Later in the day, Oliver and Thea are at a restaurant and his quizzes her on why no one even acknowledges that it’s Christmas around their house. She finally confesses: it’s all daddy and his fault. Their presumed deaths put a damper on things and there wasn’t really anything to celebrate. Mid pity party, we’re rescued by Thea’s new eye candy: Shane, a cutie with trouble written all over him.
Flashback! On the island Oliver is walking with Edward who fills him in on the island’s background. It was once a prison of sorts for badasses that couldn’t be detained by mere iron bars. He was sent in to exterminate them all and only two survived: Deathstroke and ATF.
And we’re back: Miller’s spilled the beans to Merlyn and now he wants to go bust an arrow in Walter’s ass. But Moira still thinks she can get her husband to believe her lies. If only she had more time. Merlyn’s done taking chances and a plan (we aren’t privy to yet) has been devised. Turns out curiosity isn’t just a cat killer.
Elsewhere, Black Arrow is keeping busy. His next target? Nelson Ravage. He seems to be targeting all of the so-called bad guys that went soft when our hooded hero showed up.
At the crime scene, Det. Lance is ordered to keep the whole copycat theory on the DL. The commish doesn’t think it would be wise to inform the public that there are two serial killers on the loose. But Lance wants to make a stand. It’s unclear why though: when pinning the tail on the donkey does it really matter whose ass gets poked? Nonetheless this opens up the opportunity for Lance to work with Oliver. [Side Note: I like Paul Blackthorne and all but is anyone else getting disturbed by these wacked out facial expressions?!]
One arrow and some snazzy and completely unrealistic work from computer-girl later and we have the address for this Black Arrow fellow. But the whole thing feels too easy and Oliver walks right into a trap. He escapes but barely as his hooded counterpart put a nifty looking bomb in the building.
He shakes off the ashes and goes back to the mansion for this disaster of a X-mas party. Thea has of course invited Shane and the bad boy was thoughtful enough to bring flowers for her mother. Moira uses them as an excuse to pull her husband aside for another discussion on his idiocy. And then Tommy and Laurel arrive. It’s still awkward. Tommy tries to giggle it away but defeated goes for drinks instead. Laurel uses the break to tell Oliver that it took her nearly 6 years to get with Tommy because she was still pining for him, even though he was shagging her sister and is largely responsible for her death. It’s gross and completely useless. We get it. They still care for each other despite having little chemistry to show for it.
In another room, Moira is trying her best to help her husband understand the way the world works, but he’ll hear none of it. So then she does the only thing she has left: she confesses her evil and begs that he not be so naïve. It’s doubtful she got through to him.
Meanwhile, Oliver goes in search of Thea and barges into her room without knocking. She and Shane were in a state of undress and totally about to get it on. This can’t really be that surprising though the girl was getting drunk and high at nightclubs and shoplifting just a few episodes ago. This is actually a step down. This is regular high school stuff. But Oliver is still upset about how unappreciative she’s being and because of such we all have to hear the same ol’ speech about not living in the past for the 50th time.
Thankfully, Diggle is there to interrupt and hip us to important info like how Black Arrow has taken hostages and will kill one off one each hour until Oliver reveals himself.
And …flashback! It turns out Edward was leading them into a trap, he let himself be taken captive, so they could take down ATF. Oliver runs for his life and when at a safe distance sees that they are taking ATF hostage and violent horrible things will undoubtedly ensue.
Back in Starling City, Oliver swiftly rescues the hostages. [Is there no limit to the number of abandoned factories in this city?!!]. And he finds Black Arrow on the opposite end of a narrow hallway. BA wants to know who is better at archery and what follows is a very impressive showdown. Oliver takes two to the back in the end but survives and manages to get far enough away from BA to call Diggle for help.
The bodyguard takes him to the hospital under the pretense that he had a motorcycle accident and when he wakes his family is at his bedside. It was a semi-sweet moment and then he uses the lie to guilt trip Thea about not wanting to pretend to be a happy family. There’s some more crap about moving forward but honestly we’ve been talking about it for nine episodes now – when do we actually get there?
Anyway – last reveal of the first half of the season: Black Arrow is none other than Malcolm Merlyn! And now that Oliver knows that the list was compiled by someone not his father (a fact BA let slip during their fight), he is determined to bring the person down. Oh and Walter totally took some poison to the neck. He won’t be a factor until after Merlyn has accomplished his dastardly plan that will net him lots of dough at the expense of thousands of Starling City citizens.