Thea’s a lot sharper than she looks.
In lieu of the standard flashbacks chronicling Oliver’s experiences leading up to his return to Starling City, this week the flashbacks revolve around Thea and her training in Corto Maltese under the tutelage of her father, Malcolm Merlin.
Though she initiated the training, and asked for Malcolm to teach her to be strong, at first it appears Thea might not be up to the challenge. After being shown the boiling water poured onto the hands trick, which she could not mimic (who could?), she seemed at a loss as to how to move forward with her training. Fortunately (or unfortunately?) for her, her father knew just what to do, and he decided to treat her more like a ‘student’ and less like his daughter. Which meant merciless beat-downs until she figured out how to defend herself. How was Tommy Merlyn not a more screwed up individual?
Back in the present, we see the Arrow chase down a drunk eyewitness who might have seen the person who killed Sara, but it turns out he had been told to leave by Sara shortly before the events of her death. Poor Felicity, apparently she had spent a lot of time recreating his fingerprint from a bottle he left behind, and was unhappy about another dead end lead. Fortunately, she had managed to track down Thea for Oliver, pinging the younger Queen’s cellphone and placing her on Corto Maltese. Which elicited one of my favorite Diggle lines from the line, “What’s up with your family and islands?”
So Oliver and Roy prepare to go find Thea, with Oliver explaining to Roy that they can’t bring their equipment on a commercial airliner, and they are joined by Diggle, after Lyla asks him to go along and check on an Argus agent who went dark in Corto Maltese a few weeks earlier.
In the Laurel story this week, we see her following a lead to a small gym (Wildcat Gym, for any comic fans looking for hints on who runs the joint), where she meets the owner of the gym, named Grant, who explains to her that he looks out for the people of his gym, especially those who have made dumb mistakes and deserve a second chance. Grant says he sees something in Laurel, and offers to work/ train with her if she ever wanted. Foreshadowing!
Once in Corto Maltese, Oliver and Roy speak to Thea separately, both finding her to be friendly and engaging, but unwilling to go home. So they throw themselves for the moment into Diggle’s mission, helping him track down the Argus agent, Shaw, who claims to be working to protect a list of Argus agents and their families. Diggle proves his identity to the man with a security key, and the man asks for help as he knows a sale of the list is happening shortly. Long story short, Shaw turns out to be the one doing the selling, all he needed was Diggle’s security key to unlock the list. He escapes with the list and the key, and Diggle and Oliver have to figure out how to track him.
Meanwhile back in Starling City, Felicity’s first day at Ray Palmer’s Queen Consolidated begins, and she learns that she is being given a huge office (formerly Oliver’s office I believe), an executive assistant, and her first assignment, to restore a hard drive from the applied sciences division that had been damaged when, in Ray Palmer’s words, “…some wacko blew it [applied sciences] up last year.” I love the look Felicity has here, as she’s fully aware the explosion was the work of the Quiver Crew.
Later in the episode, while explaining to Palmer the issues with the hard drive, Felicity shows off her multi-tasking skills as she is interrupted by Diggle calling to ask her to track down Shaw using his cell signal, and then called by Laurel to help track down someone. Ray Palmer watches amusedly, as she repeatedly uses the line that its a long story, and after helping everyone, she admits that this was not even the worse day for people calling her for help.
Laurel attends an AA meeting with her dad, speaking about a fire inside of her that alcohol cannot quench, aware that she cannot fully reveal whats going on with her because she can’t tell anyone about Sara’s death. Another member speaks of an abusive boyfriend, and when Laurel, clearly enraged, asks her father why they don’t do anything about it, he explains that they basically can’t use information gleaned from a confidential AA meeting to go after a criminal. Which explains why later Laurel decides to go after him anyway, calling Felicity to help track down the man (as mentioned in the last paragraph), then donning a black outfit, a ski mask, and a baseball bat. She gets a few swings in before the guy takes the bat and beats her down, but we can see her vigilante fever is growing.
Oliver decides the only way to get Thea to come home is to be honest with her, but Diggle warns him that being completely honest would be to tell her he’s been lying, hardcore, for over 2 years now. Seeing his point, Oliver sits down with Thea and shares a smaller truth with her, revealing that their father, Robert Queen, killed himself after the ship went down, in order to save Oliver. Thea seems touched by the story, and seems to realize some of the things Oliver has kept from her have been because of how painful they are to him.
Detective Lance visits Laurel in the hospital, clearly pissed off that she would pull a stunt like that, but aware of how she must be feeling. She explains the fire in her to do something, that drugs, alcohol and work don’t seem to quench. And then he nails her with the following line, “Laurel, you’re not the Arrow, or your sister.”
Back in Corto Maltese, using Felicity’s tracking, Oliver, Diggle and Roy interrupt Shaw’s sale of the list, taking down a small mercenary army in the process, using makeshift bows Oliver created from furniture in the hotel room, and then engaging in hand-to-hand combat. Diggle chases down Shaw as he tries to escape in his jeep, and they battle each other, with Shaw warning Diggle about Argus and the motivations of Amanda Waller. And while Roy fights the lesser army members, Oliver takes down the guy with the list (in a briefcase conveniently enough). They emerge victorious, and plan on heading home, knowing there’s little more they can do to convince Thea.
As for Thea, she tells her father that she wants to go home, and he makes her fight him for it. Though she wins, Thea knows that Malcolm let her win, which makes me wonder what Malcolm’s end game is, and why he wants Thea back in Starling City. She joins the guys at the airport, stunning Oliver when a scalding cup of coffee is spilled on her hand, and she does not react. Oliver suddenly realizes his sister has changed.
Arriving back at the HQ beneath Verdant, Oliver finds Laurel there, demanding to be trained by him. Oliver refuses, reminding Laurel of how hard it would be on her father if both she and Sara died being vigilantes. Laurel then heads to the Wildcat gym to ask Grant to train her, and the road to the new Black Canary begins.
Felicity cracks the hard drive for Palmer, and then asks for a few days off so she can guest star on ‘The Flash,’ uh, I mean visit her “friend” who recently woke up from a coma after being struck by lightning. Once alone, Palmer examines the contents of the hard drive, seeing blue-prints for military type weapons and vehicles, and what appears to be an evil glimmer hits his eyes.
Oliver and Roy have a moment back in HQ, where Oliver compliments his sidekick on a job well done, and asks him if he’s noticed anything different about Thea. It seems the two of them will both be keeping a close eye on the younger Queen. At that moment, they are interrupted by Nyssa (Ras Al Ghul’s daughter and Sara’s lover), who demands to know where Sara is and holds a loaded bow pointed at Oliver. End of episode.
Although it seemed like kind of a bridge episode, getting Thea back to Starling and getting Laurel started on her Canary-ism, , there were some great moments in the episode, and some great set-ups, including Nyssa’s appearance, Merlyn coming back to Starling, and some dark foreshadowing about Palmer and Argus.
* Clearly Grant is ‘Wildcat’ the superhero, but I wonder if he has a costume or will just be Laurel’s trainer.
* Any chance all the Thea set-up is for her to replace Roy as Arrow’s side-kick, Speedy? Would make for some interesting drama if Roy either left the team, or fully became Arsenal and headed off on his own.
* Will Ray Palmer be a villain for awhile? I was hoping to see plans for some kind of shrink ray (aka The Atom’s power) in the hard drive, but it all looked very militaristic to me.
See you back here next week for more Arrow!