Arrow Season 4 Episode 9 Review: Dark Waters

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Well, that was unexpected. Who guessed Damien Darhk had a family waiting at home, Christmas tree and all? 

Damien Darhk is like no other villain we've encountered, and Arrow Season 4 Episode 9 should be the last time he's underestimated or take lightly. Nobody endangers Felicity's life and lives to talk about it.

I'm going out on a limb and calling it. Felicity Smoak, although looking God awful at the end of "Dark Waters," is not the one in the grave. I'm also betting you all probably agree with that assessment.

There was a lot to like about this midseason finale. It was really well paced, and although it was pretty dramatic and dark, it also managed to be festive and cheerful. I almost feel bad for saying that given the outcome, but there you have it.

It seemed like a pretty terrible idea when Oliver mildly called out Damien Darhk initially, about the bay. That turned out really poorly in hindsight. WHY he thought showing his photo after another attack and outing him and HIVE by name on camera would somehow turn out better is a mystery. He needs better advisors. 

Saying you're going to fight the good fight out in the open and in the light should have some restrictions. It's like telling the truth. You still don't want to tell your boss her ass looks fat in her new pants, you know? So, it's no surprise Darhk went to the lengths he did. He's a wounded kid in the sandbox throwing wildly. And he's really good at it.

Can we guess the plans inside the box Darhk received were for his Genesis death chambers? A "reset" on humanity is pretty chilling. I was under the impression we wouldn't be covering any of the Nazi propaganda that came with the Blitzkrieg character, but this sure sounds close, right? Just a different avenue of arrival.

Even though Oliver threw down yet another gauntlet, they moved forward with the holiday party, which made it easy for Darhk to pick off his loved ones as they were all in one place. Except Laurel, who was running the phone bank. Guess that was helpful.

They set up the engagement and Felicity's excitement over it so that it made sense in the end for her to be the one gravely wounded, but they didn't single her out. Along the way, Laurel and her dad had special moments, and it turned out that Felicity and Laurel said to Oliver and Lance at different times pretty much the same exact thing: that nobody but them gets to decide whether they need protection.

In addition, Thea had a similar moment with Malcolm and Diggle even had a misty eyed time with Andy, if it didn't quite achieve the same purpose as the girls with the men in their lives. Everyone was shown to have close connections and people who loved them. They would all be missed, but they all wanted to be in the thick of it, to take chances to make a difference in the world.

In short, they're all headstrong and determined, unwilling let anyone or anything stand in their way. That puts them in front of all kinds of danger, because of the people they are with or the paths they have chosen.

I was honestly worried for all of them as the evening progressed. It was hard not to be. Then, even Malcolm and Lance crept up onto the list as they joined the others to try to take out Darhk. Seeing everyone fight together was pretty amazing.

A couple sticking points, though. The poor guy who died in the chamber did so at a much faster rate than Oliver's loved ones seemed to be affected, giving Black Canary and faux Green Arrow a chance to save the day. I loved how the Canary Cry broke the glass.

It didn't feel like there were too many people fighting, even when Felicity was swinging a pipe in the hallway. Adrenaline will do a thing to you. Having Malcolm, who I cannot tolerate, on board gave Oliver a face as the Mayoral candidate. That worked out well. It was a "rah rah" scene when you really wanted the good guys to win.

Darhk obviously did a protection spell on himself, but what on earth is he doing in the basement with all that corn? Anybody have a comic connection to help me? I'm game!

The engagement was sweet, but it came on almost too fast for the hour. Finding the ring, pushing the concept, the life and death all started to point to the obvious conclusion. As soon as they walked off the stage as if they dropped the mic and the concert was over, boom, into the limo, well. What else was going to happen there?

But still, any one of the people mentioned above could be in that grave when Oliver is eventually crying over it, including Felicity. The reason I don't think it's her is because she's alive when the show returns on January 20. If she was going to be in the grave, they'd likely just rip off the Band Aid and not put people through the trauma. 

The reports have been that Oliver's son would put a strain on their relationship. That hasn't happened yet. And also her father is supposed to be coming to the show. For her funeral? Doubtful. The writers did say Barry's time travel in Arrow Season 4 Episode 8 would have consequences in that what happened before time was changed wants to happen, i.e., deaths, so to beware. We'll see.

That didn't help the final scene, however. It was terrible. And, if Donna hadn't already seen Darhk at the holiday party, I would have wondered if the juxtaposition of his greeting his FAMILY (whoa) played out as it did over Felicity's injury because he is her father. 

That was painful. It seems like no matter how bright things seemed as Felicity went into the moment, when she comes out, it will be hard to stand by Oliver and expect happiness. Her happiest moment was torn to shreds. 

Other points:

  • Mini Felicity at the bay cleanup was cute.
  • I love that they're being true to Felicity's Jewish heritage. 
  • Donna called Lance her boyfriend, but she never mentioned her daughter's name to Lance before that moment? Odd.
  • Did Oliver never make dessert for Felicity before the souffle? She seemed certain she knew the exact dessert he was going to pop the question over.
  • What point is Andy serving for coming back from the dead? He has provided no information and no good story for Diggle. Shame.
  • Where the heck is Lyla?
  • Why did Oliver single out Malcolm for his thanks and force Laurel to ask for hers? Sheesh. She was right there! Her Canary Cry was pretty important this time around.
  • Malcolm telling Oliver the new lair was easier to break into than the old lair...once again, broke in just when they're ready to meet.What's with the timing?

Take a look at the preview for Arrow Season 4 Episode 10 and then scroll through some screenshots from "Darhk Waters."

We'll be back with the Arrow round table next week and you can watch Arrow online any time!

Dark Waters Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (89 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Broadcast Television Journalists Association (BTJA), enjoys mentoring writers, wine, and passionately discussing the nuances of television. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.

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Arrow Season 4 Episode 9 Quotes

Thea: If you're here to give me a Christmas present, you can keep whatever knife or torture device you plan on giving me.
Malcolm: No presents, nothing gift wrapped, at any rate.

Oliver: Can I ask you a question?
Felicity: Now? Here? I mean...what's the question?