Y’all I can’t even say how excited I am about recapping this ep. I would venture to say I am more excited that I was for the previous episode, because this is a Laurel-centric ep. “But Connie,” you’re thinking, “you have made it pretty damn clear you don’t think kindly of her character arc!” AND THAT IS EXACTLY WHY. I am firing on all cylinders, so fair warning. I am locked and loaded for satire, and will likely make little to no effort to be deep. Frolic through this field with me.
We start with Oliver rudely interrupting Roy reliving the trauma of his “OMFG I killed Sara” dream and once again, telling him to “get his head into the game.” Let’s just put a mental bookmark on this, K? Team Arrow’s trying to stop a massive Culebra drug deal yadda yadda. What you need to know is that Roy is off, Diggle has a mask, and this is the prettiest bunch of crime fighters ever.
This may not be the lesson they want me to learn, but I am starting to think that if you want to fight crime, skill is less important than being at least a solid 7 in the looks department.
In any case, the entrances and roof appear to be clear, and it’s because all the occupants are dead and strung up from the ceiling like extras in a workout scene from Rocky or morbid piñatas, with a message written in blood underneath them that is pretty neat and clean for something written with a bodily fluid.
He even cleaned up around the edges! So tidy. Also: Diggle speaks Spanish. That’s half the team speaking my native tongue. My heart grows two sizes today.
Back at the Arrow cave, Felicity needs to find a gangster(a?) that the killer took alive from the scene, and it’s like searching for one Paco in a metric crap-ton of Pacos. Oliver cares less about Paco than he does about the budding blood artist, so he mainly just wants to use him as a lead. He tells Roy to take a knee for the rest of the night (this exhausts my game metaphors) and that he’ll take care of it alone.
Roy apologizes for being “a little out of it lately” and Oliver tells him not to be sorry, but instead be rested, and that he wouldn’t be much of a teacher if Roy bit it because he allowed him out when his reaction time was slow.
***FLASHBACK ALERT*** A marketplace with dubious wares.
Turns out China White is Oliver’s mispronunciation of her name (Sounds like ‘Cheng Na-Weh’ when Maseo says it.) This is the most gripping fact in the entire flashback. Oh yeah, and Oliver chases a dude Maseo told him to, loses him to a car driving through the market with enough force to kill him but not other pedestrians, and can’t remember him stashing an envelope he was supposed to take from him. I’m also reasonable sure I saw Felicity in the crowd scene.
At Ted’s gym, Laurel is improving and Ted compliments her by suddenly changing the rules and knocking her flat on her ass.
He tells her that fighting was about getting surprised, and getting up off the mat when she falls. I knew I liked you, Ted, but now I know why. She wants to keep sparring, but Ted wants to subvert her new relationship with egg whites by taking her out for Korean tacos cause protein, y’all.
At the Arrow Cave, Roy and Felicity are alone, and he wants her to test his blood for Mirakuru. She asks if he is okay, because Mirakuru shouldn’t affect his sleep.
When she becomes concerned and outright asks if he is okay, though, he folds and says he’s fine, just looking for ways to sleep.
Out about the Glades, Oliver is using her powers of persuasion and interrogative skills to look into Paco, and by that I mean he is shooting arrows into some Sean Paul button downs and stretching out some leather jackets.
One gangster(a?) tells him that Paco is a nickname for a guy named Emilio Ortega, and Oliver thanks him politely before backhanding him unconscious. I guess it’s okay because he’s a bad guy? Gangsters are people too, Oliver!
He tells Felicity, who pings his cell’s GPS, and finds Ortega hanging upside down…in Ted’s gym. You know its Ted’s gym because Ted walks in and surprises him. Oliver asks Ted why he killed all the men, but he’s all WTF and Laurel, who walked in with him, is all OMG OLLIE STOP IT and Oliver is all GET OUT LAUREL, but she refuses to leave because she says Ted didn’t do it and alibis him. She tells Oliver that Ted was with her the past two hours and “that” wasn’t there when they left.
At the Cave, Roy tests negative for Mirakuru (although he needs to watch his cholesterol), and I must have missed the episode where Felcity acquired phlebotomy skillz.
When he is too relieved Felicity gets suspicious and asks him why. He tells her that he’s been dreaming, remembering feeling not like himself, strong, and that in those dreams he killed Sara. He tells her that the dreams felt like memories, and that he remembers throwing arrows into her. He’s all “Welp, glad that’s over” just as Felicity is all “Ah, balls. It’s on, now.”
At the Wildcat Gym, Quentin is asking Laurel about Ted and telling her that the police will release him if his story checks out. Laurel leaves via her back door, and this gives us our first glimpse of a certain redhead.
She keeps walking until she finds Oliver, and they discuss Oliver’s suspicions of Ted. Laurel says he caters to some rough clientele and suspects someone was trying to send him a message, but Oliver wants to speak to him directly. Laurel asks if it’s about the murder, or her, because OF COURSE.
Oliver reminds her that two weeks ago he said he wouldn’t train her, and now she has someone training her. Laurel says she is learning to box to let off steam, and when Oliver tells her to be careful, repeats that Ted didn’t do it, but Oliver insists.
***FB ALERT*** Oliver is sitting still and trying to remember reaaaaal hard when Maseo’s son entices him into a memory game. In another part of the house, the Yamashiros are whisper-arguing. Maseo is asking his wife for her help, but she declines because all she wants is for them to leave.
Maseo tells Tatsu that the second China White is caught, his debt is paid, and she reluctantly agrees. Upon seeing her son playing with Oliver, she orders him away and tells Oliver that she will house, feed and clothe him, but that her “son is off limits.” When he gets up to go, she tells him to stay so she can help him, and to do exactly as she says. ***END FB***
At the Cave, Diggle tells Oliver he’s heard of Ted Grant, and he saw his title match a few years back on Pay-per-View, vouching for his fighting ability. Roy brings up the fact that Laurel’s vouching for him.
Felicity hacked the murder investigation and found out that despite the gang members being armed to the teeth, not a single shot was fired and they were beaten to death with brass knuckles. I guess while each was beat the others just patiently waited their turn and maybe had a smoke break or checked their Tinder. Whatever. I’m sure it’s doable. Still, the perpetrator of this crime and another six years before was left-handed with the same M.O., and Ted Grant was known as “The Starling Southpaw” so it’s good enough for government work.
Oliver, who probably had a gut feeling about this and is not at all predisposed to dislike cats who sniff around his womenfolk, slapped him with a tracer unit earlier, and as it beeps on Felicity’s screen, he leaves to find him.
The Arrow follows the signal to a storage unit, where Oliver finds another body strung up like a punching bag. Scanning the room, he sees a mask, brass knuckles, knives, and newspaper clippings about a vigilante. When he bends down to pick up the tracer, discarded on the ground, Ted grabs him from behind and puts him in a headlock.
Thus commences the sexiest fight ever on Arrow, and I’m not ashamed to say I rewound this several times just to yell “FIGHT FIGHT” like you do in high school. It’s pretty awesome and seamless and yes, in the middle of it Oliver stops, pokes an arrow into a boxing glove and shoots an arrow at Ted’s jaw with enough strength to knock him down flat on his back.
Oliver tells him it’s the second time he’s found him with a dead body, and Ted denies guilt, claiming he’s being set up, and reveals he used to be like him- a vigilante. Turns out six years ago he quietly policed The Glades, and he thinks the person knows him because the last victim had the keys to this storage unit, his “cave”, hung around his neck, which was obviously meant as a trail for him to follow. Oliver brings up a drug dealer that Vigilante-Ted killed six years ago and it’s hilarious how clueless he can be about others’ grey zones when he is so gray he is barely more than a shadow most days.
Ted says it was that event that made him hang up the gloves (ha!) and leave the life. No one knew of his hideout except him. He proposes they help each other look into it.
This help involves meeting up with Laurel, who shows up with a file on the victim, one Albert Mancini. No priors besides parking tickets, and Ted doesn’t know him. Oliver asks Laurel if she realizes she’s training with a (former) vigilante. OLIVER WE JUST DID THIS, DUDE.
Laurel didn’t know but seems mostly unaffected, until Oliver reveals that Ted beat a man to death six years ago, and he again tells her to stay away. Ted, tired of their private chat, walks over to look at the file. Laurel tells him Mancini was an out-of work magician’s assistant and Ted guesses the connection: Mancini worked at the Zanzibar, the same site where Ted committed the crime that led to the end of his vigilante career. Laurel proposes following the trail, and Ted asks how she knows the Arrow. She answers “We used to date,” a really cute funny way to link your not-secret identity to someone’s secret identity.
Good job, Laurel. Someone as discrete as you is definitely ready to be a superhero. Oliver asks for another minute alone with her, and is all WTF and Laurel is basically like “You’re not the boss of me, FO.” Oliver asks if he knows what is driving her, and she tells him that she told Ted about Sara being gone. Oliver then asks if Ted knows that Laurel is trying to follow in Sara’s footsteps, and it’s obvious by her expression that she hasn’t shared that nugget yet. I’m gonna quote these next two lines exactly, because they’re relevant to a point I want to make.
Oliver: You’re playing a very dangerous game, Laurel.
Laurel: I can handle it.
Oliver: No you can’t. Cause you haven’t realized that it’s not actually a game.
Now I’m not usually Team Laurel, but I have to say her expression mirrored mine exactly here.
LOLOLOL WHAT? Let’s get on top of this metaphor, Arrow Writers. Oliver has told people to “get their head in the game” more times than I can count, and if this doesn’t mean anything, it sure as hell makes me roll my eyes when I hear him tell Laurel that superhero’in isn’t a game. Please have someone rip that comparison apart or never use it again. Let’s all get our head out of this particular game, ‘mmkay?
Oliver and Ted leave, and when Ted asks about Laurel, Oliver says she isn’t coming.
Down in the cave, Diggle wants Roy to suit up to go meet up with Oliver and Ted as they track the killer. Felicity grabs Roy by the arm and says he can’t go because she has to talk to him about something important, and even though he is suspicious, Diggle says he’ll take care of it and goes alone. Felicity tells Roy that before they buried Sara, she did an MRI of the body and created a virtual autopsy that allowed her to analyze the body, force of blows, etc and that the angle and velocity of the arrows could be explained by residual Mirakuru still in his system that worked itself out before she tested his blood.
Roy is once again the saddest panda as it becomes possible once more that he could have killed Sara. C’mon, Roy. You had almost ten minutes of relative happiness. That’s like a year in Arrow-time.
Diggle pulls into the parking lot at Zanzibar so he can watch the perimeter, and as the camera pans across, we get our second Cupid sighting of the episode.
Inside, Oliver tells Ted that someone is going to a lot of trouble to get his attention, and wants to know how this relates to the murder six years ago. They are interrupted by a masked man on the floor above them.
He greets Ted by name and says that he sees he got his message, the postscript of which involves being shot at. I hate this villain so far THE MOST, because I don’t want these two shot until I get at least a decent hug.
From the conversation it becomes apparent that Shooty McGee used to be Ted’s partner in vigilantism, and that he feels betrayed by Ted, who just wanted to be a kinder, gentler vigilante than he did. Oliver manages to scare him off with an arrow, but as he takes off to chase after him when he flees, SCPD shows up and arrests Ted for multiple counts of homicide.
Walking back into Verdant, Oliver and Diggle are met by Laurel, who is outraged that Oliver got Ted arrested. Oliver tells her that it was actually the police who arrested him (even though a DA should know the basic song and dance, really Laurel) and that they had cause to do so, what with the multiple bodies found in places he owned.
Even so, he tells Laurel that he knows Ted is innocent, that he saw the actual killer, and even though he wore a full face mask, he thinks Ted knows who it is.
They go downstairs, and even though Felicity asks him not to, Roy greets them by confessing that he killed Sara. Laurel is incredulous, and Oliver is silent, thoughtful. When Laurel asks why he would do it, Roy tells her his and Felicity’s theory about the Mirakuru, and Felicity assures them that Roy had no memory of it specifically, except for fragments of dreams that could be memories. Roy tries to apologize to Laurel, reaching out to her, but she snaps at him not to touch her, and Roy starts to walk out of the cave. In fairness, trying to hug the sister of a person you think you killed is not the best call.
John catches Roy’s arm as he brushes past him and asks him where he’s going, but Oliver tells him to let him go. They’ve been highlighting his faults this season, but this is one of Oliver’s more stellar characteristics. It’s true that he can lose his temper, but when the status quo goes to hell all around, he is a quiet, methodical problem solver, and he showcases that here, turning immediately to Felicity to ask if Roy wasn’t supposed to be cured. Felicity rationally responds that what they know about Mirakuru < what they don’t know, and this ticks Laurel off, thinking that she is excusing Roy for murdering her sister. Oliver once again interjects, his voice low and calm, asking if Felicity tested Roy’s blood against the DNA sample they found at the scene of Sara’s murder, but the results were inconclusive.
When Laurel draws back, saying she can’t process, Oliver walks over to her and gently tells her to focus on what she *can* process, that Ted knows who they need to find, and he needs her to get that information from him. Laurel says she can’t do it if Roy killed Sara and Oliver once again interrupts to tell her that if that is the case, they will deal with it, and that he needs her to deal with Ted. In all honesty, Ted might be training her to fight, but that is some grade-A compartmentalizing there, and a helluva useful skill for a mask to cultivate. Put those emotions in a box and deal with them later, Laurel. Know what that’s called, kids?
Once she heads out, Oliver heads straight back to Felicity and asks how sure she is of Roy’s guilt. She tells him that the trace evidence, virtual autopsy and his memories all sound very incriminating, along with the fact that his trouble sleeping all started when Sara was killed.
***FB ALERT*** Tatsu sits with Oliver and leads him through some deep breathing so he can quiet his mind.
Even though he claims not to have seen anything, he did see where the letter was hidden, and he remembers. ***END FB***
At the police station, Quentin is telling Ted that he’s being looked at for 16 murders, more than the Son of Sam and Ted Bundy. It’s not an auspicious start for his future SIL, and Ted’s posture echoes that.
Laurel bursts into the interrogation room and asks to speak to him. Quentin sighs deeply and reminds Laurel of her shit taste in men before he walks out. Once the door shuts, Ted asks Laurel if she’s okay, but she answers that she’s not the one facing life in prison and asks for the name of the person framing him. He denies knowing it, and she says that she can’t help him if he lies to her, since he will be let go if the DA’s office chooses not to press charges. It’s worth noting that while she takes an antagonistic tone while questioning him, these two characters are once again visually in sync with each other and the scene. They are meant to be taken as a pair.
Ted comes clean, and names the man as Isaac Stanzler, a one-time apprentice of his who actually committed the murder attributed to him 6 years ago. He lied to Laurel because he never wants to see him again, and he feels that the entire thing is his fault. Oh yay, I like Ted too much to think he could have beat a guy to death, and Oliver tests my morality enough on this show.
At the Arrow cave, Oliver is waiting to hear from Laurel when Felicity employs plausible deniability to let him know that Ted Grant was allowed to walk. Diggle asks Oliver to let him bring Roy back so he’s not running around on Mirakuru-leavin’s, and Oliver asks what he would do with him once that is done. Diggle says that if their crusade is about justice, then they can’t have two sets of rules, “one for the bad guys, and one for us.” While I hate to see my BROTP fight, it’s also kind of old-school romantic.
Oliver tells him he brought Roy into the crusade, and John suggests maybe it’s time to cut him loose. Oliver, shocked, asks if he wants him to abandon him and Diggle says yes, if that’s what it takes to get justice for Sara. Man, that’s cold, John.
Leaving the station, Laurel asks Ted what he thinks Stanzler will do next, and it’s not really necessary to wonder because what he does is hold a gun to the back of Ted’s head, scare the sh*t out of me, and take his mask off to accuse his former teacher.
He tells Ted that when he abandoned him to the Culebra they wanted payback for the man they lost, and they tortured him for months. Ted, visibly upset, apologizes to him and asks that they talk. Isaac agrees to talk, but he’s still gonna kill him. He gets in the back seat of Laurel’s car and holds a gun to her head as she drives. As Ted argues with him about teaching him better than to take innocent people hostage and Isaac airs his grievances, Laurel swipes her finger on her phone and dials the last number she called, Felicity.
In the cave, Felicity answers the phone and puts it on speaker at Oliver’s request. He hears Ted and Isaac arguing, and remarks “That voice- that’s him,” which is great cause then Felicity can ping the phone and find them, but she starts reporting their position to him and COME ON YOU GUYS SPEAKER DOESN’T MEAN THEY CAN’T HEAR YOU. Even so, it is a treat to see my babies still have it when it comes to their working relationship. I know a lot of Oliciters are worried with the state of ship this season, but never fear you guys. These guys are doing nothing but coming closer to meeting each other halfway, and the journey is lovely. Know who else did that? Hint:
Laurel keeps driving while the Ted and Isaac have their spat, and is distracted by a van aiming for her head-on. It’s Diggle, and his purpose isn’t entirely clear, but it does serve for us to find out that Isaac was Ted’s only friend. Oh, sweetie. Hugglz.
Oliver comes up behind them and Isaac shoots at him, but Oliver manages to shoot an arrow into the car. This ticks Isaac off enough to grab the wheel from Laurel and sideswipe Oliver off his motorcycle, and he falls into the road. As the car speeds away, another motorcycle shows up, and Isaac marvels at yet *another* vigilante. Diggle brings the van around and picks Oliver up off the road, and Isaac opens the door to shoot, which Laurel uses as an opportunity for a hard brake that throws him out of the car.
As she speeds away, we see that on the second motorcycle is Roy. Laurel crashes the car and as Diggle and Oliver stop to help them out, Roy faces Isaac alone.
As the two apprentices circle each other, Isaac attempts some mental warfare along with the physical. He tells Roy that he’s not a person to the Arrow, just “another weapon in his arsenal” that he will turn his back on and abandon the second he does something wrong.
This ticks Roy off enough to finish him off, and when Isaac is laid out on the road, he tells him “I’m not you.” When he turns, Oliver runs up to him and it’s apparent that even if he pretended they didn’t, Isaac’s words stung. “Don’t abandon me,” he tells his teacher, and Oliver’s reply is as firm as it is heartwarming. “Never.” You guys. I want a fanfic where Oliver and Roy eat popcorn and watch Robotech and then Oliver tucks him in. I NEED IT.
Later that night, Ted is mopping blood off his floor and calls Oliver out for hiding in the shadows of the gym. He thanks him, and Oliver asks for his gratitude in the form of a favor: staying away from Laurel Lance. He tells him that Laurel is in a vulnerable place, and that he doesn’t want her getting hurt.
Ted, demonstrating a Felicity-like knowledge of human nature (even if that nature is Laurel’s) asks him if he’s asked Laurel what she wants, and that if she stops coming, he’ll be okay with it. Oliver assures him she will, and Ted volunteers some advice. He tells him that what he did, what the Arrow does, is “playing judge and jury” and it messes with people’s heads. He says he cut Isaac loose too late, and that Oliver shouldn’t make the same mistake “with that kid you’re running around with.” Oliver returns some advice of his own. He tells Ted that his mistake wasn’t cutting Isaac loose, but losing faith in him.
Afterwards, Oliver goes to pick up Laurel from the hospital, and tells her that when he told her he wouldn’t train her, he was trying to protect her, and that he didn’t have her training with someone like Ted in mind.
Laurel tells him she’s not helpless, and Oliver says that he’s never thought of her that way, but he will always protect her because he cares. They hug, and Laurel asks about Roy. Oliver asks her in return if she trusts him.
In the Cave, Roy is staring at his costume and saying he will miss being part of the Team, because he was just getting good at it. Oliver affirms this, and Roy tells him what Isaac said, that he was just another weapon in Oliver’s arsenal. Oliver tells him maybe that’s what they should call him: Arsenal. Roy doesn’t know why Oliver would even let him suit up again, and tells him he is planning to turn himself in. Oliver tells him that there is something his brain is trying to tell him, and that it is best if he helps him find out what it is.
Roy, pretty freaked out by the candle, declares the whole thing “weird”, but Oliver tells him he has been hurting, and wants him to meditate so that the source of his pain will reveal itself. He would have told him directly, but he was scared to make it worse for him. “Do you trust me?,” he asks and Roy’s reply to him is as firm and sure as his earlier one to him. “Always.” As Oliver puts him through the same exercise Tatsu taught him, Roy remembers his past and the flashes of Sara’s murder resurface, and slowly melt into…
Kidding! ….Into Roy’s murder of the police officer while on Mirakuru. He wakes up when Oliver tells him to let go, tearful and horrified at what he’s done. He asks Oliver why he never told him, and Oliver says he had overdosed on Mirakuru and didn’t remember and he had hoped he never would. However once Felicity told him about his dreams, Oliver knew it was the memories of the police officer trying to resurface. He thinks the manner of Sara’s death precipitated them. Roy says that he didn’t kill Sara, but he’s “still a murderer.” Oliver tries to talk to him, but Roy leaves, saying he has to be alone for a while.
***FB ALERT*** Oliver and Maseo head back to the market, and Oliver finds the envelope in a basket. When they open it, it is a picture of sheep grazing in a field. Maseo takes it home and tells Oliver it is an example of steganography, a dinosaur with plates on its back (I wonder how much Oliver’s private school cost) hiding a message within a message.
When he decrypts it, the message reads “CONTACT LI KUAN HUI.” Maseo doesn’t know who that is, but he’s interested in him. Oliver sees Tatsu and thanks her, but all she wants is for him to get out of their lives as soon as possible. ***END FB***
Back at his gym, Ted is hanging up new bags and letting Laurel in after hours. She tells him she just made sure that his past vigilantism fell under the statute of limitations so no future charges will be filed, and he’s grateful, but says she still shouldn’t be there. She contradicts him by saying that when Isaac had her at gunpoint and was shooting at her friends she should have been scared and rattled, but she wasn’t because he taught her.
Ted says he’s been teaching her to box and that her pal “Robin Hood” doesn’t even want him to do that. Laurel comes clean and tells him her hope for their training, that she can gain the skills to avenge her sister and get justice. Ted is kind of disillusioned with the apprentice game, but Laurel reminds him it’s about getting up when you’ve been knocked down. Ted smiles at her, and I guess they have a deal.
Isaac’s being escorted to jail when the two officers flanking him get arrowed, and we get our third and final gander at Carrie Cutter, AKA Cupid. “Who the hell are you?” Isaac says, echoing the thoughts of the entire audience. “I’m Cupid, stupid.” NOPE. If rhyming is one of her defining characteristics, I’m already bored with her.
As the closing title credits flash on the screen we hear the whoosh of the arrow that undoubtedly kills him, and even though he was a pretty irredeemable character, no one deserves to die with that dialogue still ringing in their ears. Poor bastard.
Thanks for reading till the end, and see you next week! For a heads-up on when I post these, follow me here or on Twitter @conniebv.