After Oliver’s defeat at the hands of Ra’s al Ghul, his comrades are left to pick up the pieces and try to carry on their work.
We find out that it’s been 3 days since Oliver left to go duel Ra’s and people are starting to worry. Felicity, Diggle and Roy have been out trying to take down some criminals who killed a cop but they’re starting to realize it’s been too long since they’ve heard from Oliver. It’s not just them, Thea and Laurel are getting antsy about Oliver’s sudden disappearance. Even the criminals are noticing that something’s off about the Arrow. Diggle has been standing in, wearing Oliver’s suit but he’s not quite as effective in the tight green leather. One of the criminals manages to get away, but the other is taken in to custody. Diggle and the rest of the team start to hunt for the one that got away and realize that he’s connected to a major criminal, Danny “Brick” Brickwell (Vinnie Jones). They realize that Brick is up to something that involves open police cases.
Their investigation is interrupted by several visitors. The first is Malcolm Merlyn. Thea has asked her father to try to find Oliver. He visits the Arrow cave and asks them if they’ve heard from Oliver. He tells them that, if he hasn’t returned, he’s dead. Just to be sure, he heads to the site of the duel and discovers the sword used to kill Oliver. It was left as a memorial to the fallen by Ra’s, a custom of his. While Merlyn was out, Laurel also comes to ask about Brick. She’s looking for Oliver but Diggle has to giver her the bad news about his duel with Ra’s. It’s a shock to her as well, but she also doesn’t believe anything Merlyn says. While Merlyn’s out searching, the team runs the information that they have on Brick to try to figure out what he’s up to. Merlyn returns to the cave with the bloody sword as evidence of Oliver’s death. He assures them that when they test the blood it will be Oliver’s and that they’ll have to face the fact that he’s dead. Felicity tells him that Oliver’s death is all his fault. Merlyn agrees and says that it’s something he’ll have to live with. He also tells them that Oliver was his way out of his debt with the league and that Oliver’s death means his own as well. Later in the episode, he tells Thea that they have to leave Starling City and never return. Felicity runs the blood tests and is heartbroken when the blood comes back as a match for Oliver.
Felicity heads back to Palmer Tech and Roy heads to Verdant to drink. While he’s there, Thea asks her to talk to the Arrow about finding Oliver. Thea’s already figured out that Roy is the guy in the Red hood. Roy lies, but wonders what the point of keeping Oliver’s secret from Thea is now that he’s dead. He goes to the cave and sees Diggle still looking into the information related to Brick. Diggle tells Roy that the only thing he can do right now is focus on what’s right in front of him and that’s the case. He figures out that Brick is going after evidence in different cases related to a bunch of street enforcers. He’s planning to get their cases thrown out by stealing the evidence from the police.
While Roy and Diggle are figuring that out, Felicity is trying to hide herself in her work. Earlier she had been reluctant to help Ray work on his ATOM suit. With Oliver missing, she was concerned about what could happen to Ray. Now that she believes Oliver to be dead, she’s broken up about the idea that the same thing could happen to him. She tells him that his plan to fight crime won’t work and that it’s not what his fiance would’ve wanted. Ray draws the line there, telling her to never tell him what his fiance would’ve wanted. Still upset, Felicity excuses herself from the office. As she’s leaving, Diggle calls in about their findings. He tells her that Brick is going after the cases of guys that Oliver put away. When she hears that this would affect Oliver’s legacy, Felicity agrees to come in. Diggle and Arsenal get to the evidence stronghold in time to confront Brick and his gang. However, things start to go south and Diggle gets cornered by Brick. Arsenal is able to save him, but Brick gets away when a door shuts between them and the truck.
When they get back to the cave, they find out that Felicity is the one who shut the door. Diggle and Roy are furious but Felicity says that she made the choice to no lose any more of her friends. Diggle reminds her that they’ve been in tough spots before and they’ve come out okay. He says that they can’t do this if they don’t trust each other. Felicity announces that without Oliver, there is no “this” and that she’s done. She walks out of the cave and heads to Palmer tech where she apologizes to Ray for her outburst, but delivers a similar message. She tells him that she considers him a friend and tells him that, at 25, she’s past her quota of friends to lose. Because of that she refuses to help him put himself in a situation where he could be killed.
Diggle is left in the cave along with Laurel. They’re looking over the cases of all the criminals that they put away over the last 8 months and thinking about how easy it was for them to get set free. Laurel asks Diggle if he’s planning on continuing the work, but Diggle tells her that he doesn’t know what’s next. With everything over for the moment, Diggle’s now thinking about how he couldn’t protect Oliver. Laurel takes a different approach. She gathers her sister’s old Canary costume and heads out to take down one of the criminals that got away. It turns out that Brick’s plan is to take over the glades with all the enforces that he freed. He’s using their stolen evidence as collateral to ensure their obedience. Laurel catches the man right as he’s leaving Brick’s meeting. She uses the sonic device (that I’ll refer to as her own Canary Cry) to disable them before knocking the guy out.
During the entire episode, there have been flashes that show someone taking Oliver’s body out of the ravine. It’s directly related to the flashbacks from this episode. We already knew that Maseo was part of the League. What we didn’t know is that he’s indebted to Oliver for saving his wife. He takes Oliver to a cabin where Tatsu is hidden away so that she can care for him. Oliver awakens to see Tatsu standing over him with that same contemptuous look. He also sees Maseo, who tells him that Tatsu is the one that brought him back to life.
The Island / Hong Kong / Flashback
So, remember how Maseo’s wife, Tatsu, was taken by China White? Well the point of the flashback was Oliver trying to help Maseo get her back. Waller is concerned about having them recovering the Alpha compound so that it can’t be paired with the Omega that China White is currently in possession of. Maseo is obsessed with the idea of getting his wife back but Waller refuses to deviate from the mission. When Maseo and Oliver break into a facility and are pinned down by Triad members Oliver lets one of them get away. Waller assumes that he did it because he didn’t want to kill the man. However, Oliver reveals that he put a tracer on the man and hoped that he would lead them to Tatsu. Maseo tells him that he’ll be forever in his debt for this. Obviously, that plays directly in to Maseo saving Oliver from the ravine.
This episode was more emotionally charged than normal. I thought that Diggle and Felicity did a really good job of capturing the feelings of denial and loss over Oliver’s apparent death. Roy seemed to be left more lost than anything else and Laurel looks like she’s almost ready to snap having already gone into avenger mode.
- Almost super powers
For a show without super powers, this episode was really skating the line between humans and meta-humans. In the comics, Brick is a metahuman whose power is invulnerability. In this episode, we saw him take several gunshots (one to the head) and walk away relatively unscathed. Similarly, we saw Laurel use the Canary Cry to disable her prey. We already know that the Canary Cry is a sonic device but there’s no explanation yet as to why Brick can take a gunshot to the head. Maybe it’s not a real gun?
- Oliver’s alive…already
Of course, we all knew that Oliver wasn’t dead. I was surprised that the show brought him back on screen, in present day, so soon. I was afraid that they were going to drag out the mystery of his death (or not death) for a long time, but I’m glad they’re not gonna drag it out.
Arrow without the Arrow is a strange concept and a hard one to pull off. I think this episode did a really good job of handling it. It’s a little different than the normal episodes because it’s very introspective for the characters. You really see what Oliver means to each character as they deal with the idea of him being gone. For Roy, Oliver represented a kind of direction as well as being a mentor. For Diggle, Oliver was his friend and his responsibility. For Felicity, he was “more than a friend”. I feel like Laurel’s reaction was the strangest. First, she clearly doesn’t care to believe that Oliver is dead. Second, she had a very matter-of-fact reaction to him not being there. It was like him being gone freed her to take up the Canary persona by giving her a reason to. I don’t know how good of an idea this will turn out to be in the short term. We already see that Diggle and Arsenal are having a hard time without the Arrow, and they have experience. Laurel’s likely to get herself into some trouble that she can’t get out of on her own.