Oliver prepares to leave Tatsu’s cabin, citing his need to get back to his city and his family. Tatsu tries to convince him to stay as he’s not fully recovered and she doesn’t want him to undo all of her work. He thanks her for helping him and leaves. A new report back in Starling City talks about the lack of police presence in The Glades for a week (meaning we’ve jumped in time since last week) and some of Brick’s enforcers try to squeeze some money out of a bar only to have Arsenal and Black Canary leap in and give them a what for. They head out to stop another crime and as they leave the long absent Sin stands nearby and sees them go, mistaking Laurel for Sara.
At SCPD, Captain Lance is anxious to do something, but knows that he can’t; meanwhile, Thea and Malcolm Merlyn do some more sword training. She hesitates in “killing” him and he uses it as a time to teach her a lesson, it’s a kill or be killed world out there and she needs to be ready. He tells her about the first time he killed, he was remorseful but it was the man that killed his wife. We flashback to 21 years ago, with Merlyn coming home to a sleeping young Tommy and a swift knock at the door where the police inform him of his wife’s death.
Captain Lance waits in an alley and Arsenal shows up to receive some evidence on Brick that will help them out, but Lance isn’t fooled by his voice changer or outfit and knows that it’s Roy, which is actually pretty funny. Before Roy leaves, Lance asks him to watch out for Sara. Back at the Arrow Cave, Roy patches up Laurel as they comb through the evidence and in a last ditch effort, Felicity is somehow able to connect Brick’s gun used to kill the Alderman to the death of Rebecca Merlyn 21 years ago. Malcolm of course hears and sees this because he planted a bug in the Arrow Cave.
Ollie traverses through the woods and stops when he realizes that Tatsu is actually following him. They set up camp and she rebandages his wound and he reiterates that Ra’s will kill him if he finds out he’s still alive. Tatsu drops science on Ollie saying that just because he’s a master of swords doesn’t mean his a master of technique (she knows her stuff too man, she’s Katana for heaven’s sake!). In order to beat Ra’s, she tells Oliver he has to fight like him. Back in Starlin, Merlyn sharpens one of his swords and Thea enters, inquiring if it’s for the league, which it isn’t. Merlyn cops to finding out he killed the wrong man all those years ago and that everything he thought he knew all these years has been turned upside down. Thea doesn’t understand, and she can’t, because she’s not a killer, or so she thinks. Malcolm sits by his wife’s grave in a flashback, with little Tommy and little Oliver in the background. A friend of his approaches and reveals the police have a suspect in Rebecca’s murder
Team Arrow tries to make sense of Brick killing Merlyn’s wife, but they drop it when Felicity brings up that Brick’s goons are taking down all the cell towers and cameras in The Glades. Laurel and Roy bring up they were using walkie talkies and somehow Felicity is able to track them with signals or something (just go with it, man) and they find out Brick has set up shop in the police precinct of The Glades. Inside the goons are stealing evidence and weapons, while Brick talks with the boys that almost captured Arsenal and Black Canary, killing one of them. Just as he prepares to shoot the other, the power cuts out and Laurel/Roy start to take out the thugs silently. Brick finds some flare shots which he loads in a shotgun and fires at our heroes, catching much of the surrounding area on fire. Then a distorted voice calls out his name from down the hall, but it’s not Oliver, it’s Malcolm Merlyn, and he’s ready to talk.
At the Arrow Cave, Merlyn makes his case for teaming up with Team Arrow, but they’re not into the idea at first. He leaves and the group begins to think over the decision. Roy heads upstairs and talks to Thea where she reveals that Merlyn saved her during Season 2 and convinces him he’s not 100% a killer. As the team continues to decide, Roy presents this clumsily delivered information which prompts a “WWOD” (what would Oliver do?) discussion and a team vote. Later, Diggle meets up with Malcolm and tells him it’s a no go, they don’t want his help because they don’t want to become him. Flashing back to the night Merlyn got his first kill we see him stalk the suspect and lure him into a trap, but before he can do anything he’s on the ground beaten to a pulp. That doesn’t stop him from getting his gun back and shooting him as he walks away though.
Tatsu gives Oliver his penicillin tea as he prepares to get on a truck to go who knows where. Before he leaves she reminds him what he’ll have to do to defeat Ra’s, he’ll have to find something in himself to sacrifice and live with that decision for his entire life (Perhaps his secret identity? Are they setting up a world where everyone knows Oliver is Green Arrow?). They embrace and Oliver heads home. Back stateside, Merlyn prepares to do something that night, opening his weapons cabinet as the ever on point Thea enters the room and tries to talk him out of this crusade. Merlyn then manages to go back on everything Thea said in his defense, that he’s a killer and that’s all he’ll ever be. Flashing back to the nigh the killed the suspect, Merlyn washes up and packs a bag. His bearded friend enters the house with $50,000 in cash before offering to cover it all up for Malcolm once he figures out what he’s done. Malcolm says he can’t stay, that killing the man who killed his wife did nothing for him, and that he has to run away to this place where he can forge his anger into something else. Li’l Tommy pops in for a minute too and Malcolm gives his goodbye before leaving.
At the Arrow Cave, Diggle says Merlyn seemed more inconvenienced than disappointed that Team Arrow wouldn’t help him, and we learn Roy was the only one that voted for the team-up. Laurel has the eureka moment that they don’t need Merlyn’s help when they’ve got the people of the city. Laurel recruits Ted Grant, Roy finds Sin, and then they get ready to throw down. Roy and Laurel distract Brick and draw his attention, long enough for him to babble and assemble his goons which they match with an army of their own. Then The Glades has its very own come to Jesus meeting with punches, kicks, baseball bat swings, arrows, bullets, and even brass knuckles pounding into faces, chests, and arms.
Ted takes Brick on by himself and manages to do some damage before getting the snot beat out of him. Arsenal tags him with an arrow and Brick runs off as Laurel checks in on Ted with Sin watching. Brick rounds a corner only to find Malcolm Merlyn waiting on him and Merlyn puts the hurt on him before putting a gun to his head. He does that thing villains always do where they talk a little too much, and makes Brick remember his wife, but just before he can finish it our man Oliver shows up and talks him out of it. Merlyn laments that every choice he’s made in life could be different if he’d killed Brick all those years ago (I doubt it though, given how badly he felt killing the initial suspect). Oliver convinced him not to do it, to start to change, for Thea. As things settle down in The Glades, Captain Lance and the police return in time for Oliver to give a speech to Starling City, apologizing for his absence and telling them he’ll be around before peacing out on his zipline arrow.
Merlyn goes to see Thea and tells her he didn’t end up killing the man, just in time for Oliver to show up too. He gives a good cover story that he was in Bludhaven (home of Nightwing!) and that he was arrested and in jail. Thea is thankful he’s okay with Malcolm being there and goes to make tea for the three of them. Ollie and Merlyn talk, where he resolves that killing does something to you, it takes a piece of your soul (is this a sly nod to Katanna’s power in the comics?), but Oliver interjects that Ra’s is coming and if he finds the truth he’ll kill all of them. That in mind, he wants Merlyn to train him to beat Ra’s. One more flashback as Merlyn enters the League’s hideout in Nanda Parbat where he meets Li’l Nyssa al Ghul and gets his nickname “The Magician” in a cute piece of retconning.
Oliver goes to the Arrow Cave to see his team and stares at the sword of Ra’s that pierced his body. He reveals to the group that Merlyn will be training him, just hours after Felicity refused a partnership with him. This of course sends her topside to “get some air,” and though Oliver tries to explain himself Felicity appears to be finished with his excuses. She reminds him he told her that he loved her before leaving, but she doesn’t want to be a woman that he loves. Ouch.
You can check out the promo for Episode 3.13 of “Arrow” in the player below. Titled “Canaries,” the episode is described as follows:
Oliver is thrown by the changes within Team Arrow. He’s used to calling the shots but sees that the team has evolved in his absence and tensions quickly escalate in the lair. Oliver is furious that Laurel has been going out as the Black Canary and tells her to stop risking her life, but when Vertigo (guest star Peter Stormare) hits the streets again, Laurel goes against Oliver’s wishes and tracks down Vertigo who hits her with a full dose of the drug. Laurel’s biggest fears revolve around her sister Sara (guest star Caity Lotz) so the Vertigo causes her to hallucinate an epic fight between Canary and Black Canary. Meanwhile, Chase (guest star Austin Butler) surprises Thea, and Roy warns Thea to stay away from Malcolm.”
Directed by Michael Schultz and written by Jake Coburn & Emilia Ortega Aldrich, “Canaries” is set to air February 11. “Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 P.M. EST.