Is it a flashback or a dream sequence to start tonight’s episode? Well, a little bit of both since we see Felicity expressing concern over Oliver heading off to fight Ra’s al Ghul. Things turn a bit sexy when Oliver confesses his love for her, right before they get downright gruesome as Oliver coughs up blood and glances down to see a sword buried in his stomach.
Oliver awakens in the wilderness cabin and catches up with Tatsu and Maseo. While the former couple have stayed in contact, they’re not exactly together. Maseo is headed back to Ra’s’ side as soon as the storm clears, but he leaves Oliver with a final word of warning, to worry about what’s become of his city in his absence.
Cut to that very city, still plagued by crime, but moreso now that Brick is in charge of The Glades. Laurel tries to take matters into her own hands by putting on Canary’s mask and attempting to defend the weak and innocent. It doesn’t go too well since a run-of-the-mill thug nearly takes her out. Arsenal jumps in to rescue Laurel/Canary, and brings her back to HQ to patch her up and figure out just what the hell she thinks she’s doing…
At the police department, the cops are all riled up about Brick’s gang taking over the city; Quentin drops a brief note about the Canary (ie who he thinks is his other daughter, Sara) making an appearance the night before. While the cops hold their meeting about how to handle Brick, the gangster and his posse bust in, shoot up the place, and kidnap the Alderman. Why kidnap an Alderman, I have no idea, but that’s pretty brash busting into the SCPD, so he gets style points. Also getting some bonus action points in this brief but chaotic fight scene are Ray Palmer (sans suit), Laurel Lance (sans mask), and Quentin Lance, sans heart attack.
Though Felicity told Ray Palmer that she was out of the hero-making business, she’s still employed as his assistant. She survives the ordeal at the police department, then breaks the news to Quentin that Arrow’s AWOL; he tells her that Sara’s back, which obviously confuses her a bit.
Laurel puts her degree to work interrogating a suspect in Brick’s employ and blackmailing him into giving up intel on the crime boss. Threatened with a sure death one way or the other, the suspect caves.
Thea and “Chase the DJ” have an awkward meet-up outside Club Verdant. Soon, Malcolm arrives to order Thea to leave Starling City, but she refuses because he won’t come clean with her about what’s got him so spooked. Meanwhile, Roy is checking on her from the wings. He shows up at Malcolm’s place to threaten the older man, saying he’ll reveal all of Malcolm’s dark secrets to his daughter if he doesn’t stay out of her life.
Roy, Diggle, and Laurel team up to rescue the three aldermen kidnapped by Brick. The guys are pretty adamant about reminding Laurel that she’s not her sister, but this new version of Laurel isn’t backing down. (Pretty funny scenes of Laurel struggling to strike her heroic poses as the Canary, but she gets props for sticking with it.) Ironically, Laurel runs up against Brick, but lucky for her, he doesn’t take her very seriously. When Roy plugs the mobster with an arrow, Brick executes one of the aldermen for the insult. Team Arrow: 0, Team Brick: 1.
While they watch footage of the failed rescue attempt on the news, the cops appear terrified of the bargain-basement criminals. Quentin can’t seem to understand why Sara is back in the city but hasn’t made contact with them yet; how long can they keep Sara’s death a secret? While that plot point plays out, Brick calls up to demand a meet with the police department’s head. Tagging along for the conversation is Ray Palmer – who Brick isn’t afraid to go nose to nose with – and Quentin. Brick lays out his demands: all police have to evacuate the Glades within 24 hours or they’ll execute the hostages.
Felicity shows up to talk some good sense into Laurel, but it seems like perhaps the death of the alderman at the hands of Brick (due in part because of her failure) is enough to keep Laurel off the streets at night. Felicity continues to rain on the parade, but she comes to the conclusion that perhaps they’re all in the costumed crime-fighting business because they’re supporting the people they love. As Quentin calls asking for help from the Arrow, Felicity confirms that he’s gone … but she knows where to find the Canary. (How quick can someone flip back and forth between being completely opposed to crimefighting and embracing it again? This question goes for either Felicity or Laurel at this point.)
On the snowier side of the world, things aren’t looking great for Maseo, Tatsu, or Oliver at this point either since Ra’s al Ghul is calling for Oliver Queen’s remains. His henchmen show up in search of the fallen warrior but Maseo covers for him, stalling as long as he can. Unfortunately they find Tatsu waiting in the wings and our heroes quickly take down the assassins.
Back in the good old days, when things got tough while the Arrow was still in town, he and Diggle would share a drink after a hard day’s battle. Roy and Diggle attempt to recreate that tradition, but it’s not just the same without their leader. Serving to break up the tension here, Laurel and Felicity arrive to tell the boys they’re back in the fighting game. Laurel, impersonating Sara thanks to Felicity’s techy trickery, calls Quentin to get some intel on the hostages. One of the alderman apparently has a pacemaker that’s about to run out of juice; let’s see if this plays into the plot. Yep! Felicity tracks its location via GPS, apparently. And how do they get to that location? Why, in style, by helicopter, of course!
The helicopter goes by the wayside rather quickly, however, since the team enters a close quarters melee in an abandoned warehouse (The Glades are full of them). Again, it’s rather chaotic, but a nice change of pace from the usual one-on-many battles involving the Arrow. Roy gets the surviving aldermen to safety while Laurel distracts Brick, a fight which ends with Laurel diving out of a plate glass window to a waiting rope ladder dangling from the helicopter. Cool stuff, but man did that come out of nowhere! (I worry a bit about the editing/pacing of this show lately, and there was no better example of this then the long commercial breaks on either side of a short but frenetic fight scene at the warehouse.)
Speaking of out of nowhere, Maseo (sorta) seems to cut his own throat in an attempt to make it look like Oliver attacked him in a bid to escape capture. Anything to stay on Ra’s al Ghul’s good side, I suppose.
In tonight’s other closing character moments, Quentin tells Canary – the Canary he believes to be Sara – about the state of The Glades, and attempts to reconnect with her. Laurel keeps her distance, disappearing into the dark city.
Felicity makes amends with Palmer (and returns his helicopter keys) by providing a quantum processor for his supersuit. Seems like she’s back on the team, hoping to help Palmer stay alive in his mad quest.
Meanwhile, in a sideplot that I can’t imagine too many people care a whole lot about, Malcolm finally tells Thea what he’s actually running from: Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Shadows. He spins a pretty good story and eventually asks for Thea’s help. When Malcolm tries once more to convince Thea to be afraid of Ra’s al Ghul, she turns the tables on him and reminds him of his own lessons for her training. They decide to stay and fight, whatever comes their way. Whatever comes Thea’s way is that goofy DJ, Chase, who apparently works for Ra’s al Ghul and is contact with Maseo, revealing that both Thea and Malcolm Merlyn are in Starling City. Not much of a final stinger, but hey, we’ll take it.
Okay, the real flashbacks now. Maseo and Oliver end up at a club they have tracked Tatsu to. Before they can do anything stupid, a few thugs take them to see China White at gun point. It’s soon revealed that Maseo has brought the terrorist the second half of the bioweapon in exchange for Tatsu. In a plot twist, the chemical is a fake. Unfortunately China White figures it out and tries to have the intrepid trio killed. After a fun, dance club music-fueled fight scene, the three make a break for it.
Back at home, Maseo reveals that he didn’t know the vial of Alpha was a fake, suggesting that Waller must have switched it on him in the event of just such a betrayal. Maseo, it turns out, is willing to let hundreds or thousands die for the sake of his family. Surely we’ll get to see that prophetic promise pay off by episode’s end, right?
This episode was all over the place. It’s really starting to feel like Arrow has bitten off more than it can chew: character moments are so brief and out of nowhere that they’re starting to feel forced, the action sequences suffer because of it, and the real heart of the show is still out of commission. Here’s hoping that when Ollie makes it back to town in fighting shape, things get back into rhythm. However, the plans for another Suicide Squad episode and crossover with The Flash call that assumption into question.
★★★ Good — Proceed with cautious optimism
(An explanation of our ratings system follows here.)
Roy: “I had training from Oliver and years on the streets; you have a law degree.”
Brick: “I always wanted to meet the mayor.”
Tatsu: “The line between grief and guilt is a thin one.”
Brick: “Lucky for you I don’t like hitting women.”
Laurel: “I’m not strong enough to fight for Sara.” Felicity: “Maybe you’re not supposed to.”
Palmer: “I’d feel a little more confident in your knowledge of aeronautics if you knew that helicopters didn’t have keys.” Felicity: “They don’t?”
Okay, I’ll bite: Where has Ted Grant disappeared to? Laurel should get her money back.