Oh, the inevitable flashback episode. The present day portion of this week was short, but important, so let’s get that out of the way first.
Malcolm Merlyn has shipped the Queen siblings off to Lian Yu, which now seems remarkably more hospitable without all the “flashback” filters. The pair are training against each other while Oliver shows Thea how he survived on the island for a couple of seasons.
While he’s in the neighborhood, Oliver decides to check in on Slade. This turns out to be both a wise and timely decision, as Slade has escaped and left a dead guard in his bed. Evidently, Malcolm thought that Oliver and Thea needed more of a “fight for your lives” training situation, so he released Slade and rigged Oliver’s cell to self-destruct. Thanks, Dad.
Slade attacks while Oliver and Thea are retrieving weaponry from the Lian Yu cemetery. He throws Team Queen into the same prison where he’s been kept for half a year or so and tells them that he’s going to fake their deaths and leave them there to starve. Somehow, I thought that Slade would be a little less prone to the classic Evil Villain tropes after all this time. It would appear that I thought wrong. During his Villainous Monologue™, Slade drops the nugget that Oliver is still hiding a major secret from Thea. Her burning curiosity is put on the backburner while she has Oliver dislocate her shoulder so that she can reach a conveniently located door release button.
As they sprint towards their one way off the island, Oliver gets hurt saving Thea from one of his old booby traps. This gives the two of them time to chat, and Oliver finally confesses that Malcolm forced her to kill Sara. Willa Holland has a fantastic reaction scene before Slade attacks once more. This time, Thea has angst-rage on her side, and she and Oliver are able to take Slade out. Oliver is able to talk Thea out of putting a bullet in Slade’s brain, so she settles for a flesh wound. (Very Malcolm Reynolds.) Slade alludes to the fact that he’ll be coming for Felicity if he ever gets off the island again.
Once back in Starling City, Oliver cautions Thea that Laurel probably wouldn’t be able to handle the truth about who killed her sister (because this kind of secret never gets out and would have absolutely no consequences later in the season if it did). When Malcolm shows at the loft, Thea tells him that she will be his student and his partner, but that she will never again be his daughter. (Seriously, Willa Holland rocked the socks off of this entire episode.)
Now for the Epic Flashback of Epicness!
So, conveniently, Chien Na Wei is planning on auctioning off her half of the supervirus back in good ol’ Starling City. Maseo and Ollie track her contact, Peter Kang, around the city, running across half the cast of the show in various wigs and hair extensions. When Kang goes to Queen Consolidated, Ollie sees Thea and decides to follow her to the graves back at the mansion. He witnesses her buying drugs off of some punk, then get busted for it by an extremely ticked off Tommy. Tommy reminds Thea that his birthday party is a 21+ event and that she should clean up her act and stay away.
Ollie breaks into his own family’s company to access the network from his father’s computer. He finds a file addressed to him and is almost caught by a not-yet-familiar face from the IT department. Once he obtains the information Maseo and he need, Ollie decides to check out Tommy’s birthday party while dressed as the Unabomber. Thea’s used a fake ID to gain entry, and her dealer is there and ready to sell. Ollie pulls him into a dark hallway, tries to threaten him into leaving Thea alone, and ends up just breaking the guy’s neck instead. (Poor Digg is stuck waiting outside the party, but he’s pretty much only there so that we can get a glimpse of what his relationship with Andy looked like.)
Quentin shows up to take everyone’s statements, but it’s pretty obvious that the partygoers aren’t the only ones who have been drinking this evening. It looks like everyone in Ollie’s old life is in some kind of spiral. He tells Maseo that he wants out of ARGUS so that he can come back and help everyone. Maseo leaves, and Ollie heads back to the mansion. He takes in his old home for a second before pulling up the file that Robert Queen had left for him. In it is a video message that gives Ollie more information about his crusade and sends him back into the fray.
It’s just in time, too. Maseo went solo to break up Chien Na Wei’s auction, but it isn’t going well for him. Ollie saves the day and leaves with Maseo to go back to Waller. She says that she doesn’t have the authority to send him home yet. Enter General Matthew Shrieve. The General says that Ollie has to be debriefed back in China, and then ARGUS will send him anywhere he wants to go. (Of course, because we’re only on Season 3 and Ollie still has 2.5 years of not-Starling-City left in him, that promise sounds extremely ominous.)
In general, I’ve never been a huge fan of Arrow’s flashbacks. When they do one well, though, they really hit it out of the park. This week’s episode of callbacks, lampshade hangs, and de-aging makeup was absolutely a treat. It did seem like a lot of setup to go through to explain how Ollie was able to figure out a little more about The List, but it was great to see what Starling City was like before Oliver came back and was all Arrow-y.
I’ll admit, the episode veered a little into Flash territory with how silly it got from time to time (see Maseo’s quote below), but that didn’t stop it from being a solid episode. I wasn’t huge on Slade’s return (y’know, other than the fact that Manu Bennett is all things lovely), unless it’s to tease that he’ll be coming back later with a new Crazy Evil Plan, presumably in season 4.
Next episode: the official debut of the ATOM suit! Stay tuned!
Oliver: “You learned all this in 9 months?”
Maseo: “That disguise wouldn’t work even if you smeared greasepaint all over your face.”
Things to Ponder:
- As shown by the Best Quotes, there were enough lampshades in this episode to open a Home Goods.
- China White is a lot easier to type than Chien Na Wei, but now that we know the “origin” of the name, it feels insensitive. Thanks a ton, Ollie.
- I already said it on Twitter, but y’all, even pre-Olicity is effing adorable.
- Show of hands, is anyone else hoping that they chuck Tommy into a Lazarus Pit sooner rather than later? I miss Colin Donnell on this show something fierce!
Photo Credit: The CW