Long live the Queens.
Welcome back to the end of the Canary Trilogy! This episode promised to wrap up the Brick storyline, return Oliver to Starling City, and hopefully advance the storyline of Merlyn and Thea.
Let’s talk the major story line first, that of the Quiver Crew (as I call them), or Hood Squad (as Captain Lance calls them), or Team Arrow (as they apparently call themselves). In Oliver’s absence they continue to try to keep Starling City in line, made all the more difficult now that the mayor has given in to Brick’s demands and pulled all police out of the Glades. It’s left to Arsenal and Black Canary to police the Glades, while Diggle and Felicity run the show from the Arrow Cave. Their story opens with Brick’s goons shaking down a small Glades diner. Arsenal enters, banters with the guy, but does not anticipate the second goon pulling a gun on him. Luckily Canary is also there, surprising the second mercenary, and she and Arsenal take down the guys, ending the fight by throwing the first guy out the window, and then driving away on Oliver’s old motorcycle. As they are about to drive away Canary is spotted by Sin, who calls out ‘Sara,’ but gets no response, leaving her suspicious.
The team reconvenes at the Foundry, discussing the dire situation and their inability to track down Brick as he has been shutting down security cameras, traffic cameras, and cell-phone towers. Captain Lance calls Felicity to see what he can do to help, despite his orders to stay out of the Glades, and after some amusing banter where he calls them the Hood Squad, and makes fun of Arsenal’s name, he agrees to send them all the evidence the police have on Brick. When Arsenal goes to the SCPD station to collect the evidence from Captain Lance, Lance reveals that he is very aware that he is Roy Harper, making Captain Lance probably the funniest and most clever character on the show right now. (being the only one able to guess secret identities based on contextual clues, as opposed to say… Thea.)
Meanwhile, Merlyn and Thea continue to train, with Thea enlightening the audience as to why she joined up with Merlyn in the first place, in order to learn how to defend herself. She adamantly tells Merlyn she is not a killer, and does not want him to continue to be one either. (oh the irony, she’s going to be all kinds of screwed up once she learns she killed Sara).
We then get a great flashback in this episode, which shows Malcolm Merlyn from 21 years ago, on the night his wife died. After showing off his fatherly skills in putting Tommy to bed, he goes downstairs to discover police at his door, informing him of the death of his wife Rebecca. At the funeral, a friend with contacts in SCPD gives Merlyn a picture of the suspected murderer, which Malcolm uses to track the guy down to a back-alley in the Glades. We see Malcolm not entirely at his best here, getting beaten by the thug before he manages to grab his gun and shoot the guy down in the back. (very ignoble for a first kill). Merlyn returns home and packs a bag, saying he wants to go somewhere that can channel his anger into something useful (and how did he hear about Nanda Parbat?). As he is about to leave Tommy spots him and reminds him of a promise Malcolm made never to leave him (so sad that even after he died Tommy is still the doormat of the show), a promise that Malcolm does not keep, as he leaves his son, and is thereafter not a very good father. When he arrives in Nanda Parbat, he sees a young Nyssa fighting and defeating a League member in a duel. She demands to know who he is and why they should allow him to stay there, and he shows her a magic trick that he used with Tommy. It is then she gives him his league name, which translates into “The Magician.”
Back in the present, Felcity and the Quiver Crew examine the evidence against Brick, and after cross-referencing it with other unsolved murders in Starling City they discover that Brick is responsible for the death of Rebeccca Merlyn, a fact that Malcolm learns immediately as he has been spying on Team Arrow from the camera he implanted in an earlier episode. They do not share that information with Merlyn, but instead they realize that Brick’s men have been communicating via walkie-talkies, allowing Felicity to triangulate their position and find their ironic hide-out within the abadonded Glades Precinct of the SCPD. Arsenal and Canary go in, easily taking down Brick’s men but running into trouble when confronted with the gangster himself, who has them at gunpoint. In that moment Merlyn appears, saving the heroes by knocking down a ceiling in front of Brick, blocking his shot. He joins them back at the Arrow Cave, where a very angry Felicity can’t believe that Merlyn would dare bother them again so soon after his last visit. Merlyn offers an alliance as they have a similar enemy in Brick, but the team needs time to think about the idea. Roy heads upstairs where Thea and he speak about Merlyn and the fact that he saved Thea the night of the siege, hinting around that there might be some good in him. (which makes Merlyn similar to Darth Vader, except Vader never took off his mask, something that Merlyn has a lot of trouble with when he is in costume.) Roy heads back downstairs to vote in favor of the Merlyn alliance, but Laurel, Felicity and Diggle vote against, saying that joining Merlyn is the beginning of a slippery slope of allowing the ends to justify the means, something they know Oliver would not have been happy with.
Which brings us to Mr. Queen, who decides to head back to Starling City against Tatsu’s wishes, as she does not feel he is healed just yet. He leaves regardless, and is relieved to find that Tatsu has followed him, continuing to tend his wounds as he makes his way back toward civilization. Oliver asks for her help in training him to fight Ras Al Ghul again, pointing out her own prowess with a blade, but she turns him down. However, she does warn him that to defeat Ras Al Ghul, Oliver will have to learn to think like the man, and inevitably will have to sacrifice something important in order to best the demon. They make it to a road where Oliver flags down a ride, and they part ways, with Oliver Queen finally on his way back to Starling City.
After turning down the alliance with Merlyn, the Quiver Crew realizes that though they might be outnumbered, they are not without allies. Laurel asks for Ted’s help, while Roy visits Sin and asks for her help in rallying the people of the Glades to fight against Brick’s army. The plan works, and soon enough Brick and his goons face off against Arsenal, Canary, Diggle, and hundreds of Glades denizens eager to end the reign of Brick. The fight began, with Wildcat (Ted) going one on one with Brick doing significant damage before the villain got the upper hand, and beat Ted within an inch of his life. Brick flees while Canary comforts Ted, and Sin gets a better look at the woman she thought was ‘Sara.’ During the fight Roy sees a green arrow take down a gang-member, and he realizes Oliver is back in town.
Brick flees to a back-alley, where he is confronted by Merlyn, who handily takes down the man. Merlyn ends up with Brick’s gun in his hand, about to kill the man who ruined his life, when the Arrow arrives, convincing Merlyn to hold back, for Thea. And so the quest to save Merlyn’s soul begins. Captain Lance and the SCPD show up to find Brick’s army in ruins, Brick captured and the people of the Glades gathered around the Arrow, who is making a speech, apologizing for his absence, but commending the city (and his team) for enduring, for fighting for what they knew what right. He then promises that he will not fail the city by leaving again, right before he launches a grappling arrow into a nearby building, and swings away like the bad-ass hero he is.
Oliver returns to the Queen apartment, interrupting Merlyn and Thea as Merlyn tells her he did not kill Brick. Oliver explains that he was in prison for the last month, and Thea is surprised that he is being so cool about Merlyn’s presence. He and Merlyn speak while Thea is making tea, with Oliver explaining that he wants Malcolm to train him to kill Ras Al Ghul. Merlyn agrees, and repeats the words we heard Tatsu mention earlier in the episode, “Only the student has hope of defeating the Master.”
In the episode aftermath, Captain Lance speaks with Sin, thanking her for the help in freeing the Glades. They touch upon the subject of Sara, and Sin tells Lance that the blonde woman running around in leather right now is not Sara, despite whatever else he might have heard. And I believe the time has finally come when Lance will begin to suspect that the team is lying to him about his daughter.
Back at headquarters, Oliver apologizes for not making contact, and then informs the team that he will be training with Merlyn to prepare for the next battle with Ras Al Ghul. Felicity is dumb founded, storming off. Oliver follows her, and she tells him she doesn’t understand how he can work with Merlyn, when he turned his sister, a woman Oliver loves, into a killer, who killed Sara, another woman Oliver loved. Despite his words to her before he went off to face Ras before, she says she does not want to be a woman Oliver loves, and she leaves. Which most likely means we’ll be seeing a Ray Palmer/ Felicity coupling now that the Felicity/ Oliver relationship is on hiatus.
* Captain Lance is going to find out about Sara, and blame the Hood Squad. That might be the reason why we learned that he knows Roy’s secret identity – so it wouldn’t be a shock when he arrests Roy and Felicity, those two being the only real names he knows.
* I think there’s a chance that Merlyn is irredeemable, and that the first true kill of Thea Queen will be her own father, once she learns what he made her do.
Solid episode again, with ‘Arrow’ really pulling it all together after the Winter hiatus. While it’s good to have Oliver back, it was great to see the rest of the cast step up in his absence, and I hope we continue to see everyone else shine, as aside from being the leader of the team, there’s not much else going on with Oliver, and his flashbacks in Hong Kong are really dragging down the season.