While this episode was a strong one and deserves some due praise, I found myself continuing to question the choices of this season. Which is probably why it took me a week to finish writing this review. My apologies for the delay.
Split into three distinct plotlines which were linked only by a tenuous thread relating to Darhk, this one was fun, dramatic, and trippy. Starting with Darhk's entrance back into H.I.V.E. central headquarters, with his wonderful one-liners and sinister tongue-in-cheek delivery, it felt like a return to form.
But, and yes there's always a but, something was still bothering me about this episode, and more broadly about this season in general. Except for having one of the most entertaining main villains in the series history, this season has been very hit and miss. Drama that should produce tears ended up falling flat. Humor that normally would stave off the darkness of the rest of the series has had almost an opposite effect. I've spent days trying to wrap my head around the reasons why the show can have such highs and lows, how the writing can be excellent one minute, and awful the next. The show has never been great, but at its worst at least it was entertaining. The fight scenes were exciting, the humor was almost always grin worthy, and the drama had personal and emotional stakes.
Oliver's foray into the world of magic was kind of by the numbers. It seemed to be about bringing Oliver and Felicity back together as at least work colleagues, and Esrin Fortuna was an interesting new character (although I would have preferred Constantine back). The show is clearly stepping into the world of magic and immortality, with Oliver gaining some resistance to Darhk's magic. All of those scenes were fun, but felt a bit empty. As though something was missing.
Thea's journey into the world of The Prisoner a la Darhk's underground fortress was literally empty. It took her a bit too long to catch on, and when she did, she wasn't subtle about it. Of course that was the point, that the illusion was so good that she never realized she was underground. But I think she should have been savvy enough to gather that something was wrong earlier.
Darhk's attack on Lyla and her chip that could be corrupted to override all the security of the entire world's nuclear arsenal... I... I don't really have the words to express how Deus ex Machina this is. A single chip hidden on a single person is the opposite of the redundancies needed for that kind of technology. If Waller really was that crazy, why didn't Lyla at least destroy it? Was it her arrogance, ego, stupidity? I don't know, but wow, this one was just lazy writing.
Lastly, Diggle and Andy. I don't know why but Andy never worked for me. Maybe it was casting, or maybe we were never supposed to connect to Andy given his true nature. But I didn't feel at all sad that Diggle had to kill him. Don't get me wrong, I felt bad for John having to kill his brother, but at the same time I was glad this particular plotline is over. It was a strong set of scenes, with a lot of really good acting. Some of David Ramsey's best moments were in this episode. I just didn't really care.
No flashbacks to the Island, but we did get an image of Tiana with glowy eyes. My bet is she is the one consumed by magic that Oliver mentioned to Felicity.
Malcolm is now fully on board the H.I.V.E. boat headed for the apocalypse. My guess is one of his conditions for joining was Thea's survival. I'm not sure I blame him for being a cockroach bent on survival, because Darhk does look like the only real option at this point.
Was Andy trying to commit suicide, or was he so confident that Diggle wouldn't kill him that he was reveling in taunting him?
Oliver's reversal of Darhk's magic was great moment, and a long time coming.
So Genesis is literally a restart. I'm surprised it wasn't called Ark, but maybe that's a bit too on the nose.
Felicity: "Oh, it's been awhile since I hit anybody with this thing."
Darhk: "I had a lot of time to reflect while I was in prison, mostly about religion and Bundt cake..."
Darhk: "Your brother-in-law being my loyal servant, Thanksgiving is gonna be so interesting this year."
Darhk: "You have no idea how much I hate being nice."
I guess the show lost me at some point this season, and I'm glad episodes like this are still possible. Things are looking up, and I hope this positive trend continues through the rest of the season. Maybe next season will be better.
4 out of 4 Bundt Cakes
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.