In the "Arrow" episode "Year's End," Oliver tries to celebrate Christmas with his family and rescue hostages at the same time -- just another day in the life of our hero. This week, the island flashbacks gave viewers more information but led us astray when it came to the big reveal at the end.
It doesn't take long for Oliver to realize that the Queen family, who used to have a "Christmas tree in every room," isn't celebrating the holiday. Thea confesses that once half the family was lost at sea, no one felt like celebrating anymore. Despite her reluctance to revive the old traditions, Oliver charges on ahead with throwing a lavish party for the season.
Meanwhile, Arrow and Diggle are enjoying the way that the criminals on the list are starting to surrender the moment they get a visit from the hooded vigilante. Their success is short-lived, however, when another archer starts killing the guys they've already put out of business. "The Hood" gets blamed, but thankfully Detective Lance still has a brain and realizes the black arrows and pointless murder don't fit his nemesis' M.O.
Oliver gets an untraceable phone to communicate with Lance, asking for one of the crime-scene arrows so he can investigate. At first the detective refuses, but once he gets thwarted by his superiors and thrown off the case, he gives in. Oliver gets help from Felicity to track down the purchaser of the arrows, but he's lead to a booby-trapped warehouse, where he narrowly escapes being blown to bits.
As usual, the Queen family party doesn't go as planned. A recently threatened and tense Moira tries to warn Walter off of his continuing investigations, and he insists she tell him the truth about everything. Thea acts out by skipping the party to fool around with her new dopey boyfriend and tells off Oliver when he throws the kid out of the house.
Weirdly, Tommy decides the best way for Laurel to get over her holiday blues is to join another awkward event at the Queen house. She takes Oliver aside to tell him that she's been holding back committing to Tommy because of him. Oliver tries to ease her mind by giving her his blessing to move on, but we can see it hurts him to do so.
Diggle interrupts the party to inform his partner-in-justice that the mysterious archer has just taken five hostages, demanding Arrow's presence for ransom. Oliver slips out, suits up, and zip-lines his way into the booby-trapped building the police have been unable to breach. He frees the hostages and sends them up to be rescued from the roof.
This week's flashback revealed that the island was once a prison colony for China, until the military group that captured Oliver came in to eradicate everyone. Only the stranded playboy's friend and his torturer survived, and they're now using one to catch the other. The two get lured into a trap, and the original Arrow gets captured while Oliver escapes.
Back in real time, Oliver gets his butt handed to him by his newest adversary. He gets nailed by several arrows and knocked around badly, but plays possum long enough for a sneak attack that buys him time to escape. He phones Digg for help just before passing out. Back in the warehouse, his bigger, stronger foe unmasks himself to surprisingly reveal Malcolm, Tommy's dad and big honcho in the secret organization that controls Moira.
Oliver wakes up in the hospital. Moira, Walter, and Thea are there, buying Digg's story that Oliver was in a motorcycle accident. It's not exactly how he pictured it, but he's drawn the family together finally. Unfortunately, it's not long before Malcolm's men are whisking a drugged Walter away to some secret holding area, keeping him on ice for Moira to retrieve once their master plan is complete. A master plan that Moira ominously reveals will kill "thousands of people."
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