It’s been three days since Oliver left for his duel with Ra’s al Ghul and Team Arrow tries to carry on business as usual in Oliver’s absence but things clearly aren’t the same. Out in the field, Diggle and Roy (with Diggle wearing the Arrow costume) try to run down two thugs that shot a cop but without Oliver’s help one of them manages to get away. Back at HQ, while Felicity is in denial, Roy brings up the very real possibility that Oliver might not be coming back.
The next day at the courthouse, the gunman Diggle and Roy captured gets arraigned. The guy’s lawyer tries to get the charges dismissed but since Laurel points out that the gun used to shoot the cop has his fingerprints all over it, the guy instead gets remanded without bail.
Meanwhile Team Arrow is hard at work tracking down the gunman’s accomplice, who Felicity IDs as a low level criminal named Jose Anton. Felicity also goes on to say that Anton has recently started working with a crew in The Glades which is being led by Danny Brickwell (Vinnie Jones) though Roy clarifies that he generally goes by the street name Brick.
Cut to a warehouse in The Glades where we see Anton getting beaten to a pulp. Brick is apparently none too happy that Anton disobeyed his orders to lay low and is even more angry that a cop was shot in the process. Brick says that his mysterious plan is dependent on the cops not knowing anything about what they’re up to and that Anton put that plan at risk. Brick then unceremoniously beats him to death.
Thanks to some help from Laurel, Team Arrow is able to trace a call made to Brick at the warehouse. Diggle and Roy go to investigate the hideout but realize they got there too late. All they find is Anton’s charred remains and most of the evidence of what Brick is up to also burned to a crisp though Diggle manages to recover part of a piece of paper with some numbers on it.
When the team make it back to HQ however, they find Malcolm Merlyn there waiting for them. He asks the team if they have heard from Oliver since he left for the duel but Felicity merely replies that he’s still alive. Merlyn is understandably less than convinced and decides to go to the site of the duel to see for himself. When he makes it over to the duel site (and pretty quickly I might add), he finds the sword used to stab Oliver covered in blood. He returns to Arrow HQ (again pretty quickly) and shows them the sword that was used to kill Oliver, confirming that he is in fact probably dead. Unsurprisingly, the team is livid with Merlyn since he’s the reason Oliver is dead in the first place. Merlyn however, makes it clear that he feels no enjoyment in Oliver’s death since that means The League of Assassins are still very much out to kill him. The team is naturally unmoved by his plight and Merlyn makes his exit.
The team takes the news pretty hard and eventually Roy questions how they’ll even be able to go on without Oliver. Diggle decides not to answer and instead focuses on trying to figure out Brick’s master plan, saying there’s something familiar about the numbers they found. He then realizes they’re case numbers on a bunch of criminals the cops and Team Arrow have caught recently. Diggle and Roy then figure out that Brick’s plan is to break into the police evidence warehouse and steal some evidence to get a bunch of active cases thrown out of court. Diggle also notices the a lot of the case numbers are people the team has put away since the defeat of Slade Wilson.
Diggle and Roy go to the police evidence warehouse and an admittedly cool action sequence ensues, including a hand-to-hand fight between Diggle and Brick (after bullets prove useless against Brick). The two fight valiantly but they are simply outmatched and outgunned. Brick and his goons make their escape and while Diggle and Roy try to run after them, they get cut off by the warehouse door. Back at HQ, Felicity admits to intentionally closing the door to keep Diggle and Roy from going after Brick and likely getting themselves killed in another shootout. She also admits that she doesn’t think the team can properly function without Oliver and more or less quits.
The next day, it’s revealed that the majority of people put away by Oliver in the last few months have been set free, officially putting the team (or what’s left of it) back at square one. Without Oliver and Felicity, Diggle admits to Laurel that he too has doubts about keeping things going. The team’s implosion seems to be coming at the worst possible time since Brick has gathered the very recently released felons. He tells them they are all part of his crew now and that if anybody has a problem with it, he will send the evidence he stole back to the DA. For a number of reasons, I’m fairly certain that evidence is useless at this point but whatever. He goes on to state the together they will take over The Glades.
A couple of Brick’s thugs discuss if Brick will actually be able to take over The Glades when they are interrupted by Laurel dressed as Black Canary. She makes quick work of both of them and when one of the thugs asks who she is, Laurel replies “I’m the justice you can’t run away from.”
Palmer continues to test out his A.T.O.M. technology but clearly it still has a few kinks to work out and he tries once again to ask for Felicity’s help with fixing it. Still pretty fresh from the devastation of losing Oliver, she instead tries to talk him out of risking his life. Eventually she realizes she can’t stop him but she also refuses to help Palmer go on what she (not unreasonably) sees as a suicide mission.
Thea continues her training with Merlyn but she’s visibly worried about Oliver especially considering he was pretty cryptic when they last spoke to each other. She tries asking Merlyn and Roy (who she has figured out to be the Arrow’s sidekick) if they know anything about what happened to him. They both lie to her and claim to not know anything which of course only makes her more worried about her brother.
She’s not given much more time to contemplate Oliver’s whereabouts when Merlyn shows up at her apartment and tells her they need to leave Starling City immediately and never return.
Amanda Waller returns to (yet again) chastise Oliver and Maseo for failing to catch China White and letting her get away with the Omega virus. Maseo tries to ask for Waller’s help in getting Tatsu back but Waller refuses saying they have bigger fish to fry first. As it turns out, the Omega virus is useless without a second component called the Alpha which is being held at a lab by the Hong Kong military. She tasks them both with getting the Alpha before China White.
While Oliver and Maseo get ready to break into the laboratory, Oliver tries to comfort his partner saying that Waller will help them get his wife back once the job is done. Sadly, Maseo knows better than to think that highly of Waller and instead tries to focus on the job. The job has some noticeable bumps in the road including a shootout with some of China White’s goons but the two are successfully able to retrieve the Alpha.
Waller is happy that Oliver recovered the Alpha but also angry at him for letting one of China White’s goons get away. Oliver insists that he merely hesitated but after Waller leaves, Maseo tells him that he knows that Oliver let the guy get away on purpose. Oliver then reveals that he secretly slipped a GPS in the guy’s pocket hoping he will lead them to Tatsu. Maseo is grateful for Oliver’s help and says that he is forever in his debt. I would question why he didn’t tell Waller this GPS thing too since it could also lead them to China White but I’ve long since gotten tired of her, so for me the less excuse she has to show up in this series the better.
For obvious reasons, present day Oliver doesn’t do much in this episode. When we first see him this week, he is still at the bottom of the cliff where Ra’s left him. Surprisingly however, his body is still in pretty good condition for someone that was brutally stabbed twice, pushed several hundred feet off a cliff and left in the freezing cold for several days (all without a shirt).
Luckily for Oliver a mysterious man in a hood goes down to save him. The mystery man is revealed (to my complete lack of surprise) to be Maseo. He drags Oliver’s body to a remote cabin and asks for the occupant’s help in saving him. Oliver wakes up to find Maseo standing over him. He’s also surprised to see that Tatsu has been tending to his wounds. Maseo tells Oliver that he asked Tatsu to come so that she would bring Oliver “back to life.”
There were some thrilling moments here but for the part, the episode is severely bogged down by the sheer amount of exposition and subplots. Much like the season premiere a few months ago, this was mostly felt like setup for presumably more action packed episodes. Since that premiere led to a strong finale, I’m willing to give the writers the benefit of the doubt for the time being.
Unfortunately, I did have a couple of issues with this episode. The first is with Brick or rather the guy they’ve got playing him. Nothing against Vinnie Jones but I’ve seen him in too many mindless enforcer roles to buy him as a criminal mastermind. It also doesn’t help that I’m expected to believe that Team Arrow was outsmarted by the guy arguably best known for saying “I’m the Juggernaut, bitch!.”
My other problem is the way they introduced Laurel as the new Black Canary. There was almost no buildup to this moment and especially not this week. This might have made a little more sense to me with we were shown more progress with her training but to my memory before this episode she hasn’t been seen throwing a single punch since the episode Ted Grant was framed for murder. As a result it makes the whole thing feel incredibly rushed and underwhelming.
Either way, it appears we’ll be seeing more of her in next week’s episode ‘Midnight City.’ Be sure to tune in.