Tonight's winter finale of "Arrow" -- "Dark Waters" -- took the conflict to Damien Darhk head on. While previous episodes of "Arrow" showed the team working against Damien and his ghosts in secret, this week Oliver was brave enough to call Darhk out in the light. While this was a bold move that demonstrated Oliver's commitment to fight for Star City, it came with grave consequences.
Previously on "Arrow," H.I.V.E. leader Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) asked Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) to leave Star City Bay alone, in exchange for financial backing for his mayoral campaign. Oliver, while temped to go undercover with Darhk to find out his plans, decided to go against Darhk's wishes, and started rebuilding the Bay anyway. This move by Oliver put himself in Darhk's cross hairs, which is exactly what happened tonight. Oliver, who swore to be a hero in the light, decided to hold a Bay cleanup day, to show Star City that he wasn't afraid to roll up his sleeves and work. While Oliver, Laurel (Katie Cassidy,) Thea (Willa Holland,) Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards,) and Diggle (David Ramsey) all did their part to help at the Bay event, Darhk sent a helicopter drone to open fire on the beach. Countless children and families were in attendance, and many of them were wounded. Oliver had severely pissed Darhk off, and this was phase one of his retaliation.
Phase two of Darhk's vengeance came in response to what Oliver decided to do once he realized Darhk sent the drone. In broad daylight and on camera for the world to see, Oliver called out Damien Darhk as a murderer, a villain and a terrorist. He told everyone in Star City that Darhk wasn't just responsible for the Bay attack, but for countless deaths all over the city that were committed at the hands of his ghosts. This public outting completely sent Darhk over the edge. Not only did this ruin his reputation in Star City, but it also embarrassed him on front of some visiting members of H.I.V.E. Speaking of H.I.V.E., Damien revealed a strange crop of plants to the H.I.V.E leaders during their visit. He kept mentioning Genesis and algae, and something about the next phase of his big plan. More on that later.
Darhk's retaliation was swift. He openly attacked Oliver's campaign party by killing all the perimeter security. Darhk then took Diggle, Thea, and Felicity captive. Captain Lance couldn't intervene because it would break his cover with Darhk, and Oliver was rendered unconscious. When Oliver came to, his friends were gone. Felicity's mom, guest star Charlotte Ross, was left in complete shock once she realized her daughter was taken. Thankfully Laurel wasn't at the party, otherwise she may have been taken too.
With Diggle, Thea, and Felicity captured, Oliver's only course of action was to team up with Laurel, Captian Lance, and Malcolm Merlyn to find them. Merlyn got ahold of one of the ghosts phones and Oliver was able to cut a deal with Darhk: His life for theirs. Unfortunately Darhk doesn't play by the rules. In the middle of Oliver's apparent surrender to Darhk, Darhk put Thea, Diggle and Felicity in his Genesis gas chambers. With minutes left of air to breathe, Laurel bust in with her powerful Canary Cry and shattered the glass of the gas chambers. The coolest part about this rescue scene was Malcolm Merlyn wearing Oliver's Green Arrow suit. Merlyn is an expert bowman, he needed to conceal his identity, and he wanted to take a good look at Damien Darhk for himself. Captain Lance also busted in on Darhk, and the team was saved. Darhk and Merlyn got in some great hand-to-hand combat, but Merlyn had the upper hand -- he brought Oliver's exploding arrows!
With Darhk believed to be dead and the team rescued, Oliver joined his friends and supporters back at the Bay for a holiday celebration. Oliver also took this very public opportunity to take a knee, and proposed to Felicity. She of course said yes, and they drove away together happy and content at the prospect of this new phase of their relationship. This was a beautiful moment that Olicity fans have been waiting on for years -- sadly the celebration could only last momentarily -- as a vengeful Damien Darhk still had one final move to make against Oliver.
The episode concluded with Damien Darhk attacking Oliver and Felicity in their limo. While Oliver was able to shelter Felicity from the flurry of bullets, he had to leave her alone for a few minutes while he drove the limo away from the gunfire. Unfortunately Felicity was shot, and the last moment of the episode leaves Oliver holding a bleeding and wounded Felicity. Fans of the show will be left to speculate over the fate of Miss Smoak until "Arrow" returns January 20, 2016. But try not to fret, as last year's winter finale -- "The Climb" -- left Oliver bleeding out and presumed dead. He turned out just fine.