“I think he needs a better name than The Hood, or Hood Guy,” says Oliver Queen of his alter-ego. Ah, the old 'throw everyone off the track by insulting my own stupid hero self'. It's an old but good one. Trust John Barrowman to suggest 'Green Arrow' for the crime fighter’s moniker. “Lame,” Ollie says, dismissively. There's no accounting for taste, eh.
Meanwhile, there's a copycat in town, murdering hoodlums and threatening to give Green Arrow a bad name. Even worse than his actual name. Well, Oliver might not like it, but Green Arrow is his name and Green Arrow is how I shall refer to him. This copycat is also hunting down the names on Ollie's list, using means a little more lethal than The Hood's (not a good nickname either, according to Oliver). Beyond his copycat worries, there's also the family Christmas party to organise. Yes, it's the Green Arrow Christmas Special.
The Queen family might throw a party, but nobody plays 'Thank God it’s Christmas', which is simply unforgiveable. The programme went there in week one, but has been decidedly lacking in the Queen department. I suppose it doesn't really gel with Arrow's whole grim and gritty vibe. If it were up to me, there'd be a Queen song at least once per episode. It would certainly lighten the mood, with no-one but Ollie wanting to celebrate Christmas. Bah humbug. Walter and Moira are having marital woes, Speedy's dating some guy Ollie doesn't approve of (there's a nice joke about her taking drugs) and Laurel is still with his best friend. A wonderful life this is not. Ollie must be glad to get away from the party, then (leaving before giving The Queen's speech?) when his copycat summons him for an archer-off. His day goes from bad to worse when the other archer (not Hawkeye) kicks poor Ollie's butt.
In an episode full of action and cute touches, the best moment comes during the copycat's unmasking. The mask is pulled off to reveal The Face of Boe himself. Yes, John Barrowman actually has something to do in Year's End. From menacing Moira to kidnapping Walter, Barrowman at last makes his presence in Arrow properly known. The quality of the man's acting abilities are debatable, but it's lovely to see Captain Jack play the bad guy against one of the DC Universe's best heroes. This Oliver Queen might be a bit of a dullard, but having a good nemesis will make all the difference. There's also another little appearance from Deathstroke and some clue to what the nature of the flashback island might be.
For a Christmas episode, Year's End is very un-festive. As a standalone episode, it fills in some gaps quite nicely and makes some welcome moves in a promising direction. If I might suggest a New Year's resolution, though? Lighten up a little, maybe? And, for the record, Green Arrow – not lame.