This week on Arrow, Oliver Queen fails the city.

No, he didn’t really.  I mean geez, the one time Oliver chooses to have a pity party!  It just goes to prove that the holidays are the most depressing time of year.  In reality, Oliver got to play hero and it looked rather good on him. He’s showing a lot of growth these days and easing into this whole superhero thing nicely, whether he sees himself as a hero or not.  All of that harsh shoving toward the right direction by Dig is working!

Ollie even tried to be a good son by rekindling the dropped-because-you-and-your-Dad-were-dead Christmas traditions in the Queen household.  You know things like decorations, the once yearly family holiday party, the unfolding of drama and hidden agendas among the family members, etc.  Just makes you fuzzy all over, right?  Considering Oliver’s motives were purely genuine and not held as a rouse to go off and play vigilante, I’d say it was a step forward.

Moira on the other hand, she’s got some serious explaining to do.  Christmastime and she let the bad guys take her husband away with the notion that in six months she might get him back?  She bought that?  Walter is toast unless it turns out he’s got some awesome survival skills, or Oliver figures out things pretty fast.  Six months until all of evil Mr. Meryln’s plans come together?  That’s approximately the end of the season.  I guess we just got the map to the second half.

I know that Arrow isn’t following the comic to the letter, but considering the Dark Archer was a known archenemy of The Green Arrow, I had to do my weekly Google search to find out what he was all about.  Turns out his name was Merlyn, so anyone who knew that wasn’t too shocked that The Dark Archer turned out to be Tommy’s Dad, aka evil Mr. Merlyn.  In the comics Merlyn inspired Oliver Queen to take up archery.  Since we know it’s Yao Fei (or we think it is), how in the world did Mr. Merlyn become such a good archer?  Is he tied to the island which was revealed in this week’s flashbacks to be a former prison for the Chinese?  Did he arrange to have Oliver and his Dad sent there on purpose?  Or was Oliver’s Dad in on the whole plot and shooting himself wasn’t part of their original plan?

Hee, they really upped the possibilities this week, didn’t they?  There’s only 14 more episodes left in the season spoon feed us such answers.  By the way, didn’t you find it interesting that the first mention of the name “The Green Arrow” came from Mr. Merlyn at the dinner party?  Oliver said he hated it.  How much do you want to bet Merlyn’s the one that gets the name adopted?  Also, do you think he suspects that Oliver is The Green Arrow?  He didn’t get to see his face during their grand confrontation, but just like Detective Lance, there has to be some inklings.

Let’s talk about Detective Lance a bit.  Talk about awkward family Christmases.  He and Laurel are spending time together, but their gathering was even frostier than the Queens, who took a page out of the Festivus traditions by airing grievances with each other.  The Lance’s just didn’t talk much to one another.  They clearly miss Sarah, but luckily there was the distraction of the vigilante killing people now with black arrows, something Lance figured out instantly was a copycat.

Poor Detective Lance is caught in the middle of this whole “list” mess just as bad as Oliver.  He instantly points out why this is a copycat, and his boss, who’s unshockingly in with the vast conspiracy led by Mr. Merlyn, orders him to back down and declares they’re dealing with The Hood.  We get to see where Laurel gets her fighting spirit when he defies the order, getting himself a nice demotion out of it.  It also forces him to do the one thing he didn’t want to do, work with The Hood to catch the real guy.  Of course twice he told The Hood he was going to hunt him down and kill him when this was all over, but that was really just him channeling his inner Dread Pirate Roberts.

Oliver and Dig on the other hand figured out early this black arrow dude was either trying to frame Oliver or call him out.  Turns out to be the latter, probably because Felicity the IT nerd was able to trace the origin of those serrated teflon-coated titanium arrows in seconds.  They were delivered to a warehouse where a nice set of explosives was waiting for Oliver.  Part of me thought that her find was so quick and easy that Felicity is in on it, but it’s always possible that TV show writers who don’t work in IT don’t realize that Googling very specific information takes a few hours.  Comic book world time is so skewed!

Oliver does get to save five innocent hostages in the process of walking into The Dark Archer’s trap, thus getting him beaten to a pulp and becoming a human pin cushion for titanium black arrows through the shoulder, but that wasn’t enough to console him.  Neither was his family forgiving him for being a crappy son so far.  That’s because he finds out his mission has been a lie.  His father didn’t make the list, someone tied to The Dark Archer did.  And now Oliver is on it as well.  Ooh, you’ve been listed Ollie.  Now you’ve gone and done it!

All kidding aside, this is putting Oliver into a very different dark place now.  Now the focus of his rage is falling on those who made the list.  He doesn’t realize it now, but that conspiracy goes pretty deep, including his own mother.  That’s likely to hit hard his already wavering psyche when the truth surfaces (it’s always when in these conspiracies, isn’t it?).  I’m also wondering if the story on the island with Yao Fei is paralleling the same story that’s unfolding with him real time.  He followed the path of someone he believed in and found out the guy wasn’t what he seemed?  I’m not sure, but in the meantime we got another really cool fight between Yao Fei and the man in the mask (Merlyn perhaps?) so as long as that’s the end result of these confusing flashbacks, I’m good.

So that’s a first half of the season, at least by CW math (23 / 2 = 9?).  Shows in season one tend to frustrate me a lot because they are still very rough and struggling to find their footing.  With Arrow, the show is hitting some very good strides so early.  Sure there are a few rough edges (several secondary characters need a lot of work), but overall the show has hit the ground running from the word go and is finally doing something right in the recently failing superhero genre.  The foundation has been laid, so the next 14 episodes have some awesome potential.  Just as long as the Tommy and Laurel scenes are pared down to them showing up arm and arm to the nightclub and never being seen in the rest of the episode.  That leaves more time for shirtless combat training.  Oh yes, the possibilities are endless.

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