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Warning: major spoilers ahead for Episode 21 of Season 4 of Arrow.
Arrow has always been pretty dark for a superhero series, and any viewers who were uncomfortable with characters killing would have realized way back in the pilot that Arrow was not a show for the faint of heart. Still, the CW series does tend to refrain from major mass murder, and even the Undertaking of Season 1 was thwarted enough that more citizens of the Glades survived than were killed. Season 4 has now delivered the deadliest Arrow episode ever, courtesy of supervillain Damien Darhk’s plot to destroy the world via nuclear apocalypse. By the end of the hour of “Monument Point,” a nuclear bomb had hit the town of Havenrock and killed tens of thousands of (assumed) innocents.
The worst thing about the catastrophe isn’t even the loss of lives. The worst thing is that Havenrock being destroyed was as close to a legitimate win as the good guys could have gotten in “Monument Point.” Damien Darhk’s original plan was for the entire world to be consumed when the Rubicon override protocol was used to launch the nukes from every arsenal on the planet, and it took all the hacking skills of Felicity and her computer genius villain father to stop the apocalypse. Unfortunately, one warhead still managed to launch and was set to explode in the city of Monument Point. Felicity thought fast and reprogrammed the warhead’s GPS so that the millions of people in Monument Point would be spared, but it was at the cost of Havenrock. Tens of thousands died in the episode, but billions were spared. Huzzah?
Judging by her horrified expression at the end of the episode, Felicity might not find much solace in the math for a while yet. She may have stopped the world from ending, but she still chose Havenrock over Monument Point as the point of impact. Even though she made the best call that anybody could have in that situation from an ethical standpoint, it’s probably safe to say that Felicity will carry those deaths with her in the rest of the finale arc.
Unfortunately for Team Arrow, Felicity won’t be the only person weighed down by the tens of thousands of souls. Oliver raised the issue in the beginning of the episode that Damien Darhk’s magic is powered by death and that even a single nuclear explosion in a populated area could give him enough power to enact his evil schemes to his heart’s delight. Judging by his glee at the end of the episode when Oliver and Digg discovered him in the secret city hall magic chamber, Havenrock's relatively limited population was enough.
Team Arrow stopped the nuclear apocalypse and defeated plenty of bad guys in “Monument Point,” but their victory was unfortunately embittered by the loss of life and rendered quite temporary by Darhk’s magical invigoration. They stopped most of the world from being destroyed, but there’s still a long way to go before they can say that they saved it completely. The good guys are still a man down thanks to Thea being held captive in Damien Darhk’s dome, and their tech ninja may be too understandably traumatized by what she could not stop to bring her A-game right away next week.
For a bummer of an episode, “Monument Point” was actually a really solid hour of television that very effectively raised the stakes for the rest of Season 4. To see whether or not the last two episodes of Season 4 can measure up to “Monument Point,” tune in to Arrow on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW. Take a look at what we know so far about what’s ahead in Season 5, and don’t forget to check out our schedule of summer TV premiere dates.