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Comics Alliance Recaps ‘Arrow’ Episode 1.22: Darkness On The Edge Of Town

Arrow: Darkness on the Edge of Town
The CW

The CW’s superhero series Arrow re-imagines Green Arrow for a TV audience as a tough, often ruthless vigilante bent on setting things right in his home of Starling City by punishing the wicked. ComicsAlliance’s Matt Wilson will be following along (even if it’s very late) to see how he fares.

In this episode: No appearance by Bruce Springsteen as the episode title might indicate, but there is a mildly complex heist, a big plan to bring down China’s economy, and divorce papers.

Previously: Proto-Arrow betrayed Proto-Team-Arrow. Steele was kidnapped and rescued. Moira and Boe rolled an earthquake machine into town.

A curly-haired male scientist walks through a hallway with his female colleague, doing a pretty good job in his attempt to ask her out to a dance club in spite of his awkwardness and the fact she’s no fun and hates salsa music. They’re in for a spot of bad luck, though. They arrive at their lab to find all their colleagues dead at the hands of Dark Arrow, a.k.a. Malcolm Merlyn (a.k.a. The Face of Boe).

The two scientists turn around and head for the doors, but Dark Arrow seals them off with some kind of evil USB dongle. A couple security guards run in (through the lab’s…non-sealed doors, I suppose) and are quickly exploded. How, you ask? Dark Arrow shoots one arrow into a computer and they all explode.

I won’t lie. I kind of love that moment.

Dark Arrow finishes off the last two scientists and drives away from the headquarters of Unidac Industries (a.k.a. Earthquake Machine Inc.) in his Porsche like a baller. Being Evil John Barrowman certainly has its benefits.

In the Arrowcave, Dig is reporting back to Oliver all the details of the past few days he spent spying on Moira. Apparently she didn’t do anything terribly suspicious, but that didn’t stop Dig from taking like 100 pictures of her looking pensive in her car or flipping her hair back. I think somebody’s got a crush.

That’s not good enough for Ollie (though he doesn’t seem to disapprove of Dig’s affections), so he decides to go have a chat with his mother and hopefully not get shot this time.

On his way out, Ollie gets stopped by Laurel, who must have a set of keys to Verdant or something because she’s there every damn morning. Long story short, she wants to know if Ollie still has feelings for her like he said he did last week because this subplot needs to stretch out for one more episode. There’s further evidence of this in Ollie’s reply, “Nothing’s changed.” What does that even mean, Ollie? Plenty of things have changed. Your stepdad got kidnapped and rescued. You committed like 200 murders. I’d say that’s change, at least for those people.

Back at Casa Queen, Steele is arriving home for the first time since his kidnapping. Moira wants to feed him a big brunch of bangers ‘n mash and all that, but he says he’s going to just go lie down then refuses to kiss her on the lips. Man, arrange for a guy to get taken captive for months on end just one time and he’s got to go get all dramatic about it.

Thea gets a text from Roy Harper asking her to meet him that night and the One TV Station In Starling City reports on the massacre at Unidac, including a tidbit about a seismologist who was killed (earthquake-machine science has been set back decades). Before Ollie can ask his mom about all the evil she’s doing, she rushes out.

Then it’s time to head back to Flashback Island! How I missed you, FI. Fyers’s men and Proto-Arrow are transporting Ollie, Slade and Shado back to Fyers’ camp so that Ollie can recognize the dying guy from a few episodes ago who apparently was just there to make him feel bad, and Fyers can talk about everyone “reuniting for the end.” He knows how long a TV season lasts, I guess.

Then Fyers reveals his plan to shoot down a commercial airliner over a mysterious island. Just a consummate television lover, this guy. (He also wants to destabilize China’s economy because why not.)

Detectives Lance and Hilton (man, where’s that guy been?) investigate the crime scene at Unidac well after TV news has reported on it. That’s kind of backwards, isn’t it? They draw some obvious conclusions while Roy and Thea sit across the street in a stolen car and take some pictures with a telephoto lens. They don’t turn up much in Roy’s weird quest to track down “The Hood,” so he asks Thea to go snoop around at her old job.

And now it’s time for Ollie and Moira’s talk. Ollie questions her like a prosecutor leading the witness — this s**t wouldn’t even fly if Sam Waterston was doing it and Stephen Amell, you’re no Sam Waterston. Moira’s saved (or is she) by a convenient power outage, then she and Ollie both get knocked out with darts in their necks.

As is often the case in the Arrowverse, Moira and Ollie wake up tied to chairs in a dimly lit warehouse. A guy who looks and sounds a lot like Arrow tells Moira she’s failed the city. (It’s Dig. We don’t know that yet, but come on. It’s Dig.)

Thea stands around, mouth agape, at police headquarters until Detective Lance basically saunters over and all but yells a bunch of stuff into her ear about his ongoing investigation. It’s that discretion that’s taken him so far in the SCPD. Thea runs back to Roy’s and reports that Dark Arrow is connected to Merlyn Global, so they go decide to snoop around there with no consequences whatsoever because Thea can do that apparently.

The interrogation of Moira continues. Dig catches Ollie with a couple of pro-wrestling-style punches and Moira spills it all: Boe’s going to level The Glades. With what? Well, she doesn’t outright say “earthquake machine,” but we’re getting there. Dig cuts Ollie free and leaves so a guy who murders people can get all judgmental on his mom.

On Flashback Island, Fyers shoots Shado so that Proto-Arrow will man up and take the blame for the airliner being shot down. Proto-Arrow assents to helping Fyers, so Fyers calls a bald guy in a mansion somewhere and tells him everything is going to plan. The bald guy relays that news to a very nice pair of legs.

Everybody’s investigatin’ the Unidac murders. Moira’s asking Boe about it when he comes to visit Steele. Smoak’s hackin’ Merlyn Global’s network (we know this because Ollie’s eyes bug out and he asks, “Are you…HACKING?”). Detective Lance is asking Merlyn some questions at police HQ and asking his computer guy to also start…HACKING?!?

Laurel comes in and breaks the news to her dad that she’s into Ollie again. He, shockingly, doesn’t explode like a robot who has just heard a paradox.

Back at the Arrowcave, Smoak’s HACKING!?!?! isn’t going as well as she would have hoped, so Ollie decides to break into Merlyn Global and take down the system from the inside. It’s a regular Ocean’s 11, but with a fraction of the budget and only three people. Queen’s 3, I guess.

Ollie waltzes in as himself and tells the guy at the door he has a meeting with Merlyn while Smoak comes in dressed as a Big Belly Burger delivery girl.

Those BBB employees get some nice jackets, I gotta say.

Smoak’s burger is for “Mr. Andrews,” who turns out to be Dig posing as a security guard. I suppose we’re supposed to believe he snagged this job in, like, an hour or so? Or was there a two-to-three-week wait between the commercial break and this actual heist? Wasn’t this whole thing pretty urgent?

Anyway, Smoak delivers the burger to Dig, who in turn gives it to his fellow security guard. It puts the guy to sleep so Dig can swap out the video feed to the 25th floor, which is where all the Merlyn Global mainframe is. Ollie and Smoak (not sure why anyone isn’t telling the delivery girl she should probably leave now that she’s done her job, but OK) get in an elevator and are dicks to a guy just trying to do his job because he needs the elevator, too, and they want to ride up alone.

Ollie and Smoak get up to floor 24, then pop through the top of the elevator, swing across the shaft, engage in some awkward sexual-tension banter (it’s a little endearing this time) and exit on floor 25. Ollie heads off to his meeting with Merlyn and Smoak opens up the mainframe room so she can use Windows 8 Technology to start HACKING.

Ollie goes to Merlyn’s office and the two ex-friends five-o-clock-shadow each other for a while. It’s not much of a meeting. Ollie leaves the office and hears Dig tell him that Smoak is about to get caught by a security guard when he meets up with Boe in the hallway. In the sitcommiest of ways, Ollie finds himself stuck with his frenemy’s dad and can’t help his cute hacker pal.

Smoak finishes hacking the gibson to find out about the earthquake machine but runs into a guard as she’s leaving. The guard asks for some I.D. to see if she’s…a Merlyn-authorized Big Belly Burger delivery girl? Maybe he’s not that bright.

Ollie finishes his business with Boe and tries to head back upstairs, but then Thea sitcommily catches him in the lobby to fumble around before saying she and Roy are looking for “the vigilante.” Ollie threatens Roy to not mess around with “The Hood,” who just happens to be him. Ollie, quite seriously, might be Superhero Jack Tripper.

Also, come on, show, come up with an actual name for Arrow in season 2. I’m begging you.

Dig somehow teleports up to the 25th floor and bails Smoak out with some story about her being one of Merlyn’s floozies. “Oh yeah, I read the tabloids,” says Dumb Security Guard, who now sounds like he might be a robot.

At Roy’s House of Lights He Stole From a Chili’s, Thea threatens to leave if he doesn’t give up his hunt for Arrow. He says he can’t because he lost someone, though he won’t say who, because vagueness is the heart of drama.

Meanwhile, at Casa Queen, Steele is also putting the end to a relationship. He hands Moira some divorce papers (in Starling City, where the legal system is just a mess, they’re just one page), lets her know he knows she had him kidnapped, and delivers hell of sick burns. That the next scene isn’t a Patentend Arrow Hospital Scene in a burn ward is beyond me.

Instead, it’s at Police HQ, where Detective Lance’s hacker guy says he couldn’t get into Merlyn Global’s systems, but someone else was trying to hack in, too. He even knows who it was, somehow! Smoak ought to know better than to sign all her hacks with her Twitter handle, @FelicitySmoakREAL.

Down in the Arrowcave, Smoak’s starting to page through all the data she took from Merlyn Global and Ollie delivers a speech about honoring his father with the List Book in his hand like he’s a street preacher.

He realizes that stopping the Undertaking (I swear he says “understaking” the first time and must have not gotten to do a second take) will finally accomplish his father’s vague penance goal. Then he leaves, goes to Laurel’s, and takes quite seriously 1,000 words to say, “I wanna do it.”

That song that was in all the commercials for Revolution plays, and Merlyn walks by the building so he can see his best frenemy and his ex have sex through an open window. No, really, that happens.

Post-coitus, Ollie gets a phone call from Dig: Smoak found the device at a warehouse. Ollie rushes out just as a flashback hits. Proto-Arrow, speaking in English for some reason, takes responsibility for the Chinese plane crash in a video recording. Then Fyers shoots him in the head and Ollie FLIPS HIS WIG. Not the literal wig Stephen Amell is wearing, but he gets really upset. Amell actually does a good job with it. I still don’t get how crashing one plane over an island is somehow supposed to be China’s 9/11, but this show’s got a budget.

In Boe’s office, there’s some confusing business with a cell phone before Arrow gives him the whole “failed this city” speech. Turns out, as Dig informs Arrow, that the earthquake machine isn’t where they thought it was, though. Boe knew about all that HACKING! Looks like The Glades might get earthquaked after all.

Not knowing what else to do, Ollie tries to murder Boe with an arrow, but John Barrowman catches that s**t and even I have to admit it’s basically baller as hell.

Boe admits to being Dark Arrow and they fight with some silly cartoon sound effects for a while. Eventually, Boe knocks Arrow out and takes off his hood to reveal he’s Ollie. “Oh no,” he says, instead of JUST KILLING HIM RIGHT THEN AND THERE WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING, BAD GUY OF THE SEASON.

Final thoughts

The hacking subplot in this episode is downright goofy and ends up not really mattering anyway. And this one really drags in the middle. You can tell the writers were trying to save all their big punches for the finale. Also, the whole plane-crash/island flashback plot is just nonsense.

Still, the last 10 minutes or so start ramping things up pretty well, and I’m almost willing to forgive all the murders Arrow committed this season just because they built up to that thing where John Barrowman catches the arrow.

They could have done that without him murdering dozens of people, though, so probably not.

Previous episodes:

1.1: Pilot

1.2: Honor Thy Father

1.3: Lone Gunmen

1.4: An Innocent Man

1.5: Damaged

1.6: Legacies

1.7: Muse of Fire

1.8: Vendetta

1.9: Year’s End

1.10: Burned

1.11: Trust But Verify

1.12: Vertigo

1.13: Betrayal

1.14: The Odyssey

1.17: The Huntress Returns

1.18: Salvation

1.19: Unfinished Business

1.20: Home Invasion

1.21: The Undertaking

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