A few weeks have passed since our last episode and Oliver and Roy are busy chasing down a criminal (who oddly enough seems to be just as adept at parkour as our heroes) when he gets unexpectedly taken down by Laurel. This causes Oliver and Laurel to argue with each other since Oliver is still not really on board with her being the new Black Canary.
Back at Arrow HQ, the team get another visit from Malcolm Merlyn (I guess they’ve just got an open door policy with him now) and he tells Oliver it’s high time they come up with a battle plan against The League of Assassins. He thinks the first step is for Oliver to finally level with Thea and bring her into the fold. Oliver isn’t thrilled with this idea but as always Merlyn is pretty persuasive saying it’s going to be hard to protect Thea if she still thinks that Oliver is just her screw-up brother.
The next day, the police are transferring Count Vertigo from the courthouse but not before being interviewed by the press. Suddenly, one of the police guards starts wigging out and begins opening fire on reporters. Laurel is able to knock him out pretty good but in all the confusion Vertigo has escaped.
Oliver meets with Thea at the club and reluctantly brings her to the club’s basement/Team Arrow HQ. Once there, he finally confesses to her that he’s the Arrow and surprisingly she takes it pretty well (and later admits it was kind of dumb she never figured it out before). Huh, that was easy. I feel I should also take this opportunity to point that Captain Lance is now the only main character that doesn’t know Oliver’s secret identity.
Back at Thea’s loft, Oliver starts talking about his time as the Arrow, including that Merlyn has known about Oliver being the Arrow for quite awhile. This has Thea more than a little angry but nevertheless, Oliver insists they’re going to have to work with Merlyn if they’re to have any hope in defeating The League.
Meanwhile, at Arrow HQ, the team gets a lead on Vertigo when they notice on the news footage that the police guard from earlier had been drugged by one of the reporters. While Felicity tries to figure out the reporter’s identity, Oliver tries talking Laurel out of doing any more field work. Since Laurel is a recovering drug addict he accuses her of trading one addiction for another but she quickly counters that since he’s clearly addicted to being the Arrow, he really has no room to talk.
Thanks to Felicity, Oliver and Roy track down the reporter and go to his place to interrogate him. The reporter immediately confesses to helping Vertigo escape but says he only did so because Vertigo threatened his family. He also reveals Vertigo forced him to strap a bomb to his chest so he could kill Oliver and Roy when they inevitably came knocking. The bomb goes off but Oliver and Roy are able to survive by jumping out of a third story window at the last second.
Ghosts of Canaries Past
The next day, Laurel somehow figures out where Vertigo is hiding and tries to take him down on her own. However, since her kickboxing lessons apparently haven’t given her the ability to sneak around any better than a five year old playing hide-and-seek, Vertigo catches her pretty quickly and doses her with his fear drug. The causes Laurel to hallucinate and imagine Vertigo as her sister Sara. Thankfully, before Vertigo can finish her off, Oliver and Roy come to the rescue thanks to a tracker Oliver put on her earlier. Unfortunately, while they’re busy taking out some random goons, Vertigo makes his escape again.
Oliver takes an injured and still heavily drugged Laurel back to Arrow HQ and the team works frantically to save her. Unfortunately, Thea picks this exact moment to peek in an Oliver and angrily tells her to leave. This causes Roy and Felicity to call him out for his behavior. They chastise him and say that they while he was gone they had to learn to adapt without him and things can’t just go back to how they were. Thankfully, Diggle has a more civil discussion with Oliver upstairs at the club. He tells Oliver that while this may have started as Oliver’s crusade, the rest of the team have become heroes in their own right (personally I find that to be rather debatable but whatever).
Meanwhile, Laurel regains consciousness and after being haunted by Sara’s ghost, finally admits that she’s nothing like Sara and she was crazy to think otherwise. Felicity, however says that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing and that she needs to stop imitating Sara and do things her way.
Thea, meanwhile is left shaken up over finding Laurel near death and seeks comfort in the arms of the annoying DJ/secret assassin and the two sleep together off screen (seriously?!). Shortly afterward, Thea finally begins to catch on that something is off with this guy and an action scene ensues. Despite Merlyn’s training, Thea doesn’t put up much of a fight and the assassin is on the verge of killing Thea when Roy and Merlyn of all people come to the rescue. The assassin rather than giving Merlyn the satisfaction of killing him, poisons himself instead and quickly dies (I can’t say I’m sorry to see this clown go).
Felicity figures out that Count Vertigo has broken into a pharmaceutical company to make a new batch of his drug and has taken hostages. With Roy currently unreachable, Oliver has no choice but to partner up with Laurel (yeah heaven forbid you take Diggle along). When they get there, while Oliver is busy with the henchmen and rescuing the hostages, Laurel goes after Vertigo. He manages to drug her again but while things start out like it did last time, Laurel is eventually able to overcome the drug and beats Vertigo into unconsciousness. The team has no time to celebrate however, as Felicity informs Oliver that something has happened to Thea.
When Oliver gets to Thea’s apartment, he finds her shaken but otherwise unharmed. She admits to Oliver that they probably can’t defeat The League without Merlyn’s help but also says that she will never forget the things he’s done (weird she had no problem doing that last week). Merlyn suggests that the first thing Oliver and Thea need to do is conquer their fears and he knows just the place they can go to learn to do that. The rest of the team isn’t crazy about Oliver leaving again but he reminds them of their previous lecture and says they can function just fine without him for a few days.
In the next scene, it’s revealed that Oliver and Thea are walking through to forests of Lian Yu.
While all of this has been going on, Captain Lance has started getting suspicious about “Sara”, especially after Sin tells him in the last episode the new Black Canary is an impostor. He relays these suspicions to Laurel who after her incident with Vertigo decides to tell him the truth. She doesn’t need to admit to being the new Black Canary since her dad admits he already figured that one out. Unfortunately, he’s less prepared for the news that Sara has died, who takes it about as well as can be expected.
Oliver and Maseo are both opting to disappear for awhile, since they know both Waller and China White are going to have a bone to pick with them and they both also know where they live. Maseo tells Oliver that he’s going to take a ferry with his family to Shanghai and that he should call his family and the press in an effort to expose Waller and A.R.G.U.S. That doesn’t work out so well, since Oliver is caught using a payphone by A.R.G.U.S. agents soon after.
After Oliver gets water boarded for about ten minutes and Waller threatens to kill Thea, Oliver reluctantly reveals that Maseo and his family are on a ferry to Shangai. Maseo gets thrown in with Oliver shortly after and is surprisingly okay with Oliver tipping off Waller about the ferry, since he made it up and presumably sent his wife and son elsewhere.
As it turns out, Waller still has plans for the both of them and much to Oliver’s shock, he finds himself back in Starling City.
Oliver’s first full episode back was a serviceable though mostly unremarkable offering. On the plus side however, it at least ends with the feeling that the show is headed into a positive direction.
For the first time, I’m beginning to buy into Laurel being Black Canary and the drug hallucinations were a good way of showing her coming out from her sister’s shadow. Additionally, even though Thea wasn’t without her dumb moments, it’s a relief to finally see her get some kind of character development, rather than merely serve as an unwitting pawn for Merlyn like she’s done before this episode. There were also some fairly well written brother/sister moments between her and Oliver that have been sorely lacking lately (and not just because Oliver been absent from the action the last few weeks).
The downside this week is that it’s becoming harder not to notice that Diggle hasn’t been given anything to do for quite awhile and Oliver’s return only serves to magnify that problem. What’s equally annoying is watching Felicity continue to be cold and unforgiving toward Oliver and this is a subplot I hope the writers put to an end quick.
Next week promises to be a good one as Oliver is forced to confront his old nemesis Slade Wilson once more in ‘The Return.’