The CW’s superhero series Arrow re-imagines Green Arrow for a TV audience as a tough, often ruthless vigilante bent on setting things right in his home of Starling City by punishing the wicked. ComicsAlliance’s Matt Wilson will be following along to see how he fares.

This week, Arrow very loosely adapts A Christmas Carol, the dead return to life, and the show starts directly messing with my head.

We left Ollie unconscious on a table in the Arrowcave last week, and that's still where he is now, except suddenly everything is a lot more urgent. It seems like Ollie only has a few moments left to live, even though last week Smoak and Dig had plenty of time to get him back to the Arrowcave, go get Barry and so on. Maybe the mystery drug had a time release.

Anyway, Smoak yells Barry into action. He shines a light around and draws some blood, leading him to the conclusion that Ollie's blood is unnaturally clotting. Lucky for Ollie, Verdant has a rat problem that has never been mentioned before now, so Barry can go grab a box of rat poison and administer it to him, to thin his blood.

Ollie stabilizes, but as soon as he's back to some semblance of health, he sees Shado.


I think that means six more weeks of winter. (I'll be here all week, folks.)

Ollie wakes up and is immediately furious that Smoak brought Barry down to the Arrowcave. "I decide who finds out my identity!" Ollie demands, sounding like he's about four. Smoak rightly says that Barry saved his life and it was an emergency, but Ollie still doesn't trust the kid, what with his untucked dress shirts and murdered mother.

In one last-ditch effort for respect, Barry tells Ollie he has scienced up a way to possibly get Grundy's fingerprint. Ollie kind of nods and heads back to Casa Queen.

There, Ollie notices a Christmas tree and says, surprised, "It's Christmas." (Guess who one of the co-writers of this episode was. Hint: It rhymes with Geoff Johns.) Now, I'm trying to figure out how this could come as a surprise to Ollie. Christmas doesn't really sneak up on you. It's like, a full month of the year. But there weren't any Christmas decorations around in last week's show, so I can only surmise that he's been unconscious for like, three weeks, but it only got serious just now.

My other guess is that the writers don't actually know when Christmas is, but we'll get to that later.

Moira tells Ollie that Thea has locked herself in her room and won't talk to anyone. She's four years old, too!

Ollie goes to talk to his sis (he calls her Speedy for the first time in forever). She opens the door to reveal that she's got Sin and Roy in there, and Roy's still got that arrow Ollie shot him with last week in his leg. Thea says she can't let Moira know about it because she'd kick Roy out if she knew he was "messing around with The Hood," so we're back to that name, I guess.

Ollie saunters over and pulls the arrow out of Roy's leg. He just slides it right out, so clearly someone already broke the tail off. Why hasn't anyone else pulled it out yet? They just love dramatic irony too much?

Ollie tries to be a lot smoother than he is, telling Roy, Thea and Sin to let their crusade to find Sin's friend Max's killer go and that Arrow was just trying to protect them. Ollie leaves and Team Speedy decides to continue their investigation.

Out in the hallway, Ollie once again sees Shado. This time, she's got more to say. She very repetitively tells him to stop being Arrow.

Flashback submarine. Slade's still apparently dead. Ivo and his men hold Ollie, Slade and Sara at gunpoint while the new captain retrieves the super-soldier serum.

Ivo takes the group out to the woods and presents Ollie with a choice straight out of The Walking Dead video game: He has to pick who lives between Shado and Sara. Ollie kind of stands around with his mouth open.

In the Arrowcave, Barry tries to impress Dig and Smoak by basically letting them know he has the Arrow season 1 DVD set. Ollie swings by and asks if there are any side effects to the rat poison. Barry says, "Hallucinations, maybe?" because the season 2 DVD set isn't out yet.

Barry draws some blood while asking Ollie why he wears grease paint instead of a mask. He meant "eye shadow," but he didn't want to seem too forward, I guess. Ollie says a mask would restrict his field of vision, Barry says, "Nuh-uh, science," because that's his deal.

Smoak announces that she has found Cyrus Gold -- it really is Solomon Grundy after all -- through her cyber magic. Ollie heads out to find him, but Dig insists on taking the lead, given Ollie's hallucinations.

At the DA's office, Laurel's admiring some flowers she received from "an alderman."


Laurel seems to know immediately that it's from Blood, but Starling has to have dozens of aldermen, right? It's a big city. Look, I just think the note is needlessly vague, is all.

Thea pops up and asks about the flowers; Laurel does a terrible job of lying about them, saying they're from her dad. Isn't she supposed to be a lawyer? Anyhoo, Thea asks for help in investigating Max's mysterious death. She passes off the brochure for a Brother Blood Drive that Team Speedy found at Max's place, and Laurel says she'll ask around.

Dig and Ollie arrive at the hotel where Grundy is holed up. Dig goes into a room that isn't No. 52 (whaaaaat) and finds a book turned to the "Solomon Grundy born on a Monday" poem. Ollie helpfully explains the subtext, because who needs it. Grundy pounds in like Jason and takes a few bullets from Dig's pistol before pounding him. Dig manages to escape through the window.

Officer Lance meets Arrow on a rooftop, under the impression he has news about Sara. He doesn't. He just has a file about Grundy. Got to be kind of a letdown for Lance. Arrow gives Lance the spiel on Grundy, but he gets distracted when he sees Slade over Lance's shoulder.


I noticed here that Slade looks a little different -- his hair is longer, I think. Continuity error or actual foreshadowing? U-decide!

Arrow does a genuinely super-cool arrow-based rappel down the side of the building and we head back to Flashback Island. Ollie throws himself in front of Ivo's gun after calling him a "fricking psychopath" (sometimes network TV just doesn't work). He specifically runs to protect Sara, which Ivo takes as a decision to save her instead of Shado. So he shoots Shado.

At present-day Casa Queen, Laurel informs Team Speedy that the Blood Drives are totally legit, not that she's biased or anything. She gives some totally off-the-wall information and says they can't get a warrant to investigate anyway, so drop it already, guys.

Police HQ. Lance is reporting to Detective Hilton about how Grundy is responsible for all of last week's break-ins. Blood's man on the inside overhears and weasels his way into the operation. We also learn Hilton has a family, which means he is not long for this fictional coil.

In the Arrowcave, Barry all but passes Smoak a note that asks if she likes him, yes, no, or maybe. Literally every character has acted like a child at least once this episode. Eventually, he asks what plans she has for Christmas. "Lighting my menorah," she says.

OK, so here's that second theory: the Arrow writers don't own a calendar, otherwise they would have known the last day of Hanukkah and Christmas Day were a full 20 days apart this year. Her menorah lighting is long over, folks.

Ollie comes by and basically kicks Smoak and Barry out of the Arrowcave so he can shoot an arrow at a tennis ball. Hallucination Slade (or is he?) shows up again and catches it. He tells Ollie he is nothing, and that he blames Ollie for Shado's death. They start fighting. Ollie gets thrown around pretty good to be fighting a figment of his imagination, like he's Edward Norton in Fight Club.

Lance, Hilton and some other cops show up at a warehouse to take on Grundy. Grundy basically massacres them in an action/stunt sequence that looks about 25 times better than anything from last week's show. His super-strength is actually pretty convincing! Lance takes a beating, but manages to grab a key off Grundy. Old family-having Hilton gets shot with his own gun.

Out on a riverwalk somewhere that doesn't appear to have any stores, Laurel and Blood are on their shopping trip. Laurel asks about his Blood Drives, but before that can go anywhere, she gets a phone call about her dad being in the hospital and tearfully leaves. What an important scene!

Back at the Arrowcave, Barry tells Ollie that his blood doesn't have the rat poison in it anymore, which means he has no physical reason to be seeing Shado and taking beatings from ghost Slade.

Get out your Arrow bingo cards one more time everyone, because it's time for a hospital scene. Laurel breaks the news to her dad that Hilton died. Out in the hallway, Blood meets up with Laurel and asks if she and her dad are OK. Then he gets bad guy eyes.


Back in Lance's room, he and Arrow try to out-guilt each other about Hilton's death. Lance gives Arrow the key he got off Grundy.

In the Arrowcave, Arrow guilts around even more for a while. Dig offers some avuncular Army advice. Smoak tracks the key Lance gave Ollie to a gate somewhere in The Glades.

Elsewhere, Roy breaks into the offices of the firm that did the psychiatric evaluation on Max. He finds Max's file, and discovers "Mirakuru," the Japanese name for the super-soldier serum, stamped on the back of Max's picture.


For a secret army-building operation, it seems to be pretty out in the open. That drawer wasn't even locked or anything.

Blood must have figured that out, too, because one of his goons, a little bearded guy, shows up and starts pouring gas around. Roy makes a run for it, and in the process runs into a clothesline from Grundy.

Roy wakes up in Blood's lair. Blood is all done up in his Scarecrow mask. He injects Roy with the super-soldier stuff, but before he can finish, Arrow shows up and asks where Blood got the Mirakuru, Bale style. Seems like there are other, more pressing questions, like, "Who are you?" and "Are you the Scarecrow?" but Arrow's got his priorities.

Blood says it was a gift. Then Grundy starts tossing Arrow around. Roy's bleeding from his eyes and screaming. Eventually he stops screaming and Blood's goon checks his pulse. "Another failure," he says.

Then Arrow sees another dead guy, Harry Osborn Tommy Merlyn.


They don't have razors in the afterlife, buddy?

He tells Arrow to get up. Arrow stars wallowing in guilt again, which leads Merlyn to say he's not a murderer (he is), but a hero (debatable). He rallies Arrow to fight Grundy.

Apparently Grundy's just been standing around waiting for an order for a minute or so, because he doesn't attack again until Blood says, "Kill him."

Arrow really takes it to Grundy this time, hitting him with a flurry of punches, then shooting an arrow at a...combustible thing. Grundy gets burned up on his face and the whole place starts coming down. Arrow grabs Roy, administers some CPR, and the dude starts breathing again.

A mysterious figure in a fancy office watches Blood announcing his run for mayor on TV. And let me be totally clear here: I think the show is trolling me. The old Only News Station in Starling City is back.


You might be saying, "Starling has Channel 7 and Channel 52. That's all. Chill out." But that's just it. IT DOESN'T. The reporter/anchor from Channel 7 has been working for Channel 52 all season. It just switched to another number! It was the same channel! But now it's back to the green graphics and the old number.

I swear they're f**king with me.

The broadcast apparently isn't live, because Blood is meeting with the mysterious figure, his boss, who immediately has Slade's very identifiable voice. Slade tells Blood he needs to start mass producing the super-soldier serum, which he synthesized from Slade's blood, again. There are a few threats peppered in there, too. He doesn't want Blood getting entangled with Arrow (who he knows is Ollie) again.

Eventually, the camera pans up, and there's Slade, all Deathstroked out with an eyepatch.


Slade lays out his plan pretty succinctly: He wants to ruin Ollie's life entirely, then put an Arrow in his eye. This is, presumably, because he blames Ollie for Shado's death. It's a little weird that Deathstroke would be motivated by revenge, and they did the whole lose his eye/half his mask is black thing in reverse, but his new supervillain status is a development I can get behind.

Flashback sub. Slade wakes up. The burns are totally gone from his face. That stuff really is a miracle!

He blasts up and starts sprinting across the island, throwing pirates into trees and breaking guns apart. It's pretty fantastic. Eventually, he finds Shado's dead body and promises to make whoever killed her suffer.

In the Arrowcave, Ollie catches everyone up on the events of the episode, including this exchange with Dig about Blood (who he doesn't know is Blood yet):

OLLIE: He's trying to mass-produce the serum to build an army.
DIG: For what?
OLLIE: You're a soldier. What's the primary purpose of an army?
DIG: War.

So what's the purpose here? To make Dig look childish and dumb or to make Ollie look like a condescending jerk? Both are accomplished!

Barry is back in Central City, making a really wordy pass at Smoak on the phone as he enters his lab at the police station. How does he still have a job? His boss threatened to fire him when he wasn't at work more than a day ago. I guess they're just really forgiving in Central City.

As a storm rages outside, that particle accelerator we've been hearing about for nine weeks goes haywire. A huge energy wave goes out across the city, all the chemicals in Barry's lab start going nuts, and then lightning strikes him.


That is definitely the Flash's origin. Like, almost to the letter.

Meanwhile, Arrow puts on the mask Barry left for him. It looks silly, but a sight better than that Robert Smith makeup he was rocking.

Final thoughts

Remember how I said last week's episode was boring? This one was incredibly eventful. The writers really took the completely BS concept of a mid-season finale and ran with it.

In spite of this episode's many flaws--everyone acting like a child at least once, a few completely unnecessary scenes, the weird shoehorning in of Christmas--I ended up really liking it. The hallucination stuff--Ollie's ghosts of past, present and likely future--was all  pulled off pretty well. It led into the Deathstroke reveal really nicely.

And let's be real here. This is an episode of a network TV show that had some pretty well choreographed super-power fights featuring Solomon Grundy, a straight-out-of-the-comics Flash origin, and Deathstroke in it. Even a jaded old soul like me has to think that's pretty cool.

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