The jam packed Arrow mid-season finale featured shocking twists, reveals, and a certain hero’s origin story.
So what happened in the aptly named “Three Ghosts,” which paid homage to “A Christmas Carol”?
Never meet your heroes
The episode opens in the Arrow lair as Oliver’s condition worsens. Barry realizes Oliver’s blood is clotting on the inside so gives him a dose of rat poison as a blood thinner.
Oliver wakes up as Barry takes a finger print from his neck and is furious Felicity told his secret. Barry assures Oliver he won’t tell anyone and calls him on yelling at Felicity for saving his life.
The conversation is cut short when Moira texts Oliver, asking him to come home. As Oliver stomps off, Felicity comments to Barry, “Never meet your heroes, right?”
The Ghost of Christmas Past
The first ghost Oliver hallucinates is Shado as Barry, Diggle, and Felicity try to save him. She wants him to let go and stay with her. He sees her again in the Queen mansion, where she tells him that if he keeps fighting, everyone he loves will die.
Why is Shado the Ghost of Christmas Past? We learn in the island flashbacks that after recovering the Mirakuru, Ivo forced Oliver to choose between Sara and Shado. When he threatened to shoot both, Oliver jumped in front of Sara, condemning Shado to death.
Barry is undeterred by Oliver’s coldness and fanboys over Oliver’s equipment and how much of the meta he posted on Tumblr he got right.
When Oliver returns, Barry tells him that hallucinations are a side effect of the rat poison, so he draws Ollie’s blood to test it.
The team gets a hit on the print from Ollie’s neck: Cyrus Gold. Felicity tracks him, and Diggle and Ollie head to his apartment. Diggle finds a book with the “Solomon Grundy” nursery rhyme — we see what you did there, Arrow — but is attacked by Gold. He barely escapes.
Realizing his team is in over its head, the Arrow meets with Detective Lance with information about Gold. Lance gathers a unit, but Gold kills most of them. Lance manages to steal a key from him before he’s knocked out.
The Ghost of Christmas Present
Back in the lair, Oliver is confronted by his second ghost: Slade. “This charade is to atone for your sins,” he says. “You are not a hero. Or a friend. Or a brother. You are nothing.” Slade attacks Ollie while condemning him as weak.
Guilty, the Arrow visits Lance in the hospital. Lance, though, tells him that not every death in the city is on him and gives him the key he took from Gold.
Back in the lair, Ollie’s blood came back clean, meaning his problem is psychological. Diggle tells him that he saw his own ghosts after Afghanistan and made them go away by figuring out what they were trying to tell him.
Meanwhile, Barry and Felicity narrow down the location that Gold’s key unlocks. Felicity is worried when Oliver plans to go out, and Barry looks on a bit sadly. Sorry Mr. Gustin, there’s another fan favorite ship you won’t be sinking.
Meanwhile, Thea and Roy…
With Roy injured, Sin and Thea go to Laurel for help with Max’s death. She asks around, but Sebastian Blood’s blood drive is legitimate, though all the donors were subject to psychological evaluations.
Laurel starts talking to Blood but is interrupted when she gets a call about her father being in the ICU. Blood follows her to the hospital; though he says he wanted to make sure Laurel and her father were okay, his eye contact with Officer Daly, who was on Lance’s team, makes his ulterior motives clear.
Meanwhile, Roy breaks into Langford Psychiatric and finds Max’s file, which was stamped with the word ‘Mirakuru.’ He’s about to leave when another man comes in and starts dousing the place in gasoline. Roy flees but Gold knocks him out.
He wakes up tied to a chair, and Blood, wearing his skull mask, injects him with a vial of Mirakuru, just as the Arrow arrives.
The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come
The Arrow demands to know who gave Blood the Mirakuru formula; Blood replies that it was a gift that he will use to save the city from itself. As Roy appears to die, Gold knocks the Arrow down. Cue Oliver’s third ghost: Tommy Merlyn. If you screamed too, we won’t judge.
Oliver apologizes for letting Tommy die, but Tommy dismisses him. “You fought to save me,” he counters. “Because that’s what you do, what you have always done. You fight to survive.” Tommy calls Oliver a hero — the yet to come part — and tells him to fight back.
Oliver shoots the centrifuge, spraying Gold with the serum, killing him. Grundy was a zombie in the comics, though, so this may not be the last we see of him. Meanwhile, Blood flees and Oliver revives Roy.
The big reveal
In an office, Blood approaches a figure sitting behind a desk. The Arrow destroyed the centrifuge and the serum, so the figure says Blood will get another sample of his blood so he can start mass producing the serum again.
Blood realizes his boss knows who the Arrow is. Pan up to reveal our Ghost of Christmas Present, Slade, rocking a business suit and an eye patch.
Slade has a plan for Oliver, who he blames for Shado’s death: “I am going to tear everything he cares about away from him, destroy those who choose to follow him, corrupt those he loves. Once he has lost everyone and everything he values, I will drive an arrow through his eye.”
The Flash is born
Back in Central City, Barry calls Felicity from his lab and says that if she ever decides she wants to go out with someone that’s not Oliver, he’ll be on time. He also left something every hero needs behind for Oliver: a mask.
The news announces the inclement weather caused a malfunction with the particle accelerator. The power ominously goes out as a huge explosion flares across Central City. The chemicals in Barry’s various vials start floating, and he looks up just as a bolt of lightning crashes through the ceiling and strikes him, knocking him into chemicals.
A surge of light runs across his unconscious face — and the Flash is born.