Instead of starting things off with a cup of coffee or a character getting ready for a date, this week’s “Arrow” begins with Laurel getting the crap knocked out of her, and by none other than her long dead sister Sara. We jump to 48 hours earlier as Oliver and Roy chase after a goon who gets his teeth done in by Laurel, who Oliver still doesn’t want out on the streets. They butt heads as she tells him what a hero would do and he counters that she’s not a hero. As Oliver and Roy return to the Arrow Cave, Diggle asks how it went which turns into Oliver chastising him for giving Laurel permission to run around in a mask too. Then without warning Malcolm Merlyn enters to talk to Oliver, saying that it’s time Thea found out the truth.
We flashback to Hong Kong where Maseo and Oliver are preparing to leave. After the stunt they pulled with the virus, Amanda Waller will be hunting them. Maseo tells Oliver to contact his family and he will be taking the ferry to Shanghai with his. In the present day, Peter Stormare is back as Count Vertigo where he’s being transported to a new prison, and the press have assembled outside to have a word with him. Laurel intervenes to get him into the van, but the U.S. Marshall escorting him gets a dose of Vertigo and starts hallucinating monsters. He starts to open fire on the assembled press before Laurel coldclocks him, but Vertigo has gone.
Thea hangs out at Verdant where DJ Blowhard (and secret agent of Ra’s al Ghul) tries to smooth talk her, but it once again doesn’t work. Oliver enters with a somber look and says he needs to tell her something. He takes her into the basement and reveals his secret, he’s The Arrow, and is surprised when Thea takes the news very well. Instead of screaming, she’s thankful, proud even, that Oliver would do this to save people. Ollie smiles as they embrace. Later, at their apartment, they continue to talk about it and finally mention their one little sparring match earlier this season. She asks if their mother knew and Oliver confirms she did, in addition to telling her that Malcolm Merlyn knew he was the Arrow this whole time. Speaking of the devil, Malcolm pops in and the two of them explain that Ra’s is coming and to stop him they’ll have to work together. Realizing she’s been manipulated by Malcolm this whole time, Thea leaves in a huff, just as Oliver gets an urgent call. Back in Hong Kong, Oliver calls his mother from a payphone to alert her that he’s alive, only for the ARGUS agents to crash the party, of course.
Oliver makes it back to the Arrow Cave where they bring him up to speed on Count Vertigo’s escape, and Laurel shows up to give them even more info. They figure out who injected the Marshall with Vertigo and prepare to find him. As Laurel gets prepped to head out with them, Oliver tells her she’s not coming and accuses her of using the rush of being the canary as fueling her addiction. She doesn’t take that well. Roy and Oliver go to the office of Anthony Walker, who is pouring sweat and claims Vertigo threatened his wife if he didn’t do this. He opens his jacket to reveal he’s strapped with C4. After a tense standoff, he presses the button and Oliver and Roy fly out the window chased by fire, and Count Vertigo watches from a van nearby.
Back at his apartment, Oliver talks to Thea about his night and all of his lame excuses over the past two years. Eventually it comes back to Malcolm Merlyn whom Oliver calls a necessary evil. When she says they can take care of themselves Oliver counters, “Not aginst Ra’s.” Switch to Hong Kong, we see Oliver in the midst of being waterboarded. Amanda Waller reveals that he’s not going anywhere, because they erased his message to his mother and asks him to give up the Yamashiros. She then taunts him about his sister having developed a substance abuse problem, threatening to kill her, and like that he gives up his friends.
Laurel sits in her office looking at Vertigo’s records when her father enters with a record of the shipping manifests for the whole city. He asks once again about Sara and how Sin told him the woman in black isn’t her. Playing it cool, Laurel gets him to cease questioning it and take off. At Verdant, Thea and Roy talk about his work with Oliver only for him to pop in and “borrow” Roy. One of their tracker signals is going off at the docks, but as far as any of them know they have no active trackers. Oliver cops to putting one on Laurel since she insists on going out as the Canary. At the docks Laurel watches as Vertigo unloads some chemicals, a guard surprises her but she takes him out and continues to watch form afar. She’s not sneaky enough though as Vertigo gets the drop on her and injects her with his product where through Laurel’s POV he morphs into Sara, who begins to take Laurel to task for trying to be her. Vertigo beats her bloody and takes off when Oliver and Roy get on the scene.
They bring Laurel back to the Arrove Cave, but she’s still hallucinating about Sara. Thea enters, worried with the commotion, and Oliver yells at her to leave. Roy sticks up for her which surprises Oliver. Felicity lets him know that they’re not used to doing things his way anymore given how long he was gone. The Ollie-garchy is over (sorry, couldn’t resist). DJ Blowhard meets Thea in the alley where she kisses him and they take off. Roy watches as they leave. Oliver knocks a few back upstairs, sad that he’s no longer the bossman. Diggle joins him where he defends their position and tells him it’s not just his crusade anymore, it’s all of their’s. Back in Hong Kong, Oliver is tied up and is joined by a bound Tatsu. He apologizes for giving them up, but Tatsu revealed he lied about their location in the event Oliver got caught, and that he came back specifically to get caught.
Laurel wakes up in the Arrow Cave and is comforted by Felicity, telling her what she saw under the influence of the Vertigo. Felicity always knows what to say and tells her she’s not chasing Sara, there’s something inside her that Sara didn’t have and that separates them. Time for her to be her own version of the Canary. Alarms start to go off at Felicity’s computer. At Thea’s apartment she and DJ Blowhard have just finished having a good time so he pours them a drink. Thea reveals a trick her father told her about assassins masking the scent of cyanide with red wine and the jig is up. DJ Blowhard and Thea fight and he reveals himself as an agent of Ra’s al Ghul, and just in time Roy pops in and begins to fight too. To make things even more of a French bedroom farce, Merlyn also enters and pops the DJ with an arrow in the back, but before he can deliver the killing blow he kills himself with a vial of poison. You will not be missed DJ Blowhard.
Vertigo has taken the doctors at Daggett Pharmaceuticals (a reference to the “Batman: The Animated Series” character Roland Daggett) hostage and is using them to make a new batch of Vertigo. Roy isn’t answering his phone when Oliver cals so he brings Laurel along. Vertigo appears to have watched the finale of “Breaking Bad” as he has the doctors chained up making his product. Ollie and Laurel bust in and fight some goons which prompts Vertigo to set the place on fire. As Oliver gets the doctors to safety, Laurel chases after the Count, who injects her once again with the drug. Not only does she hallucinate her sister but she sees her father, cross at her for not telling him about Sara’s death. She apologizes and says she’s done trying to be Sara, just before punching the crap out of Vertigo. Oliver then gets a call from Felicity to go home, it’s something about Thea.
Laurel goes to see her father, teary eyed, and with something to tell him. He tells her he knows that’s her dressed as the Canary, but that wasn’t what she wanted to tell him, it’s about Sara. She doesn’t even have to finish her sentence before he knows what she means. Back at the apartment, Oliver enters where Thea and Roy wait. Merlyn explains that DJ Blowhard was an agent of Ra’s. Thea laments that she didn’t ask for any of this but concedes that they need Merlyn’s help. Malcolm says Ra’s will use their fears against him, so to beat him they have to conquer those fears. Oliver tells Team Arrow he’s leaving, again, but the city is safe under their protection. Thea packs and sees Roy off with a kiss. As expected, the place Merlyn was taking them to was Lian Yu, the island. As the episode wraps up we end on a flashback. Oliver wakes up in a limo with Waller and Maseo, who welcome him home as they drive past a sign for Starling City.
You can check out the promo for Episode 3.14 of “Arrow” in the player below. Titled “The Return,” the episode is officially described as follows:
“Malcolm puts Oliver and Thea in a dangerous situation that lands them on Lian Yu with Oliver’s former enemy, Deathstroke (guest star Manu Bennett). A flashback reveals when Oliver and Maseo (guest star Karl Yune) returned to Starling City to retrieve the Omega bio weapon, and despite being under strict orders from Amanda Waller (guest star Cynthia Addai-Robinson) not to reveal himself to anyone, Oliver looks in on his family, Laurel and Tommy (guest star Colin Donnell).”
Directed by Dermott Downs and written by Marc Guggenheim & Erik Oleson, “The Return’ is set to air February 18. “Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 P.M. EST.