliver finally realizing that he had made a mistake and was dealing with the consequences that came with that mistake, which just continues to show his character growth this season.
But this was also Oliver voicing his concern for Diggle as he’s noticed the pain that he’s feeling – he’s hurting worse than Oliver’s ever seen him. And John is supposed to be better than Oliver – that’s always been the case – but we’ve seen John going through his own island this season, which has worried us all. But in a way Oliver telling John that his own experience with lying to Felicity gives him that credibility showed John what’s at risk: his family, his relationship with his wife. Just last episode Lyla had told John at one point that he was acting like the man she divorced. The man she married has never kept secrets from her, so hopefully John’s conversation with Oliver will help him come clean to Lyla about what really happened with Andy…well, once they stop Damien Darhk from destroying the world.

This Is A No-Lie Zone

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If you know anything about Donna Smoak – other than she loves her daughter with a passion – it’s that she doesn’t deal with lies and liars. It’s part of what shaped her from her time with Felicity’s father – a man who was a professional liar who broke both hers and Felicity’s hearts when he abandoned them many years ago. Donna just does not put up with people who lie. Remember she’s got that BS detector tuned to near perfection.
So when Donna discovered an affidavit from the SCPD that detailed how Quentin didn’t know that Laurel was the Black Canary, Donna confronted him head-on like we know she always will. She was not okay that the SCPD wanted him to lie about the truth and that he agreeing to. But Donna informed him that she loved him – aww! – and that’s why she hoped he’d eventually do the right thing, which is tell the truth.
The men on Arrow this season have been seriously struggling with the lies to their significant others. While Oliver learned the hard way to come clean before its too late, Lance was able to own up to his mistake before anything was lost. Quentin showed Donna the revised affidavit – with some foot notes – where he wrote that while he was against it at first he came to learn that it was vital and important what Laurel was doing as the Black Canary. Quentin did this full-on knowing that he could be signing over his badge – although we don’t know that for sure – because he knew that it was the right thing to do. It made Donna proud of him, and it would’ve made Laurel proud, as well.
One of the surprising things this season has been the SmoakNLance relationship that began as an outcry from the fandom and morphed into something else entirely. With Laurel’s death Donna has become someone for Quentin to lean on, to rely on, to help keep him from falling into the hole that he had fallen into when Sara “died” both times. This relationship has been so well written and acted, and I can’t wait to see where these two are headed.

NEXT TIME ON ‘ARROW’

Episode 4×22 – “Lost in the Flood”


Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

What were your thoughts on “Monument Point?”

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