Arrow episode 9 review: Year’s End

Arrow's mid-season finale features a festive backdrop and a familiar face. Here's Caroline's review...

This review contains spoilers

1.9 Year’s End

Its Christmas time on this week’s Arrow, but the festive period hasn’t stopped the show in its tracks like so many others. With the tendency for US telly to take time out to celebrate the holidays, this mid-season finale keeps on going with Christmas as a back-drop, rather than a focus. It’s a relief as, when I heard about a festive episode of Arrow, I feared the worst.

There aren’t as many revelations in this episode as I predicted, however, so it looks as if the show is holding onto its cards for a few more months. A mysterious dark archer is running riot in Starling City under Oliver’s confused nose, tracking down and killing those on his list that The Hood had already dealt with. We know he’s a skilled archer, and he gives Oliver a good kicking near the end of the episode, but I wasn’t expecting the final reveal of his identity. It’s intriguing, sure, but I thought I had sussed him out as someone from the island.

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Speaking of which, we do get some flashbacks this week, though they don’t cover much ground. I said in my earlier reviews that I didn’t know how long they could stretch five years out into interesting flashback sequences, but the show has been clever in picking and choosing which episodes to include them in. I wasn’t sure the scenes were needed here, but we do find out some interesting information about the island itself. Apparently it used to be a Chinese prison built for the most dangerous of criminals, and the guys who had tortured Oliver were actually sent there to clean up the mess.

In present day, we’re spending a particularly depressing holiday with the Queens. It’s actually quite sad when we find out that neither Ollie (obviously) nor his mother and sister have celebrated Christmas for five years, and his enthusiasm for throwing their previously annual party seems genuine. It’s nice when we get to see him slip back into his humanity bit by bit, and affection for his family builds upon the trust he’s given over to Diggle. Thea is still a bratty teenager, however, and I’m really getting tired of her character. With news that one (male) comic book Speedy has been cast for future episodes, I guess we won’t be seeing her suit up either.

Moira gets a lot more to do here, though, as we learn a tiny bit more about her involvement with Merlyn Sr. and the ‘organisation’. She’s not happy about or proud of her involvement, for one, and sees her relationship with Walter as her “salvation” from the horrible things she may or may not have done. She only organised Oliver’s capture in episode one to prove to her fellow baddies that he didn’t know anything, and pressure is mounting on her as more and more people learn of the list. It’s now obvious that Oliver’s father didn’t compile the names himself, so whose orders is he following?

Barrowman was under the black hood, and he’s more than a match for Oliver by the looks of things. Putting him in the hospital isn’t something just anyone could do, and I’m sure it won’t be long before they face off again. He’s obviously being set up as the main villain of the season (if not the series) and, if rumours are correct, his son might join him on the dark side at some point. This means the increasingly dull love triangle might get a little more exciting, but right now I’m happy for Laurel to be with Tommy. His gesture to her and her father was sweet, and Ollie has bigger things on his mind that romance.

But what have the organisation done with Walter? Will anyone else learn of Oliver’s secret identity? We’ll have to wait until January to find out any more – see you there!

Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Vendetta, here.

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