Arrow "Year's End" Review: A Tale of Two Hoodies

Arrow S01E09: "Year's End"

Ah, Christmastime in Starling City. The snow was falling. The lights were twinkling. And bombs were going off in clearly addressed warehouses.

In "Year's End," Last week's vague discussion of vengeance and justice continued to meander down a path of the oblique and the tangential, although the conversation changed partners. The new villain in town is the Dark Archer and he has taken to finishing what Oliver cannot: killing the rich white dudes. This makes for an interesting discussion since Oliver is prone to just handing the actual people on the list over to The Law while peons whose contributions to failing the Starling City are infinitesimally smaller are okay to spear.

It makes the gray area in which Oliver operates more black and white: Hunt them down and eliminate them instead of hunting them down and hoping they'll get what they deserve, regardless of the fact that they have the means to manipulate a system. Seemingly, the Dark Archer's dedication is more fervent than Oliver's, since he sees list entries' total removal from this mortal coil as the only way to set things right... as opposed to the Hood, who will only go so far as to send them off to rehabilitation. At the very least, it's an argument that can be made.

Obviously, Malcolm Merlyn hasn't shown any interest in being the good guy, and knocking off criminals for the sake of justice probably isn't in his game plan. That's why I think the more interesting thing about this episode is not so much that the Dark Archer is way better and stronger than Oliver, nor that Merlyn's taking care of business in a way that Oliver refuses to, but that the source of the list is now in question.

All this time, Oliver has believed the list came from the pen of Robert Queen. A few arrows to the back and leg and some clunky dialogue were enough for him to turn on its source, going from honoring the list's creator to adopting a steely determination to bring him down. I don't question how quickly he made the decision because getting clobbered like Arrow did would make anyone this side of Gandhi willing to exact some revenge. But now the switch is flipped, the list is secondary to its creator, and we can drift away from knocking people off it in pursuit of a bigger bad, the ultimate failure of Starling City.

While I'm willing to allow that the turn on the list is smart, how we got there was not. Maybe it's my strong belief that a vigilante hero, no matter how lacking in superpowers, has no business casually walking into a situation, particularly an abandoned warehouse situation, but I feel like the trap on Wharf was the pinnacle of clunkiness for the episode. He got there and basically just opened the door and strolled in like he was meeting a buddy for coffee. No stealth, no making sure there wasn't a beaker of explosives waiting for him. He was just all, "I'm here. Come and get me!" There was an arrow planted under a spotlight in the middle of the room and we were waiting for the signal to reach Oliver's brain that it was a trap. And when someone did go get him, the Dark Archer intended to blow him up—so Oliver escaped by creating a smaller explosion in front while the bigger explosion followed him.

This set off nothing but a series of clumsy plotting. Hostages to get our guy's attention? You almost blew him up. Consider his focus shifted. Also, is that all any archer wants? To see who's better? "Let's see what you look like without it?" If the Dark Archer is going to be Oliver's nemesis, he's got to get better lines than that.

And Oliver's reminders that he spent five years on an island were just as tiresome this week. The flashbacks did, however, mirror the sentiment of the list, that the person Oliver assumes to be good could just as well be the bad guy. Nothing is exactly as it seems, especially for a man whose perspective on life has been gradually eroded by injustice and the evaporation of his shelter. His worldview has shifted twice, first in adjusting to the island without family or modern conveniences and now to the realization that battling his father's foes isn't exactly as he thought it would be. It's hard to tell who's naughty or nice.

Segue to the Christmas party! Oliver's personal and family drama took a backseat as Thea continued to be ornery and then sweet, Laurel continued to be awkward but able to fill out a dress, and Moira continued to be shady (she's now in cahoots with the Dark Archer). I couldn't hold with Oliver's need for a Christmas party especially since he didn't even know it was that time of year. There may be a universe where a city in America is not Christmas Crazy, but it doesn't appear that Starling City is one of them. I would also assume that five years of not observing Christmas because he was stuck on a desert island—plus all that vengeance and justice on his mind—would dull the need to celebrate, but whatever, call up the posse. Let's have a party.

Other than Walter getting closer to the truth (and, subsequently, getting himself kidnapped) and Laurel figuring out that Oliver is holding her back (?), nothing really progressed in "Year's End." There weren't enough scenes for emotional development. There weren't even really any moments to remind us of our connection to the characters, let alone for them to interact. And when is Oliver going to eat more ice cream with Diggle, dang it?!

While we got some interesting plot points, it was a disappointing outing overall. The Christmas party was not only a trivial part of the episode, it stole time from scenes that could've been improved with the Dark Archer sequences, and the proceedings were hampered by uninspired conversation and incremental (at best) narrative progression. I was happy to see Deathstroke, and Yao Fei getting spirited away is an interesting development, but there wasn't enough to really sustain.

For an end-of-the-year episode, this was no Christmas meal.


NOTES & QUOTES


– Did Thea just admit to be the best at a sucking contest?

– "How about Green Arrow?" "Lame." Yeah, you say that now, Oliver. But wait until YOU think of it!

– "The guy is a— the guy is a legitimate archer." If you're going to be a guy who goes around killing people with a bow and arrow, you really need to be a legitimate archer. Otherwise, you just look like a jackass.

– "We rob banks and smoke crack together."

– Felicity, I think you're adorable and awesome. But how dumb do you think Oliver is that you have to explain Sagittarius?

– So, we're all in agreement that Merlyn's plan for Starling City is a weather machine, right?

– Noel should be back next episode (which doesn't air until January!) with his academic terminology and Green Arrow insight. He is the legitimate archer to my thrower of suction-cup darts.

Comments (104)
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I have just completed the entire set of episodes and though I think the characters are too black and white and some of the dialogues are just way too cheesy, still Arrow can definitely keep a fast pace and interesting storyline.. going through some of the reviews and comments, it seems like I could be the only one not hating Thea:) Laurel is more boring:)

I just might have missed sth, so what the hell happened to the step-dad?
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I think it has been cleared up, if not outright stated, that he does not kill the 'peons' most of the time. He injures them.
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I do NOT agree with the review; actually I don't agree with most of the last episode reviews for this show. In my opinion Nick Campbell (yeah I'm talking to you), you don't know how to enjoy this show, you entered in a spiral of "Oliver is actually killing people" and "this is not good ENOUGH FOR ME" that you are unable to write about the most important things on the episode. For example, in this episode the las conversation between Moira and Malcolm Merlyn was full of new interesting information!!! So, if you don't like this show (in fact, it looks like you HATE it guts) I recommend you to stop reviewing it and to let another person to do it instead: some of us are tired of your pessimistic boooooring reviews.
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Staff
Amusingly, Nick's only reviewed a single episode of the series so far: This one.

So, really, your beef with the "pessimistic boooooring reviews" is with me, the person who normally writes about Arrow. Hope you'll swing back around later this month to complain at the correct person.
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I guess my opinion reached the right person after all. That's a relief :D
Please don't take it so seriously, it's just an opinion.
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I suppose I could say the same about my "pessimistic boooooring reviews": They're just an opinion. ;)
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I don't agree with most of the review, namely the Dark Archer seemed pretty badass to me, this part of the episode was really exciting. Oliver walked into that room because he underestimated his enemy, and he's a little arrogant and over-confident. That's an aspect of his personality the show has already emphasized on, and Digg is checking him on it very often.
The rest of the episode though showed signs that they might steer the show towards the direction of teenage soap/ overall cheesiness, which would be a fatal mistake on their part. Lame, manufactured dialogue, two-dimensional characters, Laurel basically being there to show off her body (she's stunning, don't get me wrong) and not getting any script to show for. They need well-written, realistic dialogue very badly. And they need to use Digg more, he's awesome!! I'll keep watching and fingers crossed for the show not to turn into another Smallville.
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so who is deathstroke now that it is proven barroman isnt him. Is Dark Archer from the comics? Do you think he will ever use the green arrow instead of the hood
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I believe they mentioned that Deathstroke was one of the prisoners of the island who now worked for the owner of the island, so I'm assuming he won't be a major person in this series :(. Yes 'Dark Archer' is from the comics, he is known as Merlyn and he is GA's arch nemesis. Yeah so I was able to call who this Dark Archer was from the get go. I'd assume once the Law accepts him (if that ever happens) that he would choose a proper moniker and that would be Green Arrow.
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It was solid enough for an episode. I mean yeah, I essentially agree with everything you said. Pretty much.
-Diggle is Awesome. Therefore Diggle should be used a hell of a lot more. When will they get this?
-Felicity is also awesome. I'd love to see her get utilized more. Plus, I'd like for them to make her come off as competent as we clearly know she is. Oliver comes in and says vague things that just so happen to line up a bit with the stuff Walter has her doing and she doesn't even appear as though she's connecting dots? I don't believe it. Either they're missing out on a chance to make her appear competent, because I'm confident that she is, or they're doing this on purpose. I mean I don't see how she's not questioning things or something. I mean Oliver's reasonings for asking her to do things are the most flimsy things I've ever heard. Please tell me she's better than this because I like her. Maybe I'm just too eager for that inevitable time when she, oliver, and diggle are doing awesome shizz in the batcave.
-Oh Thea. She goes from being concerned to not giving a crap in the blink of an eye. The one time I expected her and her mom to go all out and have a huge Christmas thing because Ollie is back, they didn't and he had to do it himself even though it didn't seem like he actually needed or wanted to since he forgot about Christmas or something. What? I get why Thea and them stopped with Christmas. Made sense...the other stuff, not so much. But okay.
-Laurel was a snooze. Her detective father continues to suck...no one should be so bitter. No one. Tommy is charming with Laurel. Basically...the same thing I keep saying every week applies this week. I also didn't get how Ollie could just walk all into a place w/o checking it out, but okay. I was kinda pleased to see the flashbacks again. I'm looking forward to when it returns because I want to see how this show is going to evolve. It's on the cusp of being seriously good but it always falls just a little short. The Colton Hayes news has me thinking maybe we're getting somewhere. I don't know.
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This episode was much better than the last, which put it up at a solid 'ehh.' I watched Elementary and Scandal first, and it was a good call. Overall, Oliver hasn't been that stupid, but he's done stupid things like walking into unknown dangers without a decent plan before, it's just that they'd never written in the bombs or the asskickings before. For some reason, they decided to make him especially cocky beforehand so we and Nelson from the Simpsons could get in a good 'haa haa~' while Barrowman kicked the mascara outta him.

I love Barrowman (from Torchwood. It's good enough to check out), and while I look forward to some kickass fights with him and his stunt double, the ridiculousness of this evil billionaire daddy walking around and shooting people with arrows to draw out Oliver just makes me remember..."Oh yeah, CW." And was this supposed to be a big midseason reveal? We already knew he was evil, all it really showed us was that he was a little more badass.

I still like Diggle. I can't really blame him for becoming that little kid that runs up to the Sheriff every time the Black Hats show up to rob the bank.

Oliver and Thea together are still pretty annoying, and pretty much devolved into "Ur not my dad! Hug at the end of the episode, kk?" It's been 9 episodes. Either make some progress or drop the subject, already.

I saw someone say that they had Felicity explain what a Sagittarius was not to Oliver, but to us, the clueless CW audience, and they're right, but they failed at it. It's one thing to explain something we, as a whole, are too stupid to understand, but it has to be played off properly in the story, otherwise, they might as well turn to the camera and say "Sagittarius: The 9th sign of the Zodiac. Also known as the Archer. Get it?"

All they had to do was:

Felicity: "Y'know, Sagittarius? The Archer--"

Oliver: "I *know* what Sagittarius is, thx."

Felicity: "Okay, sorry! You know everyone thinks you're the male Lindsey Lohan, right?"

Oliver: "....."

I mean, at least in Felicity's defense, most people think he's stupid, *and* he can't even use Bing, amirite?

On a side note, I never really care who reviews what, but if Price were here, I'd like to think he'd have a screenshot of Felicity's tablet with Bing on it, and only the caption 'LOL' on it. I dunno what else they intended to be funny, but that was the only part in the episode that made me laugh. Is it just me, or did they make Felicity look ridiculous this episode because she's so much more popular than Laurel? Heh, Bing...they still get me with that one...
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"I love Barrowman (from Torchwood. It's good enough to check out), and while I look forward to some kickass fights with him and his stunt double, the ridiculousness of this evil billionaire daddy walking around and shooting people with arrows to draw out Oliver just makes me remember..."Oh yeah, CW." And was this supposed to be a big midseason reveal? We already knew he was evil, all it really showed us was that he was a little more badass"

Exactly. Completely agree with that. Like it wasn't really a reveal to me. It was just..."oh, okay. Whatever" but I was also like, I'm supposed to not say anything about how silly it is that this freaking billionaire can fence and kill people effortlessly, and be a professional archer? Then I'm supposed to also let that sink in with the fact that he pretty much raised a pansy. Why is tommy so pathetic in relation to his father? I don't know. I was just watching and accepting while trying not to ask questions which is what I'm wont to do when I watch CW shows.

"I still like Diggle. I can't really blame him for becoming that little kid that runs up to the Sheriff every time the Black Hats show up to rob the bank."

LOL! totally made me chuckle. It's true sort of.

I actually thought the product placement was so much more smooth then it has been on other shows. Plus, I like Felicity but yeah, I already said that it's a tough go when they're trying to convince us of how competent and bright she is all the while having her appear oblivious to what's so damn obvious. But even when they're making her appear that way it won't change the fact that she's infinitely more interesting than Laurel is with half the screen time.
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Yeah, having a billionaire all go out solo and attack people is so silly, I mean the comics never... oh wait.... Batman, Green Arrow, Tony Stark, etc. Is it only good billionaires that are allowed to get their hands dirty?
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Actually...yeah. The bad billionaires use goons, contraptions, constructs, and more goons, and once the hero overcomes all of that, *then* the billionaire villain reveals all of his ninja superpowers. Luthor, Kingpin, Palpatine, they usually don't go searching for an ass to kick, they search for lives to ruin and money to steal.
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Yeah, and the whole Merlyn and Tommy thing is essentially what happens with the Green Goblin (Norman Osborn) and his son, Harry from Spider-Man, and Lionel and Lex from Superman. What's more ridiculous here is that Merlyn's *so* evil that he's willing to kill anyone that might inconvenience him, but he's sat around for 20+ years and watched his son become a spoiled, pampered playboy. It's just...oh yeah; CW.

As for Felicity, yeah, let's bring Laurel up a bit instead of dragging Felicity down. Walking around and being perfect just isn't enough; Laurel juuust might have try to keep the audience interested.
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I LOVE the pull ups in that metal ladder thingy. I wonder how many he can do in one go?
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I enjoyed some of the action and plot-advancements in this episode, even though some of them were done fairly clumsily.

My biggest problem with this one may have been dialogue. It's happened in some previous episodes too, but in this one I didn't believe most of the things these characters said to each other. It felt so... script-y. It's like the kind of scripts I'd expect some aspiring-to-be-a-writer-13-year-old to write, not actual professional writers who've written plenty of television scripts before. For example, I absolutely hated Quentin's superior officer -- he may have been on screen for a total of about 15 seconds, and I hated it. I don't think I've ever hated a TV character that didn't have at least a minute of action.

Also, if they're going to make Thea so annoying and bitchy, at least show a little more coverage of her in her bra. This is the CW -- some skin is allowed, right?
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I find that Barrowman as the dark archer makes a great villain - he looks great in the suit, love his "evil" smile and the fact that they made the character be a better archer than Oliver. I agree that the definition of right and wrong is still sooo difuse in this show... that is probably its weakest point. That ,and Laurel's character. Luckily we have Felicity to defend the female "species" in this show!
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So green arrow went in the warehouse by rope over the building, cuz it had explosives surrounding the place. Oh and its surrounded by cops, arrow exits thru the back window and gets easily picked up unnoticed by his sidekick? O_o? I mean i'm loving the show is just they need to take care off of the little things.
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you guys do realize that Felicity is only super smart because of those big...big... glasses!!
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She looks like she's still in high school?
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she looks even smarter because the other female characters are so lame... but agreed, her super powet must come from the glasses :)
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lol

i want those glasses, all character should wear them, the only cure for dumbness.
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true, but by hollywood standards you'll become an instant nerd or geek.
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yay Noel will be back! (sorry, i like his reviews...) :D I didn't mind this ep actually, although Oliver's excuse for getting the arrow tracked by Felicity seemed really easy to see through to be honest, she's super smart, surely she could piece that together.
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while peons whose contributions to failing the Starling City are infinitesimally smaller are okay to spear. Whaa!??
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This show is the best! i cant imagine a world without "arrow" i enjoy every episode regardless of the reviews. KEEP EM COMING CW!!
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It's hard to take him seriously with his whole "I'm gonna kick his ass" speech when he's standing in the hospital after receiving an ass kicking so thorough that one of the first people he sees when he wakes up is his mommy.
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Flashbacks are back! The bad guy wasn't just the equivalent of the Putties! This episode was SUCH an improvement over the last few. And now that Colton Haynes is going to make an appearance I guess I'm gonna have to stick around!

JK I wasn't ever going to quit you, Arrow.
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Oliver got his azz kicked!
People get too critical with this show.
Remember this is on the CW! Serious budget constraints, to say the least.
If you keep that in mind, they are outdoing themselves by leaps and bounds.

This show could do for "low-budget" TV and especially the superhero TV genre what Buffy did for female heroes and the vampire genre.
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I don't see a necessary correlation between writing and budget. The main criticism is about the writing (characterisation, dialogue, scenography) and not about fancy CGI or expensive sets. But sure, if they keep up to this path one should lower his expectations.
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Nicely put!
I've been overly critical about the show (mostly in my head) until the past couple eps. I'm a fan of the old 80's comics series that Arrow is pretty heavily influenced by, so my eye kinda twitches by reflex when they bring in other non-Green Arrow DC characters just about every episode CW style, and with the almost obligatory family drama on overly lit sets and all...So, I just went & flipped my expectations. Unlike the comics where it's about a vigilante in a more realistic environment, the show is about a more realistic superhero in a comic book world. Y'know?
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"Unlike the comics where it's about a vigilante in a more realistic environment, the show is about a more realistic superhero in a comic book world. Y'know?"

Even more nicely put!
There are definitely parts of the show that get the eyes rolling, particularly the family and his "I'm doing my best impersonation of Sarah Michelle Gellar" sister, I don't let it bother me because Oliver's character, back story, and plot lines are so strong.

As superhero shows goes, Arrow is having one of the strongest opening seasons in memory. Smallville went for 10 years and Buffy for 7 and they didn't start nearly this strong.

I guess the challenge for this show is the "list". Viewers will get tired of the show if this same plot line goes on for more than 2-3 seasons.
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This episode was ridiculous in many, many ways. But what stood out for me was the fact that a well known businessman, that has a company to run, a shady conspiracy to keep going and the side project to transform the whole city STILL (!) has some spare time to put on a hood and show off his mad archer skills with ease, kidnapping innocents, planting bombs, ...

I mean... seriously?
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Richard Branson has time to go into space, skydive, probably wrestle mutant alligators when the cameras aren't around... so it seemed logical to me. In fact, it was character development in my eyes, and tied in with the segment where he disowned his son, as it shows what a fanatical overachiever he is.
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LOL


they all like that lol, dont ask logic questions just watch lol
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QFT

As if all the bada$$e$ in the world will prefer to be archers.....riiiiight...
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No self-respecting IT guy/gal uses Windows & Bing! Felicity your cred just plummeted ROFL!
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What else would they use? A mac/apple product? No self-respecting person would use a Mac.
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U use UR favourite flavour of Linux (compiled and modified by U) my dear ignoramus LOL!
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Ah fair enough, Linux is alright, but Mac/Apple is pretty crappy. My bad for the assumption.
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A free OS like Linux with some geeky, text-based search engine in all probability...
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It was the best episode why have you gone kinda hate on Arrow??
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I was jumping out of my seat yelling "Best. Arrow. Ever!!!" by the end! I can't believe people aren't raving about this episode; it opened up lots of new plot directions and major new developments.
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As mid-season finales go, this episode could have done something much more finale-like, such as killing off an important character. However, I still found it very enjoyable. I agree that the warehouse scene was awkward, especially since it started with him walking through the streets like a normal person when he should've dropped down from the roof. Still, a lot happened in this episode. The flashbacks made a comeback, which was much appreciated. Oliver fought against a proper nemesis, and while their dialogue could have been better, I appreciate the fact that the Dark Archer, as a character, has been built up since we first saw Borrowman talking to Moira, to the reveal that he's Tommy's father, to the (fairly obvious) reveal that he's the Dark Archer. I actually think their showdown was done well, and it will be exciting to see them cross bows in the future. Oddly enough, one of the things I appreciated the most from this episode was Thea. I thought that she and Ollie really had a great connection this episode, and now all the writers have to do is keep it that way. I don't mind if they disagree from time to time, but they don't need to fight and then make up in every episode. I think one of the problems that this show has is that from the beginning it has done so many things, and now whenever it slips up in some way there are a lot of complaints. Sure, they could have ended the episode with a bang and killed of Walter, but I think kidnapping him is good enough. Besides, Arrow has already given us several finale worthy moments, such as having Oliver being arrested for being the Green Arrow, having a gang war, and having Diggle learn his identity. I would rather Arrow do what it does, and not hold back, rather than take a handful of these moments and dole them out over finales and episodes before minor breaks.
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Yeah, they really could have done us a favor and killed of Thea at least. Or Laurel. Or Tommy. Or all of the above.
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Actually, I'm going to disagree with you solely on the basis that none of those deaths would do anything much. Sure, many people find these three characters annoying; however, killing them off mid-season only works if it does something for the show. Thea and Oliver are just barely getting back on a good footing, Laurel and Tommy haven't shared too much in the way of love for each other other than what was half a decade ago, and Tommy is just Tommy. The show would be served best to kill any of these characters off when it would impact us the most. And right now, the only character that would really achieve that would be Diggle. So no, it's a good thing none of these characters were killed off. Otherwise, it would be like killing a pig before it's old enough to have the bacon be worth more than the bullet.
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My only argument would be that the show would be much better without one or two of them. Imagine if there wasn't a Laurel-scolding-Oliver scene every week! OMG. More time to fill with flashbacks! Or interesting characters!

I don't need to FEEL anything, I just need to be entertained. I'm shallow.
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except that larel hasnt scolded scolded Ollie in a long while, she had reasons to btw, if anything she forgive him sooner than expected.

The island flashbacks are kind of meh to me, I dont think they need to be too much. I like them in moderation, What interesting characters LOL?, if they cant write the characters they have now in a compelling way, , then they can just make up newer interesting characters
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Fair point. I guess I still see potential in those characters. I have really enjoyed the good moments between Thea and Oliver, and it would be wonderful if that were the norm. Laurel and Tommy are also intriguing characters, and if the show gave them something to do then they would be good to watch. I'm still holding out hope for them.
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Hey JT, not sure if Nick is a regular Arrow watcher, but I much preferred your review and your take on the last episode.
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I really like that Arrow is fighting the phillipine martial arts style called Kali. This style is so cool and effective. If anyone wants to learn to fight with 2 weapons or fast knife fights, look out for Kali, Escrima, Arnis.;)

Oh I really like the show.

As for Arrow killing some bad guys off while keeping others (mainly the bosses) alive, there is an explanation to that. You may not like this explanation.
Those "Grunts" working for the bosses are the ones getting killed mainly. This could be due to the fact that they did not learn anything other than beeing the "Grunt"/ The Muscle who hurts and kills people for their crime boss.
The bosses, while clever, lack the muscle or else they would not need Grunts to carry out their killings and hurting.
So maybe, if the boss is brought down to justice or his crime work destroyed, the boss can focus his wits to something good and legal (if he learned any lesson), whereas the Grunt will look for someone else to work for to carry out the "muscle work".

Most often Bosses also are the first to surrender to stay alive, while their Grunts keep fighting.

Therefore, Arrow may be a bit more willing to end the suffering those Grunts will bring to others by taking them out of game once and for all....maybe.

Not a nice explanation, but an explanation none the less.
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First off, I have to give mad props (people don't still say that, do they) to "Arrow" for finally making Detective Quentin Lance do something SMART. Not just once, but at every turn he did things that normal CW tv writing wouldn't have accepted - he used detective skillz to immediately rule out Green Arrow as the killer, he gave up the evidence to the vigilante, and he defied following orders to dole out knowingly-wrong propaganda. Where has THIS guy been the whole time?!?

Seems like you're reading a lot more into the Dark Archer's motives than were actually presented. Since we find out that he's Merlyn the villainous archer and that Malcolm Merlyn is trying to keep the list quiet, I took his killings to be a silencing of possible loose lips who had been struck from the list by Ollie.

As for the trap, you're right on the money. Sure there could be some tv shorthand at work, but to not even suggest that Ollie knew what he was doing, that he had scoped it out and checked for bombs and trouble and whatnot, that was a lazy mistake. The only reason Ollie saved them was that Merlyn isn't The Joker, he didn't boobytrap the roof as well, didn't think ahead that much, no "kill the hostages after rescue" machinations. It's fine I guess to have the villain not be smarter than the hero, but since both had to act in a rather simple way to move the plot along it wasn't as rewarding.

I didn't find the dialogue between Merlyn and Green Arrow's fight to be written with any concern, that arrow-measuring contest dialogue really was lame, but Malc Merlyn does seem like the type to want to prove his mettle against an opponent, he's cocksure and ruthless. Corny that he wanted an archery showdown? Oh, most definitely, and the scene's action looked terrible to boot, just nocking arrows and walking towards each other was the worst possible fight choreography. But the motivation actually dragging the episode down? I didn't find that to be the case. I did find it stupid that once Ollie got Merlyn unconscious that he didn't try to unmask the evil foe though, this is where smarter writing should have been undertaken to give plausible reason why he wouldn't try.

This episode was too compressed, the flashbacks, the party, the stuff with Moira and Walter, Walter and Ms. Smoak, Thea and her sleazy teen boyfriend, the dinner party, the brief Laurel - Tommy - Ollie stuff, Diggle & Ollie training, Det. Lance and the poorly-cast chief, the hostage rescue, the Batman Begins failure/rescue me scenario, even in a comic book that would have been too much for a regular issue. This show needs to stretch those types of stories out a little better, get comfortable spending time with the Green Arrow stalking and training and fighting - I'd like to see them spend a lot more time with that part, suggest using slow-motion to give a more epic feel.

Ollie's need to have a Christmas didn't bug me, I could picture him as the Green Arrow firing arrows attached to tinsel garlands and hung with ornaments over an orphanage to decorate it, comic book characters get a little sentimental at xmas and I think it's reasonable since they spend the rest of the fighting and honing their skills and focused on the worst of humanity.

Ms. Smoak wasn't explaining Sagitarius the archer to Ollie for his benefit, it was for the audience's. The CW thinks the audience is largely ignorant teens who need to be spoonfed everything.

Merlyn's plan is named "Tempest", but I suspect it's just blowing up a homeless shelter to build a mall, or something Snidely Whiplash-esque. Killing thousands to make the city more like what they want seems like a mixed scope, it's a disturbingly large number of people but doesn't seem enough to change a city's makeup.

Anyway, I actually thought this was a better episode than most. Still incompetent thanks to CW styling? Sure. But it had a flow and an actual showdown and Moira and Walter got a storyline worth telling finally. Yes, the casting on stuff like the wimpy young police chief was lame, and Ollie did say "holidays" in a very Canadian way, and all the above complains, but characterizations seemed more consistent, the soap opera stuff didn't overwhelm or slow down the plot, there was fightin', and the flashback storyline moved forward quite a bit.
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I agree with the "silencing" bit. The phone conversation he had just before he died definitely made it seem like he was so afraid that he might spill his guts.

Also, perhaps the Dark Archer just wanted to lure out Ollie... killing one of his targets in the same manner as Ollie fights would definitely "call him out." Either to immediately fight the Dark Archer or to approach him as an ally. Either way: it brings Ollie into his cross-hairs.
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I called Senior Meryln as the Black Arrow about two weeks ago. Not that the writing was obvious but enough seeds and you pick up a tomato.

Merlyn wasn't hunting them. He was killing them because there usefulness was at an end. My theory is all the names are of people that Merlyn and this secret society have blackmailed to further their agenda. He was silencing those people that had no reason to keep quiet about his plans. With out holding the blackmail over their heads they had no obligation to remain silent.

Overall I tire of people complaining bout this series. As TV series goes it isn't all bad. It, so far, has merged decent action genre with a procedural. The story lines can be tenuous and even rushed but it is tough to keep things on hold when you are playing with media outlets not fully backing your show.

Personally I shut my brain off when I watch and enjoy a show that is very comic book like.
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Does anybody know if this was planned as the mid-season finale?

The episode itself was ok, some good moments, some not so good.

Thea is all over the place. Can the writers decide what they want to do with her. I like Willa Holland but even she can't save her character as she is currently being written.

I knew who the Dark Archer was, so the reveal wasn't a shocker. I hope they explain how he is such a good archer, cuz it took Ollie quite a bit of training. For anybody that watched Smallville (and possibly the comics) the symbol on the books is very similar to the symbol Smallville used for their Dark Archer and the secret society he came from. Maybe that is where Merlyn learned his craft. I am however a little confused about his motives, again I hope they address this further.

I was really enjoying the show up until the last couple of episodes. Here's hoping they turn it around.
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I have doubts it was planned that way because they initially only got a 13 episode order and probably got word while filming this week or last week that they got picked up, so there probably was a bit more all over the place about things (like, if you noticed the past week or two, Thea was actually turning into a cool little sister and her anger, particularly in the first Helena ep, was totally justified and dealt with in a non annoying way and this week, it was like that episode hadn't happened).

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I always forget this in my comments...when Ollie talks at start,how he has to become something...else...(and then he pulls his hood over his eyes :D...yes,over his eyes...right into(maybe even over) nose:D...makes me laugh every time...no way he can see)
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Why did Oliver need that IT lady if all she had to do was look up the information he needed on Google----scuse me, "Bing"? He could have done that himself.
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How long was Oliver stranded on the island? Was it five years? So it's probably not long enough for him to be illiterate with computers and the internet. Unless being a rich playboy meant never using computers. Either way, I expect it was just a way for Felicity to get some screen time, along with the Windows and Bing product placement, hehe.
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He's lazy? So they could show off her Samsung Windows 8 tablet? Because Ollie sucks at being a superhero and doesn't have any actual detective instincts at this point?

Here's one, how does Felicity Smoak immediately figure out the arrow is a patented design? It didn't say "patent: some company who can easily tell you where these arrow are from" stamped into the shaft of the arrow.
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I can see why Merlyn wanted to hunt the people on the list, to stop them from talking, but challenging Oliver did not seem like the best strategy when he could have pulled off something far more sinister.

Merlyn is a well respected businessman in Starling City, likely one with a lot of pull. Imagine if he held a press conference and offered a reward for the capture of "Green Arrow". Suddenly, Oliver would go from being the hunter to being the hunted. Everyone from lowlife crooks to big league hitmen, government agents to simple citizens, all would come out of the woodwork hoping to cash in on the prize. Olliver would have to be on his guard constantly making his work on the list more difficult. I just think that, from what we have seen of Mr. Merlyn, he is the type of guy who would do something like that before getting his hands dirty.

I am starting to wonder how many copies of the list there are floating around. WE know that Robert had one which he gave to Oliver, Moira had one which Walter found, and we can only assume that Merlyn has one. Maybe each member of this cabal had one as leverage against each other, maybe each member in the list had one and that is why the Dark Archer was after them, to get the lists back.

While the list Walter had is likely lost now, Felicity knows about it. Walter may have kept her involvement secret but with him suddenly MIA, she is likely to suspect that the list has something to do with it and fear for her safety. Since she also knows that the vigilante has been targeting the names on the list, maybe she will seek him out and become a full ally rather than just an unwitting one. I actually hope this happens because I would love to see more of the character on the show.
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I don't think Merlyn offering a reward would make Arrow's life that much more difficult. He's already hunted by the police, and Oliver himself already put out a substantial reward for whoever captures Arrow. For Merlyn to actually offer a reward large enough to turn everyone against Arrow would put a lot of suspicion on him and make Oliver suspect him, which Merlyn certainly doesn't want.
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I began enjoying the episode for one reason: Laurel hadn't popped up on my screen. Then she did and began talking, and I remembered why I don't care for her. I also laughed at her "oliver holding her back thing", ok girl.

Guess I just wanted more out of this episode.
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It did kind of feel disjointed. And the warehouse scene was just bad. I don't know if they wanted to convey an overconfidence on the part of Oliver, but it came off as just stupidity. At what point does an obvious trap yell trap at our hero.

And the Dark Archer? I want to like it. But the man had a fight with Oliver in a hood. Merlyn seems like a pretty intelligent man, you would have thought that he would have been able to see whom he was fighting. And will someone please get Oliver a freaking mask. Or at least put his glasses back on him. It is getting ridiculous at this point. Huntress figured it out. He presumably is going to be fighting against better and more intelligent foes whom aren't going to be fooled by a hood and some raccoon makeup.

Thea necessarily rebellious. The dinner was odd, the introduction of the chief was odd because one would think that we would have met him already. And why didn't Oliver being the friend that he is, ask Tommy's dad why he cut him off.

I don't know the whole thing just seemed off.

And I am not an expert archer or anything. But I have sent some arrows down range. The arrows that the dark archer sent into Oliver from a compound bow. Would have gone deeper into Oliver. I know it looks good for the camera, but come on.
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You can't really judge how far an arrow will penetrate into a target without first gauging how much pull the archer had on the bowstring. In the heat of battle, it seems likely that rapid-firing arrows meant not giving full-strength shots.

I do agree with you though that Ollie's green makeup is not an acceptable replacement for a mask. A nightvision scope wouldn't even show that makeup, so it'd just be Ollie's face all lit up for whomever wanted to see it. Or maybe it's super island makeup that uses island science to protect the wearer from discovery. But yeah, time to put a domino mask on the guy to cover his identity, this isn't remotely believable.
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Possibly. But the nature of compound bows is to lessen the amount effort the archer has to exert using the levering systems. So even if he drew it back a little, it is probably going to have more force than Olivers. Plus those were some wicked arrow heads. But I realize that they simply aren't going to kill off Oliver, and it is super hero fantasy. But three arrows to the upper torso, come on. I know I should just sit back and enjoy. And maybe I am nit picking because it wasn't that great of an episode overall. I just wish they had done their first meeting and what led up to it better.
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More force than Oliver's shots has nothing to do with it though, weren't comparing penetrating depths of each other's shots, only measuring Merlyn's shots. It's still about how much pull Merlyn put into the string with those shots, regardless of a compound bow being easier to pull.

That said, it does seem pretty unlikely that Ollie could take that many penetrating arrows to the torso and not at the very least require major surgery and months of recovery. Leather jerkin isn't going to stop those arrows enough to allow them to still stick out of muscle mass without doing damage.
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When I said in review of first episode,that I wanted for Ollie to wear a mask and not just some green paint over eyes,some said,that if he gets hit,that mask would fell off and thus,they would recognize Ollie. Like it is really hard to see his face with this green line, if someone would stand above(for example they beat him and,when Ollie would look up...or vice versa...Ollie beats someone,they look up) him or when they would talk to him face to face. For me mask is more believeable.

I know,that those arrows are CGI made,when they are flying and Ollie(and anyone else,who shoots with bow) just pretends they are shooting real arrows. Maybe Ollie wears some kevlar type of clothing. Was it left side he was hit from behind? Any deeper and he would die and bye,bye show:D
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felicity wasn't explaining it to oliver, and the writers doesn't think he's dumb. they think we're dumb :))) the clarification was made for the audience :P maybe they were thinking of non-english speaking countries with different calenders which is the case for muslim countries for example
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I also theorize that they are still really testing out the chemistry between them when she will totally take over those duties for Oliver and Dig (like I will expect an episode or so where Dig and her interact oddly just to make sure they work) because she is like totally different than her comic book character. I think they needed to do it also because she will be probably be the only person who knows that Walter is missing (I am guessing Moira will spin a tale that he took off again because he was mad at her that Oliver and Thea and most of work would believe).
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She is not that different from her comic book character, if anything she is a lot closer than a lot of the characters.
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That's an interesting point that cultural aspects of the show might be spelled out for a global audience but there has to be a classier approach. I'm not trying to Thursday morning quarterback the show but maybe have it be more of an interaction between the characters and not Felicity being almost condescending about it?
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Maybe it's just because the showrunner amped up my expectations so much:

"In just seven episodes, Arrow has already delivered a few shocking moments — one of the biggest being when Diggle learned of Oliver’s secret identity. So how will this midseason cliffhanger measure up? “On Dexter, they had this huge cliffhanger at the end of one of the seasons where they killed off Dexter's wife Rita…It’s going to be bigger than that,” says Ramsey. “Huge.”" (from EW)

...but personally, I was super disappointed with this episode. Yes, the change of the list's character was probably the most clever thing to happen, which could pull us out of this "monster of the week" slaughtering of faceless businessmen. But a lot of the dialogue was unbearable, even for the CW, the Dark Archer reveal was way too obvious, and for a show that deigns to compare itself to Dexter at its height, NOT ONE IMPORTANT CHARACTER DIED, not even his stepdad. We got no new characters, and all of the big, flashy "reveals" felt incredibly obvious at best and redundant at worst. I really want to love you, Arrow, but you're making it difficult here... :/
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Judging by the way you quoted that, the quote seems to be from David Ramsey -- dude playing Diggle, and was also on Dexter -- and not the showrunner. But yes, that quote, if it was really referring to this episode, totally overemphasized the cliffhanger.
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Ooops. I didn't realize that - my mistake.
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We're only in episode 9 of the first season of a network drama. Important characters don't often die this early even on premium cable shows. On Dexter, Rita was season 4. And this is the CW, people don't die all that often on this network.
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Except on Vampire Diaries... everyone dies. Granted they just come back to life... but still. lol
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Exactly! They promised a lot more than it was reasonable for us to expect, and that made the episode disappointing in a way it might not have been if they hadn't made such claims beforehand.
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Episode was not too bad but it just felt a little disjointed. The Christmas storyline seemed a bit out of place and kind of stuck in there to fill the holiday episode quota. The rest of alright though.

Tommy's father is the Merlyn the Dark Archer, I can accept that though it will likely lead to his death and Tommy becoming his replacement out of revenge, similar to Harry Osborn taking over for Norman as the Green Goblin in Marvel Comics. I did like the reference to Merlyn wanting to know who the better archer was, similar to the first encounter with him in the comics.

One thing though, the Dark Archer isn't hunting down the people on the list because they are evil, it is because they may talk and he is tying up loose ends.

One thing that got to me. The damn product placement of the Microsoft Surface Tablet and Windows 8 in this episode. They are not even trying to hide it. The last time product placement was that obvious was when Chuck was pushing Subway,
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That wasn't even a Microsoft Surface tablet, it was a Samsung tablet running Windows RT or Windows 8 for tablet (winRT is the dumbed down version of the latter). I was utterly shocked when they showed the Samsung back since Microsoft pimps everything on this show (and on Smallville before it).
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lol the product placement was horrendous & unbelievable... Felicity is supposed to be a computer genius and is using Bing? lol
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The big thing was the whole "look how she puts in her password, look how she accesses Internet Explorer, see how simple and convenient it is." It was just too much for a serious show such as this.

Chuck was a comedic show so they played it for laughs, seeing how blatantly rediculous they could make it and pushing it further and further. But this is a dramatic show, at least try to make it a bit less overt.
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I forgot about the use of IE... even worse.
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While I use Google, it's said that in certain cases Bing is better because Google monetizes search results, while so far Bing has resisted doing that.
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Yeah, I see that poor man's Nelson Franklin on the TV belting that out from the corners of San Francisco!
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From episode 2 on up, I had a problem with overthinking the show. I learned that as long as I shut off my brain, it remains basically entertaining on the whole. Even though I hate christmas themed episodes, this one didn't completely suck 100% (It had its moments though)
I'm a fan of the character, so I'll keep on watching, warts & all...although at this point, I'm resigned to simply enduring the remainder of this season with the hope that it finds its legs next year in the second.
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I really enjoy your reviews, more than Noels actually.
While it was akward, that Oliver did not get a previous notice on Christmas(like giant decorations etc), I think the idea to have a party and to be a family was nice. Also greatly appreciated how Walter reacted to that. But maybe I'm just a Christmasfanboy as well.
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I was wondering what was going on (I didn't check the byline)...I agree, the episode wasn't exactly the big cliff hanger that it, hopefully, will be in later years (but of course, a lot of shows seemed to suffer from this this year, I kind of was let down by the Revenge mid season finale, and Supernatural while interesting didn't really leave a lot hanging, OUAT's was kind of cheesy the more I think about it, Revolution's was dumb, Grimm's was pretty good, but they seemed a little hampered by the fact that one of their main cast members was still away on maternity leave).

If I understand correctly, the Archer is not actually Arrow's main enemy, he is a worthy adversary (and I might suspect that maybe some things happened that actually hampered Oliver's training on the Island..like he had a year or two of training left, but circumstances arose that made leaving that much more important..I actually kind of think that was the point of showing the training session between Oliver and Dig where Oliver is the instructor and Dig thinks he is the best and then Oliver being presented with the fact that he isn't the best and probably should still be in training), and he is someone who is around for more that any of the individual big bads. I guess for easy reference, sort of like Spike in the first three or four seasons of Buffy.

You know I was having this thought at about 9:25 that we hadn't seen Laurel or Tommy and I realize I hadn't missed them at all. I even really liked Quentin at that point (and I hadn't yet). And then when they showed up, it was so random and uncomfortable (and I theorize the episode was still trying to leave the possibility that he was the Archer)

I think people forget, check for yourself, doing internet or intranet (which honestly seems to be more what Oliver is doing on his own) research has different levels. I can do research on a computer, but I can't trace anything. Anyway...why does she have any reason to not think he is just a silly and stupid rich boy? But, ultimately, yes, it was kind of shoehorned in. I think the writers are really just trying to see if it consistent chemistry and better between her and Oliver than what they want to be between Laurel and Oliver.
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I feel cheated with Green Arrow line. I know they meant it as a joke,but it bother's me. It's really cheesy("what do you think of Green Arrow?"..."Lame"...haha,how funny is this...) and if they gonna do show based on comic and just throw stuff out there(for example, names in this case) for the sake of giving comics some credit or whatever. Back in the day,people were laughing at those,who were reading comics and nowdays every major movie or show is based on comics. In rare cases,some really make effort and give you as best possible adaptation from comic to movie or tv show.

Episode was ok-ish,not better then the last 2 before. Every scene with Laurel is becoming more and more painful. Just give us her mother instead and kill Laurel or get another actress for Laurel...and change her from being a bitch!
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At least we got a mention of the name Green Arrow. Oliver thinking the name is lame actually fits with some of the tellings of his origin where the press started calling him Green Arrow and he hated it as a name, only eventually growing to accept it. I am hoping that is what we will have here. Maybe Mr. Merlyn will hold a press conference and call Oliver Green Arrow and it will stick.
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I figured that will be what happens...I also think that Merlyn doesn't believe that the torture/kidnapping (and doesn't appear annoyed at Moira that it involved kidnapping his own son) revealed the whole truth and might be trying to lay some traps to expose him. Like, Oliver might not be able to not make fun of the name whenever as Arrow he is presented with it, but might go and say the same 'lame' reaction. Or, like Oliver is limping, favoring the leg that Arrow was shot in. I know Merlyn was too, but that seemed like Oliver just managed to hit is sciatic nerve with hurts a lot, but will be better soon.
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if it turns out this way,as you wrote,I can respect what happened in this episode. I have some knowledge about Green Arrow,but I wouldn't say I am expert on it. So thank you,for informing me of this.
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Meh still cant see JB as a the dark archer.
Tommy, Laurel, Thea have nothing to do as usual.
Walter and Moira are a cute couple, too bad they are doomed.
yeah Felicity is adorable, but she is making Ollie dumb now, he cant do internet research for himself?, its stupid. This has to be the most shoe horned character of the year.
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You didn't think Thea had a role here? I'm surprised, I usually say that, but this time she was an emotional touchstone for Ollie, she exposed the callous that had grown over the family due to his absence, I thought for once it sold - it didn't oversell and she didn't do a lot of other stuff to act as a time-suck.

Tommy didn't have anything to do but they owned it by tossing him out in mere moments. Laurel is an emotional open wound for Ollie so it's meant to sting I guess.

You are right on the money about Felicity Smoak making Ollie look like a big dummy. He plays her like Lucius Fox was used in Batman Begins, except there it was for equipment and Bruce Wayne did the detective work, here Ollie doesn't actually do detective work and it's embarrassing.
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Agree about Felicity performing the most menial of tasks like opening up a search engine and looking up the patent number. That was silly. Then again, Microsoft doesn't make a deep internet sleuthing tool so how would they fit in the product placement?
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I think it's great how much Willa Holland and Alison Brie resemble each other. That's the only observation I have from this episode. Over and out.
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Hmmm, pretty good catch. Non-Annie Alison Brie certainly has some resemblance to Willa Holland. Not identical or anything, but I could picture them having pillow fights with each other in their underwear.

I realize pillow fights have nothing to do with resemblance, but it happened to be what I was picturing. Well, almost... saying I was picturing them nude seemed a bit too pervert-y. Aaaaand now I just said it.
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They are both cute as kittens. I just want to kiss them and cuddle with them forever and ever and ever. And have tea parties together, with cookies. Having nasty thought about them somehow makes me feel guilty.
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So you do admit to having nasty thoughts about them? I assume that they involve something else than cuddling, tea parties and cookies? Can't fault you for that though. When it comes to less than children friendly thoughts about these two ladies, resistance is futile. They easily hijack your brain, and once they've done that, they never leave.
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