‘Arrow’ Season 1, Episode 22 Review – Conflict Resolution

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Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen in Arrow Darkness on the Edge of Town Arrow Season 1, Episode 22 Review – Conflict Resolution

For an hour of television that was essentially tasked with bringing together all the main plots of the last 21 episodes of Arrow, ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ managed an incredibly propulsive plot quite well, even if some of the less prominent storylines still felt as though they were lagging behind.

But that’s okay, because as far as bringing things full circle in terms of the Undertaking and Malcolm Merlyn’s reveal to the Hood that he’s the Dark Archer (and his subsequent discovery of the Hood’s identity), the season’s penultimate episode worked swiftly to ensure those elements of the story were properly aligned for a climactic showdown during next week’s finale.

In that regard, ‘Darkness on the Edge of Town’ is a fast-paced bit of superhero television that packs in a great deal of action, while bouncing around from plot point to plot point, doing its level best to let the audience in on what’s happening with nearly every character on the show.

That’s actually an impressive feat, as Arrow has, on more than one occasion during its first season, run into some roadblocks in terms of making a subplot about a secondary character seem like something worthy of taking time away from Oliver, or whatever Team Arrow is up to. Occasionally that focus has tried to include Tommy and Laurel, despite the fact that, up until two episodes ago, neither character had been given much to do, which somewhat lessens the impact of their sudden prominence in the narrative – though, to be fair, Tommy’s trajectory did become more interesting (if a bit telegraphed) after he learned Oliver’s secret identity.

John Barrowman in Arrow Darkness on the Edge of Town Arrow Season 1, Episode 22 Review – Conflict Resolution

Although it remains something of an unconvincing aspect, the biggest impact outside of Oliver’s superhero social circle, would certainly be his premature romantic reconciliation with Laurel – which had been a foregone conclusion since the events of ‘Home Invasion‘ – and how their interlude essentially pours salt in the open wound that is Oliver and Tommy’s friendship.

Given that Tommy knows Oliver’s secret and the sudden proximity he has to his father, this development is clearly intended to have significant ramifications for the series as it progresses – certainly more so than Walter Steele filing for divorce from Moira and possibly even more than her forced confession to the Hood (this time played by a somewhat overzealous Diggle, who beats on Oliver to encourage Moira’s to talk).

Meanwhile, Roy Harper’s growing obsession with the Hood becomes slightly clearer in terms of his motivation, while the exact details of his past unspoken for the moment. But at least the writers figured out a way to introduce Roy to Oliver in a manner that felt somewhat organic – or as organic as it can be when two teenagers turn up at Merlyn Global HQ at the exact same time Team Arrow is breaking into the company’s mainframe.

Aside from the fight sequence at the end, the infiltration of Merlyn Global during regular business hours was the highlight of the episode. For starters, it’s not the smoothest of break-ins; Oliver hilariously resorts to knocking a binder and some papers out of the hands of some poor office drone and comes off more like high school bully than enigmatic superhero (or even his playboy alter-ego). But there are also some decent moments of tension coupled with a Star Wars-esque swing across an elevator shaft and Emily Bett Rickards manages to get in quite a few quirky Felicity-isms during a relatively short segment – which, depending on your feelings for her is either a pleasant bit of levity, or an insufferable flurry of dialogue.

Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards in Arrow Darkness on the Edge of Town Arrow Season 1, Episode 22 Review – Conflict Resolution

Make no mistake, there is an incredible amount of plot going on, and somehow, the writers still found room for an island flashback setting up Fyres’ plan to destabilize the Chinese economy by targeting aircraft traveling to and from the country – starting with a Ferris Air commercial jetliner. More importantly, however, is the glimpse we’re offered of the woman Fyres is apparently answering to, and the somewhat shocking execution of Yao Fei.

Despite forcing some of the subplots and the suddenness of Oliver’s renewed relationships with Laurel – which coincides with his abrupt desire to leave the Hood persona behind after stopping the Undertaking – the episode manages to be quite entertaining. But with all the shuffling of plot points, there was simply no time for the characters to express anything but a sense of being completely in the moment.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but with any luck, this week’s heavy plotting will allow the finale to not only focus on what looks to be a very exciting showdown between Oliver and Malcolm, but also to articulate some sense of what Oliver’s journey from castaway to hero means that amounts to more than a mere justification for his retirement.

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Arrow will conclude its first season next Wednesday with ‘Sacrifice’ @8pm on the CW. Check out a preview below:

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  1. All around a fun episode. The Ollie/Laurel recoupling felt too forced, but I did get a laugh out of Lance’s painful admission regarding the ‘changed’ Oliver since his return.

    I mentioned it on the Arrow/Lantern thread but I wonder if the legs of the woman Fyres answers to belong to Carol Ferris. I doubt we’ll know until next season.

    Kicking around ideas for how season one might end: Too injured by Malcolm to defend Starling City against The Undertaking, Ollie manages to escape with Tommy’s help. Proving he’s a hero, Tommy rushes to stop his father’s device while Roy gets Ollie to safety. The device detonates, destroying The Glades and killing Tommy, thereby making Malcolm an even deadlier enemy. Perhaps Diggle will get his revenge against Deadshot, but only after learning the assassin is working for the female government agent that Diggle trusted to help bring him down. Season two launches with the surviving heroes more determined not to fail as the city is being rebuilt under a new name: Star City.

    • Too many plot holes in your theory and one of the worst I’ve ever heard

      • These plot holes?
        Ollie is injured by Malcolm — who captured him at the end of this week’s episode.
        Tommy is aware of The Undertaking’s device due to Lance’s questioning of him.
        Tommy desperately wants to prove he’s a worthy man, it’s been his arc all season.
        Roy is covering the right ground and finding The Hood isn’t hard to imagine when he’s been staking out Merlyn’s offices.
        Malcolm’s entire plan hinges on his idea that he’s defending his family. Losing his son would cement that belief.
        Diggle has had multiple run-ins with Deadshot this season but hardly seems like something that will span more than one season.
        Diggle’s agency friend came out of nowhere and is a bit too shadowy.

        • Tommy was not aware of it, and how does Detective Lance questioning him prove that he knows what the Undertaking is? And Tommy just saw Oliver with Laurel in her room, which would even make his hate for Oliver grow. How would Roy know where to find Ollie and why was it shown in the promo that Tommy opened his dad’s secret lair, meaning he found out about the Dark Archer persona. It’s almost similar to the Harry/Norman Osborn and Peter Parker story. I’m pretty sure Roy will find out about the Green Arrow’s identity sooner or later in the series. And Diggle would rather kill Deadshot rather than save thousands just to satisfy his revenge? Diggle knew that agent before, that’s why he asked for her help and would she really sacrifice her men to die just so that they can deceive Diggle?

          • I’ll preface this by saying I don’t watch the promos, I just watch the episodes as they’re made available on Hulu and, again, just kicking around ideas. I’m giving Tommy the benefit of the doubt that his conversation with Lance will prompt him to do some digging and by the conclusion of the next ep he’ll have discovered the device. If Roy found Oliver, it’d be due to his own detective work. I felt the scene where he & Thea are at Meryln’s office at the same time as Oliver was a nod in that direction. As for Diggle, I think he’d be down in the Glades helping people and opening an opportunity to cross paths with Deadshot one more time. It wouldn’t be that he would sacrifice the Glades so much as protecting those he cares about. You could be right about his agency friend…she just gives off a peculiar vibe, similar to the Ben Browder character that was once a friend of Diggle’s.

      • You got two right

  2. worst theory…….ever like my head hurts

    • That theory won’t work sense the finale trailer showed Tommy in the Dark Archers suite. I think Malcolm possibly kicks the bucket which turns Tommy into a more formidable enemy. How Roy Harper plays into it? Idk but my guess is maybe Oliver retires and Roy becomes Red Arrow @ the start of season 2 until Green Arrow subsequently returns… If we are playing the guessing game.

    • Lol tragic

  3. Really hoping they DON’T kill Malcolm in the finale. Too predictable, and I think they need to slow down Tommy’s development into Ollie’s nemesis. However, if they do kill Malcolm, I do like the idea of Tommy somehow “dying” in the finale as well (collateral damage?)…only to show up unexpectedly in Season 2. Perhaps he finds his way to Nanda Parbat.

    • I agree. While I somewhat expect them to kill Malcolm, leading Tommy to potentially take up the mantle to get revenge against Oliver, it would make much more sense for him to approach his father and ask for guidance. That would at least give him time to be trained, as opposed to training himself when he just lost his only partner (assuming Malcolm dies).

  4. So on the trailer for next week tommy becomes the dark archer and tries to kill Ollie just because he say her with laurel?

    • thats one of the man reasons

      • But he has no training!

  5. That theory won’t work sense the finale trailer showed Tommy in the Dark Archers suite. I think Malcolm possibly kicks the bucket which turns Tommy into a more formidable enemy. How Roy Harper plays into it? Idk but my guess is maybe Oliver retires and Roy becomes Red Arrow @ the start of season 2 until Green Arrow subsequently returns… If we are playing the guessing game.

  6. everything about this episode was awesome except the horrible sub plot of Laurel and Oliver, dear god must we do Smallville all over again. it is such a tired and overused plot device, “why are you lying to me Oliver i can handle whatever it is” “I can’t i have to protect you by lying to you” Blah Blah Blah (which doesn’t make sense unless we’re never going to see Black Canary)
    better idea kill off Laurel and Ollie can marry Felicity cuz that chick is epic hilarious. it seems pretty clear from the past couple of episodes that Ollie is going to Kill Malcolm and Tommy will takeover as the Dark Archer, which I’m all for it would make for an intriguing season to does he tell people Ollie’s secret Does he not tell? I guess we’ll have to wait for Red Arrow next season, but i do hope Thea gets involved as Speedy it would be kind of cool to have an army of archers running around the rooftops but only if they have a really good villain to counter it.

  7. How do we know, Tommy hasn’t already been training with Malcolm?? he did say in the Tommy/Ollie office scene, when asked what he did: “I work very closely with my father ….” then gave an almost evil glance. that to me says, he may already know about malcolm being the Dark Archer and has possibly already begun being trained by him. Despite it being predictable (and i hope he doesn’t) I think malcolm will die in the Finale and Tommy will take up the mantle, though I don’t think we’ll actually see the new Dark Archer til quite a way into the next series, whilst Tommy prepares and plots his revenge for his fathers death.

    • It’s possible, though watching that scene again I think it was more to ramp up the emotions Ollie is feeling, considering he wants/needs to kill Tommy’s father. As others have stated, this is essentially the same as the Norman/Harry Osborn plot. I just wish/hope the writers take a few more risks and don’t settle for carbon copy plots used in other superhero movies now that show is pretty well established/successful.

  8. But according to the producers it took oliver five years to learn everything does that mean he will put roy on a crash course to quickly catch him up

  9. Kudos to Microsoft for their, yet again, Surface tablet product placement. That thing must be awesome if Felicity managed to download an entire corporation’s server data within a couple of minutes.

    • @ Khw5280

      LoL! Agreed! That thing must be awesome!! The windows thing is old, but hey if they’re sponsoring the show, I’m all god with that, (even though Apple is WAY better!).

      • But there’s no way Apple could be better than Jarvis. I mean Siri? c’mon…

  10. This ep. was fantastic on every level. I do wish Felicity would get together with Oliver as opposed to Laurel. Tommy is well on his way to the Dark Archer, especially if the Hood kills Malcolm next week, which looks like it has to happen.

    I just can say enough about this show, it is just great, and keeps getting better. My hat is off to the show runners for I consider an excellent first season. It wasn’t perfect, but it was very, very good. This ep. like many others had, had me on the edge of my seat. It’s the fastest hour of television I watch a week. I wish all of WB/DC’s stuff was this good. This show proves they can do a good job when they put good people in charge.

  11. Also………

    During a comercial break, they interviewed the show runners. One of them, I forget which one, made very insightful comment about Stephan Amell, that absolutly reminded me of RDJ and Tony Stark/Iron Man.

    He said (paraphrasing here) ” if the actor does a good job playing the role, it will be impossible for the audience to imagine anybody else playing that character/role””.

    That is 100% true. He’s exactly right. I couldn’t imagine anybody else playing Oliver Qween/Arrow besides Stephan Amell just like I couldn’t imagine anybody else playing Tony Stark/Iron Man. These guys just own these roles.

  12. I have an odd feeling that Malcolm Merlyn will resurface again in Season 2, even if Oliver gets to “inevitably” strikes him with an arrow to the chest.
    Just a gut feel.

    The mystery lady with sexy legs that Fyers is answering to is automatically Moira Queen, nobody else fits that bill. Unless the show’s producers are manufacturing another villainous female adversary (Talia Al Ghul – impossible) or (Jezebel Jet ) or whatever her name is.

  13. i think thea will die, or be severly injured and will get roy & ollie teaming up

  14. The relationship between Tommy and Oliver is getting way to Spiderman-gone-Twilight; and the use of that “Imagine Dragons” song during Tommy’s moment of accidental voyeurism is proof to me that the “Twilight” crowd is exactly who CW is trying to market toward [it's the theme song for the new movie based on the author of Twilight's new book, i can't remember the name of the film]. Honestly, the sudden stupid reunion of Oliver and Laurel totally ruined the show for me; it was like reading a long and seemingly excellent book with a poorly written ending that just makes me want to tear my hair out. I feel like the writers were sitting in a room placing bets about exactly how many cliched devices they could fit in one episode. All of the tensions in the show’s character relationships have suddenly been used up an spent senselessly; what was the point of all of it? The show has edged its way toward failure multiple times but managed somehow to rescue itself–always because it never strayed too far over the line, until now. It was such a good show until the end of this episode! The show cannot come back from this! It is doomed to be a one-season show now; or, if they do run a second season, many of the actors will sense that she show is losing its quality and will quit–needing to be killed off, or to have their actors replaced [which is the final beating of a dead horse that ends every failing show]. Call me doom and gloom; I’m just bummed.

  15. Stuff I didn’t get:

    1. Why did Ollie tell Tommy that he can’t be with Laurel and that Tommy shouldn’t push her away and then goes to see Laurel (knowing that Tommy will probably show up)?

    2. How did a fighting expert like Yao Fei not see Fyres pulling that gun on him and not avoid being killed?

    3. How can Malcom beat up on Ollie so easily (again) and this time he was unarmed?

    4. Is Roy Harper an emo?

    5. How is Felicity so hot yet single?

    • 1. I believe he said this to Tommy before they got the data needed from the Merlyn mainframe, which subsequently showed Oliver a way to stop the Undertaking (save the city) and retire as the hood (which would allow him to regain some normalcy/a relationship with Laurel)

      2. Not sure it would have mattered, Fyres goons were armed and everywhere

      3. Up until he caught the Arrow, Oliver had no idea Malcolm was the Dark Archer, so I would assume he was somewhat taken by surprise at his skill. Also, Malcolm is clearly well trained and at least an equal if not superior to Oliver in combat.

      4. If by Emo you mean emotionally distraught because of losing loved ones (his parents?) then I guess the answer would be yes.

      5. A very good question lol.

  16. I’m starting to think that the whatever is resolved in the finale won’t be enough. I thought that Ollie realising that the names in his father’s book not being the *only* thing in the world coupled with his other earlier off-list exploits would mean that he would always help people.

    No. He goes in *completely* the opposite direction, deciding that the list was merely a clue, a ‘symptom’ and that the real rot was coming from Malcolm Merlyn. Instead of, you know, the classic Batman thing where the bad guys always get beaten, but there are always going to be bad guys. Massive dick move from Ollie saying that he would stay away from Laurel, deciding that the one reason he couldn’t be with her was his night time activities and getting ahead of himself with premature post-vigilante celebratory sex.

    As much as I liked Ollie’s, “I really, REALLY want to cave this man’s skull in!” look when he heard Malcolm Merlyn sneak up on him at the hospital, Tommy’s, “Everything in my life is ruined because of Oliver Queen!” look was pretty brutal.

    So, my reasons for predicting a less-than-stellar finale… Malcolm is clearly better at fighting than Ollie. Ollie was in full vigilante regalia (not to mention armed to the teeth) and Malcolm was in a suit and is much older. Malcolm broke his bow and kicked a metal column so hard there was a visible dent! There’s no way Ollie can beat Dark Archer in a fair fight, but if he got beaten by getting talked out of his plan, it’d seem cheap. I’m secretly hoping that Ollie fails. I think that’d be a pretty shocking end to the season.

    Felicity and Diggle get the Glades evacuated, but Malcolm smuggles Ollie in and leaves him in Verdant. Roy couldn’t find Thea and goes to Verdant to see if she’s there. He finds his ‘hero’ and gets told that Ollie isn’t a saviour – he has failed. Roy doesn’t give up on him and helps him out of there. Tommy realises that all of his problems really come from his father first and Ollie second. He takes Malcolm’s bow and hits him thrice in the back (three arrows in one shot, obviously…) which kills Malcolm (since he wasn’t expecting an attack, he doesn’t do another arrow catch) and the supposed murderer, the Dark Archer, will never be found.

    The Island Flashback plot should end in a contrast to the present day plot. Perhaps the Glades get levelled in the present, but Ollie/Shado/Slade save the plane and escape Lian Yu. Slade gets his eye stabbed out during the struggle (obviously) and gets a bit depressed because his depth perception is out (so he can no longer kill efficiently) and Ollie has a busted arm (and gets a lucky kill on someone with a one-handed bow shot in a The Dark Knight Returns reference) but both Slade and Ollie get a special triad tattoo that will ‘open certain doors’ in South East Asia because they are proven brethren of whatever badass ninja academy Shado clearly attended as a girl. Despite their injuries and failings, there is still hope.

    The mysterious woman is probably China White. Who else, right? Unless it’s Moira Queen, in a shocking swerve, who is secretly full-on evil. Also, um, the police know that Felicity was on the same track as they were with hacking the Merlyn Global Group database. I’m not sure where the writers are going with this. Felicity’s a regular in Season 2, so she’s not getting any lasting punishment, clearly, but it did seem a bit out of the blue.

  17. So what’s the over/under of who and how many are going to die in Thursday’s season finale?

    I’m putting higher odds on Thea and Moira Queen as well as elder Merlyn. I am also putting small odds on Deathstroke randomly showing up at the very end or showing up for season 2 premiere. Don’t know why he would but it’s a random gut feeling.

    These shows normally have a cliffhanger but someone is going to die just not sure which character it will be.

  18. If it was up to me, I would have made that episode the final one for the season. The ending was perfect. I hate it for ending there but that’s what makes it the perfect ending. So much so I thought it was the season finale.

  19. And now I’ve read the comments, the mystery lady I think is pretty clearly China White (that’s Kelly Hu’s part right?) and unless it is Moira, I’ll be fairly impressed by the swerve if it is not China White (provided there has been hints to the identity).

  20. Good episode overall. Like many, I thought the Oliver/Laurel reunion was terribly rushed. Unlike many, I think that Laurel (Katie Cassidy) has tremendous potential, the writers just need to get her on her own mission, away from Oliver (perhaps being suited in black and dying her hair blonde?). Loved the Star Wars homage. Again, John Barrowman continues to be the best thing about this series. That final scene was cinematic, jarring, and superb.

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