Episode 1.09 “Year’s End” is aptly titled, given the holiday theme. It’s also referential of the spate of good fortune that Ollie has had as the Hood. Up until this point, he’s been able to handle most opponents without much trouble.
Enter the Dark Archer, and in his first scene, he neatly dispatches Adam Hunt (one of the men on Oliver’s list).
Diggle and Oliver spar again, each of them swiping at each other verbally as well as with knives. When Oliver says ‘another round?’ he seems very feline, and Dig wisely declines.
There is the obligatory mention of Christmas, and Dig apparently has a nephew. Oliver is of course, completely blindsided by holidays. Both because of Helena, and well, he was out of town without a day planner. He goes on to say that being on the island was different.
“Every day was ‘how do I stay alive?’ ”
A holiday dinner at the Queen house is festive, and among the guests is Merlyn Sr., who is just as interested as Oliver in what makes the Police Commissioner get up from the table. Word’s just reached them that ‘the vigilante’ has struck again.
Dig and Oliver chat about the murder, and Oliver notes that the grouping of the arrows points to this guy being a ‘legitimate archer.’ Dig picks up on that and notes that somebody like that would want to have the right equipment. When Dig asks what he’s going to do about this new foe, Ollie says, with no little irony ‘what anyone does when they and help. Call a cop.’
Merry Christmas, Quinten Lance, have a mysterious package and an untraceable cell phone. Oh look, it’s ringing.
Using a voice scrambler, Oliver proposes that they work together for the greater good. If there weren’t such seething hatred on Quinten’s side, this would be the start of a beautiful friendship. However, when faced with a dilemma of how to protect the city, Quinten chooses the archer he knows and gives Ollie the help he needs.
The dark archer takes a bunch of people hostage in order to draw ‘the Hood’ out. As expected, Oliver gets the hostages to safety. This nicely complicates the police commissioner’s pronouncement of him being a murderous psychopath. Soon after, the inevitable archer tussle takes place, and Ollie gets shot with arrows. A lot. Also, the man who put The List together wants Ollie dead. Nobody is surprised.
Ollie manages to stagger outside, and wakes up in the hospital , Dig fills him in on his injuries: 3 broken ribs, a pneumothorax, and a concussion (let’s assume that all tubes and medical equipment are neatly hidden), and then steps back when the family comes in. They all believe Dig’s story about Oliver getting into a motorcycle accident.
The big reveal is the fact that Merlyn Sr. is the dark archer, or simply ‘Merlyn.’ Given the hint they dropped with him fencing in a previous episode, and the high-quality of arrows, this was obvious.
Later in one of his trademark uncomfortable and threatening meetings with Moira, Merlyn Sr. shares the shadowy organization’s timetable for completion of their plans for Starling City: 6 months.
Moira: “Thousands of innocent people will be dead, and you’ll feel nothing.”
Merlyn Sr. continues to be a baddie: “That’s not true. I’ll feel a sense of accomplishment, and you’ll have Walter back.”
Evidently Moira allowed Walter to be kidnapped, presumably so that he wouldn’t meet the same fate as her first husband. And, minor detail, she’s the one that arranged for Oliver to be kidnapped in the first episode.
Back in the hospital, Oliver limps over to a large window, using a cane and looking like he got his ass handed to him. Of course he feels that he failed the city.
Dig: “You saved 5 lives.”
Instead of savoring momentary triumphs, Oliver prefers to focus on the pervading sense of doom he has, and reveals what the other archer told him.
“There’s someone out there that’s more of a danger than the archer. And I am gonna. Take. Him. Down.”
Oliver and Thea get a little time together this episode. Unfortunately, Thea’s choices of conversational topics are limited: talk about a guy that her brother doesn’t like, or explain why they aren’t going to have a huge Christmas party that their father famously threw every year. So he wants to celebrate Christmas. The scene where he makes the ultimatum is kind of funny: everyone looks put on the spot. Then they get to spend Christmas in a hospital room. Here’s to family togetherness.
Regarding Shane, the guy that Thea invites to Christmas, there’s not much there yet. However, Dig and Oliver’s reactions to him were enjoyable as they sized him up and were dramatically unimpressed by a typical teenage boy who has no clue what he’s doing.
But, by the end of the episode, Oliver and Thea do agree to try to accept one another for the people they are now. Good luck with that one, you two.
Tommy and Laurel continue to bounce between ‘will they or won’t they,’ but Oliver told Laurel that he was happy for them, which hopefully settles the issue for the time being.
Felicity Smoak has gotten enough clues dropped in her lap about the Hood and the conspiracy that she’s probably going to keep looking into things, even with Walter gone. The woman doesn’t like mysteries, let’s see what she does with this one.
This episode was, despite it being Christmas-related, a bad one for Oliver and his family. While he may be even closer to Dig, there are even more enemies to deal with, and he’s just been soundly beaten by another archer. Then there’s the matter of Walter disappearing, and Thea’s ongoing rebellion. Even if he is on St. Nick’s ‘nice list’ as Dig said, things aren’t getting easier for Oliver.
When it comes to backstory, one hopes this isn’t the last we see of Oliver’s mentor, Yao Fei. He remains coolly badass, and his dry ‘you not dead. Good’ was perfectly timed, and hilarious. Not only that, but apparently the island was a prison formerly operated by the Chinese military. When it was shut down, only two people survived, and one of them wears a mask.
That’s it for this year’s episodes.
Arrow will return on January 16, 2013