(Author’s Note: Remember in my recap for the first episode of this season when I said these recaps being late would totally happen again? It did. I was on vacation this time.)
The episode starts out “six months ago,” on the heels of the season two finale with Thea meeting Malcolm Merlyn and asking for his help, and noting that she realizes he’s on the lamb. Back in the present, Oliver goes after the junkie that was there the night Sara died, but he proves useless, and as he says back at Verdant, “the trail is cold.” As Felicity leaves she tells Oliver that Thea isn’t in Italy after all but in Corto Maltese (A “Dark Knight Returns” reference for those keeping up).
While Ollie prepares to leave, Roy invites himself along for the ride and Diggle prepares for a few days off, though Lyla learns where Team Arrow is headed and sends John along to do an errand for ARGUS. Following his cameo in the first episode of the season, we finally get to meet Ted Grant, aka Wildcat, for the first time as Laurel comes to his gym to ask him some questions. She thinks he’s lying to her, but Ted won’t budge – he charms her by offering to teach her to box.
As Oliver, Roy, and Diggle arrive in Corto Maltese, Oliver goes to the address that Felicity managed to scrape up. Though he doesn’t find Thea there, the gardener realizes who he’s looking for, saying he thought they looked alike. He takes Oliver to the local cafe where Thea is working, and Oliver came very close to dodging an arrow from one Malcolm Merlyn. We flashback to when Thea and Malcolm arrived in Corto Maltese and he began training her. He pours boiling water over his own hand, showing he has no reaction to it, and then does the same to Thea. At the Cafe Oliver and Thea meet and hug it out. He tries his best to get her to return, but she says she’s never returning to Starling City.
Back in Starling, Felicity arrives for work at Queen Consolidated with her new boss Ray Palmer. Ray gives her her first assignment, which is to recover the data from a hard drive belonging to the Queen Consolidated Applied Sciences division, which he plans on using as his main stepping stone for his plan. There’s a cute shout out to comic scribe Gerry Conway in this scene (creator of Firestorm and Vibe who both appear on “The Flash”) as Felicity is introduced to her own assistant and office.
Back on Corto Maltese, Diggle goes to meet with an ARGUS operative, Mark Shaw, who reveals that someone is trying to sell off ARGUS files which includes information on all of their operatives including family members. This kicks Diggle into protective Dad mode.
Laurel attends an AA meeting back home where she alludes to Sara’s death and how she thought it would lead her to drinking again, but surprisingly she didn’t feel the need. Another girl talks about her abusive boyfriend, which clicks something in Laurel’s mind and pushes her down a dangerous path. Over on the island, Diggle and Shaw go out to get the jump on the ARGUS intel buyer, as Oliver watches over, but it was a set-up, there is no buyer and in fact Shaw is the one selling the information.
Roy goes to talk to Thea and they seem to smooth things over pretty well, and despite his wishes Thea says she’s not coming back. As Roy leaves, we see Malcolm Merlyn has been observing them. We flashback to more of Thea’s training and see Merlyn realize he needs to “treat Thea like a student” and begin to beat her. Back in the present, Lyla tells John and Oliver that they’re tracking the buyer of the intel and that Amanda Waller has sent a team down to intercept, but Diggle has other plans.
As Felicity browses Iris’ “Red Streak” blog, Ray enters her office to find out the progress on the hard drive, which she says is quite damaged. About that time she starts juggling phone calls, not only from Diggle on tracking the ARGUS intel buyer but from Laurel who wants information on the abusive boyfriend she learned about the night before. It’s a quintessential Felicity scene.
Oliver, Roy, and Diggle all talk about trying to bring Thea home again, which Roy and John see as pretty hopeless at this point. Ollie announces that he’s going to tell her everything in an effort to woo her, including about his five years away and his night time practices. Diggle counters that this will only make her trust him less, knowing that he lied to her with ease for two years.
Laurel takes her first leap into becoming the Black Canary herself by confronting the abusive boyfriend in an alley and beating him with a bat. This being her first attempt though, things go south, and he takes the bat from her and returns the beating. Captain Lance talks to her as she recovers in the hospital where he tries to ascertain what is wrong, given her recent behavioral changes. She says that she knows how bad the world is and that just once she wanted it to be different.
Oliver tries one more time to convince Thea to come home, telling her that he’ll reveal all of his secrets to her if she’ll just return. Thea confides in him that it isn’t his secrets she’s upset about, it’s the secrets about herself that Oliver kept to himself, namely her real father, that drove her away. Ollie talks about how Robert Queen actually died, and how both of their parents sacrificed themselves so they could be together and they shouldn’t waste that.
Later, the transaction for the ARGUS intel is about to go down, which we learn is being sold to a man named “Armitage” (Milo Armitage from season two perhaps?). Diggle sees Lyla’s name pop up on Shaw’s computer and springs into action, about the time that Shaw’s hired soldiers jump onto the scene. Oliver and Roy use their makeshift bows and arrows to take them on and to go after Armitage’s goons. Diggle chases down Shaw and pulls him from a moving car while Oliver recovers the data. Shaw confesses he was selling the ARGUS intel to get out of the company, to disappear, because of the horrible things Amanda Waller has made him do. That’s not a good enough reason for Diggle.
Thea tells Malcolm she wants to go home and after a nice family sword fight, where Thea emerges the victoy, Malcolm allows it, saying he’ll see her soon. As Team Arrow waits in the airport, which appears to be the size of a coffee shop, dejected that they couldn’t convince Thea to return, she appears packed and ready. As she sits next to Oliver, the man next to her spills his scolding hot coffee on her hand, which elicits no reaction from her.
Back home, Laurel waits on Oliver at Verdant where he learns about her extracurricular activities the night before. She asks him to train her because she feels like vigilantism can be a form of therapy for her and that when she wears Sara’s jacket it’s like she’s still alive. Oliver of course refuses.
As the episode closes we see John reunite with Lyla and Sara, with Lyla revealing she has to go into work late at night to satisfy a need of Amanda Waller’s; Captain Lance sees that the abusive boyfriend has been arrested in Starling City, thanks to an anonymous tip; Laurel goes to see Ted Grant to take him up on his training offer; and Felicity goes off to see Barry Allen as Ray Palmer gets the Applied Sciences hard drive up and running where he sees a number of weapons blueprints (labeled OMAC for those paying extra attention). In the Arrow Cave, Roy and Oliver talk about Thea and how there seems to be something different about her, just as surprise guest Nyssa al Ghul appears, bow drawn, demanding to know where Sara is.