In the Arrow midseason finale, Team Arrow faced a full onslaught from Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough). The ruthless villain first used drones to attack innocent civilians and disrupt prospective Mayor Queen's (Stephen Amell) efforts to clean up the Star City Bay. Then he stormed Oliver's campaign holiday party and took hostages. His seemingly final blow came when he tried to kill Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), Diggle (David Ramsey), and Thea (Willa Holland) in a gas chamber -- testing out a deadly poison he hoped to use to "reset humanity."
Darhk eventually lost that battle, but the war is ongoing. Newly engaged Felicity and Oliver were ambushed by Darhk's Ghosts on their romantic limo ride home, and the December finale ended with Felicity's life in real jeopardy. When the rest of season 4 kicks off on January 20, we'll be seeing a lot more of what this evil mastermind has planned for the city.
There is still a lot to uncover about Darhk, a mercurial man with mystical powers that even Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) and his extensive League of Assassins sources can't completely figure out. According to IGN, Arrow showrunner Marc Guggenheim has also promised fans a surprising twist coming up with Oliver's newest archenemy.
"We're going to throw a hard six in episode 15 that I think will surprise people. We're going to do something that's never been done before on Arrow with the Big Bad. Fifteen is a real game-changer episode for us."
Guggenheim stressed the show's desire to always keep viewers guessing, and to try to do a little something unique with each season. Since last season was packed with a crazy amount of spinning plot lines and character shifts, they wanted to do something more focused in the fourth year.
"We went into Season 4 going we want Season 4 to resonate for reasons other than the plot twists. We want to come in and be very disciplined and tell a different kind of story. Even looking ahead to Season 5, to tempt fate, how's that going to be different?"
Though Arrow has been tormenting fans since episode 1 of this season with the gravesite of an as-yet-unidentified person, Guggenheim says character death won't be part of Darhk's big reveal. With eight episodes following this intriguing twist, it will be interesting to see if and how he'll factor in to the remaining storylines.
Since former "Big Bad" Malcolm ended up working with Team Arrow on several occasions, it's likely Darhk's surprise actions won't include using his genius as a force for good. The fact that he appears to be an unrepentant sociopath also indicates a different sort of twist. There's an underground "Genesis" project that seems to indicate an ongoing doomsday plan, and a possible secret family we got a glimpse of in the midseason finale. There's a wealth of opportunity for sudden plot turns in Darhk's backstory, so the truth of his identity and the source of his powers could provide a shocking revelation in the "game-changer" episode 15.
There's also Thea's baffling bloodlust "cure" at the hands of her brother's toughest rival, which could potentially lead Speedy to the Darhk side. It's been an ongoing theme in both Arrow and The Flash that circumventing death can have unexpected consequences, which gives Thea that extra level of vulnerability. Let us know in the comments what good or evil twist you're expecting from this promised pivotal episode.
Arrow season 4 returns with episode 10 on Wednesday, January 20 at 8/7c on The CW.