Like The Flash before it, we start where last week left off as Oliver and Thea find themselves on Lian Yu where they spar with each other and Thea details her training with Merlyn. That night they eat by a campfire and Thea comments that their situation surprisingly feels nice, like they have no more secrets. Yeah, about that. Oliver brushes it off, choosing to focus on the task at hand, namely why Merlyn chose Lian Yu for their “training.”
We flashback to Oliver, Maseo, and Amanda in Starling City five years ago where she debriefs them on China White’s plan to sell the Omega bioweapon. She reveals that a Peter Kang, whom Oliver knows because he works for Queen Consolidated, appears to be her liaison. Before heading out they give Oliver a friendly reminder not to blow his cover. Maseo plants a tracking device on Kang’s car as they case the building. Meanwhile over in a bar, Detective Lance is drowning his sorrows over Sara’s death (the first time) and Laurel comes to save him. Back at Queen Consolidated, Oliver watches Kang inside and Maseo informs him he’ll have to get inside the building and access their network from the inside to find out China White’s plan. Just before they depart, Oliver sees Thea exit the building.
Back on the island, Oliver appears to be having a nightmare about Sara as he calls out her name repeatedly. Thea wakes him and asks him why he didn’t tell her about Sara dying. Oliver explains Sara’s circumstances after Season 2 and that she rejoined the League of Assassins, which leads Thea to ask if they killed her. Attempting to dodge the question, Oliver decides to take a walk and finds himself at Slade’s hidden prison hole. He climbs down the ladder and enters, speaking to Slade who he thinks is under a blanket. That’s when he notices the lock is busted, and the body under the blanket is the guard. We hear Slade’s lines from the Season 2 finale echo out in Oliver’s mind as he rushes back to Thea. When she’s not at the camp, Oliver begins to panic but she emerges, having gone to get firewood. Ollie explains the situation and that they need to leave only to get a call from Merlyn, who set Slade free in order to force Oliver to regain his killer instinct.
We return to the Starling City of the past where Oliver and Maseo watch Thea as she heads home and over to the graves of her father and brother. Another guy shows up, her dealer, and sells her some drugs. Then beloved pal Tommy Merlyn appears to tell off the drug dealer and butt heads with Thea, going so far as to tell her she’s not invited to his birthday party, which made me laugh more than it should have. Back on Lian Yu Oliver takes Thea to their dad’s actual grave where he moves a few stones and retrieves his gun, giving it to her. Then suddenly Slade appears and gives them both a good pot knot on their noggin, knocking them out. They later wake up in Slade’s cell where he tells them he has no desire to kill them but has an elaborate plan to make everyone in Starling think they’re dead. He also manages to toss in a taunt to Oliver about Shado’s death and a taunt to Thea about her mother’s death before leaving.
Oliver infiltrates his mother’s office in the flashback where he uses their fingerprint ID scanner, having never been removed from the system himself. He manages to pull all of Kang’s network traffic onto a drive and nottices an email from his father with two files, one marked “For Oliver” and one “For Thea.” He puts that file on his own drive as Felicity enters the office, commenting to a photo of Oliver how cute he is. At Waller’s impromptu HQ, Maseo digs through the data, having learned the auction for the weapon will be in just four hours.
As they look down at the computer though, Oliver slips out and crashes Tommy Merlyn’s birthday where we see not only John Diggle but his brother Andy (named after the Green Arrow: Year One writer, but also just before his death at the hands of Deadshot). In a move practicing his future career, Oliver sneaks about the party in a hood, observing Tommy talk to Laurel and eventually Thea. Thea’s drug dealer is also present and Oliver confronts him, only to have him pull a knife. Oliver goes into attack mode and snaps the guy’s neck before throwing him off a balcony. That’s certainly one way to solve that problem.
Oliver and Thea ponder their escape from the cell, with the guard dead and previously imprisoned Digger Harkness of no help, they’ll have to manage themselves. Thea presses Oliver about Slade’s accusation that he loves his secrets but he brushes it off with his typical frustrated pout. Then in a stroke of genius realizes that these cells weren’t made for tiny 20-year-old girls and uses Thea to reach through and open the door. It doesn’t work at first, of course, so he has to pop her arm out of its socket, as you do. They make their escape, knowing full well that Slade is headed for their plane.
Following the dead drug dealer, the cops are swarming Tommy’s party, questioning everyone including Thea, who makes brief eye contact with Oliver. Detective Lance lashes out at Thea and Tommy, then Laurel when she dares to defend them. Oliver watches as this unfolds and Maseo approaches him from behind with a gun, telling him it’s time to go. Inside Tommy’s house, Laurel and Quentin butt heads once again (with a clever nod to the Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim series “Eli Stone” thrown in for good measure). Maseo tells Oliver they have a location for China White’s auction, a defunct steel building owned by his company, but Oliver says he’s done and tries to shake Maseo’s hand who leaves without a final goodbye.
As Oliver and Thea race to the plane, she tries to take a shortcut, only to trip one of Oliver’s booby traps from his time on the island. Once again she presses him for why he’s being so shady and he finally reveals that Merlyn had Sara killed, using someone under the influence of a special herb to do his bidding. When Thea gets suspicious he tells her that she did it. Thea goes into a tailspin, knowing Merlyn doesn’t love her and was just using her. Oliver tries to talk her down but Slade pops out from a bush (that’s twice now) and puts a gun to her head. She switches into fight mode and pops him in the face as Oliver leaps up and tackles him, sending them tumbling down a hill. The three of them have a nice tussle which ends with Thea knocking Slade down and putting the gun to his head.
Having left Maseo, Oliver enters his family’s home where no one seems to be. He walks around before finding a tablet and inserting his USB drive to see what the “For Oliver” file happens to be. It’s a video of his father, addressing Oliver and setting the stage for the entire series. He tells Ollie about the book of names that failed the city, along with him, and that Oliver can save the city. Down at the seedy steel building, China White meets with her perspective buyers, only to have the party crashed by Maseo and the ARGUS agents. The buyer’s henchmen kill them all save for Maseo, who China White plans to execute, and as any super hero does, Oliver arrives just in time. They exit the building and chase after China White, causing her to crash into something. Oliver knocks her out, and gives Peter Kang a choice, give up the weapon or lose his hand.
Thea continues to point the gun at Slade where he taunts her to kill him, and Oliver tries to convince her otherwise. Slade plays the “I killed your mom” card, but Oliver says this is what Merlyn wants and clearly Thea is tired of doing what Merlyn wants. Cut to black, gunshot. It’s only a fleshwound though as Slade is patched up and back in his cell. He can sense the darkness in Thea though and provides Oliver with one final taunt, “How many more people can Oliver Queen lose before there is no more Oliver Queen?” Oh man, the theme of the whole season!
Oliver stares out a window, and thanks Amanda Waller for his trip back home before wishing her a safe flight back to Hong Kong. It’s not that simple though, things never are with Waller, and Oliver outlines all the ways she got what she wanted from this mission. It’s not up to us, she tells him before introducing General Matthew Shrieve (leader of one of my personal favorites, The Creature Commandos, in the comics!), who tells Oliver they’ll debrief him back in China and when they’re done they’ll take him wherever he wants to go.
Tommy and Laurel meet up in the past once more, planting the seeds of their future romance, while Thea puts flowers on the graves of her family members. Shifting to the present, Captain Lance puts flowers on Sara’s grave as Laurel approaches. He’s quite distraught, and not sure how to tell her mother, but she already knows. Quentin holds a bottle in his hand, unopened, but he’s still being nasty like a mean drunk to Laurel. Having had enough of it, Laurel brings it all full circle and reminds him that she gave up a job five years ago to do what he wanted her to do, to help people. Captain Lance tells her that he’s not mad because she kept a secret or because she fights crime in a mask, he’s mad because she broke their special bond. As he takes off, shoving the bottle in Laurel’s hand, she opens it and pours it out.
Thea and Oliver have made it home from Lian Yu and enter their apartment where he reminds her not to tell anyone about their little trip, especially not the detail about killing Sara. He also reminds him that they still need Malcolm Merlyn, who appears and agrees with them. Having had quite enough, Thea confronts him about his manipulation but he just plays the “I did it because I care about you card.” As he tries once again to us Ra’s an excuse, Thea tells him straight up, she’ll be his student but she’s no longer his daughter. I mean, it could be worse, right? ….Right?
You can check out the promo for the next episode of “Arrow” in the player below. Titled “Nanda Parbat,” the episode is officially described as follows:
Malcolm is captured by Ra’s al Ghul (guest star Matt Nable) and taken to Nanda Parbat. Because of his love for Thea, Oliver considers saving Merlyn. Ray is obsessed with finishing his Atom suit so he can save the city but Felicity fears he is heading down the same path as Oliver and tries to pull him out of the lab.”
Directed by Gregory Smith with story by Wendy Mericle & Ben Sokolowski and teleplay by Erik Olesen & Ben Sokolowski, “Nanda Parbat” is set to air February 25. “Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 P.M. EST on The CW.