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“Genesis” could have been a spectacular Arrow episode. After all, it had some really awesome fight sequences, we got to see Lyla in full badass mode, and the episode set up an intriguing subplot involving Thea being trapped in Darhk’s magic “Safe Zone” bubble. But the bulk of the episode absolutely failed to deliver for two reasons: we never learned enough about Andy to really care about him as a character, and the magic subplot was a deus ex machina of the worst order.
Let’s start with the Andy problem. I’ve mentioned throughout the season that the “Diggles at home” subplot was problematic. First, after four years, we still don’t know a lot about John Diggle beyond his romantic entanglements and his family structure. Perhaps this season would have been better spent with a series of Diggle family flashbacks than spending more time on that stupid island with Oliver? Since we know only the barest details of Andy and John’s relationship (they were close, had a falling out in Afghanistan, Andy faked his own death), I never really cared all that much about their joyous reunion.
And I cared even less that Andy betrayed them. I mostly thought John was being stupid for trusting someone who has proven multiple times he can’t be trusted (I understand the sibling bond, but if my sister had done what Andy did, I wouldn’t be welcoming her back into my life with open arms). So, while I can appreciate that it was hard for John to kill Andy, I didn’t feel any emotional impact from the action. John remains a bit of a cypher on the show (which is saying something, since emotional depth on the series is often hard to come by), and I would have loved to spend some time this year exploring the impact of Andy’s return to his life, instead of having Andy relegated to the sidelines as soon as he decided to become “good.” It was a complete misfire on all fronts.
The episode’s other head–scratcher was the introduction (and quick disappearance) of Esrin Fortuna. Now, I have to say I found the character herself to be absolutely lovely. I loved everything about her. I just didn’t like that the series introduced an immortal magical shaman out of nowhere and, in the span of ten minutes, had her give Oliver the ability to use the magic within himself to start fighting Dahrk. That leads me to believe that, had Oliver decided to take on Darhk sooner, he could have called Constantine and gotten introduced to Fortuna months ago. Laurel didn’t have to die, his son didn’t have to get kidnapped, and many others in Star City wouldn’t have had to be killed or injured. But because Oliver didn’t bother to take Darhk seriously for months, all of these horrible things happened. Oliver has known Constantine for a number of years (one of the only positive elements of this season’s flashbacks was seeing them meet), and he knew Darhk was using magic from the beginning. Oliver’s failure to act is what has created this situation, and that makes me dislike the character.
The crazy thing is, I don’t think the writers thought that people would reach the conclusion that this situation is all Oliver’s fault. Because never once in the episode were we treated to mopey Oliver wallowing in his own failure. Instead, the episode painted Oliver’s walk into the world of magic as a budding success, and wanted us to cheer his progress. But all I could think was why didn’t he do something like this sooner. So many people would be alive if he had. And that makes me more disappointed in Oliver Queen than I have ever been. Sure, he’s probably going to save the day over the season’s final episodes, but if he’d gotten his act together earlier, he could have really been a hero.
— I was really hoping that Fortuna was going to tell Oliver that Felicity was the one who had the light and needed to fight Darhk. Instead, we got the lame “You are my light.” speech from Oliver to Felicity. Yawn.
— It’s pretty clear that Darhk wants Thea trapped in the “Safe Zone” bubble. I really hope it isn’t just to use her as bait.
— For being a series regular, John Barrowman has really not done much during the second half of the season.