Maybe it was the use of a villain that originally appeared in Central City with a penchant for puns. Or maybe it was the surprising number of pop culture references from the entire crew. Or maybe it was even Curtis Holt’s smooth transition into a Cisco Ramon-esque team member. Whatever it was in the waters of Star City, Arrow’s latest episode, “Beacon of Hope” had more than a few traces of its companion series The Flash, which made for an at-times jarring and other times delightful blend of the two shows. And a little Die Hard thrown in for good measure didn’t hurt either.
Brie Larvan (Emily Kinney), who previously appeared in The Flash season 1 episode “All Star Team Up” (which featured Arrow cameos, including Felicity), has hacked her way into an early release out of prison, but she has more than the precious nature of bees on her mind. Brie has a tumor on her spine, and she needs a way to repair the life-threatening disease. Luckily, one Felicity Smoak happens to have a miraculous biochip in her back. Unluckily, it’s the only one of its kind still out there.
So Brie sets her sights on Palmer Tech and holds the company’s board hostage while demanding that Felicity, who is in her office with her mother and Thea (there to get Alex a PR job), hand over the biochip. Oh, and to ensure a minimal level of meddling, Brie has surrounded Palmer Tech with a giant swarm of robotic bees.
Thankfully, earlier in the day Felicity made a decision that inadvertently became a life-saving one — she sent Curtis home because of his cold. But when her trusted employee sees the danger at work, he decides to head back into the world, sneezes and all, to help his boss. He heads to the former campaign office headquarters to find some help and stumbles upon the secret elevator to the Green Arrow lair. (Shades of scarlet red here, of course, as S.T.A.R. Labs might as well have an open-door policy to any and all metahumans.)
Curtis finds himself face to face with an unmasked Arrow, Canary, and Spartan, a revelation that, mixed with his cold, causes the shocked interloper to faint. And it’s quite the lair he’s walking into. Oliver is still consumed by his split from Felicity, and Laurel is the one this time around to offer some help, despite their romantic past. (Though he’s still got enough presence of mind to excel during combat training while simultaneously surprising the group with his Harry Potter reference.) She warns him that he’s dealing with a different kind of pain than the type endured while fighting supervillains, and this pain doesn’t heal quite as easily.
But no matter the pain Oliver is feeling, he still cares enough about Felicity to immediately spring into action. With Curtis awake (and feeling slightly better thanks to an IV of fluids) and behind the console of Felicity’s former computers, Team Arrow figures out how to save their former teammate.
Felicity hasn’t taken the attack lying down, however, and so she finds an exit for her, Donna, and Thea through the ventilation system. They end up in the back pathways of the building, eventually making their way to a storage closet as one of Brie’s bees targets them.
Back at base, Curtis is able to assume control of the bee to clear their path and send them on their way to Oliver, Laurel, and Diggle. Unfortunately, as they make their way outside, a swarm of the bees blocks their paths and turns into a corporeal, humanoid foe (who looks vaguely like a H.I.V.E. agent as depicted in certain comics and previous cartoon series).
In the ensuing ordeal, Oliver is stung by one of the bees and undergoes severe pain. That’s because, as Curtis notes once they bring Ollie back to base, he hasn’t just been stung. The bee has made its way inside his body and is multiplying rapidly.
Luckily, with some modification of Laurel’s Canary collar, they’re able to log into the frequencies of the bee drone and disable it along with its many offspring. (A solution not unlike one employed on this week’s The Flash, when the returning Pied Piper used his skills with soundwaves to fight a time wraith. For those who don’t watch…it’s a bit of a long story.)
Their sonic gambit pays off, but Curtis’ wisecracking about the bee drones passing through his system in a few days is one joke too many for Oliver. He’s sick of this new face in the lair making light of the situation, a situation in which strangers and their friends’ lives are at risk.
NEXT: Team Arrow has to bee careful in the fight with Brie (I’m so sorry)
He nearly rips Curtis’ head off, only to be stopped by Laurel, who tries to calm Oliver down. He complains about life not being fair to her, that he can save the city but not his relationship. And Laurel plays it straight with him. Yes, life isn’t fair, but he is also right that he can save the city, so they decide to move forward with a new plan of attack.
And it’s not a moment too soon as Felicity has not sat idly by waiting for her ex-betrothed to save her. She, her mother, and Thea head back to her office and grab some of Curtis’ communication devices before heading into the secret elevator. While normally built to only go to the lair, Felicity wires it to stop right by the boardroom where her coworkers are being kept. Unfortunately, there’s no proper exit, only a concrete wall.
Blowing a hole through their obstruction using Curtis’ volatile devices, they rush the board members out to safety while Thea and Felicity remain in the room to face off with Brie. Although they distract her with a false lead, the two still find themselves within Brie’s clutches, just as Oliver, Diggle, and Laurel appear with their new plan in tow.
Oliver has a new arrow with a bee agent that will allow Curtis to hack the entire swarm if they can just nail one of the little drones (à la Independence Day, which Quentin surprisingly references back at base). Oliver arrives just as Brie is threatening Felicity back in her office, having recognized the coding that helped put in her in jail as belonging to the hacker-turned-company-head in front of her.
Oliver swoops in to tie Brie up with an arrow, but her Bee Man returns for another fight and pummels Oliver into submission. And so with the Arrow’s life on the line, it’s Felicity who steps in, using a shattered floor lamp to electrocute the walking, not-talking bee bro into a shattered mess of drones.
Felicity goes to help Barry up, only for him to be shot in the chest by Brie (good thing the armor redesign this season only took his sleeves away). She begins to threaten her captives once again with her drone army, but Curtis’ hack has uploaded, and he’s able to take hold of her army, turning it against the bee-pun-loving baddie. (That is, after he and Lance outrun one of the drones back at base, during which Curtis pulls out a terrific leap to avoid the little bugger.)
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With the team all safe and bee-free, Oliver returns to base and offers somewhat of an apology to Curtis for snapping at him. He even opens the door for him to return to the lair so long as he doesn’t break as much property as he did while outrunning that single little bee.
Curtis returns home, and though he promises his husband he’s done with a life of attempting to fight bad guys, he’s already taking a few steps toward becoming a regular member of the team. Not only does he promise that type of life isn’t for him, he lies about what he was up to, saying he tried to help the police and not the city’s famous costumed hero. Throw in his reaction to hearing there’s still some soup for him — “Terrific” — and the rise of Mister Terrific looks to be well on its way.
Thea and Felicity, meanwhile, clean up the mess at Felicity’s office, with the former using the time as an opportunity to goad the latter back into the fray. She wonders how Felicity could stay away from the thrill of taking down baddies like she did tonight, but that was never Felicity’s reason for being part of the team. She wanted to be the beacon of hope, Thea mentions (as does Oliver back at base), to make a difference, and she believes she can do that at Palmer Tech by using the very technology Brie was after to better the world.
Unfortunately, there’s plenty of darkness, and Darhkness, to still fight in the world. Damien Darhk is still behind bars, where he’s told by Malcolm Merlyn that H.I.V.E. has decided to move on with Genesis without him. But he’s not taking his incarceration lightly. Even when other inmates are beating up on him, he finds a way to employ his penchant for manipulation, later forcing a fellow prisoner, Michael Amar (inspired by the comics character Murmur), into killing the other assaulting inmates.
The mute Amar, whose lips are sewn shut, proves a helpful aide to Darhk in his quest to regain his power, but the world moves on without him as Merlyn calls on an old friend of Darhk’s for assistance.
His ace in the hole just so happens to be Andy Diggle, who has apparently not given up his Darhker ways.
On the Island
Oliver and Taiana confront Baron Reiter, who intends to use his idol to consume the life force of dozens of others and make himself a god. Unfortunately, the energy he absorbed last week has only carried him so far (though to be fair, that includes taking a few gun shots to the chest without flinching), and Oliver gains the upper hand. With Taiana in tow, he plans to strike at Reiter indirectly, killing all of his men waiting for them back aboveground.