What has happened to Arrow lately? And I mean that in the best way possible because these last several episodes have been some of the show’s best in years.
As far as penultimate episodes on Arrow go, “Lost in the Flood” will go down as one of the show’s best. That is how you do a penultimate episode right there. All the applause; all the emotions; all the words.
Honestly, this is the best Arrow has been since season two, really, when Oliver was battling Slade Wilson and his army of Mirakuru soldiers. There was something about the personal dynamic between the hero and villain, as well as the real and vivid threat that Slade posed. Season three as a whole failed to deliver what it promised. The whole Ra’s al Ghul storyline fell flat in its execution, and the season finale lacked the high stakes and intensity that its predecessor – and now successor – possessed.
“Lost in the Flood” didn’t serve as an in-between to set up the finale. It was a continuation of the events that ultimately have led us to next week’s season finale. It had all of the heart, emotion, action, and humor that have made Arrow a recipe for success. There was an effortlessness to it that’s been present since episode 20.
Can we take a moment to appreciate the stunts in this episode? That sequence with Oliver and Diggle running from the Ghosts within Damien Darhk’s underground city – with Oliver flying through the air and unleashing arrows – and Diggle firing bullets. It was so beautifully choreographed and riveting. I legit couldn’t keep my eyes off of it or stop my fist from going in the air. This is the stuff that Arrow stunts are made of. This is what Arrow needs to get back to.
This is one of my favorite episodes of the season just because of the weight of it all. The end of this season has brought forth a season-ending storyline that I didn’t expect but have been more than impressed by. Arrow is at its best when the stakes are high and the heroes rise to the occasion. And it’s that reason why I already know that the season four finale will be epic.
Let’s break this down:
Hell Is Coming
Just when you think Arrow can’t shock you where you stand they deliver an ominous cliffhanger that left my jaw flat on the ground. In fact, it’s still there. Right now. Even as I type this.
For a penultimate episode, Arrow seemingly delivered the second part of a three-part season finale as Oliver and Diggle infiltrated Damien Darhk’s underground city to save Thea. But somewhere along the way they ended up fighting an unexpected battle within the confines of this underground city as Anarky sought to kill many innocent lives. But Anarky managed to succeed – and in doing so he also killed Ruvee Darhk, whose last wish was for the Green Arrow to make sure her daughter survived.
As you’d imagine when Darhk got hold of this news – that his wife didn’t survive and his daughter was M.I.A., something literally broke inside of him. And that’s saying a lot for a psychotic mystic hellbent on destroying and the rebuilding the world. But it happened. Suddenly that carefully calculated man was gone and replaced by something much more unstable and even more dangerous than before. This was someone with nothing left to lose. And that’s a very dangerous thing.
Just when you began to wonder how a season finale could happen after this hour, Darhk burst into Felicity’s loft and left us with an ominous foreshadowing that will lead us into next week’s season finale:
“Go to hell.” – Felicity Smoak
“Why bother? I’m going to bring it to us.” – Damien Darhk
In this episode, Darhk lost his wife and he believes he lost his daughter, who Oliver, Diggle, and Thea actually saved and brought back to Star City. Right now, Darhk believes that he’s lost everything. He went into this plan intending to rebuild the world for the better with those few that he cared about – his wife and daughter – by his side. But now that he believes that he’s lost them, Darhk isn’t content with letting the world live on while he suffers. Darhk intends to burn the world down to the ground leaving no survivors.
This is hands down the highest stakes that Arrow has ever faced, and it’s managed to execute in a way that is believable and chilling to the core. Darhk is still in possession of his magic, so how can Oliver and Team Arrow possibly stop him? The key, of course, is hope (which I’ll discuss later in this review). But one has to wonder what hope can do when matched against dark magic. Clearly there’s something we haven’t quite pieced together, but hope is clearly they key here.
I loved how this episode really made me understand Darhk’s motive. It wasn’t until he lost everything that I understood why — in his sick, twisted mind — he wanted to rebuild the world. Despite his poor judgement, Darhk — in his own way — wanted to do this for his family. But watching him lose his family and lose all sense of hope for this new beginning, it finally opened my eyes to why Darhk was doing this. I was so enraptured by Darhk in these final minutes. It’s going to a phenomenal season finale.
This finale essentially sets up a match-up between Oliver – someone who has so much to fight for – and Darhk – who has nothing left to live for other than to watch the world burn with him.
A Question of Hope
Over the course of these past few episodes, it’s become clearer and clearer that Oliver’s key to defeating Damien Darhk rests in his ability to inspire hope in the midst of Darhk’s fear tactics. It’s no secret that Oliver has struggled with this ability to inspire hope within a city that has experienced terrorist attack after terrorist attack – must be May.
But while Oliver is known for possessing that darkness that molded him into the hero he is today, there comes a point where the hero is going to need to overcome that darkness and embrace the hope that comes with being a hero. This is Oliver’s time.
Something that was very interesting in this episode was when Oliver and Diggle came across this family that was within Darhk’s underground city. They weren’t under the influence of those yellow, mind-controlling pills; they were there under their own volition. They were ready to fight because they believed in what Darhk was preaching. Darhk promised them a chance to rebuild a world that is crumbling, which is understandable to a family that often found themselves in that rubble. Darhk inspired hope within them when all seemed lost.
Oliver found himself how someone Darhk – who is hellbent on destroying the world – could breathe hope into people when he couldn’t. That’s the thing that Oliver is learning, and it’s something that he learned in this episode.
“I refuse to believe that…Because I have hope.” — Oliver Queen
To inspire hope you need to have hope. How else are you going to fight if you don’t believe in what you’re fighting for? It kind of brought me back to Felicity’s words to Oliver in last season’s season finale: “Don’t fight to die; fight to live.” Someone fighting to die doesn’t possess hope. Someone fighting to live does.
When Oliver had the chance to run and retreat as Darhk’s underground community crumbled to the ground at the hands of Anarky, he chose to stay and fight for these innocent people. Because he had hope. He had hope that they could overpower Anarky and save this community. The thing with being a hero is that you are supposed to inspire hope within your city. But in order to inspire hope – so that the people really believe in that hope – is for you to show them that you believe. And that’s what Oliver did.
More than ever I believe Oliver is ready to face Darhk. Not just face him, defeat him. Now, clearly going up against a mystical madman will not be an easy feat – especially as he’s spreading chaos throughout the streets. But as evidenced in the promo for the season finale, Oliver is going to take to the streets – as Oliver Queen, no doubt – to inspire hope for the people in Star City as the streets burn around them.
This is Oliver’s ultimate test. He needs to hold onto that light inside of him – on all of the good things he has in his life – and give Star City light in the middle of the darkness. If he can do that, then he might just find a way to defeat Darhk.
Smoak Family Ties
Arrow might be a show known for its gritty darkness, but it’s always managed to blend that darkness with a bit of levity. Felicity, Curtis, Donna, and Noah were that grounded relief in the middle of the madness that was going on in this episode.
Because while Arrow is Oliver Queen’s origin story it’s also a story that has always been grounded in the human side of things, including less-than-stable family dynamics that make for some damn good television.
There was something from the moment Curtis entered the Smoak fray that magic happened. As Felicity’s mother and father came face-to-face for the first time since Noah left (or Donna ran, actually) Curtis found himself in the middle of a live-action soap opera that literally prompted him and Felicity to drink their emotions away. The comedic timing of Emily Bett Rickards and Echo Kellum continues to be some of the best on television, and their dynamic has been one of the strengths of this season.
There was an interesting plot twist within the Smoak family dynamic as we learned that it wasn’t Noah that left rather Donna wanted to get Felicity as far away from that horrid man as possible.
“It really is the end of the world.” — Felicity Smoak
But let’s get one thing straight: Noah Kuttler isn’t all of a sudden justified in his actions. Sure, Donna was the one to run, but Kuttler is one of the best hackers in the world and you’re telling me he didn’t manage to find Felicity and Donna until nearly 20 years later? As if.
The difference here is that Donna was doing what she felt was best for her daughter. It wasn’t done maliciously. She was honestly concerned about Felicity’s future with this man in her life. How hard that must have been for Donna to make that decision to uproot her life and her young daughter’s life, but she felt it was necessary to protect Felicity. That’s what being a parent is. It’s doing whatever it takes to protect your child.
Arrow showed this with the scene between Felicity and Donna in which Donna came clean about what she did – and most important why she did it – and we saw that not only was Felicity not bothered by it, but that she appreciated it. She knows how hard her mother has fought for her well-being, and this was just another example of how.
One of the great things about this storyline in this episode was how it was able to blend the family dynamics – both the humor and seriousness – as well as the big threat at hand as Felicity, Curtis, and Noah worked to stop Rubicon once and for all. It wasn’t just family drama. It was family drama intertwined with a significant plot point in this storyline. And it worked splendidly.
Arrow once again proved why it needs Felicity Smoak. Felicity and her arc provide a levity and genuineness even in the midst of a nuclear takeover that makes Arrow grounded in the midst of chaos. It’s Felicity’s superpower in a way. That and her genius hacking skills.
Paving the Way to an Oliver/Felicity Reunion
There are many reasons why I love Curtis Holt. His wit, his intelligence, his kindness, his downright amazing one-liners that are delivered so effortlessly (kudos Echo Kellum). But something that Curtis has really shone with has been his ability to preach wisdom to those around him – notably Oliver and Felicity.
Curtis is a smart man. And not just in a genius sense. He’s someone who’s remarkably observant and compassionate in his approach. He has a way of opening your eyes to the truth in front of you, as Felicity experienced in “Lost in the Flood.”
As Felicity struggled to deal with her family drama – yes, reaching for a beer is always the right call – Curtis informed her that this insistence of her to always expect that her father will always revert back to a criminal was reminiscent of the reason she ended things with Oliver.
“The criminal who you don’t think can change. The slightly overactive but understandable breakup. Just saying. You and Oliver. Donna and Noah.” — Curtis
Curtis’ little talk should signal the start of Felicity beginning to question her reasoning behind breaking things off with Oliver. Because she still loves him – she’s said as much – but her reasoning has always been that Oliver was incapable of change; that he’d always revert back to that man on the island. Felicity has preached that all people have the ability to change, so now it’s time for her to show that faith in Oliver.
Thinking back to episode 4×06 when Donna confessed that Felicity found the kind of love that people can only dream about, Donna admitted that she was sort of living vicariously through her because she never had that opportunity. In a way this situation provides Felicity with the opportunity to do what her mother never did: fight for the love of a good man.
That’s not to say it’s going to be an easy way back or that things won’t ever get dark in the future. But Felicity’s journey in this love story in the back half of the season has been about deciding whether or not this true love is worth fighting for. And I believe she’ll realize that it is. Nobody is perfect, as she admitted, but Oliver has shown that he’s capable of change, and that his love for her has never wavered.
Life isn’t easy, and love certainly isn’t easy. But that’s what marriage is all about –
Thea Deserves Better Than Malcolm
When will Thea ever escape the madness that is Malcolm Merlyn? I don’t think I’ve ever needed somebody to escape a toxic person in their life more than needing Thea to get as far away from Malcolm as possible.
Malcolm once again proved that he’s less father-of-the-year material than even Noah Kuttler. While I’ve never doubted Malcolm’s love for Thea, the way that he attempts to show that he loves her has never been executed in the way that it should. Love isn’t about possession. Love is about allowing someone to be who they are and do what they want.
“Drug me again and I will kill you, you son of a bitch.” — Thea Queen
I never doubted why Malcolm had Thea kidnapped and brought to Damien Darhk’s underground city – he’s always had this undying need for her to be safe. Even when they’re fighting on opposite sides, he still needs her to be protected. But the lengths through which he’s willing to go to ensure his safety continues to be absolutely baffling.
When Malcolm couldn’t ensure Thea’s cooperation, he drugged her and then used her to try and eliminate Oliver. Really? That’s the way to win your daughter back – brainwashing her to do something that you could never accomplish. It was sickening.
But Thea got her sweet revenge when Oliver helped her fight that compulsion and she turned the tables – well, actually the bow – on Malcolm and threatened to kill him if he ever tried to drug her again. Honestly, killing would be too merciful for Malcolm.
Thea has always deserved so much better than Malcolm as a father. And the thing that she sometimes forgets is that she had better than Malcolm. Robert Queen – though not her blood father – always has and will always be her father. Being a parent has nothing to do with blood and everything to do with love and well-being. In that stance, Malcolm has never been Thea’s father. Thea always has and will always be a Queen.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.
What were your thoughts on “Lost in the Flood?”