Some of the issues bothering fans were the fact that Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau) had completely disappeared from the story, Oliver had completely abandoned Queen Consolidated, and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) had been relegated to a wall flower. All three of those issues/questions are dealt with in a very satisfying way.
The episode picks up where “Birds of Prey” left off. Slade (Manu Bennett) has Thea (Willa Holland) in his car and she’s telling him about her break up with Roy (Colton Haynes). Slade commiserates with her, telling her “heartbreak is something I know all too well,” and that sometimes you never recover from it. Slade’s love for Shado (Celina Jade) has certainly driven him over the edge when mixed with the Mirakuru, and we see that he is even hallucinating her – and has been for quite some time.
Rather than return Thea to her home, Slade delivers her to Brother Blood (Kevin Alejandro). Slade isn’t intent on physically harming her, just using her as a distraction for Oliver (Stephen Amell) while Slade’s plan plays out. Slade also uses Thea to hurt Oliver by driving a wedge between them by telling her the secret of her birth – that she’s Malcom Merlyn’s (John Barrowman) daughter and that Oliver knew. The one issue I had with that particular plot point is when Thea confronts Oliver. While Holland and Amell are wonderful in the scene – I especially liked the way Amell recoiled when Thea said she knew his secret – why didn’t Oliver or Moira (Susanna Thompson) point out that Oliver had only just recently discovered the secret himself and that was what had been causing the rift between Moira and Oliver? The fact is, Oliver hadn’t known for years.
Roy begins to chafe under Oliver’s direction. While Oliver is teaching Roy archery, Roy comments that he’s not a natural at it. He then questions whether he wouldn’t be better off just telling Thea the truth. Oliver is convinced that this will only put her in more jeopardy. However, I think if the episode has a lesson to teach us, it may be that lies are never a good thing. Roy’s dissatisfaction builds after the botched attempt to get Slade to tell the police where Thea is. He confronts the rest of the team and points out the obvious – Diggle (David Ramsey) is special forces and Sara (Caity Lotz) is an international assassin! Why do they have to take orders from Oliver? Roy points out that Oliver was wrong to have told him to break up with Thea. Roy decides to leave, and when Diggle attempts to stop him, he attacks Diggle and pins him. Sara then pulls a venom-laced arrow on him. Roy asks her if she’s going to kill him just because he criticized “the almighty Oliver Queen?” Sara says no, it’s because he’s hurting her friend.
Oliver arrives in time to break it up, but Roy tells Oliver that the only person responsible for Thea being hurt or worse is Oliver. Roy further tells Oliver that he believed in him, but now he’s done. We see Roy make sure that Thea is safe and then leave town. Diggle and Sara were convinced the Mirakuru was making Roy act out, but Roy denies it. I believe him – I think he is learning to control it. I have to wonder if he’s headed to Central City. I’m sure we’ll see him back in Starling City before too long, however.
The episode really focuses on watching Slade’s plan unfold. Felicity is back to being Oliver’s anchor in many ways in this episode. She’s the one who kicks him in the butt and forces him to go to the board meeting by reminding him of his responsibilities as CEO of Queen Consolidated. We learn that Oliver has been completely ignoring the company for a month while he has been dealing with Slade. Oliver arrives at the office to find that Isabel has helpfully moved the meeting by 30 minutes to accommodate him. She completely sucks him into a false sense of security.
Once Thea’s abduction is discovered, Isabel is the concerned friend, helping to keep unwanted press away from the Queen family. Oliver thanks her again for her help, and she brushes if off, saying “I take things off your plate. That’s my job.” What she doesn’t tell him is she’s about to take the plate and the table it’s sitting on. She reminds him that the board has nominated new officers and those votes must take place within 24 hours. She tells him that only the CEO can take care of this. Oliver is desperate to focus on getting Thea back – as Slade knew he would be – and Oliver insists that Isabel act as temporary CEO. She makes a show of not wanting to, but accepts his note in the end. In the real world, neither that note nor any subsequent vote would stand up in court as it was all done under the duress of Thea’s abduction. In fact, it would have been easy to get dispensation for the vote under those circumstances. I hope that the show is going to have Oliver figure that out... or at least Felicity!
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one screaming at my television to prevent Oliver from signing. Isabel, of course, took advantage of the situation to take Queen Consolidated away from Oliver. I loved the scene in which we finally see Isabel’s true colors. Amell is great as we see the penny drop that she’s working with Slade. He pins Isabel up against the wall. When asked why, she tells him, “I think it’s sad you don’t know. The sins of the father are the sins of the son.” There is a connection between Robert Queen and Isabel in the comics, and as Moira really hates Isabel, I’m betting there will be a similar connection here.
It was great getting to see Summer Glau finally getting to do some great work – both dramatically and physically. She becomes an interesting member of Slade’s team along with Sebastian Blood. So we have a triumvirate plus one on either side: Oliver, Felicity, and Diggle (+Sara) versus Slade, Isabel, and Blood (+Shado). It’s interesting to see that Isabel seems to know more about Slade’s plans than Blood does. It also seems that Slade never had any intention of Blood taking the city peacefully. Certainly, Slade freeing a bus load of inmates to build his army underscores that.
Oliver is able to get Isabel to say where Slade is holding Thea, but only because that’s part of Slade’s plan to keep Oliver busy while he frees the inmates. This is a nice dovetail to Diggle’s remark at the beginning of the episode that the jails are becoming over crowded since Oliver stopped killing criminals. It’s an interesting dilemma – similar to whether it’s lies or truth that get us into trouble. Oliver tries to have Slade arrested and follow the law and that ends up backfiring. These are hard choices, and we see the same kind of issues play out in the flashbacks.
In flashback, we see Sara preparing to trade Hendrick (Artine Brown) for Oliver. Peter (Sean Rogerson) argues that it’s murder and wants to know what gives them the right to decide who lives or who dies. Sara points out that it’s not personal, it’s just survival. Then she thinks of a way to make it about being an opportunity. With Anatoly’s (David Nykl) help, Sara devises a bomb to attach to Hendrick that will blow up both Hendrick and Slade, allowing them to take the boat and escape. Sara’s ruthlessness scares even Anatoly. Slade arrives with both Oliver and Ivo (Dylan Neal). Unfortunately, the Mirakuru gives Slade extra-sensitive senses and he smells the TNT. He threatens to shoot Sara as Shado was shot, but once again Oliver steps between Sara and the gun. It’s Shado’s ghost that convinces Slade not to kill them but to sentence them to being prisoners on the Island. Of course the “shadow” of Shado is nothing like the real Shado as evidenced by the venomous way she sentences them, but on the other hand, she does save their life. Will she play a factor in the final showdown between Oliver and Deathstroke, I wonder.
Amell and Bennett have one extremely powerful scene together at the police station. Oliver goes to Slade and tells him they are calling Slade Deathstroke. Slade remarks that it’s a bit flamboyant. Slade is surprised when Oliver’s first question is how did Slade get off the Island. Slade tells Oliver that he swam. He was severely injured but the Mirakuru healed everything except his eye – we’re still waiting for that story! Oliver then asks Slade why he’s doing what he is. Slade tells Oliver he knows why – it’s all about revenge for Shado.
Oliver tells Slade that it was five years ago and he should let it go, but Slade points out that the hood Oliver wears is proof that Oliver hasn’t let it go either. Oliver then points out that Thea never hurt Slade and that Shado is dead because of Oliver so Slade should blame Oliver and punish him. He asks if Slade wants him to beg and then says he is begging. It seems that Slade is about to tell him where Thea is when Pike (Adrian Holmes) walks in and releases him.
One good thing comes out of Thea’s abduction. Oliver and Moira seem to have patched up their differences. When the episode begins, Moira tracks Oliver down at Queen Consolidated because he won’t answer her calls and reminds him he agreed to support her at the debate. He agrees to go. Moira then asks that he at least appear to be her son. Oliver lashes out at her by telling her that he’s “gotten pretty good at pretending to be someone I’m not. I learned it from you.”
Several things of note happen at the debate. Oliver calls Thea to see where she is and leaves her a message, calling her Speedy – it’s still her nickname! Laurel (Katie Cassidy) shows up to support Moira, but runs into Sebastian. Following recovery steps, she apologizes for what she’d done to him, and they appear to part friends. The main thing that happens at the debate is, of course, Thea’s “video call.”
By the time Slade is released and has offered a $5 million reward for information leading to Thea’s recovery, Oliver is at his wit’s end. Moira tells him that he has every right to hate her, but Oliver tells her that what’s happened to Thea is not her fault. Moira then says to Oliver that when you’re kids are born, you worry about what the world will do to them. You never think about what you could do to them. You never think that you could be your own worst enemy. These words resonate with Oliver and he repeats them at the end of the episode. Oliver moves to Moira and takes her hand.
We do get to see the team in action in this episode. Felicity tracks down Slade’s car and Oliver recruits the whole team to bring him in. Sara contributes by working her lab-magic and creating snake-venom tranquillizer dart arrows. Oliver even lets Roy harness his anger against Slade. After Slade leaves the jail, Sara, Diggle, and Roy follow him while Felicity coordinates from the lair.
For those who have been missing the stronger Felicity, I’ve already mentioned her making Oliver go back to work and pull his weight, but there’s also a great moment when Oliver is determined to go after Slade alone. Sara is worried it’s a trap and doesn’t want him to go. Felicity steps right up to him and tells him to just go and end it once and for all – he gains strength and focus from her. Just a quick shout out – as I have to do every episode it seems! – to the stunt team for the amazing fight sequence in the warehouse.
Sara is sidetracked from the team because Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) is given an ultimatum by Pike. He is told to give up the identity of the Vigilante or face charges. Quentin says he doesn’t know and is taken into custody – at the direction of the DA – Laurel’s current boss, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out, especially in light of the fact that Laurel herself now knows the identity of the Arrow!
The final scene in the lair was terrific. Amell, Ramsey, and Rickards demonstrate the chemistry that has made this trio such a favorite among viewers. Oliver is now stripped bare and torn down in every possible way. He retreats to what he expects to be the solitude of his lair and finds Diggle and Felicity waiting. He asks them what they’re doing there. Diggle asks where else they’d be. Oliver tells them that Roy was right. He’s done nothing but make mistakes. He made the wrong decision about the company, about Thea, about everything. He tells them he’d been so focused on what Slade would do that it never even occurred to him what he could do to himself. He tells them he’s his own worst enemy – perfectly echoing Moira’s comments to him. Just as Oliver stepped up to support Moira, Diggle and Felicity step up to help him.
Diggle tells him not to let Slade get into his head. Oliver responds that he can’t keep Slade from doing anything and Felicity tells him that yes, he can! Oliver wants to know what makes her so sure and Diggle tells him it’s because he’s not alone. Diggle proves it by asking what’s next. Amell is wonderful in this scene as he goes from despair and self-loathing to disbelief to resolve. He tells them, “Now, we fight back!”
While Slade is not alone either, his team is not focused on a single goal, and we’ve already seen strife amongst them. The real difference is that team Oliver will act as a unit. Unfortunately, Slade’s team holds most of the cards right now. Oliver has lost the trust of his sister, his company, and Roy. Sara is distracted by her father, and now Laurel knows that Oliver is the Arrow. It was a very busy episode! Kudos to Guy Bee for telling such a packed episode in such a coherent way.
This episode represented a big payoff on a number of storylines that have been slowly playing out this season. Only five episodes remain, with no more breaks, leading to the season two finale. Do you think Oliver will defeat Slade by the end of the season? What did you think of this episode? Do you think Roy will be gone for long? What do you think Laurel will do with her new found knowledge? Do you think it will help her realize who the Black Canary is? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!