Last night was the mid-season final of Arrow where the show remembered it had quite a bit of plot to move along since resolving Ollie’s (Stephen Amell) botched attempt at bonding with fellow vigilante, The Huntress, Helena Bertinelli (Jessia de Gouw). There were some island flashbacks, more investigating from Walter (Colin Salmon), the reveal of an “evil” archer in Starling City, and Ollie trying to save Christmas.

And his attempt to imbue his family with the holiday spirit they are lacking is awkward at best. Actually, the Queen family is all sorts of awkward and their forced enjoyment of each others’ company is heaped with awkward moment upon awkward moment. Have I said awkward enough, yet? Does it make you feel uncomfortable? Good, ’cause that’s how watching the Queen family interact makes me feel.

Turns out since Oliver and his dad disappeared they’ve stopped celebrating Christmas, and more importantly stopped throwing their annual Christmas party. And if one guys knows how to throw party, it’s Ollie, and he does so with the hope it’ll liven up his family’s dreary Yuletide. It, of course, has the opposite effect but that’s exactly what I’d expect from the most awkward family in Starling City.

Besides watching Oliver struggle at reconnecting with his family, again, there’s a new archer in town who’s making it their business to kill any of the guys on the list Ollie interacted with. The use of the bow and arrow schtick has the police connecting “The Hood” with the crimes, though all evidence seems to point to a new guy, a copycat. Speaking of “The Hood,” during one of those quintessentially awkward Queen dinners where Moira (Susanna Thompson) and Walter are entertaining the rich of the city the vigilante’s given moniker comes up for discussion. Ollie comments on how the press could have come up with a better nickname, to which smarmy Mr. Merlyn (John Barrowman) suggests Green Arrow. My heart leapt, only to be quickly stomped on when Oliver says that sounds lame.

Y’know, buddy, you’re not going to get much better than “The Hood” so don’t go knocking a classic.

Ollie and Diggle (David Ramsey) begin their investigation into the mysterious new archer who’s giving “The Hood” a worse name than he’s already earned himself. They seek help from Detective Lance (Paul Blackthorne), who after not wanting to assume “The Hood” and the new archer were the same guy has been dropped from the case. They send him an iPhone – yes, an iPhone, who is this guy? A billionaire? Oh. Right. – and after a few calls Lance agrees to get them one of the arrows for analysis. Hmm? Wonder who Ollie knows to help him analyze where an arrow came from?

Oh yeah! All around awesome I.T. girl, Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards). She’s already been helping Walter investigate his wife, even after his wife dropped more than a few hints he should back off, so whe Ollie comes in asking her to track a mysterious arrow so he can buy more for his “friend”, no big deal. How Felicity has the patience to deal with these guys and their awful lies about what they’re really up to, I have no idea, but she deserves a raise. Maybe then she can buy herself a decent operating system and won’t be forced to use Windows 8 and search with Bing.

Yes, Arrow had a terrible Windows 8 product placement. So bad I can’t believe it was name-dropped a couple dozen times during the scene. And who would believe someone as tech savvy as Felicity would use Bing, really?

Walter’s line of continued investigation is not helping him smooth things over with Moira at all. It’s worsening things as Mr. Merlyn confronts Moira and tells her if he doesn’t quit it, he’ll regret it. This has Moira pleading with Walter to stop being so nosy. She confesses she won’t be able to save him from those who want him dead because she’s one of them! Somehow, I don’t see this marriage lasting much longer. Hopefully Walter won’t end up like her last husband. Dead.

Earlier I said there were a handful of island flashback this episode, and they served well to give us some back story on the archer of the island and Deathstroke. Turns out the island was a Chinese prison and at some point all the prisoners on the island were ordered to be killed, two survived. Can you guess which two? It’s hinted Deathstroke is working for whatever secret society Moira and Mr. Merlyn are part of, could he be the new archer in Starling City?

No, but we do learn who it is by episode’s end, and it’s obvious but oh so fun. The rival archer’s final ploy is a hostage situation to force a confrontation between he and Ollie. Ollie manages to save the hostages, but also get his ass royally kicked. We’re talking a couple arrows in the back, thrown through some walls, a few kicks to the stomach. He’s pretty banged up, but somehow still manages a lucky break and escapes by rolling out a window and landing on dumpster. It’s cringe-worthy.

But just who is the archer?! Dun, Dun, DUN! Barrowman! Or Merlyn, and I’m very happy it’s Merlyn Sr., not little whiny Tommy. This isn’t the last of the big reveals Merlyn has, he also has his men kidnap Walter and tells Moira he’ll be returned, likely with his memory wiped, after their plan is initiated. And quite the evil plan it must be because he promises thousands will die. Seriously, what the hell are they planning?

Whatever it is, Ollie has sworn to get to the bottom of it as he realizes his father wasn’t responsible for making the list and whoever was behind it all is much a bigger problem then all the names on it. But we’ll have to wait until January to see how Ollie’s new crusade works out. And I’m excited to see where they’re going with this. Arrow is striving to make things bigger and I believe it’ll only benefit the show. They’ve got a seriously villainous villain in Barrowman’s Merlyn and now that he too is slinging arrows I think the confrontations will only get better.

Arrow returns to the CW on January 16th, with “Burned.” Catch a preview below.

Category: Comics, reviews, TV

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