No Longer Unopposed
As promised a few weeks ago, Oliver is leading a cleanup of the city’s bay, which Thea and Alex note has a surprisingly good turnout and has increased Oliver’s approval rating by 10 points. Of course, that good feeling is interrupted as a drone flies in and starts shooting up the bay, though Felicity is able to hack into the drone ridiculously quick and deactivate it. While dozens of civilians end up hospitalized, miraculously no one has died.
Afterwards, Oliver comes to the conclusion that the bay is important to Damien for some reason and has Diggle question Andy about what that is. That doesn’t go very well since Andy is still as tight-lipped as ever despite having plenty of time to get Damien’s influence out of his system, forcing Oliver to come up with a new plan and boy is it a doozy.
Felicity returns to her apartment to go through holiday decorations with a yet again visiting Donna (and yes I do mean holiday because there are both Christmas and Hanukkah decorations since apparently Felicity is Jewish), when Donna finds an engagement ring in one of the boxes. They both quickly put two and two together and realize that Oliver plans to propose (maybe Oliver should’ve picked a different hiding place once the holidays rolled around).
Back at the bay, Oliver calls a press conference to comment about the shooting. Oliver outs Damien and H.I.V.E. to the media and announces his plans to set up a hotline so people can call in tips about him. Needless to say when Damien watches the press conference on TV, he is none too happy.
Now that Oliver and the rest of the team are officially on Damien’s radar, he considers cancelling his campaign’s holiday party for obvious reasons. The rest of the team manage to talk him out of it though, saying they need to prove they’re not going to let Damien intimidate him, though Oliver makes a point of hiring extra security.
As Thea is getting ready for the party, Merlyn pays her a visit. Merlyn has been looking into the details of Thea’s recent encounter with Damien and tells her whatever he did to her had nothing to do with the Lazarus Pits. The fact that he still has no real idea what’s going on with Thea worries him and he let’s her know it. As usual though, Thea insists that she’s fine and basically tells Merlyn to lighten up.
At the party, Oliver and Felicity meet Holt’s husband Paul for the first time. As Holt and Paul reminiscence their proposal story, Felicity makes the sudden realization that Oliver had originally planned to propose to her three months ago and evidently had second thoughts when they returned to Star City. To make things even more awkward for her, she also discovers that Donna and Captain Lance are now something of an item, a revelation that unsurprisingly makes her pretty uncomfortable. When Felicity asks Oliver why he changed his mind about proposing, he admits that with how crazy things are going in Star City, he basically put it on the back burner.
To the surprise of no one except Team Arrow apparently, Damien and some Ghosts have crashed the party guns blazing (apparently that security team was so incompetent they were killed off-screen). Damien throws Oliver through a window and kidnaps Felicity, Diggle and Thea. By the time Oliver has regained consciousness Damien and the Ghosts have already gone.
Oliver immediately suits up as the Green Arrow and goes on the warpath beating any Ghost he comes across to a bloody pulp, though of course none of them provide Oliver with any answers about where Damien is.
Meanwhile, Laurel in running the hotline and gets a tip about her father working for Damien. When Laurel confronts Captain Lance about this, he admits that he had been working for Damien for awhile and then started working undercover for Oliver. They don’t get much time to talk this out though since they both get a call from Oliver.
Oliver informs Laurel and Captain Lance that he still has no leads in his search for Damien but Merlyn stops by to lend some assistance (while rightfully making note about how much his lair’s security sucks). Merlyn has gotten hold of a H.I.V.E. satellite phone and Oliver decides to use it to contact Damien and offer himself up in exchange for Felicty, Diggle and Thea. Captain Lance says it’s a stupid idea but Oliver insists they don’t have much choice.
Meanwhile, at Damien’s lair, his employers are less than thrilled about his progress for something called Genesis and that he’s wasting his time on a vendetta against Oliver. Damien insists that he only attacked Oliver because his cleanup at the bay interfered with his own plans and things are still going fine. He then becomes downright gleeful when Oliver contacts him.
Damien takes Oliver to his lair and gives him a small glimpse on his master plan. He shows Oliver some sort of gas chamber and gives Oliver a demonstration using one of his Ghosts. The gas chamber evidently doesn’t have the effect on the Ghost that Damien was hoping for so I suppose we’ll have to wait a little longer to find out Damien’s up to.
Laurel, Merlyn and Captain Lance are able to track Oliver’s location and ready themselves for a rescue mission with even Captain Lance insisting that he get involved since he figures his cover with Damien is pretty much blown anyway.
Damien gives Oliver the chance to bid a private farewell to Felicity. Oliver insists to Felicity that he only turned himself over to Damien so he could find out where they were being held. Felicity points out though that Damien will probably notice something’s up when the cavalry shows up and the Green Arrow is conspicuously absent though Oliver says he has that handled.
Naturally, Damien reneges on Oliver’s deal (actual line from Damien “Our bargain was only at best implied. Even so, bad guy, remember?”) and tries to make Oliver watch as Felicity, Diggle and Thea die in the gas chamber. Luckily, Laurel and Marlyn (disguised as Green Arrow) come to the team’s rescue and Laurel uses her Canary Cry to break the glass in the gas chamber. Oliver and Merlyn fight Damien while the rest of the team and some Captain Lance led SCPD officers make quick work of the Ghosts. Oliver and Merlyn are able to get the upper-hand on Damien and are able to blow up his lair with him in it but Damien is able to utter an incantation before the explosion making it clear we haven’t seen the last of him.
Sure enough, the explosion seems to have only briefly inconvenienced Damien since he shows up again after the commercial break. He shows his employers some cornfields (um spooky?) and says that things are going just as he planned, informing them “Phase 4 begins now” (whatever that means).
Oliver shows up at the bay to give another speech and he takes the opportunity to officially propose to Felicity, who naturally says yes. That moment of joy doesn’t last very long though since on their limo ride home, Oliver and Felicity are ambushed Godfather style. Oliver is able to make it through the ordeal relatively unscathed but Felicity isn’t as fortunate. When Oliver goes to check on her, she’s riddled with bullets and bleeding from the mouth.
Oliver is determined to get a hold of whatever Reiter is looking for and determines that he needs Taiana’s help to do it. He needs to get some surveyed maps of the island and figures he can get them from the sunken freighter Amazo. He has Taiana give him a crash course in free diving (I’m sure professional divers will love that Arrow implies this skill can be learned in an hour) and swims his way to the boat. He finds the maps no problem but gets bitten by a horribly CGIed shark on his way back (seriously Sharknado would mock this effect). Shortly after making his way back to shore however, Oliver is busted by Conklin and several other armed goons. Since Conklin now sees Taiana is clearly still alive, Oliver is probably going to have a much harder time talking his way out of this one.
This was perfectly entertaining episode by normal standards but for a winter finale it was a tad underwhelming. Past winter finales for Arrow have ended with some pretty epic cliffhangers. Even the ultimately lackluster season 3 ended with Ra’s al Ghul apparently killing Oliver. Sure we knew he would survive but it was still a hell of an image to end the year on. Yes, theoretically we got that with Felicity being shot but I’ve already got my doubts about her being dead. The next episode’s promo has deliberately left her fate ambiguous and by my math we’re still about three months away from Oliver and Barry’s at the cemetery. Then again maybe this season of The Walking Dead has left me jaded about character deaths.
Another problem is that I’m having to try harder and harder to maintain a suspension of disbelief that Damien somehow still doesn’t know the Green Arrow’s identity. Yes, Merlyn disguised himself to cover for Oliver but at this point Damien should still be extremely suspicious of Oliver. Oliver got a hold of a H.I.V.E. satellite phone without explanation and also seemed to know a lot about Damien when he publicly outed him. I’m also surprised he didn’t find it suspicious that Team Arrow was obviously shorthanded during the rescue mission since Green Arrow and Black Canary were the only team members present. At the very least Damien has to figure that Oliver is connected to Green Arrow somehow at this point.
Arrow will be taking a break for the holidays but be sure come back January for ‘Blood Debts.’