The last time Arrow did a holiday-themed episode it was in season 1. Oliver went up against the Dark Archer aka Malcolm Merlyn for the first time and barely escaped with his life. Since then, Arrow and Oliver have pretty much sworn off the holidays with good reason. But in season 4, Oliver is a different and happier place, so Arrow revisited the holidays…. and they’re pretty much just as dreadful as the first time, worse even. Seriously, no one in this universe should ever go to Star City at the end of the year.
Damien and Oliver Exposed
Oliver is holding a clean-up at the bay as a part of his mayoral campaign. The event is attacked by a helicopter drone that starts to shoot at the people. Oliver is convinced that HIVE and Damien is behind the attack. Dig goes to talk to Andy for information. Andy is only slightly more argumentative and jerkish than the last time. He still is no help. Oliver decides that the only way to strike against Damien Darhk is to call him out on national TV.
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Oliver isn’t the only one uncovering secrets. Donna comes over to decorate Oliver and Felicity’s loft for the holidays. While decorating, she finds the engagement ring that Oliver hid in the season premiere. Donna screams and shows the ring to Felicity. The real question is why it took someone this long find the ring. It’s not like Oliver hid it very well. He’s a master archer but a terrible hide-and-seek player. Oddly though, Felicity seems just as upset by finding out Oliver is planning to propose as Damien is to be unmasked as an evil mastermind.
The Holiday Party from Hell
The team convinces Oliver to go forward with his plan to hold a Christmas (sorry, holiday party) despite threatening Damien. While Thea makes her way to the party, Malcolm comes to visit her. It’s not as terrifying as Malcolm’s usual visits. He’s more concerned that he hasn’t figured out why Damien has taken away Thea’s bloodlust.
At the party itself, Felicity discovers that her mother is dating Lance. She’s even more disgusted than I am. She also figures out that Oliver was going to propose to her three months ago. Felicity goes to ask Oliver about it rather than causing a fight. It gets them to the point where Oliver is ready to propose again. Unfortunately, the happy conversation is broken up by Damien.
Damien breaks into the party and decides the best form of revenge isn’t to hurt Oliver. No, he is going to hurt Oliver’s friends and family. Damien knocks out Oliver with his magic. Then his minions capture Dig, Felicity and Thea. Even Damien won’t give Laurel the respect she deserves as one of the important people in Oliver’s life.
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Laurel: The Unappreciated Canary
Laurel’s absence from being among the prisoners does allow Arrow to do one thing. Laurel tries to take Oliver down from his crazy torture spree as Green Arrow trying to find the Ghosts. It works, kind of. At least, Oliver listens to her… a little bit. Laurel leaves Oliver when she gets a tip that Quentin is working with Damien.
Laurel goes to confront her father. Laurel discovers the truth, but she also learns that Oliver knew and has been lying to her yet again. It’s a lie of omission. It’s not like she ever asked if Lance was working with an evil wizard, but it still counts. Laurel and her father eventually make up, but what is it with Arrow treating Laurel like garbage?
Damien Goes Full Bond Villain
Anyway, Malcolm breaks into the Green Arrow cave. He gives Oliver a way to meet with Damien. They meet by the waterside and it’s almost romantic or it would be if these two men weren’t desperately trying to kill each other. Oliver tells Damien that he’s made his point by taking his friends and it’s time to give them back. Damien tells Oliver he hasn’t even started.
Damien takes Oliver to his facilities. He confesses to Oliver, like all crazy egomaniacs, that he worships the Nazis. He thinks that the Nazis were doing a service by purging the population. This is Damien’s plan; to kill people in his new state-of-the-art gas chambers. He wants Oliver to help him with his holocaust once Oliver becomes mayor.
Felicity is not too happy to see Oliver at Damien’s facilities. Oliver tells her that he has it covered and he hopes they will all be able to escape. Felicity is just upset that once again Oliver has sacrificed himself for her and his friends. Felicity tells Oliver that she makes her own decisions, he didn’t force her into this dangerous life. She also tells Oliver if he had proposed, she would’ve said “yes.”
Damien brings Felicity out of the cell that he is keeping her in. He escorts Oliver and Felicity back into the room with his gas chamber where Thea and Dig are being kept. Damien has Oliver restrained and Felicity is thrown into the chamber as well. To the surprise of no one but Oliver, Damien isn’t honoring any deal with Mr. Queen. Damien is going to kill Oliver’s friends and family instead. The door is locked, the gas chamber is turned on, Felicity tells Oliver she loves him and….
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You’ll have to wait until we wrap up the flashback story before we learn what happens to Felicity and crew. I had to suffer through the flashback story, so we all have to suffer. Oliver persuades Taiana to help him even though he just killed her brother. Oliver and Taiana go to a shipwreck and Oliver finds a map inside. When Oliver makes it back to shore, Conklin is waiting and captures him. God, if there was only four seasons of evidence that suggests Oliver survives this encounter!
It’s a Christmas Miracle Murder!
Okay, now back to the thing that everyone cares about Team Green Arrow (sans Laurel) maybe dying. Laurel and Malcolm arrive to save Felicity, Dig and Thea. (Did you really think they were all going to die?) Everyone then escapes the building. Malcolm and Oliver work together to incapacitate Damien and blow up the building. Though Damien is probably just as “dead” as Felicity was a few moments ago.
Arrow doesn’t even go through the motions of making us think that Damien is dead. He is shown shortly afterward leading the group of his HIVE associations into another lair underground. Somehow, Damien has found a way to grow corn, lots of corn, in a windowless airtight location. He tells the rest of HIVE that Phase 4 has started. Then one of the women in HIVE asks Damien what he plans to do with Oliver Queen. The answer is not pleasant.
Oliver holds a very modest (and tacky) Christmas tree lighting ceremony showing the people of Star City that they aren’t afraid of Damien. Oliver turns to Felicity and gets down one knee and proposes. She says “yes.” Then Arrow goes and ruins all the happiness.
Oliver and Felicity drive away in a limo and the Ghosts show up and open fire. Oliver gets the limo out of the Ghosts’ way and drives off. Oliver goes to the back of the limo where he left Felicity. When he opens the door she falls out, limp. Oliver checks for a pulse but her fate is left uncertain.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8pm on The CW
(image courtesy of The CW)