‘Arrow’ Midseason Finale Review – A Very Special Dark Archer Christmas

Published 2 years ago by , Updated July 18th, 2014 at 9:56 am,

Dark Archer in Arrow Years End Arrow Midseason Finale Review – A Very Special Dark Archer Christmas

It’s the Arrow midseason finale, and after two weeks of Oliver’s brief, failed attempt at finding his vigilante soul mate in Helena Bertinelli (or, the Huntress), things in Starling City have once more begun to revolve around the corrupt white-collar businessmen who’ve “failed” the city, and the secret organization that grants the series use of John Barrowman, as well as the conspiracy cliffhangers it so frequently likes to end episodes on.

In that regard, ‘Year’s End,’ certainly gets its fill of short conspiratorial suggestions in before the credits role – not the least of which is the reveal that Malcolm Merlyn (Barrowman) has apparently been putting those fencing lessons (and more) to good use by co-opting Arrow’s M.O. to kill guys like Adam Hunt. The end result is Starling City’s police commissioner attempting to pin the murders on Arrow, even though the black arrows at the crime scene appear to be the calling card of another archer. Although this means a nemesis for Arrow, it’s not all bad; Malcolm does try to push Oliver (Stephen Amell) toward the whole Green Arrow codename idea – but that’s probably just so people don’t start referring to the Dark Archer as Other Arrow Guy.

This reveal certainly paints Malcolm in a new light. He’s gone from being a mysterious, but sharply dressed fellow, with ties to a conspiracy involving Robert (Jamey Sheridan) and Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson), to the guy who cut off his own son’s trust fund, to now a formidable adversary for Starling City’s resident vigilante. Finally, after months of being terrorized by a lunatic in a green hood, the obscenely rich have begun to fight back!

But that’s not all; apparently, Malcolm’s also forcing Moira’s hand regarding Walter’s ongoing investigation into the salvaging of The Queen’s Gambit, and the small matter of the money she embezzled. So far, even though she was instrumental in Walter’s investigation, it looks like Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) isn’t on the group’s radar – but perhaps they don’t consider anyone who so easily becomes entranced by the wonders of Windows 8 to be much of a threat. In the end, all of Walter’s snooping gets him kidnapped by the organization which promises to return him in tiptop (but possibly memory free) shape, after they unleash some plan that will leave thousands dead – just after the holidays, no less.

Stephen Amell in Arrow Years End Arrow Midseason Finale Review – A Very Special Dark Archer Christmas

Before the Queen family can get totally bummed out on conspiracies resulting in mass murder and the fact that Oliver’s already poorly regarded secret identity is being besmirched even more by a guy who uses a compound bow, Oliver convinces everyone that his first post-island Christmas needs to be celebrated with a party in the Queen family tradition. Naturally, Thea (Willa Holland) isn’t too keen on the idea, but like everything else, she seems to go along with it just so she can appear uninterested the whole time. Thea’s long been one of the weaker elements in the Arrow character catalogue, and while its good to see the effort being made to craft some sort of interchange between her and Oliver, having them bond over candy canes doesn’t quite cut it. Other characters seem to benefit from dealing with one another; Moira has Walter (Colin Salmon) and Tommy (Colin Donnell) has the sometimes-interesting romance with Laurel (Katie Cassidy), so perhaps the introduction of Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) will help out in regards to Thea’s character struggles.

The episode also features a return to the flashbacks that had been missing while Oliver was dealing with the Helena situation. Other than spilling a bit of info about Yao Fei (Byron Mann) and asking us to recall just who Edward Fyres (Sebastian Dunn) is, there’s not enough of a reveal as to what exactly happened on the island – or at least not a substantial one to coincide with the midseason finale expectations.

While ‘Year’s End’ didn’t seem to pack the kind of punch its various surprises and reveals wanted, it did set the stage for some serious comic book villainy, come next year. As far as midseason finales go, however, if the intent was to put forth some suggestion of bigger things to come, then perhaps the episode managed to plant some seeds of interest. Oliver now believes someone other than his father is responsible for the list, and that this person is capable of pulling the strings of guys like the Dark Archer. At any rate, the thought of Arrow making Ollie a little more aware of a larger conspiracy and the existence of bigger bad guys than the ones he’d been taking out, feels like a step in the right direction.

Arrow has been a mostly enjoyable ride up to this point; so let’s hope these hints pay off in the latter half of the season.

Colin Salmon Susanna Thompson Willa Hollan and Stephen Amell in Arrow Years End Arrow Midseason Finale Review – A Very Special Dark Archer Christmas

Various other items:

  • Malcolm Merlyn being the Dark Archer could easily lead into Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell) becoming a villain (à la Harry Osborn in Spider-Man 2 & 3), but given the difference in screen presence between Donnell and Barrowman, let’s hope the elder Merlyn holds on to the bow for the while longer.
  • Can we move the flashbacks up to a time when Oliver’s hair was long enough that Amell can wear a different ridiculous looking wig?


Arrow returns Wednesday, January 16, with ‘Burned’ @8pm on The CW. Check out a preview of the episode below:

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  1. As I said to my wife last night, This show is one that I could watch, buy the dvd’s and watch over and over.
    I am really liking that they are slowly bringing in more elements of the gadget arrows (i.e. explosive arrow from last night)
    I already like this show more than Smallville

  2. I enjoy the episode, like you I found it a little lacking. They need to either devote some serious screen time to Ollie reconciling with his family, or show them a lot less. One thing I really like, and I wouldn’t have thought I did, is Walter. I really like his character and the actor who plays him. Last time he was out of the show for a few episodes his absence was missed.

  3. I’m with you, I can watch the episodes multiple times. I even find myself sitting (literally) on the edge of my seat and even cheering/clapping at some of the great moments just before the commercial break. The fight between Arrow and The Dark Archer was epic and I loved how the season ended hinting at much bigger things for The Green Arrow.

    Smallville started off well but waited too long to get Clark into full superhero mode. By the time they did the cast assembled for the young justice league was so cheesey, I really haven’t been able to stomach a full ep since prob early in the third season. Here’s to hoping that the writing, action, and acting stays consistent in this series, which is already infinitely better than smallville. With Crixus from Spartacus coming into the fold, and Count Vertigo as a villain (although reimagined) I think we’re in for one hell of a ride on the back end of this season.

  4. another great ep. hoping that they will start calling him green arrow instead of the hood since it was mentioned in the ep. and seeing death stroke again was pretty sick

  5. Phenomenal! That episode was the best one yet. Just AWSOME! The dark archer, the intriguing, mysterious story lines, and sub-plots, the action and fight sequences, wow.

    The only thing I can say that would even be slightly negative would be that the Tommy and Laurel romance seems forced, and Thea needs to either be killed off, or given something she can do. She is just like another comercial when she is on the screen, and I can’t wait for her snipet to be over to get back to the interesting good stuff.

    I agree, Captian Picard, err, Walter is very good, and I enjoy him very much.

    Tom Barrowman is excellent. I don’t know why he is not in more movies. Does anybody else think of John Travolta when you see Tom Barrowman? They look like they could be brothers.

    The island stuff is getting real interesting!!

    I too find myself cheering, and sitting on the edge of my couch. I could re-watch the shows over and over.

    I am excited and look very much forward to the second half of the season. Excellent show, keep up the good work!

    • John Travolta? Are you serious? Anyone who looks at Barrowman and doesn’t think of Tom Cruise needs an eye exam. Honestly, if he weren’t a better actor than Cruise he would make a good stunt double.

      • You must be drinking .Tom Cruise really?

      • @ cave-ish Man

        LOL!! Yes I said John Travolta, & I have 20/20 vision thank you very much.

        He is better than Tom Cruise, by far, but to me looks like Travolta.

        • No way he looks like Travolta. have you seen Travolta lately? He is balding fat and aged.looks like a couch potato grandpa.lol His Saturday fever is now more geriatric fever– Geritol man . lol

  6. You folks have pretty much spelled out how good this episode was as well as the entire series! I thought this show would be ok when I heard it was coming out. With my love of superheroes I was going to watch anyway but I can now say this show is awesome and exceeded expectations! I’d be watching if I loved superheroes or not.

  7. Please O please stop advertising windows on this show.

    Why would a rich guy like Oliver even consider windows?

    • Widows and other companies pay huge sums to the shows .that is how these shows are paid for . so i would nit be complaining about such minute issues .lol

  8. soooooooooooooo is this new bad guy Merlin?

  9. Arrow totally rocks and i think Oliver could learn a few things from the Dark Archer……..like covering up his face and not painting it!….jus sayin

  10. ”perhaps they don’t consider anyone who so easily becomes entranced by the wonders of Windows 8 to be much of a threat.” So funny !

    • i’m still on xp pro lol

  11. what i didn’t get is why he had Felicity Smoak look up the black arrow info when he probably could have done that himself on his bank of computers in his HQ. it just seemed like they were forcing her into the story for such a simple task.

    • Agreed… did the arrow have a patent ID stamp on it? How did she find that so quickly? Must have been the a new Windows 8 app. :)

  12. I actually think this is a very good series. There are hiccups every once in a while but the various subplots makes it interesting.

    I’m glad they finally gave us some island flashbacks again as I feel this adds to the layers of the character development of Ollie.

    I like the Felicity character, like Alias, it’s always good to have the techy nerd help. And yes, blatant Windows 8 advertising, but it makes the series seem like it’s in our timeline.

    This is what The Cape should have been… quote of the episode… “How about Green Arrow?”… “Lame.”.

  13. Well this episode just screamed batman begins/dark knight to me. The hostage reading the note just like joker made his hostage do, oliver crawling out of the window and falling onto the dumpster a lot like batman did after he was set alight by scarecrow and the aerial view of starling city looked a hell of a lot like gotham in batman begins. This is not a complaint or anything just noting similarities.

    What does irk me though is deathstroke’s mask. The yellow is off-putting for some reason.

    And finally, anyone else think Amell would make a good terminator?

  14. I’m surprisingly digging this show and not just because Stephen Amell is sex on legs. I will say this i’m glad this show has sharp-ish writing. didn’t think this would become one of my favorite shows but somehow it did. John Barrowman as Merlyn is awesome, although i hope tommy stays far and away because he just comes off as a whiny douche, the same thing with Thea. Glad that Oli got his ass kicked because it shows that not everything is going to be easy for him and that there are bigger bad asses than him. Can’t wait for the rest of the season, especially since we now know that Oli has to to stop the “organization” from doing something bad to the residents of Starling City. Also, i like this show so much that i’m ignoring how much it borrows from Nolan’s Batman or that the organization plotting to destroy Starling City reminds me of the Company in season 1 of Heroes.

    • On Ollie getting beat so handily… a bit over the top considering Father Merlyn is probably 40+ years old and Ollie is supposed to be in his prime physically.

      Which also makes you wonder how Yao-Fei got beat so easily when he was able to take out Deathstroke and company when he rescued Ollie the first time.

  15. sweeeeet