I've never been fond of countdown episodes, with heroes racing to stop an impending threat at the last minute. While these episodes are always taut and full of tension, action, and heroic moments, they also tend to be thin on actual plot and character. Except when a countdown episode is the culmination of an entire season of build up, where everything comes together and finally things make sense. This was one of those types of episodes. I mean the second kind.
For the most part, it was a lot of fun, although there was an instance of forced heroism that tainted this episode for me. What I mean by that is a major part of the plot involved Felicity lying to Palmer Tech's board of directors which ended with her getting fired before she could acquire an important piece of technology. That forced her to waste more time trying to steal it. If Felicity had just come clean to the board and explained the stakes involved in her actions, she might have gotten the processor she needed, and kept her job at the same time. The irony is that it's the exact same kind of lie of omission that she is furious with Oliver about. Talk about double standards.
On the flip side of that one negative, there was the rest of the episode, which was very strong. I liked the interactions between Felicity and her mother, father, and Oliver. She is acting like a hero again, and that's a nice return to form. In the last few episodes I wasn't sure I even liked Felicity anymore. There was also no real relationship drama, not that there would've been time for it in the episode. The only real drama involved Donna and Quentin over his confession. I'm not sure why Laurel being the Black Canary would be the deal breaker, when working with vigilantes and a man who just broke out of prison were things the mayor was willing to overlook.
The rest of the episode was focused on Thea and her much more interesting (than last week) adventures underground in H.I.V.E. central. Her weird and somewhat twisted relationship with Anarchy was really well utilized, and her interactions with him were probably the best character moments in the episode. Plus we got some more of Thea verbally bashing Malcolm, which I never get tired of, and yay, Alex the boring love interest turned brainwashed minion is dead.
I liked that Damien's reasons for destroying the world weren't totally about the whole wiping the slate clean crap. Really, joining H.I.V.E. and using them to wipe out billions of people was all a plot to gain absolute power. It's still supervillain plots 101, but at least it's a bit more interesting. Not just reshaping the world, but with Darhk as the new absolute ruler.
This flashback was meant to show how powerful a man connected to the Idol is, that knives, bullets, and even a grenade can't take him down. Clearly magic is the only recourse against magic. So Tiana going all glowy eyes might not be a bad thing in the short run, as she might be able to stop Reiter. The downside, is I'm pretty sure she will become a villain herself.
The really fun stuff came with the returning villains other than Anarchy and Calculator. Brick had a couple of nice scenes including a great fight with Green Arrow. Murmur continued to be a creepy presence and managed to work even though he can't actually speak.
Much like the way the Glades was destroyed at the end of season one, this time we got an entire town. I'm not sure where National Point is, but Havenrock (which sounded like a combination of Haven and Castle Rock, a King reference maybe?) was leveled, killing tens of thousands. Considering how hard Darhk was to kill before, he might be basically unstoppable now.
There were at least two references to the Glades in this episode, which was pretty clear foreshadowing.
Anarchy: "You can make your own decisions, Thea. You're not a pawn, you're a Queen."
Felicity: "The world is facing nuclear Armageddon. My pride and my general dislike for my father can take a backseat for the next twenty plus hours."
Felicity: "Let's make this simple. This isn't a reconciliation, this isn't a reunion, this you helping me save the world."
Calculator: "And what makes you think I can?"
Felicity: "Damien Darhk thinks you can. That's why he sent last year's greatest hits to take you down."
Another solid episode. I shouldn't be surprised because the show has always been able to draw together plot threads at the last moment to deliver an exciting finale. I doubt this season will be different, especially given the villain.
3 1/2 out of 4 seconds until nuclear Armageddon.
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.