As with Lone Gunman, I initially thought this episode was going to follow a Clear My Name storyline, only for the police to surprise me once again with their intelligence. After Adam Hunt (last seen in the pilot episode) is shot dead in his apartment, Quentin Lance immediately deduces that a copycat is at work. Not only are the arrows black instead of green, but he knows The Hood is not a killer. At least not most of the time.
Nevertheless, when Oliver finds out he wants to get to the bottom of the mystery. He also wants to throw a Christmas party, which seems a rather daft idea when you’re concurrently moonlighting as a vigilante.
And unfortunately, the identity of the black archer is hardly a surprise to anyone who’s been paying the slightest bit of attention (hint: it's the guy who smiles enigmatically and coins the name "Green Arrow"). Unlike the reveal of Helena as the motorcycle shooter last week, in which the surprise was based on the fact that she was a woman rather than her identity as Helena Bertinelli, it was pretty clear that Malcolm Merlyn was the culprit. No other character in this episode had enough screen-time (or the build) to qualify.
So it was to the subplots that I turned in search of something more engaging. Oliver’s aforementioned mission to throw a Christmas party was an attempt to explore the dynamics of this deeply broken family, except that I’m still not quite buying the emotional responses of Moira and Thea to a brother/son that they thought was dead for five years. Don’t ask me how mothers/sisters are supposed to act when their loved one comes back from the dead – but I get the feeling that it’s not quite this casually.
Elsewhere, Tommy proves to Laurel and her father that he’s not totally shallow by giving Laurel a picture of Laurel, Sara and their father as a Christmas gift (though the question of why and how he has a picture of the Lance family springs to mind), and Walter continues to pry in Moira’s affairs – with Felicity’s help.
Felicity also makes an effort to help Oliver track down the maker of the black arrows – though I’m still baffled as to why these men keep going to an IT girl to research things that they could surely accomplish on their own (except yeah, the writers were told to include Felicity more often; I just hope they find more logical ways of doing so in the future).
And over in the flashbacks, Yao Fei drags Edward Fyers back to his cave and instructs Oliver to kill him. Though not before they head back out into the forest (to a better execution site...?) and Ollie learns that the island was once a prison for dangerous criminals – of which Yao Fei was one. Hmm... does he have anything to do with the Triads in Starling City?
Okay, I’ll admit it – it’s very late over here and this isn’t my best review. I set myself the challenge of watching and reviewing one Arrow episode per day, but I’m going to have to give myself a break over the weekend! Still, it was a fairly piecemeal episode; with a variety of little plots getting shifted into place for future episodes rather than a self-contained story on its own.
The most pertinent development that it contains is that Oliver’s list is not the only one in existence, and that it’s therefore not the work of his father. Of course, we knew that already thanks to Walter’s investigation, but it does shed more light on the conspiracy that lurks behind what has otherwise been a string of self-contained episodes.