Last week’s episode was hard to watch over and over again, if only because it was so freaking depressing on every single angle, but this episode brought me back in terms of the balance I like to see on this show, so I felt like I could tackle a recap. Fair warning, you may not agree with my viewpoint and I have seen a lot of complaints about others’ opinions on the show as well, but hopefully we can all agree with the fact that involvement is better than apathy, and that we all have a right to think whatever. That said, on with the recap!
Cold open, Classic Canary vs. New Canary. Not sure why they decided to open with this. You named the episode “Canaries” for crying out loud writers, no need to literally beat it into us. Still, it gave me the chance to see how badass Caity Lotz is again, and that’s good.
Someone must have sent fan mail to the Arrow offices because there’s no truck or alley. Instead, Oliver and Roy chase a perp over rooftops and ultimately get hero c-blocked by Laurel, who I think beats this dude way more than necessary. Oliver pulls her to the side and basically tells her he doesn’t think she’s a hero.
So Laurel’s solution is to avoid each other in the meantime because it’s way too early in the ep for any kind of sensible resolution.
At the lair, Digg explains to grumpy/protective/control freak Oliver that Laurel never really asked his opinion about suiting up, but he signed off because she “can handle herself out there.”
Felicity interrupts them to announce Malcolm, Oliver’s “new BFF,” who once again waltzes in because MAGICIAN.
Oliver’s never really happy, but he’s even less happy when Malcolm says the League is aware of his return and likely to strike, so it’s time to tell Thea the truth about her brother so they can join forces to fight the LoA.
Oliver doesn’t want to and neither does Digg, who warns Oliver he’ll lose her. Malcolm gets in one more good jab at Oliver being a failed businessman, and that’s kind of low.
***FB ALERT*** Maseo and Tatsu are fleeing Hong Kong, and warn Oliver that he needs to contact his family and the press so that Waller can’t find and torture him. He tells him he is taking his family on a ferry to Shanghai and asks Oliver to save himself, now that he has saved them. ***END FB***
Werner Zytle is outside the courthouse giving a gibberish quote when the guard holding him starts shooting the press.
Laurel knocks him out, but not before Zytle escapes. Welcome back, Vertigo! There hasn’t been enough grandstanding lately.
At Verdant, Chase tries to get into Thea’s pants in a super obvious way and she calls him on it. Someone’s got to assume the creep-mantle, I guess.
She hugs Oliver as he comes in, and he quietly tells her he has to show her something. What follows is one of the best-acted scenes on this show ever, which is becoming a standard with Willa Holland and Stephen Amell. Oliver tells Thea that he lied when he said the basement was flooded, and unlocks the door, leading her downstairs in the dark.
Thea tells him he is making her nervous, and the beat that Oliver takes before flipping the lights on is where you can feel him doing what he does best: biting the bullet and taking one in name of the greater good. Thea walks slowly in as her brother says that she may not believe him, but he lied all this time to protect her.
She nods her head once calmly to acknowledge what he said, and I love her so much in that moment. Post-Corto Maltese Thea Queen is hands-down THE MOST rational character this season. She takes everything into account so calmly before she reaches conclusions (one of the reasons the eventual reveal of her hand in the death of Sara CRUSHES ME) and even if she hardly ever goes atomic, it’s clear from Oliver’s expression that he expects the worst.
Thea stops in front of the glass case with the Arrow costume and it becomes clear to her. “The Arrow… you’re him.” And as she lists the times he saved her, lied to her, and when she was angry at him for being a flake, she realizes that every time, he was saving a life. She turns to him with tears in her eyes and hugs him, saying what hardly anyone ever does: “Thank you.”
Oliver is in shock, and it’s heartbreaking, because I realize watching this that this is a guy that has resigned himself to everything in his life going to shit, and it’s beautiful and wonderful and COMPLETELY UNEXPECTED TO HIM that his sister has showed him faith and understanding. Oh, Oliver, you poor broken bastard. You prepared for everything except someone understanding.
Back at their apartment, Oliver is telling Thea about how his mother knew and she jokes about kicking his ass (His answer: “You didn’t.”). Thea asks why he was looking for Malcolm that night. Oliver reveals that he and Malcolm know each other, and Malcolm walks in as Oliver tells her that R’as Al Ghul is after all of them, and they need to work together and trust each other. Thea is not having it. She accuses Malcolm of manipulating her and trying to drive a wedge between she and her brother.
She takes off, and Malcolm tells Oliver, whose phone rings just a moment after, to let her go.
***FB ALERT*** Oliver manages to call his mother and leave a voice mail asking her to issue a press release & that he isn’t dead, but soon after A.R.G.U.S. captures him because NOTHING GOOD HAPPENS to this dude. *** END FB***
In the Cave, Felicity shows Oliver the video of Zytle’s escape. Laurel comes in and tells them that the guard got dosed by a reporter, and when Oliver asks Felicity for his address she snaps that she’s on it. Still mad, then.
Oliver doesn’t want Laurel to come along, and asks her to step outside. Say what you will about his social skills, but I have to say I appreciate that Oliver has the sensitivity to have this conversation in private. Basically he brings up that she is an addict and that she is using adrenaline to mask the pain of losing her sister.
Laurel is like “HOW DARE YOU” but it’s not a bad point, so she does what she does best and tosses it back at him saying if anyone is “using adrenaline to hide the pain of real feelings and real life,” it’s him. Whaaaaaaat??
Newsflash: Oliver isn’t masking dick. He is genuinely a pretty unhappy bastard who has all the feelings all the time and it is transparently obvious to anyone who knows him.
Roy and Oliver go hunt down the reporter who helped Zytle escape, but it turns out he threatened to kill his wife unless he killed them, and shows them C4 strapped to his chest.
Oliver tries to convince him to give him the detonator, but he pushes the button instead, and both our heroes are blasted out the windows and land on cars below. Zytle watches from a nearby car and gives himself a mental high-five.
When Oliver gets home, he and Thea have a nice chat about his night (“Barbeque?” “C4.”) and how he does what he does. Oliver considers protecting the people of Starling City his job, and that includes Thea.
He tells her that Malcolm is their best chance of defeating R’as and while she believes him, she says can’t and won’t trust Merlyn.
***FB ALERT*** Oliver gets waterboarded like a mofo and boy I hope someone kills Waller soon. She tells Oliver they erased his VM before she heard it, and finally threatens Thea. Oliver caves and tells her the Yamashiros are on the ferry to Shanghai. ***END FB***
Quentin drops off some files for Laurel and asks if she’s heard from her sister. Not only was she “off” when he saw her a few weeks back, and tells her that Cyn said the woman in black isn’t Sara. Laurel plays dumb, and he tells her that he promised her he would take it easy, and leaves.
At Verdant, Thea questions Roy about his fashion and how she didn’t recognize her brother with a hood. Thea brings up that Oliver thinks they need Merlyn, and I want to kiss him when he asks her “And what do you think?”
She says that she wants to run as far from Merlyn as she can and he tells her that’s her answer. Oliver comes to collect Roy and Thea tells him that apparently “he’s been more yours than mine lately” AND THE LOOK ON ROY’S FACE. AND OLIVER’S FACE!
Oliver is totally the John Diggle of the Theroy ship.
Downstairs Felicity has a tracker signal on the screen and Oliver confesses that he put one on Laurel, because if she’s going to be “reckless” then he needs to know what she’s doing.
Obvs he’s coming from a place of not having to give Quentin news of the death of both daughters, but I get Felicity’s response (“She’s definitely doing something. I don’t know how reckless it is.”) because really, the entire Superhero career path isn’t exactly risk-free. He and Roy suit up and go after her.
At the docks, Laurel watches Zytle load up a truck when he spies her and shoots her with Vertigo. She hallucinates her sister in full Canary gear, and while I am happy to see Caity Lotz and I get we’re meant to believe that Sara’s words are Laurel’s internal monologue, it just shows me how much more believable Sara was as a fighter, and I’m sort of rooting for her.
While Laurel lays on the ground bleeding, Oliver and Roy arrive to save her. Zytle sics his goons on them and escapes as Laurel calls to Oliver to help her before passing out.
Oliver carries Laurel into the lair and, as she imagines Felicity as a tearful Sara asking her why she had to die, he shoots her with the cure. In a moment where it seems all his fears for Laurel are coming true, Thea walks in and nervously asks if she is okay. Oliver tells her to go upstairs and follows it with a growled NOW. Thea is taken aback, but says nothing. Roy tells Oliver off for speaking to his sister that way, for kicking her out when he brought her in, and for telling her to work with Merlyn.
Oliver says that she’s his sister, but Roy snaps, “She makes her own choices, Oliver.” Thea interjects to say they can talk later but asks if Laurel is okay. Oliver, visibly trying to calm himself, quietly tells her she’ll be okay and to please go back upstairs. He turns back around to Roy, who tells him he’s not the only one who can stand up for Thea. “I’m trying to figure out why you’re standing up to me,” Oliver says, and Diggle interrupts to halfheartedly try to calm the situation.
But as always in the Cave, Felicity gets the last word on what will and won’t fly. She reminds Oliver that he was dead, gone, they got used to doing things their way, and just because he is back doesn’t mean they can go back, or that he can question everyone’s choices.
There is an interesting pause where Felicity and he stare at each other, and you can feel what’s unsaid. Two of those choices are the ones each has made that keep them apart (Oliver’s to partner with R’as, Felicity’s to not support that choice), and they have both agreed to let the other go forward & keep working together despite misgivings.
Of course this means that there will be conflict, but it makes me sad to see the degree to which these two (and the whole team) are out of sync with each others’ thoughts and motivations. Do I think these things need to be said? Absolutely. Do I enjoy they saying? Not so much, but I get that this is where where we are, especially with Olicity, who have fractured and now must heal. Oliver has shown that when he is hurt he becomes even more insular and nearsighted, and Felicity that she sometimes speaks without thinking of the impact of her words. Where they both previously took great care with one another, this is a new world where they are being more volatile, and while I understand its place in the narrative, I for one can’t wait until it’s over.
Oliver looks around the Cave and sees the faces of his team. No one is arguing with Felicity’s point, so after asking to be kept appraised of Laurel’s condition, he leaves.
In the alley outside Verdant Thea decided that banging a dude with a like hairstyle will help get some stress out, and it’s unfortunate that as she drags Chase away by the hand, Roy, who has come looking for her, sees them go.
Upstairs at the bar Oliver is brooding with either a moderate amount of water or a crap-ton of vodka. Digg arrives to sit with him and THANK GOD, they have a mature, frank exchange about the state of the team. Digg agrees with Oliver when he says it’s not just his crusade any more, but corrects him when he says that he was “gone.” He was dead, John says, and the team was ready to quit.
“Oliver wants to know why, and Digg’s answer is that they weren’t fighting just for him, but for themselves, and that includes Roy and Laurel. He finishes by framing the situation clearly and concisely: Oliver “started something strong enough to live on past [him],” but the question is can he live with what it has become?
God bless John Diggle for knowing how to broadcast to this knucklehead.
***FB ALERT*** Maseo joins Oliver and tells him he got himself captured on purpose since he assumed Oliver would, and that he lied about the ferry. When agents come to see him, he asks to speak to Waller but instead they are both knocked out. ***END FB***
In the Cave, Laurel wakes up and tells Felicity that she saw Sara and she was “crazy” to think she could be her sister. Although I know this was a Laurel-Felicity bonding scene, I pretty much locked in on Felicity’s sleeve and it bothered me throughout, but not as much as the writing.
Again, I know these characters have to connect on a meaningful level for Laurel to be accepted as part of Team Arrow, but Felicity’s dialogue sounded out-of-character to me. She tells Laurel that “Sara wore her mask just as much to hide her demons as she did to help people” and that Laurel has “a light” that her sister didn’t have. While the message of “just be yourself” is a great one, I wish it didn’t come at the expense of comparing a woman who overcame spectacular odds and became amazingly accomplished to someone who has nowhere near her skill set nor the experience of enduring all she had to overcome.
I’m pretty sure the point could have made just as clearly and touchingly without speaking ill of the fictional dead by one of the more sensitive characters in the series. In any case, I give up ranting against this, it’s pointless. Their hug is interrupted by a signal from a chemical drum Zytle just opened.
At Thea’s apartment she is in post-coital couch glow with Chase when he asks if she wants a drink. Thea agrees, but because Malcolm trained her to recognize the scent of cyanide, she can detect that the wine he gives her is poisoned and attacks him with the cheese knife AS YOU DO.
While they fight he confesses to being a member of the League and he almost slits her throat when BAM ARSENAL. Thank God for Roy, but I do wonder if he waited through the sex outside her door? How did he know?
They fight and Chase pins Roy down when he catches and arrow in the shoulder. It’s Malcolm, who generously promises to kill him fast if he just says “I’m sorry” to Thea first. Chase would rather die than apologize, so he drinks some cyanide. This might be the only TV death I applauded.
In the Arrow Cave, Oliver finds out that Zytle is holed up in a pharmaceutical lab with hostages that he is forcing to produce Vertigo. After a quick eye check-in with Diggle, Oliver invites Laurel to come with him.
At the pharmaceutical company, Zytle monologues just long enough to give Oliver and Laurel the chance to catch up with him and interrupt his monologue with their own. He sets fire to the joint and runs, and while Laurel goes after him, Oliver stays behind to help the hostages to safety. Zytle hits Laurel with Vertigo AGAIN.
We’re treated to more Sara hallucinations, which then WHOA turn into Quentin hallucinations, screaming at his daughter that he had the right to know about Sara, “to grieve, to mourn.”
Back to Sara, who demands to know if she thinks she can be her. “No, and I’m done trying to be,” Laurel answers, jumping Zytle and punching his twice as much as she needs to. She looks up and sees a vision of a smiling Sara, which is later revealed to be a shocked Oliver.
Also, a plane flies by with a banner attached that reads “It’s okay to accept Laurel as the Black Canary!!!” Whoever wrote this scene is not big on subtlety. Oliver checks in with Felicity to tell her they’re done, and she tells him he needs to go home to Thea.
At the station, Laurel walks in to finally tell her father what she’s been keeping from him. He guesses that she is the other blonde crime fighter, and there is a moment where he holds her where you wonder if she’ll follow through, but she does. “No Daddy, what I was going to tell you… it’s about Sara.” Quentin stumbles back, already shaking his head and sits down at his desk crying while Laurel holds him.
We all wanted Quentin to find out, but now that he has I really worry for what this will mean for him.
Oliver comes home to find Thea with Roy. She tells Oliver that she thought she could protect herself. When Oliver asks who the attacker was, Malcolm responds that he was LoA and Oliver asks Roy to give them a moment.
Thea speaks directly to her brother, saying that maybe they do need Malcolm, but that she isn’t going to forget what he did. “Understood,” her father says matter-of-factly, and tells them that to win against R’as, they need to conquer their fears, and for Oliver that means one place on Earth.
Back at the Cave, Oliver tells his team he is leaving again for a few days, and that he wouldn’t do so if it wasn’t for Thea.
He tells them and Laurel especially, that they have shown the city is safe in their hands. Okay doke, then.
Upstairs, Roy has come to see Thea off. He asks her if she is okay with things, but she doesn’t think she will be for a while because of Chase and what happened. Before she leaves, she kisses his cheek, and tells him he can pick whether it’s for saving her life or “standing up to Oliver about Malcolm.”
The Queen siblings are hiking in the place where Malcolm thought they should go, and when the camera pans out we see a shipwreck, and recognize Lian Yu.
***FB ALERT*** Maseo and Oliver wake up in a limo with Amanda Waller. Chien-Na We has left Hong Kong and they tracked her to that location. When Oliver asks where they are, he looks out the window and sees for himself.
Next week, sibling fun on the island and Oliver’s wig stalks his family.
See you then!