Arrow Review: Unnecessary Detours Derail Episode That Requires Maximum Tension

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Arrow, Season 4 Episode 21 “Monument Point”

Where Agents of SHIELD went with a con game story as the prelude to its season finale, Arrow chose to the heist route for its next-to-last episode of the season. The final result wasn’t exactly Ocean’s 11 but the episode deserves credit for an ending that was not neat and tidy.

Plot Snapshot

Damien Darhk has the Rubicon chip, was able to reverse engineer its purpose in record time and therefore has access unlimited access to the world’s nuclear arsenal. It’s going to be up to an IT girl, a criminal and two guys in Halloween costumes to prevent Armageddon.

The Big Deal

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Whatever problem can’t be solved with arrows can always be solved with hacking! This issue is so complicated even Felicity needs some backup: her estranged father. The team is up against a 21-hour deadline so time is of the essence and bringing Noah in is a distasteful but necessary option for everyone. A lot of time is wasted tracking Noah down and fending off the HIVE goons who are also after him. To further complicate matters, Felicity has been so busy using Palmer Tech assets for Team Arrow business, that she’s been ignoring her CEO duties. The company board of directors isn’t a big fan of that management strategy, so they oust and lock Felicity out of the company just when she needs some widget that will help the team save the world. Ollie, Felicity and Noah do a broad daylight break-in at the Palmer building. The heist doesn’t go well and instead of getting the actual processor, Noah has to clone it by scanning most of it with his cell phone. Once properly equipped, Felicity and Noah have less than 15 minutes to prevent a launch. Despite their best efforts in the middle of a firefight, one nuke manages to make its way out of a silo. The father-daughter hacking team try to deactivate the missile. The best they are able to do is use an old GPS prank of Felicity’s to make the target, Monument Point, seem 20 miles west from where it actually is. Instead of the bomb dropping on a large population center, it falls on the small town of Havenrock. Felicity has saved millions of lives (for now – shockwaves and fallout are nasty things) but still has the tens of thousands of innocent lives lost on her soul.

On the Side

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Thea is stuck in her underground suburban hell and to make the misery complete, her father, Malcom Merlyn, is there too. He gets Thea up to speed on Darhk’s plan, but really all she wants is to see her boyfriend. After some crass banter with her dad, Thea meets up with Alex who is directing new arrivals to their McMansions of the Apocalypse. As if things weren’t terrible enough for Thea, Anarky has found his way to the Truman Show dome, looking to exact some revenge on Darhk. Merlyn strong arms Thea in helping him get Anarky out of the dome’s atmospheric systems. Thea averts disaster in the air room, but Anarky gets away to find Alex and zap him with a cattle prod, just to tick off Thea. When she gets to the scene, a fight ensues. Anarky gives Alex an especially strong jolt to the heart and judging by Thea’s reaction after she gains the upper hand in the fight, that’s the last we’ll be seeing of Alex.

Observation and Speculation

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*Merlyn’s robot hand looks like a ski glove. He totally needs to give Phil Coulson a call and ask about his realistic looking slimmer model.

*Still having problems figuring out how nuking the earth with fire and radiation is going to “save” it.

*Where was Curtis Holt during all this breaking and entering? He can’t be Mr. Terrific if he can’t even rise to the level of Mr. Around. That widget was in his lab after all.

*Does Darhk’s idol have a range that it draws dead souls from? You’d think on a planet of 5 billion people the millions of deaths that occur naturally every day would be enough to fuel his power without the nuclear option.

*Felicity had to think for a minute there when she rescued her dad. She’s so used to hitting people with that van, it must have felt foreign to hit the brakes instead.

*I know it looks cool, but what good does a raincoat with a bunch of grommet holes punched in it do you?

*You don’t think what it would be like to be the president in a world where the fate of mankind is in the hands of an IT girl, a criminal and two guys in Halloween costumes.

*We went back to the island for some flashbacks that involved a lot of gunplay. After holding one of the idols for a while, Ollie’s Russian buddy’s eyes went all yellow. Noting to see here, move along.

*Laurel may be “dead” and buried but it doesn’t stop the show from digging her up every episode. This time it was a side story between Quentin and Mama Smoak. Quentin is mulling an option here he has to disavow Laurel’s legacy as Black Canary in order to get the brass to look the other way on the whole “collaborated Darhk” thing. MS says doing so would be lying, and she doesn’t give lovin’ to liars (any more). Quentin changes the wording of his statement, which will get him love but probably cost him his job. These scenes only purpose was to keep Laurel fresh in our minds. Interpret that as you will.

Words to Live By

“Whenever things start to suck in my life, you show up.” – Thea to her father. That’s our bloodlusty quip machine.


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Although this was finally an Arrow episode with stakes beyond saving a city full of empty warehouses, the whole thing felt cluttered. The dangers with the nukes and in the dome were enough alone to sustain the episode. Stories like this live and die on close calls and building tension. The opportunity for both of those things was undercut with scenes from the Island and the spat between Mama Smoak and Quentin. The episode does get credit for the messy ending, the unnecessary detours restricted it to the land of the average.

Craig Wack

For a weekly discussion of comic book TV shows please join Craig Wack and Tatiana Torres for the Agents of GEEK podcast updated every Friday and now on iTunes

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