Oliver Queen is a long way from healing but he knows that his city has need of him. Brick's gang has been in control of The Glades for a week and Team Arrow is fighting a desperate war to try and keep the peace. Help may come from an unlikely source, but will they be willing to accept the aid of Malcolm Merlyn?
In the flashbacks, we see how Merlyn came to kill his first victim - the man he thought had murdered his wife - and how he came to seek out the League of Assassins.
The Green Arrow/Black Canary comics of Judd Winick and Andrew Kresiberg and every Robin Hood legend where Robin is presumed dead only to miraculously survive.
One wonders why the governor of whatever state Starling City is in hasn't seen fit to do something about a mayor giving away land to a crime boss. You'd also think they would have sent in the National Guard to deal with Brick by now.
For that matter, why haven't ARGUS and Amanda Waller taken action, given what happened the last time some bulletproof madman started tying to take control of Starling City?
It seems somewhat unlikely that Captain Lance can recognize Roy Harper as Arsenal and not make the connection between Oliver Queen and The Arrow at this point.
Laurel apparently votes against accepting Merlyn's help, despite arguing in favor of the idea before Roy tells the rest of Team Arrow about Merlyn's saving Thea from Deathstroke's men.
You'd think, even if Kendrick Weller had reasons for not killing Merlyn after Merlyn tried and failed to attack him, he'd have stolen Merlyn's gun.
Why did all of Team Arrow save Laurel go back to the Arrow Cave once Ollie showed up at the fight with Brick's men? Even if things were under control, you'd expect them to be there for Ollie's big speech to the city.
Honestly, the entire cast get at least one great moment in this episode. Here's a list of the best.
Paul Blackthorne: Quentin Lance snarking at Roy Harper's efforts to hide his secret identity.
John Barrownman: Every damn moment of every flashback scene.
Colton Haynes: Roy attempting to convince the rest of the team that Merlyn can be trusted in so far as protecting Thea and Starling City are concerned.
David Ramsey: John Diggle telling off Malcom Merlyn.
Willa Holland: Every scene of Thea trying to convince Merlyn that he is better than he thinks he is.
Katie Cassidy: Laurel's moment of inspiration, using the people of The Glades as an army to fight Brick's men.
Emily Bett Rickards: Felicity's speech to Oliver at the end of the episode.
Stephen Amell: Oliver's wordless response to Feliicty's big speech.
The script for this episode may be the best ever, with a lot of quotable lines.
One of Brick's thugs asks Arsenal if he's "The Red Streak" he saw on TV. This is a reference to The Flash.
Ollie mentions Tatsu's skill with a sword - a reference to her identity as the heroine Katana in the comics.
We see a blue neon sign on the outside of Ted Grant's gym that resembles his mask as Wildcat in the comics.
In the comics, Merlyn was known as Merlyn The Magician among The League of Assassins for his near-magical accuracy with a bow.
Felicity says walkie-talkies operate on the FRS (family radio service) somewhere between 462-467 MHz. She uses a frequency burst to triangulate their position.
Thug: Looks like we got ourselves a real live superhero here. You that Red Streak I've been hearing about on TV?
Arsenal: Wrong city.
Captain Lance: Arsenal? What, are you guys just pulling names out of a hat now?
Arsenal: (voice deepened by voice modulator) Captain Lance.
Captain Lance; Harper.
Arsenal: I'm not sure what you -
Captain Lance: Look, I've seen you wearing a red hoodie. I've seen you shooting arrows at people. You think I don't recognize you with a little extra leather and lace?
Arsenal: Well, I guess I won't be needing this anymore... (turns off voice modulator)
Tatsu: Only the student has a hope of defeating the master.
Laurel: Do you think that you could - I don't know - use those signals to locate Brick?
Felicity: You haven't been down here that much.
(To Thea, as he finds her leaning on the rail of the balcony overlooking Verdant)
Roy: You stole my idea. I was going to lean here and wish my problems away.
Roy: Oliver is gone. And there's only so much the four of us can do. I just found this out but ...the night of the siege Malcolm saved Thea's life. He didn't have an ulterior motive. He didn't have an agenda. He just wanted to protect what he cared about. He cares about this city. He just went about it in a completely unimaginable way. So just like Thea did on the night of the siege, we need him.
Felicity: I can't think of a world or a universe or a plane of existence where Oliver would agree to any of this.
Roy: Well, Oliver isn't here anymore, so we need to stop pretending like his is. We need to make decisions on our own. I genuinely have no idea how else we're suppose to stop Brick!
Felicity: And I genuinely don't know how we live with ourselves if we go about doing it this way!
Merlyn: Has the jury reached a verdict?
John: It has. Guilty.
Merlyn: I guess that means 'no' then.
John: You were expecting something different, Merlyn?
Merlyn: What? That you'd have some measure of common sense? Yes!
John: You really thought we'd throw in with you? After what you did to Thea? To Sara? To Oliver?
Merlyn: To save your precious city? Yes.
John: Well, that's the thing. Once we let the ends justify the means, that's just the first step.
Merlyn: Towards what?
John: Becoming you.
Thea: You protected me! Risked your life for me! Just like my mother did!
Merlyn: Thea, I know you want to believe there's more to me than a killer. But the fact is, there's not. That man died with his wife.
Laurel: We made the right choice, right? By refusing Merlyn's help?
John: I don't know if we made the right choice, Laurel, but we definitely did the right thing.
Felicity: Is what we're doing crazy?
Arsenal: I've learned it's better to ask that question when I'm not wearing a mask.
Brick: My two favorite trick-or-treaters. Look at that - Didn't anybody tell you Halloween was three months ago?
Laurel: Daniel Brickwell....
Arsenal: You have failed this city.
Brick: And you seem to have failed in your maths. Can't you see that there's a lot more of us than there is of you?
(Brick's men line up behind him.)
Sin: Guess again, Brick-head!
(Sin, Wildcat and the people of The Glades walk up behind Arsenal and Laurel)
Brick: Is this little parade supposed to mean something? I'll tell you what it means. It means that the population of The Glades is gonna plummet severely. Get 'em!
Laurel: (To Ted) You're going to be fine. It's okay.
Ted: It's a good thing you fight better than you lie.
Arrow: Drop the gun! No more death!
Merlyn: That's easy for you to say. You just returned from the grave.
Merlyn: Thea will never forgive me.
Arrow: Then start giving her reasons to.
Arrow: I've been gone and I'm sorry. Sorry for what the city has had to endure in my absence. But you did endure it! And the evidence of that struggle is lying at my feet. You did not fail this city! And I promise I will not fail you by leaving it again!
Thea: Are you okay?
Merlyn: I am, in fact. I didn't do it.
Thea: For me?
Merlyn: For me. But because of you.
Ollie: I'm sorry.
Felicity: For what? Maybe you could be a little more specific? For letting us believe you were dead? For weeks? Or for abandoning every principle you claim to have by getting into bed with Malcolm Merlyn?
(Ollie tries to step forward but Felicity shakes her head)
Ollie: That's not why you're upset...
Felicity: While you were gone, for almost a month... I allowed myself to... fantasize.. to dream that maybe, just maybe, Merlyn was wrong. That you were alive. And that you would come back. And that you would be different. That almost dying would give you a new perspective on life. That you would just do things differently!
Ollie: Things between us, you mean...
Felicity: Before you left, the last thing you said to me... was that you loved me. Now you're back. And the first thing you tell me is that you're working with the man who turned your sister - a woman you're supposed to love - into a killer, who killed a woman you used to love! I don't want to be a woman that you love.
As the episode opens, it has been one week since the SCPD were pulled out of The Glades. Halloween was three months earlier and Oliver Queen has been gone for nearly a month.
After watching Laurel beat up several thugs, Arsenal notes that "Grant must be some teacher." Ted Grant was last seen in A306.
We see Sara and Roy's friend Sin for the first time since A220.
Merlyn believed his wife's killer was a man named Kendrick Weller.
Felicity refers to herself and the rest of The Arrow's support team as Team Arrow - a nickname she first used in A212.
Quentin Lance refers to The Arrow's support team as The Hood Squad.
Danny Brick used the same gun to kill Alderman Ford in A311 and Rebecca Merlyn - Malcolm Merlyn's wife.
Rebecca Merlyn was killed 21 years earlier.
Malcolm Merlyn planted a hidden camera in the Arrow cave. It is through this he overhears that Brick was the real killer of his wife.
Thea tells Roy about how Malcolm saved her during the events of A223.
Brick killed Rebecca Merlyn to gain membership in The Orchid Bay Butchers.
Sin tells Captain Lance that another woman is impersonating Sara.
Oliver tells Thea that he was in Bludhaven and in jail for the month he was gone.
Oliver asks Merlyn to train him so that he can fight and kill Ra's Al Ghul. Merlyn agrees.
We find out the origin of Merlyn's League of Assassins' name: Al Su-her - The Magician. It is because he performed slight-of-hand magic (the coin behind the ear trick) to amuse Nyssa Al Ghul as a girl.
The cabin where Tatsu cares for Oliver's injuries.
The Fridge Factor
Ted Grant is seemingly killed by Brick in order to give Laurel one more person to feel guilty about dying in order to push her transformation into Black Canary.
The Winick Factor
Granting that there's a long tradition of corrupt or incompetent politicians running Star City in the comics, it still seems somewhat unlikely that any mayor hoping to be reelected or avoid serious issues with the state or federal government would ever hand over part of their city to a crime boss. It seems even less unlikely that the police officers would agree to such a demand. Especially with Quentin Lance in charge.
The Bottom Line
Logically, very little of the scenario for this trilogy of episodes makes sense. But the cast sells it through sheer charisma and the snappy dialogue more than makes up for the holes in the plot of this third act.