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'Arrow' recap: She's OK, she's OK -- right?

'Arrow' recap: She's OK, she's OK -- right?
A happier times for the Queen-Smoak family ... before someone decided to send Oliver an early wedding present in the form of an assasination attempt. But would the writers of "Arrow" really kill off Felicity? (Diyah Pera / The CW)

She's fine.

Say it with me, people. She's fine. She's fine. She's fine. Right?

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The writers of "Arrow" surely wouldn't kill off Felicity Smoak, the beating heart of this series, the crown princess of Internet fans, the person who keeps us from having to worry about Laurel Lance being Oliver Queen's love interest again ... right?

No. Of course not. But that doesn't take away from the emotional gut punch of seeing Emily Bett-Rickards with blood spilling across her lips right before the series goes on hiatus for nearly six weeks.

Sure, Arrow has a bad habit of using cheap cliffhangers to create tension when we know the parties facing certain death will be fine five minutes into the next episode. But the Attempted Assasination of Felicity Smoak by the Coward Damien Darhk should have a lasting effect on the show, despite the fact that she's more than likely going to survive.

At the very least, the attack on Felicity and the rest of Team Arrow will turn the conflict between Queen and Darhk into an intensely personal one. I've spent most of this season complaining that Darhk's plans to destroy Star City are the same brand of rinse/lather/repeat villainy we've seen from the series' past archfiends, and I saw nothing in "Dark Waters" to change that opinion.

But if the show can turn the future Arrow-Darhk throwdowns into the same kind of emotional brawls that we saw between Oliver and Slade Wilson in the second season, I can live with that.

This show has always thrived on character interplay, as opposed to plot, so if Darhk's plans aren't going to be all that original (and based on the bunker and death gas we saw Wednesday night, they aren't) at least the show is doing a good job of making me desperate to see Stephen Amell break Neal McDonough's face open.

Damien Darhk is really glad you stocked his favorite wine for a holiday party. Also, he's going to kill everyone you love. Neal McDonough has taken moustache-twirling to a new high this season.
Damien Darhk is really glad you stocked his favorite wine for a holiday party. Also, he's going to kill everyone you love. Neal McDonough has taken moustache-twirling to a new high this season. (Diyah Pera/The CW)

"Dark Waters" is another spectacular episode for McDonough, who is giving a master class in moustache-twirling right now. Despite the fact that Darhk is a sadist and a serial killer, he also takes a perverse glee in hurting people, and McDonough's smiling monster is proving to be one of the better Arrow villains we've seen in the past four years. McDonough is also doing a nice job of giving the character range, as we see Darhk explode in a spasm of rage after his Team Arrow manages to escape the gas chamber trap. That scene of him mounting Oliver and raining down punches might have been the scariest Darhk moment of the year, a glimpse of the pure rage behind the smirk.

With Darkh now fighting Oliver on two fronts, both as Mayor-elect Queen and the Arrow, "Dark Waters" was a lean episode that focused almost all of its attention on the A-plot, and that kind of laser focus is something "Arrow" has desperately needed this year. We're finally free of "Legends" setup and that allowed for an episode that was 85% Darhk vs. Queen. The little bit of sideplot material we did get, with Felicity getting justifiably upset at the discovery of her delayed engagement and Diggle continuing to try and crack his brother were brief, but interesting. I'm especially intrigued by the idea that Andy went along with H.I.V.E. willingly, as it will allow David Ramsey to continue flexing his dramatic muscle.

"Arrow" has been on a roll in the past couple of weeks, and with all the "Legends" setup finally dealt with, hopefully the show can continue to flow with that tighter focus.

Left In The Quiver:

  • There was nothing that could be done about this, but the timing of an episode with a mini-mass shooting so close to the San Bernardino attacks made me cringe a bit. Obviously this was written months ago, but I definitely closed my eyes and rubbed my temples a bit when Momma Smoak made the crack about letting the terrorists win.

  • Holy hell, Laurel was useful this week!

  • The flashbacks continue to do little for me. At some point, I assume, Reiter's drug is going to connect with whatever Darhk is planning.

  • Malcolm Merlyn in the Green Arrow costume and fighting Damien Darhk is the exact reason comic book television shows exist. I have never cheered louder for a homicidal maniac. Never change, Malcolm.

@JamesQueallyLAT is very close to giving up journalism, moving to Nanda Paarbat and training under Ra's Al Merlyn. If you want to talk him out of it, follow him or call his therapist. 

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