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By Adam Basciano

Arrow Title Card

Oliver (Stephen Amell) discovers that after he and his father went missing, Moira (Susanna Thompson) and Thea (Willa Holland) stopped celebrating Christmas. Determined to make up for lost time and restore a sense of normalcy to the Queen household, Oliver decides to throw the family a Christmas party..  Meanwhile, Tommy (Colin Donnell) asks Laurel (Katie Cassidy) to spend Christmas with him but she points out that Christmas was also her sister’s Sara’s birthday and she needs to be with her father.  Tommy suggests changing things up might be the best way for everyone to heal but Laurel isn’t sure her father is ready for that.” ( The CW)

This episode was Arrow’s mid-season finale.  A good mid-season ender usually leaves you on the edge of your seat, asking questions and wanting more.  “Year’s End” definitely does that.  If the pilot episode reminded you of “Batman Begins,” this episode shares elements with “The Dark Knight.”  Much like the Joker goes on a killing spree and uses hostages to draw out Batman, Malcolm Merlyn a.k.a. the Dark Archer does the same to draw out Arrow.  The difference being that Joker was more of a psychological threat to Batman, whereas the Dark Archer posses both a physical and mental problem for Arrow.  Scenes between Moira and Malcolm reveal that Robert Queen wasn’t behind the list, and that Malcolm Merlyn isn’t the big bad of the season.  These scenes showcase great work from John Barrowman and Susanna Thompson.  There’s a lot of tension between the two which evokes the two characters power struggle.  More good acting was on hand between Katie Cassidy and her on-screen father Paul Blackthorne, as they shared the emotional pain that Christmas brings being the birthday of their lost loved one Sarah.  My main complaints of the episode stem from the way Thea Queen and Tommy Merlyn were written. It seems like every 2 episodes Thea chews out Oliver for not giving a damn about his family, even though they settled the issue in previous episodes.  Seriously, it’s getting repetative.  As for Tommy….Yeah that relationship with Laurel continues to feel forced, no matter how much I see of it.

Year's En

The actual confrontation between Arrow and the Dark Archer was a strong sequence.  We get to see both men’s skill with the bow and arrow, and in hand to hand combat.  Whereas the fights involving Huntress over the last 2 episodes were more chaotic and involved plenty of gunfire, this fight was more close quarters and brutal, more typical of the fights featured on this show.  This is the first time that Oliver met his match.  So much so, that he ended up in the hospital.

This episode seems to imply that there is an even bigger threat than the Dark Archer looming.  That will surely lead to more of a central focus in the second half of the season.  That, along with the return of Deathstroke and the introduction of Roy Harper to the series, I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Starling City in 2013!

Arrow - Oliver in hospital!