John Diggle must make the ultimate decision about his brother Andy while Oliver learns how to combat Damien's magic

By Jonathon Dornbush
May 05, 2016 at 03:02 AM EDT
Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW
S4 E20
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  • The CW

Damien Darhk fancies himself a divine figure, so it’s no surprise that as the titular plan of “Genesis” finally receives some much-needed details this late in the season, the big bad’s operation has biblical origins.

Yes, Darhk is taking a page out of God’s playbook with a new genesis for the world, a new order over which he can rule (and likely a new world dress code of black-on-black suits he can enact).

And Darhk is content to carry out this plan largely on his own, without the assistance of that pesky HIVE. He takes out a few of its highest members in a meeting after offering up his epiphany during his time of incarceration — he broke out of jail without HIVE’s help, so why does he need it to carry out Genesis?

He answers his own question with those murders, which Felicity (who has settled back into helping Team Arrow for the time being) picks up as these HIVE members’ bodies are dumped around town. They realize Damien is prepping for his final assault, which at this point they don’t quite know the magnitude of, but Oliver is hesitant to make a move until they know how to combat his magic.

Diggle, however, is still enraged with Andy’s betrayal and Laurel’s death and wants to attack now. Oliver is steadfast in his belief that a Defense Against the Dark Arts is called for (solely for himself), so he’s going to meet a contact in Hub City who Constantine knows to go through the difficult and dangerous training.

He gives the rest of the team the week off, but it’s anything but a quiet few days for the rest of Team Arrow before they all (for the most part) come together in understanding of Darhk’s true intentions.

Don’t Bet on Black, Bet on the Light

Oliver intends to head off to Hub City alone, but Felicity is suspicious of his vague description of his plan. And so, despite what Oliver would prefer, Felicity comes along for the trip, which finds the two not seeking a magician in a mountain cave or centuries-old castle but at a swanky underground casino.

There, the duo sits down for a blackjack game at a table based on Constantine’s suggestions, only for Felicity to immediately take charge. It’s not luck when she’s playing, after all. She whittles the competition down to herself and another woman, who she even offers a few chips in a moment of need. Yet just as the two are about to give up on Constantine’s guy ever showing, the other woman at the table informs them they aren’t waiting for a guy.

They’re waiting for her, Esrin Fortuna, a shaman who can show Oliver the way to fending off Darhk and his darkness. She brings Oliver and Felicity out of the casino and in to another plane of existence (sure, why not?), which looks exactly like the Nexus Chamber on Lian Yu. She mentions Star City also has such a chamber, hence Darhk’s decision to operate there.

But when it comes to fighting against his magic, it all comes down to the classic battle of light versus dark. Damien gains his power from killing and from fear. Esrin informs Oliver he needs to combat that with the opposite form of power — energy generated by light, by goodness. Oliver needs to channel the light within him to fight Darhk, but should his darker nature outweigh his better self, he won’t be able to succeed.

She puts that theory to the test by launching a few magical attacks against Oliver. He has little problem with her first salvo, but when she kicks things up a notch, Oliver crumbles under the pressure. He’s forced to reckon with the darkness inside him (including a nice cameo of his former big bads like Deathstroke), and in doing so can’t rid himself of what lies below the surface.

NEXT: Brother versus brother

So Esrin’s work is done. She tells Oliver so long as his own inner light does not shine brighter than his darkness, he’ll fail against Darhk. He gets a chance to prove whether he can overcome that nagging issue later in “Genesis,” as Darhk aims his sights on Lyla.

Diggle v Diggle: End of Brotherhood

While Oliver told everyone to hold off on a Darhk assault, Diggle can’t let his brother be allowed to run free any longer. He checks in with Lyla and baby Sara, who are currently hidden away in the back of a truck that operates as a mobile home and command center for Lyla. She doesn’t want him heading into combat without a full plan yet, either, but Diggle is too focused in his pursuit of his brother.

He goes in search of Andy, only to trade bullets and chase him across town to a power plant. He calls Lyla asking for support, but they’ll take too long for John’s liking, so he heads in to catch Andy himself.

And Diggle seemingly does catch his brother, but it’s all a ruse, as Andy has a few extra helping Ghosts by his side who help capture and knock John out. The elder Diggle awakens to find himself chained up in what looks like an abandoned Saw set, with Andy saying Darhk is on his way.

Andy is to prep his brother, who tries to talk Andy down from doing this, invoking his family that he’s left behind in the hopes that some humanity still rests inside his brother. But the only family Andy knows now is HIVE, and so he goes about preparing his brother by… stabbing him.

They eventually pull John down from the rafters, prepping him for a move, but Diggle kicks into action, knocking out the Ghosts and chaining his brother to a nearby pipe. Andy goads him into shooting, but John refuses and instead leaves his brother for Darhk.

Damien eventually does appear while John has gone back to regroup with Lyla, but he is completely unsurprised to find Andy chained up. In fact, he congratulates him on the great ruse. It was all a ploy to get a tracker inside John so that he would lead Damien right back to Lyla.

John only connects those dots himself when the proximity alarm of Lyla’s roaming hideout goes off. Andy and the Ghosts appear behind them, firing off RPGs and attempting to board the truck. It’s a bit of Damien’s magic that brings the truck to an actual stop, though.

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They once again call for backup, but ARGUS headquarters is under attack and no one is answering Diggle’s calls from Team Arrow. Lyla realizes she’s the target in all of this, and so she pleads with John to flee with Sara. She knows she would give Darhk everything if he used them as a bargaining chip, so as the Ghosts try to infiltrate the truck, John zooms out on a motorcycle, fleeing with Sara in a protective carrier. (But, let’s be real, it’s probably not THAT safe when the child is being held by the driver of a motorcycle jumping out of trucks and driving at high speed while trained commandos come to kill him.)

Andy chases after John with a few Ghosts while Darhk makes a move for Lyla and whatever she has of interest. He grabs her and begins to magically pull something buried beneath the skin of her forearm, but as he does so the Green Arrow appears, ready for a fight.

NEXT: Damien Darhk builds an ark.

Green Arrow strikes Darhk a few times but is eventually overtaken as Damien begins to sap the life from Oliver’s body… until he can’t. Just as the color drains from Oliver’s face, it quickly returns, his eyes glowing with the same brilliant light that they did when Esrin first tested him. He stops Darhk, knocking both of them back with the force of their competing energies, saving Lyla but allowing his foe to escape. (How was Oliver able to summon the power now? He tells Felicity later because of her, because he heard her voice and the voices of everyone he loved telling him fto keep fighting. Though those voices helped him in this surprise attack, Darhk will almost certainly come back with greater force than Oliver will have to combat in their next battle.)

John’s attempt to save the day is much messier. He eventually is run down by the Ghosts, but a last-minute appearance by Felicity (who he texted) saves his life, as she slams her truck into the Ghosts. Andy runs once again, and, after leaving his baby with Felicity, John chases him down once again.

He catches up with his brother, alternating between holding him at gunpoint and knocking him around in the hope of also knocking some sense into him. But Andy refuses to give up his belief in the man he views to be Christlike. He has pledged allegiance to Darhk and Genesis, knowing full well that it means the deaths of countless innocent women and children, including John’s wife and daughter.

He taunts John once again for not having the guts to do what’s necessary to protect his family, but John proves his brother wrong by shooting and killing Andy. Oliver finds John kneeling besides his brother’s corpse. John says he knew Andy would never stop being a threat, he could not be changed, and he had to protect his family. But that didn’t make the decision any easier, and John is in massive anguish as he deals with killing his own brother. Lyla tries to comfort him later on, telling him he did what he had to do and that Andy was not a brother to him in the ways that truly matter.

He still has to grapple with his actions, however, though he must do so quickly as Lyla realizes Darhk did successfully take what was beneath her skin — Rubicon. She finally reveals to the team what Rubicon is, a means of preventing any country from using its nuclear weapons. Rubicon could be hacked and altered to actually give its user control of that worldwide nuclear stockpile. And Damien Darhk is now that user.

To what end they wonder he’d want to destroy the world and rule nothing. But the name Genesis clues them into Damien’s plan. God wiped the Earth clean in the biblical book with a flood so that He could rebuild. And God did so via Noah’s Ark and its passengers. Team Arrow has no idea what Darhk’s Ark could be, though Thea might have a good idea.

Thea, who asked to go on a vacation with Alex, never returned and continued to be out of contact even as they took on Damien and Andy. She finds herself in some idyllic suburb with Alex without any recollection of how they got there or where there even is.

The place only becomes more suspicious as she notices environmental sounds run on a loop, and she discovers Alex’s bottle of vitamins is nothing more than the pills Darhk uses to make the Ghosts listen to him.

Shaken by this revelation, Thea tries to flee, only to find Ghosts patrolling the town. And as she makes a run for it, she’s knocked out by a seemingly invisible force field. But it’s actually a wall projecting the town’s outskirts like a high-tech The Truman Show knock-off.

Deep beneath the surface, Damien Darhk has built his ark — a town from which he will rebuild the world… unless Team Arrow can stop him.

Episode Recaps


Billionaire Oliver Queen — under the vigilante persona of Arrow — tries to right the wrongs of his family and fight the ills of society.
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