"Arrow" finally gets some super-powered action in the mid-season finale, but it's not in the form of a scarlet speedster. Instead we get Solomon Grundy (almost) and a Deathstroke.
Open on Ollie on the table, Barry joining the party. His blood is unnaturally clotting, but Barry whips up a cure out of rat poison to thin his blood; Ollie sees Shado telling him to “let go," but he wakes up.
Mostly recovered, Ollie returns home for Christmas, just in time for Thea to have locked herself in her room. He goes to check on her, and inside there's Sin and Roy, nursing an arrow in his knee. They’re nursing him with gin, which Ollie pours on the arrow as he rips it out. Walking into the hall, Shado appears again. "She" tells him to put down the bow and live his life, or everyone he loves will die. The ghost disappears when Thea shows up again.
Later, Barry admires the warehouse, and mentions Ollie will be sweating and hallucinating for a bit. He also managed to get fingerprints from the muscle man off of Ollie's neck, revealing him to be Cyrus Gold. Felicity has run the prints and hunted down the man through CCTV.
Elsewhere, Laurel gets some flowers, and Thea/Sin show up asking for help investigating her friend Max’s murder. Laurel promises to ask around. She comes back later, saying the blood drive was legit, but it also included a psych evaluation, and they can’t get a warrant to dig any further.
At Hotel Patricia, Diggle investigates Gold's empty room with a poem, “Solomon Grundy.” Who then appears, twisting Dirggle’s arm and throwing him around the room. He uses the fire escape to escape (natch) and Ollie drives them away.
On an inconspicuous roof, Arrow meets with Officer Lance. He gives him their info on Gold, saying he can’t help, so he tells him to bring as many officers as he can...while Slade appears on a nearby roof, hale and hearty.
Officer Lance asks for help, and gets it from Daily, from Max’s crime scene. He informs Blood, who informs Gold. Lance, Daily, another officer and the Chief arrive at Gold’s place, and get thoroughly trashed, complete with the Chief getting shot with his own gun.
Laurel and Blood have a shopping date, which is interrupted as she gets a call that her father is in ICU. She visits him and breaks the news his superior officer is dead. Blood arrives to check on her. Arrow drops by later, and gives him a small item he got off of Gold.
Roy arrives at Max’s old place to investigate, just as it’s getting ready to be torched. He tries to run out, and Gold ambushes him. He wakes up in Blood’s lab, where a shot of Mirakuru is ready for him. He gets a small dose before Arrow busts in. Gold comes to the rescue, and they fight while Roy cries blood. Roy is declared dead, while Tommy appears to Ollie, urging him to fight on. Arrow gets back up and smashes Gold into the formula samples, destroying them and apparently killing him. He sets to reviving Roy, who starts to come around.
Back in the mansion, Roy recuperates in Thea’s room. Roy decides to not reveal the truth, but his knee is fully healed.
Blood announces his run for mayor. He informs his boss that the Mirakuru is gone, and we see his boss is Slade, with an eyepatch. He plans on destroying everything in Oliver’s life, and will allow more samples made from his blood
Arrow gives the good news that they've stopped Gold and the masked man for now, finding out that Barry has apparently taken off. Back in Central City, Barry is too late to see the particle accelerator, so he goes to the crime lab during a storm to work on his Dad’s case. Off in the distance, the accelerator overloads, knocking out power all over the city, and Barry is struck by lighting and sent into a row of chemicals, red energy sparking in his cheek.
FLASHBACK: In the sub, Ivo busts in on Ollie, Dinah, Shado and Dead Slade. They find the Mirakuru, and take their prisoners back on land. Ivo tells Ollie to choose to if Shado or Dinah will live. Ollie can’t bring himself to choose, jumping in front of Dinah at the last minute, causing Ivo to fatally shoot Shado. Meanwhile, back in the sub, Slade wakes back up. Newly healed, super strong and fast, he punches a hole straight through Ivo’s men (literally) and finds Shado dead, vowing revenge.
"Arrow's" strength isn't in characters or compelling plots, but big reveals and twists. You could see most of them coming if you really tried, but it's more fun to let them happen. So for this episode, we get to reveal that Slade is still alive and vowing revenge on Oliver, Roy has some kind of super ability now, and Barry Allen gets his famous accident that gives him his powers.
Revealing Slade as a potential big bad for this season works much better than Brother Blood. The dramatic irony that Sebastian Blood is a villain behind the scenes doesn't work as well when you're dealing with an obviously evil character named Blood. After all, even if he wasn't putting on a Scarecrow mask, he'd still be a jerk badmouthing the Queen family. Slade has the added bonus of pathos as well, considering we saw he and Ollie take on a small army last season. Their relationship was slightly adversarial, like rivals, so let's have some Cain and Abel action going.
Again, I'm ready for this Grant Gustin kid to become the Flash. He had a much more reduced role this episode, but he was still more charming than anyone else on the show. We didn't get any speedster fanservice, but another link to a greater DC Universe has been created, and Arrow gets a bit more fantastical for it. Whatever keeps this show and future offerings from being angsty messes is alright with me. Also, I eagerly await the arrival of leaked shots of Gustin in costume.
It wouldn't be "Arrow" without some facepalms though. At this point in the show, the number of people who know Ollie's double life is about equal to those who are oblivious. Sure, Barry Allen probably won't make an appearance again for a while, if at all, but let's keep it a secret identity or reveal it to the principal cast. Because by now, the ones who don't know just look stupid.
Also, fingerprints from oil left on someone's neck? Who's sweating from being poisoned to death? We know not to push the science of gaining superpowers from drugs or being struck by lightning, but we've been trained to do that. Just say "I grabbed some shrapnel and got prints from that." Don't create science.
"Arrow" will come back next year, with Queen Consolidated in co-ownership, Roy maybe getting his own hood, Ra's Ah Ghul in the shadows, Slade Wilson pulling Brother Blood's strings, and shirtless angst. Stay tuned!