Darhk-ness on the Outside and Darkness on the Inside, Arrow “Schism”
Yet another Arrow season has come to an end and once again, I’m not really sure what to say about it. Like Season 3, this year also ended with a “was that the end of the series?” feel to it. Not the typical seasonÂ cliffhanger that we are used to on other shows. I mean, heck, even the midwinter break gave us a “Will Felicity live or die?!” to keep us coming back for more. Now, don’t get me wrong, I often get frustrated waiting four plus months to find out big reveals, but I also know that that’s the nature of TVÂ to get viewers to jump back on board when shows return and I am fully awareÂ that I’ve signed onÂ forÂ this. But like Felicity and Oliver riding off in to the sunset last season, this episode left us with an interesting and unexpected but relatively vagueÂ wrap up.
That being said, this episode was all about coming together to save the city, avenge Laurel’s death and action, action and more action; however, once that was accomplished, it was only a hot minuteÂ before everyone (almost everyone) went their separate ways. With the Darhk-nessÂ outside conquered, each character felt itÂ was time to battle their inner darkness and turmoilÂ on their own.
Darkness has been a focal point of this season since the beginning. Oliver started in the light of Ivy Town, attempting to bury his darkness, but was quickly pulled back in when Star City was in need of his help. Over the course of many episodes, many near-deaths, some real deaths, a broken engagement and countlessÂ battles, many of which were lost thanks to Darhk’s unfair magical advantage, Oliver continued to believe that his own personal darkness was at fault for all that had gone wrong. And while yes, IÂ know Oliver has a hyperactive sense of guilt and needs to take blame for everything, I also find it very hard to imagine how you can consider yourself entirely at fault when there is a magic-wielding madman on the loose who is trying to destroy the entire world. But this is TV, so I’m willing to momentarily suspend disbelief.
That being said, everythingÂ Â came to a head in this episode as it became clear that the world had twoÂ hours left before it all went kaboom.Â As expected (or as TV has taught us to expect), madness ensued and the citizens of Star City went stark raving mad. Cars were lit on fire and fights broke out in the streets. Apparently, when the world is coming to an end, people would rather loot and pillage and knock someone’s lights out than spend time with loved ones, but I’ve never experienced the end of the world so who am I to judge. And in the midst of all the chaos, one person stepped up and inspired. Yep, I bet you think I’m about to say Oliver, but you would be mistaken.
While Oliver was the one who jumped on top of a taxi cab and shared his allegedly-inspiring thoughts withÂ Star City, which provided Diggle, Quentin and the cityÂ with the power to fight back, I actually think it was Curtis who was the heart of the movement. In my opinion, his speech to Oliver was far more inspiring and actually provided the impetus that Oliver needed to inspire the city. I guess that’s what happens when you return from theÂ brink of death!
Oliver: Curtis, you shouldn’t be up.
Curtis: Tell me about it. Someone’s gotta provide a little optimism. It doesn’t seem like anyone around here is in the headspace to do it.
Oliver: You know we lost the city.
Curtis: No, I know that you’re running out of time to get it back. Look, living in Star City takes a certain type of tenacity. AÂ sane person wouldn’t live here — a fact Paul likes to remind me of weekly. We were this close to leaving Star City last October. After 3 terrorist attacks, we were done. But then the night before we were going to start packing, the Green Arrow showed up on our TV. He reminded me that this city is worth saving. That my home was worth fighting for. That guy gave me inspiration. Gave me hope. And if he could give me hope then, why can’tÂ he give it to others now?
And as we saw, thanks to Curtis’ speech, the Green Arrow did just that, leading the entire city to standÂ behind him and give him the hope he needed to repelÂ Darhk’s magic. So instead of telepathic weapon throwingÂ and glowing eyes, there were lots and lots and lots of face punches (with a suspiciously inconspicuous amount of blood or bruising), after which Oliver stabbed Darhk up close with an arrow in the same way Darhk hadÂ stabbed Laurel. Although a bit anticlimactic, it was a nice bit of symbolismÂ and finally put to a rest a character that has wreaked havoc for too long.
That being said, as I mentioned before, once Darhk was gone, that didn’t meant the drama was over. With the city saved and the people protected, the members of Team Green Arrow were forced to face their own darkness and how Laurel’s death had inspired them. Having lost his job, Quentin was the first to hand in his tentative resignation.
Quentin: We’re leaving town for a while…IAB reached out.Â My suspension is no longer a suspension. But its funny because being a cop is all I ever wanted, but when I got that call, I didn’t feel a thing. All I could think about was Laurel. You got justice, Oliver. And you got me some closure and I’m never gonna forget that.
Let’s be honest, this man has deserved a break for a while and having lost both a daughter and aÂ job definitely warrants a little time away. Next up was Thea, who’s reasoning was actually relatively sane considering some of her past decisions.
Thea: I jumped straight out of the Lazarus Pit and straight in to this. In to Speedy. I’ve just been wondering if this is even who I really am. And then I threatened to kill a little girl and I realized I’m my father’s daughter so I thought about Laurel and what she’d say to me if she were here. And I think she’d tell me to get out before I lost too much of myself.
Thea has been on a bit of a questionable path for a while, so if Lonnie’s wicked words of “wisdom” a few weeks ago have caused her to re-evaluate her tendency to follow then I think that’s a good thing. And finally, Diggle. I have to admit hisÂ departureÂ hit me the hardest of them all. He’s been there since the beginningÂ and as Oliver pointed out, has more or less been Oliver’s guiding light.
Oliver: You okay?
Diggle: No. I told Lyla the truth about Andy.
Oliver: What’d she say?
Diggle: She’s a soldier, she understood. But I don’t and I don’t think I ever will.
Oliver: What are you gonna do?
Diggle: Take some time away from this team. Away from the city. Figure out where I went off track and how to get back on.
Oliver: John, I’ve never done this without you. You’re the one who keeps me in line.
Diggle: Oliver, I don’t know if you’ve been watching lately, but it’s been the other way around, man.
I have to say, I don’t know that I agree with this, I still think Diggle has always set the path for Oliver, even in his darker moments. But if Diggle needs a break and thinks that rejoining the army will balance out his feelings of guilt and misdeeds, then I can’t blame him. I trust his judgment (even if it is ironically similar to Oliver running away when he felt he had wronged the city..and we saw how that turned out!) and can only hope it gives him the peace of mind that he is seeking.
That being said, as always when something bad happens, it comes back to Oliver puttingÂ the blame on himself for them leaving. And once again, Felicity is there to be his hope and try to showÂ him the truth.
Felicity: You okay?
Oliver: No. It’s Thea and John.
Felicity: Them leaving has to be a blow.
Oliver: They’re leaving because of their own personal darkness. I just can’t help thinking that maybe they were infected by mine.
Felicity: Maybe. Like you said, maybe you can’t become a hero without succumbing to the darkness even a little bit. But you were able to defeat Darhk by giving the city it’s hope back.
Oliver: Are you saying it’s not black and white?
Felicity: I’m saying that there is a man who killed Darhk in cold man and that same man stood on top of a car and gave the city it’s hope back. What you’re feeling isn’t darkness, it’s a schism. You’re at war with two sides of yourself.
And so in the end, that’s what it came down to. As he has been since the beginning, Oliver is at war with himself and now after so long in the trenches, the team is facing the same thing. Honestly, for all they’ve been through, I can’t blame them. They all deserve a little vacation time! Not to mention some time to process. But hopefully, like they’ll all come back together (I’m pretty sure they will) and realize that everything they did was for a reason and was justified. I wouldn’t exactly call Amanda Waller a pillar of morality, but I think she was on to something when she flashback-told Oliver that getting rid of the darkness isn’t the answer, but rather recognizingÂ that the bad thingÂ you did was necessary to accomplish something better.
Waller: Do you remember what I told you, the only way out is through?
Oliver: Well I’m not out and I’m still filled with darkness.
Waller: This was never about expunging your darkness, Mr. Queen. That darkness will always be part ofÂ you.
Oliver: Then what was the point?
Waller: To show you that sometimes killing is the only path to justice.
Let’s be honest, Darhk’s death was just. AsÂ Oliver said, he didn’t have a choice in the matter and when he says that, you know it’s true. You can’t take back the things you’ve done, you just have to keep moving forward. I just hope that the team can recognize that the things they didÂ were also in the best interest of the city and the lives of those they love so they can move forward as well. The darkness may not be gone, but recognizing it and accepting that sounds like a pretty good first step. AndÂ lucky for them, they have all summer to get there.
Arrow returns next fall on Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.
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