Jumping right in this week, we once again see the Quiver Crew attempting to stop ghosts from taking out an armored car full of money. While the team is working reasonably well together, the ghosts still manage to get away, and before they do, they set fire to all of the money inside the truck. Oliver points out that they are not interested in stealing the cash, as this was relief funds for Star City Banks, and Darhk and his ghosts are more interested in making Star City die.
Later, Diggle shows Oliver the file he received from Captain Lance detailing his brother’s explicit activities, but Oliver still has faith in Diggle’s brother, and urges his friend to do the same. Diggle is not so easily convinced, believing that Oliver always has a soft spot for family. Meanwhile, Felicity has enlisted Ray’s help in studying the decaying tooth they pulled from a ghost, seeing if the man could manage to restore the DNA markers that she had noticed were gone. While Ray could not, he did discover the compound responsible for destroying the markers, and point team in the direction of the pharmaceutical company that makes similar chemicals. The team heads out to get a sample of the compound, and while Oliver and Thea hold down the ghosts that have intercepted them there, Laurel and Diggle make their way into the lab and find the strange drug. While Laurel escapes, Diggle is confronted by a ghost, who he manages to incapacitate. Diggle removes the man’s disguise in an effort to ID him, and suddenly finds the face of his dead brother under the mask. Andrew flees the building, leave a shocked and betrayed Diggle behind.
Thea meanwhile, has felt the stirrings of her bloodlust once more, though she seems to be actively fighting the urges now and not giving in to them so easily. She has also been receiving phone-calls from Merlyn which she has been ignoring, but we can guess he has also realized her bloodlust was coming back. Trying to fight her urge to kill, she attends a police-men’s fund-raiser with Oliver and Alex (who she is still actively dating and keeping secret from Oliver), where Oliver plans to give a big speech to help his mayoral campaign. Laurel tries to talk to Diggle about Andy, empathizing as she too has a recently resurrected sibling who worked for a scary league of killers. She is unsuccessful at reaching Dig however, as for him, it is not the same. Sara did not betray Laurel, and Diggle cannot fathom how his brother could have been alive for the past 8 years without contacting any of his family, especially his son. Oliver gives his speech, which is well received by Captain Lance, who speaks to Oliver about a recent meeting with Darhk, where the villain pointed out how his meeting with Lance (from last week’s episode) led Team Arrow to his base, voicing his concerns that Lance was no longer trustworthy. Oliver is concerned for Lance’s safety, but realizes there is not much they can do at the moment, beside take the latest intel from Lance, about a slip in the harbor that Darhk had written down on his desk. (am I the only one that thinks that dock location was a test by Darhk to see if Lance was trustworthy? I.e. he let Lance see the slip number, and then waited to see if the Green Arrow and his cohorts would should up, thus proving Lance is leaking information to the heroes)
Following his speech, Oliver is met by none other than Darhk himself, who offers his assistance to Oliver’s campaign, which Oliver is surprised by as he is running unopposed. Darhk makes some threats about Oliver’s plan to build up the harbor area, insinuating that he wants the harbor left alone, and that if Oliver does not heed his warning, Oliver will no longer be running unopposed. Oliver sees the whole thing as an opportunity to get close to Darhk and take him down from the inside (a la how he dealt with Ras and the League last season), but both Felicity and Diggle (not to mention the audience!) hate the idea, and want him instead to learn from the mistakes of the previous year, and choose to fight Darhk out of the shadows, in an open fight. Oliver is still thinking on it, but he knows that Diggle especially is bothered by the idea, especially after all the grief Oliver’s subterfuge caused Diggle.
Thea meanwhile, is visited by Malcolm, who has come to town in person to help her. He hands her a file with a known pedophile’s location in it, trying to direct her bloodlust to constructive killing. She turns him down, claiming that she is learning how to handle the bloodlust in her own way. Later, as she is out on a date with Alex, discussing the campaign, he leaves the table for a moment, allowing a creepy guy to come up and hit on Thea. She politely turns him down, but the man is persistent, which is not what a woman dealing with bloodlust wants to see. She starts beating on the man, almost killing him before Alex shakes her out of it, clearly shocked by her violence. Diggle meanwhile has a talk with Lyla about Andy, and how dark the months after his “death” were exceptionally dark days for Diggle, Andy’s wife and son. He cannot come to terms with his brother shirking his responsibilities. Oliver comes to visit, and they continue to discuss Oliver’s faith in Andy, how they do not know all the facts just yet, which Diggle does not want to believe just yet.
Oliver and Diggle follow Lance’s lead to the docks, with Diggle demanding it be just the two of them trying to save Andy, which Oliver agrees to. They spot Darhk giving the strange drug to his men, and then explaining that even though they were all volunteers, this pill makes them essentially his slaves. Oliver and Diggle are spotted, and ghosts led by Andy attack them, though he only tells them to kill the green one (potentially the part of Andy still awake inside his head is trying to protect his brother). Oliver and Diggle battle the ghosts, until Oliver is knocked down by a flash grenade. Diggle manages to grab him and they escape, but it was definitely a close call.
Ray meanwhile has found another clue in the tooth, which he has been working on persistently because he has nothing else to do. (he refuses to announce his return from the dead, despite Felicity’s insistence that it would help his company. He claims he was disappointed with the legacy he left behind, and wants to find something more meaningful to do). He sees the tooth has a large amount of sodium fluoride in it, which would only occur if the ghosts were stationed somewhere that had increased sodium fluoride levels in the water. They find the likely building, Mueller Psychiatric Center, which was closed down because of the water issue, and the Team prepare to head out, despite Diggle’s protests. However, no one is in charge of the democratic team nowadays, and they make their own decision, with everyone wanting to rescue Andy despite Diggle’s feelings about his brother.
The Quiver Crew arrives at the ghost headquarters, equipped with Curtis-supplied cameras capable of spotting Andy under the masks, splitting up to search for their target. While Thea and Laurel are spotted, Oliver engages a swarm of ghosts of the roof, aided by Ray in the ATOM suit, who decided to help out. Andy attacks Thea, and after a grueling fight she manages to take him down, without giving in to her bloodlust. She is then spotted by Darhk himself, who recognizes her fighting style, and knows she was trained by the new Ras Al Ghul, Malcolm Merlyn. He grabs her throat to use his magic on her, but it does not work correctly, and instead seems to rebound back on him. Thea flees while Darhk recovers, with Laurel now calling for aide in getting Andy out of the building. Oliver sends the ATOM to help Laurel, claiming he can handle himself against the sea of ghosts on the roof. Luckily Diggle arrives in time to help Oliver, and the team retreats from the building, mission accomplished.
In tonight’s flashbacks, the Baron uses some kind of magical reeds to divine the truth about whether Oliver’s killing of the prisoner (Vlad) was the result of the prisoner being coerced into attacking Oliver by Conklin. Surprisingly, the reeds work, and Conklin is punished by the Baron, who forces Oliver to whip the man. Oliver learns that Vlad was the brother of the woman he saved, and he returns to the cave to inform her of the man’s passing. He blames the death on Conklin, leaving out the part about killing him in self-defense (apparently having learned nothing from his Slade Wilson/ Shado fiasco.) However, he wants to keep her on his side, as he needs her help to get a survey map of the island, which will help them figure out what exactly Baron Retier is looking for.
In the episode aftermath, Thea speaks to Malcolm, explaining that Darhk somehow took her bloodlust when he tried to kill her, and she wants Merlyn to help her figure out how to make that permanent. Diggle speaks with his brother, who is being held down in the Arrow Cave, demanding that Andy confirm whether the information in Lance’s file was correct. Though Andy still does not seem to be acting quite like himself, he confirms the file is accurate, much to Diggle’s chagrin. Ray speaks to the team about his current plans, as he is still looking for a meaningful way to help people, but does claim that he will still help out as the ATOM whenever he is needed. Lastly, Oliver holds a press conference on the docks, announcing his plans to restore the area. As he speaks of the battle to save the city and keep the fight in the light of day, he is looking directly at Damien Darhk, who is present in the crowd and clearly angry that Oliver refused his offer.
* So is Ray just going to stay dead in the eyes of the world until he joins ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ ? And as I always ask, when is he going to incorporate his shrinking abilities into combat? I’m tired of him just being an Iron-Man knockoff.
* When Darhk grabbed Thea’s neck, was he trying to kill her? Did he absorb her bloodlust, i.e. does he now feel that urge to kill (well, more-so than usual?) Could his strange reaction to one that came from a Lazarus Pit have anything to do with his own dabbling with Lazarus Pit waters? Or maybe his own lack of a soul?
* Since Darhk knows the Red Arrow is a young woman trained by Malcolm Merlyn, could he decipher Thea’s identity now by realizing Malcolm has a daughter? Could be a subtle way of pointing Thea toward that grave we saw in the premiere. (I have to admit, I do enjoy how they keep putting characters in Darhk’s crosshairs, making it difficult to pinpoint which character will be the one in the grave)
I enjoyed this episode a lot, from the long, uncut shots of the battle scenes that really helped us feel every punch and kick, to all of the character interactions, as this is one of the first episodes this season that really had something for everyone on the cast to do. I’m looking forward to seeing where the Andy storyline is going, and of course to see how the team ends up part of the cross-over coming up in the week after Thanksgiving. See you back here on December 3rd!