The episode opens with some SCPD officers taking down a group of drug dealers with an efficiency I haven’t associated with the SCPD in quite awhile. Their bust is interrupted by a couple of detectives also looking to bust the dealers after being tipped off by an informant. Unfortunately, the detectives are quickly gunned down by the first set of cops as it turns out they killed the drug dealers with the sole purpose of stealing their stash and selling it back. Figures that the first competent cops we’ve seen all season are corrupt.
Meanwhile, Oliver has gathered Team Arrow to the old campaign office of Sebastian Blood. Oliver tells the team about his intentions of running for mayor using Blood’s old office. The teams’s less than enthusiastic reactions are disappointing for Oliver (though not really surprising for me), though he decides to let that go for the time being and reveal the second part of his surprise. Oliver reveals to the team their new HQ (now located underneath Oliver’s new campaign office), which is considerably more high tech, courtesy of some help from Cisco and S.T.A.R. Labs. The team is visibly impressed by the new set-up and I have to admit it does actually look pretty awesome.
Team Arrow immediately gets to work looking into the murders of the two detectives and Oliver starts by paying a visit to Captain Lance. After telling Lance of his intention to run for mayor, he offers some assistance looking at some of the evidence from the crime scene. Lance isn’t all that happy accepting help from Oliver but doesn’t have a lot of options thanks to a tight budget from City Hall and a severely understaffed crime lab, so he reluctantly gives Oliver a recovered SIM card. Felicity traces the SIM card to an old building and when they investigate they find a room full of police gear, revealing the culprits to be cops.
Oliver decides the best course of action to lure the dirty cops out into the open is to set up a sting operation. The team uses presumably more Palmer Tech money to buy up a a stash of drugs (I wonder if there’s going to be an episode where Felicity is arrested for embezzlement) and asks Lance to get the word out on the location. Lance agrees to this but on the condition that he be there with Team Arrow when they take them down. The sting doesn’t go as planned though as it turns out the cops have some weapons made specially to fight Team Arrow, including a weapon that neutralizes Laurel’s Canary Cry. The dirty cops get away with the drugs and Captain Lance is spotted during their escape which will have repercussions later.
Thanks to the special weapons, Lance figures out the dirty cops were part of last year’s reinstated anti-vigilante task force, which thankfully narrows things down quite a bit for Felicity. Meanwhile the dirty cops discuss what to do about Captain Lance since they figure it’s only a matter of time before he finds out who they are. A couple of them suggest killing him but the woman in charge, Sergeant Liza Warner, is dead set against that insisting they’re not criminals (I’m no law expert but last time I checked lining your pockets with drug money and killing cops to protect your bank account was considered criminal behavior). Warner says that she has a different idea about what to do with Captain Lance.
During Felicity’s search for the dirty cops, Oliver notices something very unexpected on a squad car camera. He sees Lance having one of his secret meeting’s with Damien. Oliver goes to Lance’s apartment for a confrontation that has been a long time coming. For years, Lance has been passing judgment on Oliver for his choices both as Green Arrow and Oliver Queen. Up until now, Oliver has put up with it because while they haven’t always seen eye to eye, at the end of the day Oliver always saw him as a good man that always does what he believes to be the right thing. Now that image of him has been broken and Oliver rightfully calls him out on it. Lance admits that he started working with Damien about two months ago when he showed up and offered his resources and money to help the city and Lance accepted out of desperation. By the time he found out what kind of man Damien really is, he was already in too deep. When Lance asks Oliver is going to do now that he knows about him and Damien, Oliver admits that he’s not sure. Oliver’s confrontation with Lance has shaken him enough that like most everyone else he begins wondering if Star City is past the point of saving.
Neither man is given much chance to ponder the situation since a short time later, Lance is abducted by the dirty cops. Their plan now is to use Lance to access the SCPD’s contraband disposal building for one last big score before they all leave town. Thankfully, Team Arrow gets wind of the plan and makes pretty short work of most of the cops this time around. However, Warner gets the drop on Oliver and is on the verge of killing him but Lance is able to talk her out of it saying that they and the city are not beyond redemption and can still be saved. Warner lets Oliver go and allows Lance to bring her in.
Later that night at Lance’s apartment, Oliver goes to have another talk with him. Lance plans on turning himself in to the police the next day but Oliver thinks the best way Lance can redeem himself is to keep working for Damien undercover since he’s the only person they know that’s been able to get anywhere close to him. Lance agrees and the two shake hands, indicating the two have finally settled their differences.
The next day, when Oliver makes his way back to his campaign office, he’s surprised to find it full of eager interns who all give him a warm welcome. He finds out that Thea arranged the interns thanks to some social media connections she made from her days running the night club and has also written a speech for him to read at his candidacy announcement. He makes his speech later that day where he admits that while he doesn’t have a traditional leadership background, he still firmly believes the city can be saved as long as they do it together and united.
Over at Palmer Tech, Felicity has Holt look into the weird messages she has been receiving on her phone since last week and it doesn’t take Holt long to figure that the messages have been coming from some of Ray’s old prototypes and he finds a recording made by Ray right before he “died.” Felicity is reluctant to hear it though, not wanting to reopen old wounds. She finally decides to listen to it at the end of the episode, thanks to some convincing from Holt and the message begins with Ray saying “I’m sorry Felicity, this is my fault.” I guess we’re going to have wait until next week to hear the rest.
Laurel and Captain Lance
Despite Laurel’s rather idiotic behavior over the last couple of episodes (for example still not telling Oliver about what happened in Nanda Parbat), one thing she learned from last season was not to keep secrets from her father so when she makes it back to Star City, she wastes no time filling him in on the situation with Sara. When he’s taken to Laurel’s basement, he finds her chained up and still just as feral as she was last week.
Lance is understandably horrified by this and knowing about Damien’s background with the League, asks him for advice on how to deal with it. Damien tells him the best thing he can do for Sara is to kill her so that she can rest in peace once and for all. Lance goes back to Laurel’s basement with the intent to put Sara out of her misery but he can’t bring himself to do it.
Laurel goes to check on Sara later only to find that she has escaped. Who could’ve imagined that a highly trained assassin would be able to free herself from some chains?
Oliver continues to do what he can to help the worker he saved last week to survive which they both know will be an uphill battle. Oliver hides the woman in a cave and reports back to Conklin, the lead mercenary at the base camp (I’m pretty sure this is the first time the dude’s name has been said out loud). Oliver claims that the woman tried to escape through a mine field, causing the death of the mercenary from last week but that he eventually caught up with her and made her death “memorable.” Considering this is the second mercenary to be killed by a landmine near Oliver in what’s probably been just a few days, Conklin is understandably skeptical of this story and has Oliver take him to the woman’s body. Conklin examines the woman and does believe her to be dead thanks to some skills Oliver learned on the island. Unfortunately, on his back to camp, Conklin stumbles upon Oliver’s A.R.G.U.S. equipment.
We may only be four episodes in but this was easily my favorite episode so far this season.
One of the big reasons why is the confrontation between Oliver and Captain Lance. Not only is it probably the best bit of acting we’ve seen from either actor in quite awhile but the scene has been sorely needed. Since about the final third of last season, we’ve watched Lance blame Oliver for everything that’s gone wrong in Star City week after week (regardless of whether or nor that’s actually true) but now Oliver finally got a chance to push back now that Lance has ventured into the same grey area that Oliver has been stuck in since he first got trapped in the island. More importantly, Oliver’s willingness to forgive Lance’s betrayal finally gives the two the chance work as allies again.
What’s also interesting are this week’s villains. Instead of dealing with another one of Damien and H.I.V.E.’s plots, the League of Assassins or another angry metahuman, Team Arrow is up against corrupt cops. When Arrow started out, they kept things relatively grounded and realistic for a superhero show but began to drift away from that last year to introduce more fantastical characters like Barry and Ra’s al Ghul and for better or worse, the show really hasn’t been the same since. The lack of superpowers from the villains could have made them into rather ho-hum adversaries but instead it more of a refreshing (though likely brief) return back to the shows roots.
Tune in next week when Team Arrow teams up with none other than John Constantine to deal with the newly revived Sara in ‘Haunted.’