Picking up from where last week’s episode left off, Nyssa al Ghul is in the Arrow Cave and boy is she TO’d. She questions Oliver about Sara’s whereabouts as she had been sent to Starling City on a mission from the League of Assassins just two weeks ago. Oliver is about to tell her what happened but Nyssa figures it out, and before Oliver can say anything else, she also knows that Sara was killed by an arrow, a detail Oliver hadn’t mentioned. Nyssa leaves in a huff and Oliver instructs Roy to follow her.
Oliver goes to have dinner with Thea, where she reveals she’s re-opening Verdant (her investors are no doubt Malcolm Merlyn). While talking, Oliver tries to figure out what’s different about Thea, and it speaks a lot to the narrow POV Oliver has – he can’t imagine his sister being in the same kind of lifestyle he is. We flashback to Hong Kong where Oliver is being forced to track a business man through a market. He wants to know why Amanda Waller wants him dead but Maseo won’t tell him. Oliver quickly figures out he’s “just a gun” for Waller to use as she sees fit.
Laurel stands at Sara’s grave where she is joined by Nyssa. Nyssa pays her respects to her dead lover and then begins to butt heads with Laurel. Both have issues with the other, as Laurel points out Sara never would have died with an Arrow in her chest if she hadn’t met Nyssa, but Nyssa counters that Sara would already be dead if she hadn’t saved her. She leaves after telling Laurel she’s not fit to wear Sara’s leather jacket. Roy tracks Nyssa to a safehouse in a seedy part of town (is there any other kind in Starling?) where Oliver joins her to ask for her help in tracking the killer. It’s clear Nyssa is reluctant to share what she knows with Oliver, but she reveals that Sara’s initial target was none other than Malcolm Merlyn, who is still alive and in Starling City.
Back at the Arrow Cave, Nyssa reveals that Malcolm Merlyn’s undertaking in The Glades went against the code of the League of Assassins and he has been a target ever since. They had received word from Oliver’s mother that he was still alive and have been hunting him across the globe. Oliver asks Roy about the evidence they found on Sara which he reveals was just a blank piece of paper, but after they hold it to a flame they see the notes Sara had been writing in ghost ink. These notes say two things “Jansen” and “Dad help?” which leads Team Arrow to send Laurel to Captain Lance to find out what they can. Lance reveals that Sara had come to him looking for this Jansen person, who we learn is one Ken Zhi Jansen (a character that trained Oliver Queen’s son Connor in the source material), a Buddhist monk in Starling City who has ties to Malcolm Merlyn. Lance sees Nyssa in the police station and thinks something might be wrong, but Nyssa and Laurel both play it cool.
That night Nyssa, Oliver, Roy and Diggle all head to the Buddhist temple to find Jansen. As Nyssa approaches the figure she thinks is Jansen, Diggle and Roy find a monument dedicated to the late monk. The figure stands in front of Nyssa and is none other than Malcolm Merlyn. She takes a shot at him but he’s too quick, subduing her and making his escape, but not before Oliver can knick him with an arrow.
At the Arrow Cave, Laurel waits on the team to return and Oliver confides in her that Merlyn is still alive but that he tagged him with a tracking arrow developed by Felicity. Incensed, Laurel starts to demand Merlyn’s head on a platter, but Oliver won’t allow it. Laurel leaves and Nyssa follows. Oliver sends Roy to watch Thea should Merlyn try and make contact while Oliver takes to the streets. Back in Hong Kong, Oliver corners his target and takes him out, but not before retrieving a USB drive from the man’s pocket.
As Roy goes to Verdant to talk to Thea and offer to help out, Oliver is en route to an air conditioning factory where Diggle has tracked Merlyn to. Upon arriving, though, Oliver sees nothing and his comms are hacked by Merlyn who tells him to meet him in a public space, alone, so they can talk. Ollie meets Merlyn in Nelson Plaza where he explains his case, swearing he’s not Sara’s killer and that he has no reason to target her, but also pointing out that Oliver has been blinded by his “duty” as the Arrow, leaving him to forget about his duty to family, which is why Merlyn came back to Starling. Afterward, Oliver goes to see Thea and tries to tell her about Merlyn both saving her during Deathstroke’s attack and that he is her real father, but Thea wins the Oscar as she acts like she didn’t already know all of this.
Nyssa waits for Oliver back at the Arrow Cave, who reveals upon arriving that he found Malcolm Merlyn and he knows he isn’t the killer. That’s not good enough for Nyssa who wants more proof, leading Oliver to reveal Merlyn swore on the life of his child, Oliver’s sister. She counters that she also swore on oath on a life.
Back in Hong Kong, Oliver arrives back at Maseo’s apartment where the two butt heads about their roles in Amanda Waller’s world, Maseo is comfortable not knowing what his tasks mean while Oliver is always questioning them. Oliver, in one of his more brilliant moves, bribes Maseo’s son into using his computer and discovers from the stolen USB drive just why the old man was a target by Waller. He demands a meeting with her, citing Ferris Air Flight 637 as the reason why she’ll come.
As Thea and Roy leave Verdant they’re confronted by Nyssa, who drugs Roy and kidnaps Thea. She leaves a smoke signal in Starling for Merlyn which both he and Team Arrow notice, prompting Oliver to tell Laurel about Thea’s true parentage which makes her double down on wanting Merlyn dead. Thea remains suspended in the air as Nyssa stands waiting. When asked why she kidnapped her Nyssa cites her father, leading Thea to say “Robert Queen has been dead for seven years,” but Nyssa makes sure she knows she doesn’t mean him.
Oliver shoots and arrow at the trap suspending Thea and begins to fight Nyssa. As the pair trade blows, Merlyn shows up and there’s a brief Mexican stand off between the three of them just before an all out brawl breaks out. Merlyn pins Nyssa to a wall with some arrows but Oliver gets the drop on him. Nyssa begs Oliver to kill him, but Merlyn plants the seed in her mind that he had nothing to do with Sara’s death and perhaps she died because of her father. With an arrow still drawn and pointed at him, Merlyn tells Oliver to crap or get off the pot, citing no prison, not even Oliver’s on the island, can hold him.
When they reconvene at the Arrow Cave, Nyysa socks Oliver right in the kisser, angry that he let Merlyn go. She tells him that he insults Sara’s memory, and he counters that he honors her by contiuing the search for her killer. Knowing that the League will come after Merlyn, Oliver tells Nyssa that as long as he is in Starling he is under his protection. Nyssa leaves in a huff and Felicity arrives just in time from this weeks’ episode of The Flash.
One more flashback to Hong Kong, and Waller is clearly not happy to be there and speaking to Oliver. Oliver reveals he’s figured out why Waller wanted the man killed as he was planning to expose her for targeting Ferris Air Flight 637 way back in season one. Waller reveals that she wanted to bring the plane down for one target, a woman, China White, a character introduced in the second episode of “Arrow.”
As the episode draws to a close we see Laurel practicing her boxing at Ted Grant’s gym. Nyssa enters and they both confide their feelings in each other, she also gives Laurel some advice for her training before leaving. Captain Lance calls Sara’s phone just to hear her voice one more time, he’ll have to learn the truth eventually. Oliver goes to talk to Thea at Verdant where he promises to watch out for her better. Roy shows up and Thea offers him an assisstant manager’s position at the club just as Malcolm Merlyn calls Thea to check on her.
But that’s not all! The episode closes with our first look at Nanda Parbat and the home of the League of Assassins. Nyssa enters an ornate room and begins speaking to none other than her father, Ra’s al Ghul. She tells him Merlyn still lives and that Oliver has sworn to protect him so long as he is in Starling City. We get our first look at Matthew Nable as the Demon’s Head as he says, “Then Oliver Queen courts war with us.”
You can check out the promo for next week’s episode of “Arrow” in the player below. Titled “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak,” the episode is officially described as follows:
“When a cyber attack brings Starling City to its knees, Oliver and Felicity are pushed to their limits to contain the destruction. Life gets even more complicated for Felicity when her mother, Donna (guest star Charlotte Ross), stops by for a surprise visit. Meanwhile, Ted Grant (guest star JR Ramirez) questions Laurel’s motives, and Thea buys an apartment with Malcolm’s “estate” money, which infuriates Oliver.”
Directed by Michael Schultz and written by Ben Sokolowski & Brian Ford Sullivan, “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak” is set to air November 5. “Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 P.M. ET/PT on The CW.