Arrow: Season 1 Episode 9 Review – ‘Year’s End’

Year's En

In the mid-season finale titled Year’s End, Oliver throw’s a Christmas party and faces off against a lethal copycat archer.

Continue reading for a spoiler filled review and recap of Arrow Season 1, Episode 9:

Oliver’s desire to throw a Christmas Party demonstrated how much he wants his family to be in his life and restore things to the way they were before or perhaps start a new beginning. But as much as he would like his family, especially Thea, to accept the person he has become, he’s realizing his family has changed over the last five years as well.

One thing I noticed while watching this episode is how I would like to see more of Oliver in genuine danger. Sure, he got hit by Deadshot’s poisoned bullet and was almost assassinated in his own home in Damaged. But more often than not Oliver is in control; forcing confessions and defeating his opponents by the end of episode. Of course, the show’s title character is not going to die but I always enjoy moments where a character uses their quick thinking or skill to get out of a life or death situation.

A great scene in this episode was when Oliver is trapped in the warehouse with the bomb about to explode. It’s a pretty cool explosive arrow that broke open the door just in time. What’s interesting is that this ambush didn’t quite fit in with the rival archer’s modus operandi of wanting to test who is the best archer which I assumed meant an one on one battle.

The emergence of the ‘other hood’ proves to be more than a match for Oliver. For me, a strong villain challenges the protagonist physically and mentally. An adversary that is diametrically opposed to the hero’s beliefs, thus bringing out the hero’s fundamental character traits and true vision. I’m looking forward to how this will play out throughout the rest of the season.

I’m glad that the reveal of the rival archer’s identity turned out to be someone we already knew – Malcolm Merlyn. So Mr. Merlyn was killing the people who were compromised by the Hood? And used the hostages as bait? Whatever the case, the showdown between the archers was fun to watch. Oliver crawling out of the window and calling Dig for help was the most vulnerable we’ve seen of him yet in present time. As for Tommy’s dad, can he be trusted to keep Walter alive?

Arrow_TV_Series_Episode_Years_End

It’s been a couple of episodes since the last island flashback. After being freed from the cave, an ungrateful Oliver cannot bring himself to retaliate against his former captor, Edward Fyers. Beneath the billionaire’s entitled veneer, Fyers sees a selfless man who endured torture to protect a practical stranger. This makes me wonder if the scheme to lure Yao Fei out in the open was in part to recapture Oliver, who revealed his identity to Fyers in an earlier episode.

The rematch between Yao Fei and Deathstroke was exciting although this fight wasn’t choreographed as intricately as their initial encounter. If Fyers was sent to exterminate all the prisoners on the island, then how did Deathstroke end up working with him? With Yao Fei apprehended for the time being, it appears Oliver’s origin story will be closely intertwined with Fyers and Deathstroke.

As a mid-season finale, Year’s End raised the stakes and sets up the season’s next story arc. With the realization that the notebook was not authored by his father, Oliver will turn his attention away from the list of names and onto the person who wrote them. The corrupt criminals that Oliver brought to justice up to this point in the season were merely plot devices to establish our anti-hero and develop the supporting cast of characters. Moving forward, the rest of the season looks to incorporate stand alone episodes with more episodes focused on the rival archer – Mr. Merlyn and the organization’s master plan for Starling City that could possibly kill thousands. Though the rival archer’s reveal might not have been shocking, this episode does provide a strong direction on where the season’s story is headed.

Arrow will return on January 16, 2013 with a brand new episode titled “Burned”

Was this episode an effective mid-season finale? What do you think of Mr. Merlyn as the rival archer? Does the soap opera/dramatic elements of the show interest you as much as the crime fighting?

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