It’s the mid-season finale for ‘Arrow’ and last night’s episode finds Oliver trying to bring back the spirit of Christmas to the Queen family while trying to find out who this Dark Archer is that is working deadly hard to get his attention. Meanwhile, Walter seems to be getting closer to finding out what Moira is up to and Tommy and Laurel’s relationship is adorably moving forward.

If you need to catch up before moving on to our summary below, you can get all the info from last week’s episode, ‘Vendetta,’ here.

Now on to the recap!

The Dark Archer

Adam Hunt (the first person Arrow was able to cross off his list) is on the phone looking for a way to make money after Arrow pretty much wiped out his bank account. While he’s talking, he sees that a hooded visitor with a bow come into his motel room.  Thinking it’s Arrow, he hangs up his phone and asks the visitor what he wants. Apparently this hooded archer wanted to put 3 arrows in his chest and did so before walking away.

Back in the Arrow hideout, Diggle and Oliver are working on their knife fighting skills when Oliver realizes that it’s Christmas. He tells Diggle that in order to survive while on the island, he couldn’t be afforded the luxury of a holiday. Every day was a day for him to figure out how to survive. Diggle suggests that he take some time off from being a vigilante and spend it with his family.

Oliver flashes back to the island and it picks up where we had last seen him: sealed in a cave. Losing hope and having been without food and water for days, Yao Fei suddenly returns with some water and a rabbit, impressed that he hadn’t died yet. He also brings in Fyers (the man who captured and had Oliver tortured) but before Oliver can kill him, Yao Fei tells him that Fyers has a plane that can take him back home.

Back to the present, Oliver arrives home and notices there are no decorations around the house. Thea dismisses it as everyone just being too busy. As Oliver joins the hoity-toity dinner party being held by Moira and Walter, he notices that the conversation has turned toward “The Hood.” In one of the best lines of the night, Oliver suggests that the vigilante archer should have a better code name. Malcolm Merlyn (Tommy‘s father) suggests Green Arrow. Oliver says “lame.”

Walter is interrupted by a call from Felicity Smoak who tells him that 7 people on the list in the book that Walter found have already been targeted by “The Hood Guy.” She suspects that Doug Miller, head of applied science at Queen Consolidated, may be the next target.

The police commissioner is informed about Adam Hunts’ death, seemingly at the hands of the vigilante. Oliver knows he didn’t do it and excuses himself from the dinner party and heads to the scene of the crime.

Quentin is there and fills the Commissioner in. He tells him that the black arrows and the fact that Hunt is dead after being swindled out of $40 million is uncharacteristic of the vigilante and they must be dealing with a copycat.

Quentin gets a phone call from Arrow.

The next day, Oliver and Diggle try to figure out who would kill Hunt. Oliver can tell the copycat is a legitimate expert archer by the grouping of the arrows on Hunt’s chest. They surmise that if they can get one of those arrows, they can trace where it was bought and found out who bought them. Oliver decides to call Quentin for help. Using a voice distorter, “The Hood” tells Quentin that he’s innocent and asks for one of the arrows that killed Hunt in order to find the copycat killer. Quentin is reluctant but Arrow tells him that he can go places that the police can’t and it would serve both their best interests to find this guy quickly.

Later, Oliver and Thea are at the diner for lunch and he asks why the family isn’t observing Christmas this year. She tells him that when he and their father were lost at sea, no one felt like celebrating the holidays so they skipped it that year… and every year since. This doesn’t sit well with Oliver so that night at the manor, he announces to his family that he wants to throw the Queen Christmas party. They agree (Thea reluctantly so) and Oliver , who’s like a kid who just opened the best present ever , tells Moira she doesn’t have to do a thing and that he’ll plan it all. Walter tells him that he is a good man.

The comment brings a flashback to the island when Oliver remembers the time Fyers told him that he was a good man. Fyers tries to turn Oliver to his side by telling him that the island they were on was formally a Chinese penitentiary saved for only the most truly dangerous criminals who were deemed too risky to be imprisoned on the mainland. His unit was brought in to kill all the inmates when the prison was shut down. They were able to kill all but two: Yao Fei and Deathstroke. He then tells Oliver that Yao Fei was on the island because he slaughtered dozens of people.

Moira and Malcolm have a clandestine meeting where he tells her that Doug Miller confided in him saying he met Walter and that Walter knew about the list. Malcolm is not happy and tells Moira that if she can’t handle him then maybe their “associate” should handle it.

Another one of Arrow’s past targets gets shot in the chest by the Dark Archer. The Commissioner doesn’t like the possible publicity of the city knowing there are two vigilante archers running around town so he orders Quentin to pin the crime on Arrow. Quentin refuses to accuse an innocent man so the Commissioner takes him off the case. Well, that doesn’t sit well with the detective so he calls “The Hood” and tells him where an arrow from the Dark Archer is hidden for him. Quentin also makes it clear that the only reason he’s doing this is that he wants to arrest the guilty party and once that’s done, he’ll be after Arrow.

Speaking of arrows, the one belonging to the Dark Archer was a custom made one so he brings it to Felicity who finds out where and when the arrow was ordered and gives Oliver the address where they were delivered. (By this time you would think Felicity, as intelligent as she is, would have connected Oliver‘s special arrow to the arrow deaths of the people on the list. But I digress…)

Arrow heads to the warehouse where the Dark Archer’s arrows were delivered and walks into a trap. The Dark Archer booby trapped the unit to blow up if anyone went inside. Luckily, Arrow was able to get out in time.

Family Photo

He heads back to the manor just in time for the Christmas party. During the party, Moira and Walter talk. She is upset that he wouldn’t stop his investigation of Robert’s death while he’s upset that she would think he wouldn’t avenge the murder of his best friend. He wants to know what Moira is hiding – why she embezzled the $2 million and salvaged the boat. Moira tells him it was to use as leverage against people he made angry and that she is a reluctant part of that group. Walter wants to know everything and Moira promises him they’ll talk once the party is over. (That’s a death sentence right there!)

As if that weren’t enough, Diggle informs Oliver that the Dark Archer has now taken hostages and will kill one per hour until “The Hood” turns himself in. Diggle advises Oliver to let the police handle the situation, but Oliver feels obligated to take on the Dark Archer himself. When Diggle continues to disagree, Oliver tells him that he’s dealt with worse while on the island.

How worse? Well, when Oliver was on the island hoping to use Fyers’ plane to get home, Yao Fei realized that the capture of Fyers and the hike to the plane was all a trap. He yells for Oliver to run as Deathstroke comes out. Oliver is able to get away but not before seeing Yao Fei get captured and dragged away by Fyers’ men.

Back at the building where the hostages are kept, the police are being kept at bay as the whole area has been rigged with explosives. All of the sudden, Arrow appears via a zip line and manages to release the hostages. As he heads back to the room, he sees the Dark Archer who challenges him to see who’s better. The two engage in a battle of fists and arrows but the Dark Archer gets the better of Arrow and manages to put 2 arrows into his back. He then proceeds to beat Arrow telling him he knows about the list and the person who authored it wants him dead. He then wants to see who is under the hood but before the Dark Archer can reveal Arrow’s identity, Arrow stabs him in the leg and knocks him out. He manages to limp his way out of the building and call Diggle for help before passing out.

Oliver in the hospital

Oliver wakes up in the hospital with Diggle there to tell him what happened. Moira, Walter and Thea visit as Diggle explains that he told them that Oliver was in a motorcycle accident. It seems that the accident made them all realize they needed to be more like a family. Thea and Oliver agree to accept each other as they are now and not what they were like before. (Awwwww!)

The Dark Archer returns to his lair and when he removes his hood we see it’s Tommy father, Malcolm Merlyn!

Walter had head back to the office but as he is headed home, he steps into the elevator where a man is there waiting to drug him.

Meanwhile, Moira meets Malcolm who tells her that the deed is done – Malcolm won’t be harmed nor will he know her involvement in his kidnapping. He reminds her that this needed to occur as she couldn’t keep Walter under control and she reminds him that was the same line he used to justify Robert’s murder. Malcolm tells her in 6 months’ time, the organization’s vision of what Starling City should be like will be complete (which just also happens to correlate with the May TV sweeps!)  Moira is sickened knowing that he won’t feel remorse when thousands of innocent people are dead. Malcolm assures her that he will feel something… the sense of accomplishment and the fact that she’ll have Walter back.

At the hospital, Oliver is being hard on himself thinking he has failed the city despite the fact that he was able to save the hostages. But Oliver thinks there is a bigger threat to Starling City than the list – the person who compiled it. He vows to take that person down.

Well, there you have it! The mid-season finale. Overall, I’ve enjoyed the first 9 episodes of the series but with this being a mid-season finale, I had hoped for a more tension filled hour. Certain subplots seemed to drag the episode down and the story was wrapped up too quickly. It might have been nice if they had stretch out the Dark Archer plot line over several episodes which would then have made the reveal of who he was a little more shocking. I still think that Diggle is way underused. Kato saw more action as a bodyguard than Diggle has up to this point.

The subplot of Moira and Malcolm’s partnership is really getting interesting and the mystery of their objective has really kept my interest. Thea’s bad girl bitchy image is getting to be tiresome so hopefully there’ll be more dimension to her character in the second half of the series. As for Tommy and Laurel’s relationship? It’s very romantic and a sweet diversion with everything else going on in the series.

‘Year End’ felt more like a set up for the second half than a mid-season finale, but that’s okay! The series has gotten off to a great start and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has in store when the show returns on January 16.

So what did you think of the episode and the series so far? Are you impressed with this revision of Green Arrow or do you long for the days of ‘Smallville?’ Sound off in the comments below!