Team Arrow is standing outside a building getting ready to take down some local drug dealers who are in possession of millions of dollars worth of heroin. As they enter the building however, they find that someone else already beat them to it. The dealers are all found to be brutally murdered with some of them even hanging from the ceiling. Noticing that the drugs have been completely ignored, Team Arrow figures this had to be personal and whoever did it was sending a message. It doesn’t take long for Roy to find that message and points to the word “GUILTY” written in blood on the ground.
Thanks to some dying words from one of the dealers, they find out the killer took a guy named Paco with them and the team wastes no time trying to find him. Thanks to Oliver’s interrogation skills they get Paco’s real name and Felicity is able to track his phone and gives Oliver the address. Sadly, Oliver is too late and Paco is also found hanging from the ceiling. Things get more interesting when Laurel and her trainer Ted Grant walk in revealing Paco’s crime scene to be none other than Grant’s gym. Oliver tries to interrogate Grant but Laurel gives him an alibi and insists she was with him the whole time. Oliver calms down but appears to be less than convinced.
Back at HQ, Felicity says the dealers were all beaten to death by a left-hander wearing brass knuckles and is very similar to the unsolved murder of another dealer in The Glades six years ago which only makes Oliver more suspicious of Grant. As it turns out, Oliver also put a tracker on Grant and follows him to an old storage locker which includes newspaper clippings, a bunch of weapons and another dead body hanging from the ceiling. After a brief fight scene between between Oliver and Grant that includes a boxing glove arrow, Grant insists that he’s being framed. When Oliver demands to know why he should believe anything he says, Grant reveals he was once a vigilante too. While Grant admits to his old vigilante days, he insists that he never killed anyone and retired six years ago after the death of the earlier mentioned drug dealer.
Laurel informs Oliver and Grant that the dead body in the storage locker was a former magician’s assistant who had worked in the same club (the Zanzibar Club) where the drug dealer had been allegedly killed by Grant six years before. Grant figures that means the killer wants him to meet with him at the Zanzibar Club and Oliver and Diggle go with him to provide backup. When they arrive at the club (with Diggle providing lookout outside) the killer is there waiting for them and starts shooting. Soon after the killer makes his exit, Oliver chases after him leaving Grant behind. No sooner does Oliver exit the club do the cops show up to arrest Grant.
Laurel visits Grant at the police station and asks him who the killer is. Grant claims not to know but she knows he’s lying saying Arrow can tell Grant knows more than he’s saying. He finally admits that the killer is named Isaac Stanzler. He tells Laurel that during his vigilante days, Stanzler was his sidekick until one night six years ago when they followed a drug dealer to the Zanzibar Club. It turns out, Stanzler got overzealous and beat the dealer to death causing Grant to cut ties with his young apprentice and quit crime fighting for good. As we later find out, once Stanzler had been cut loose by Grant, the dealer’s bosses were looking for payback so they had Stanzler kidnapped and tortured for several months before the fallen apprentice could make his escape causing him to feel even more resentment for Grant. The charges against Grant are dropped but as he’s leaving the station with Laurel, Stanzler is there waiting for them.
As Stanzler forces Laurel to drive him and Grant at gunpoint, Laurel is able to make a phone call to Felicity to tip off Team Arrow about her situation. The team makes chase but eventually Stanzler falls out of the car and Laurel crashes it soon after. While Oliver and Diggle focus on getting Laurel and Grant out of the car before it explodes, Roy continues to show his awesomeness in the field by taking Stanzler out single-handedly.
Once the smoke has cleared, Oliver asks Grant to stay away from Laurel and Grant in turn advises Oliver to be careful with how he handles Roy. However, despite Oliver’s request to Grant, Laurel convinces him to continue training her so that one day she can avenge Sara’s death.
Oliver and his handler Maseo (I finally took the time to learn the guy’s name) are waiting for the arrival of a guy acting as a courier to Waller’s target China White. Unfortunately, the courier spots Oliver and makes a run for it. The guy was hit by a car but Maseo deduces that the courier dropped his delivery to China White during the chase and that Oliver needs to figure where he left it. To help Oliver remember, Maseo enlists the help of his less than thrilled wife. She has Oliver meditate to jog his memory and Oliver realizes the courier left the package in a plastic bin. The package is a message containing yet another name for them to investigate.
When last week’s episode ended, we find out that Roy has been having trouble sleeping the last few weeks due to some dreams that indicate he was the one who killed Sara. He fears that this might have something to do with the mirakuru so he has Felicity do a blood test for him. She says that his blood is normal but the fact that he asked her to do it in the first place makes her suspicious. Roy admits to the nightmares he’s been having and fears that he might be responsible for Sara’s death and Felicity reluctantly admits it’s possible.
Later Roy confesses his suspicions to Oliver, Laurel, and Diggle which leaves the team confused and Laurel angry (of course). Diggle questions if they can even trust Roy after this and suggests the best thing may be to cut Roy loose. Luckily for Roy, Oliver isn’t as quick to give up on him especially after seeing what happened with Stanzler after being abandoned by his mentor and instead decides to help Roy get to the bottom of his nightmares. Using the meditation technique taught to Oliver by Maseo’s wife, Roy finally remembers when he killed a local cop during one of his mirakuru induced states back in season 2. Oliver figures that the similarities between the death of Sara and the cop caused Roy’s nightmares. While this presumably clears Roy of Sara’s murder, he’s still racked with guilt over killing an innocent man and walks out.
As Stanzler is being transported by a couple of police officers, they are both shot in the leg by a female archer. Naturally, Stanzler wants to know who she is and the archer answers “I’m Cupid, stupid.”
While this episode mostly takes a break from the overall story arc, I’ve got to say I still enjoyed it. Stanzler’s back story and motivations remind me a lot of Jason Todd during the Batman animated movie Under the Red Hood (I know it’s based on a comic but having never read it I have no idea how faithful the film was to the source material). Like Todd, Stanzler’s rampage stems from a feeling of betrayal by his former mentor and the belief that violence and murder is the only real way to solve their respective city’s crime problem. I wouldn’t mind a repeat performance between him and Grant. That is, of course if Cupid hasn’t killed him already.
I’ve got to say the cliffhanger didn’t have me excited for the next episode as much as the others have this season. To be fair though, it’s probably because I have no idea who this Cupid character is. I vaguely remember her getting some promotion leading up to the season premiere but I don’t recall ever seeing her in action on any other show before now. I’ll give the writers the benefit of the doubt since they’ve handled things pretty well so far.