The final Arrow episode for 2012 features a nice link back to the show's pilot, as Adam Hunt (Brian Markinson) - the first name Oliver crossed off his list - is slain by a new hooded archer, who proceeds to knock off more of the names from Robert Queen's little book...
Ollie (Stephen Amell) looks set for a frame-job, but thankfully Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) - Starling City's only detective - is canny enough to notice the difference in the Dark Archer's modus operandi. "We're dealing with a copycat," he concludes.
When he refuses to cover up the possibility that a second vigilante is on the prowl, Quentin is taken off the case. Will he go rogue? What do you think?
Oliver covertly reaches out to Quentin - via a voice transformer - and the suspicious 'tec agrees to team up with his former nemesis, though he does add the distinctly unthreatening caveat: "You've got till Christmas… and then I'm coming after you!"
Our hero tracks the Dark Archer with Quentin's help but the villain is one step ahead and kidnaps a batch of innocent victims, demanding that Oliver surrender to him. The two rival archers face off - with Ollie taking a severe beating and two arrows in the back, barely escaping with his life.
Up until this point, Oliver has been a near-invincible force - to have him suffer a defeat, and the emotional ramifications of that, makes him a more flawed and interesting figure. Less interesting is the revelation that John Barrowman's Malcolm Merlyn - the character with the silliest name on television - is the Dark Archer. Arrow fans called that particular twist weeks ago.
'Year's End' is also Arrow's Christmas episode, though Ollie is initially unaware that Yuletide is approaching. "There were no holidays on the island," he explains - presumably he hasn't looked at a calendar in all the time he's been back either.
Oliver's determined to revive the Queens' annual Christmas party, which was abandoned in his absence - forget drug trafficking and gang violence, being a Grinch is the real crime at this time of year! The episode's festive theme feels a little shoe-horned in, but does give us plenty of Willa Holland screen time, which is never a bad thing.
We'd certainly rather spend our Christmas with Thea than Laurel (Katie Cassidy), who continues acting like a complete cow this week. When hopeless romantic Tommy (Colin Donnell) turns up on her doorstep full of festive cheer, she sighs: "I told you I wanted to spend the holidays with my dad!"
She accepts his invite to the Queen family Christmas party when he buys her a gift, but then tells an inquisitive Quentin: "I don't know what he is [to me]" - cut poor Tommy a break, Laurel!
At the party, Laurel realises that her lingering feelings for Ollie are stopping her moving forward with Tommy, and tells Mr Queen that she needs to move on, but there's so much electricity between the former couple that we're surprised the Christmas lights didn't blow a fuse.
Elsewhere this week, we're treated to our latest batch of island flashbacks - a weak and starved Ollie is living in a cave when Yao Fei (Byron Mann) brings him a bound Edward Fyers - the character with the second silliest name on television, who held Oliver back in 'Damaged'.
Fyers finally reveals some backstory of the island - it's a former Chinese military prison and only two inmates are still known to be alive - one's Yao Fei and the other is masked menace Deathstroke.
As if on cue, Deathstroke reappears on the scene, capturing Yao Fei, while Ollie barely escapes with his life. He continues to be an imposing presence and we can't wait to delve deeper into his backstory with the arrival of Spartacus star Manu Bennett in 2013.
'Year's End' is a great episode of Arrow and also works as a satisfying mid-season finale. It's action-packed, takes some big steps forward in the show's central story arc, and also includes some fun hints at what's to come in 2013. In short, Oliver Queen can't return to our screens soon enough!