After taking a detour to Central City in the Season 4 crossover event with “The Flash” last week, it was back to business for Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and the gang on the “Arrow” midseason finale. Now, with the stakes higher than ever, one member of the team might not make it to the new year.
The episode opens with Star City mayoral candidate, Queen, making good on his promise to clean up the bay area. In episode 7, he proposed this plan and the Green Arrow’s nemesis, Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) met his public persona for the first time to tell him to abandon the bay project, or else. Being a secret superhero, the mayoral candidate was undeterred by a mere threat and went ahead with it anyway. While a group of volunteers and children cleaned the bay, Darhk sent a drone with machine guns mounted on it to attack the crowd.
Luckily, no members of the team were harmed, and they were able to retreat to the lair to figure out their next play. Oliver made it clear that it’s time for a new attack strategy against Darhk and the H.I.V.E. soldiers. Meanwhile, his girlfriend, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) goes back to their apartment to find her mom hard at work putting up holiday (specifically not Christmas) decorations up. While she’s going through the boxes, she discovers the ring that the hero was planning to give Felicity before they were forced to move back to the city at the beginning of this season.
While that’s happening, Oliver has his eye on a different prize. He greets the press, who are eager for a statement about the attack. He decides the best play is to inform them that he is aware who the leader of the soldiers that have been attacking the city is and outs both Damien Darhk and H.I.V.E. to the public.
Revitalized by the prospect of getting engaged to the man she loves, Felicity ignores the gauntlet that her boyfriend just threw down and decides to set up the campaign’s holiday party. Oliver protests fearing that there would almost definitely be an attack and, sure enough, there is an attack. While the members of Team Arrow are drinking and being merry, Darhk and his Ghost soldiers burst in and command the room. He says that he was hoping to have future mayor Queen as an ally, but now needs to get his loyalty another way. He kidnaps his loved ones, Thea (Willa Holland), Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity.
The Green Arrow immediately takes to the streets and beats every Ghost soldier he can get his hands on trying to find information on where they’re being kept. Unfortunately, none of them have leads that the superhero’s persona can follow. When everything looks hopeless, Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) shows up in town with a proposal. Since his daughter, Thea, is part of this now, he gives Oliver a phone that has a direct line to the Damien Darhk and tells him to turn himself in as Oliver Queen. He calls a meeting with the villain out of his costume, so as not to tip him off that he’s actually captured three of Team Arrow’s principal members. However, the word of a madman truly can’t be trusted. Oliver thinks the deal is to return to Damien’s lair with him in exchange for the release of his friends.
Unfortunately, the bad guy holds up to his title and, instead, shows Oliver a gas chamber he’d designed where he’s working on some kind of toxin that he plans to release over the city. He monologues a bit and reveals that he wants to "install" Oliver as mayor so that he can help him with this plan. He tells him that the whole reason he wanted the bay area left alone was because he was using it to develop an algae for the toxin. Continuing his parade of villainous behavior, he lets Oliver have a “goodbye” conversation with Felicity.
In a tearful scene, she tells him that she discovered the ring and forgave him for never actually proposing to her after they moved to Star City three months prior. She says that he should never worry about her because he’s not responsible for anything that happens to her. She’s a big girl and she does what she wants. From there, Darhk takes them to the gas chamber and has his men grab Oliver. He locks Felicity, Diggle and Thea inside the chamber and begins to flood it with the deadly gas.
He tells Oliver that he needs to take the people he cares about away from him in order to get him to stop fighting and just become his docile little pet. Fortunately, there’s a lot more to the hero than meets the eye, and his true plan suddenly springs into action. The Black Canary (Katie Cassidy) and Malcolm Merlyn, dressed as the Green Arrow, attack Darhk’s men and rescue the rest of the team.
With the closest call in recent memory over, the team retreats while Malcolm confronts Darhk one-on-one. He’s no match for his magic, but Oliver comes in and lends a hand. Together, they think that they blew the villain up, but he mutters some kind of spell just before the explosion that seems to save him. With a new sense of victory and no casualties, Queen hosts yet another public function to celebrate.
After a tree-lighting ceremony at the bay, the big moment happens. Oliver finally makes good on the promise from Season 4, episode 1 and proposes to Felicity in front of everyone. She says yes and the now engaged couple rides off in a limo together. It looked like the midseason finale would end on a high note, when the worst happened. Darhk sends soldiers to deal with his new Oliver Queen problem, and they open fire on the limo. The hero springs into action and drives the vehicle to safety, but when he goes to check on Felicity -- she’s not moving. He pulls her out of the car and checks her pulse, but before the audience can see him react to the results, the episode ends.
Odds and Ends:
- Jan. 20, we find out if Felicity is alive.
- Darhk has a family? Who knew?
- We finally got to meet Curtis Holt’s (Echo Kellum) husband.
- What does Diggle’s brother know?
- Is there any way to kill Diggle?