Oliver Queen is used to calling the shots and making the rules. But in his absence, Team Arrow has grown past him and is reluctant to return to the way they were before. This is especially true for Laurel, who Oliver doesn't see as being part of the team at all. But when the new Count Vertigo escapes and starts putting his drugs out on the street again, The Canary will take action - with or without The Arrow. At the same time, Oliver makes a fateful decision regarding Thea that will change their lives forever even as The League of Assassins make their first move in coming after them.
In the flashbacks, Oliver and Maseo plan their escape from Hong Kong - needing to flee both Chien Na Wei's followers and ARGUS.
The Green Arrow/Black Canary comics of Andrew Kreisberg
As Assistant District Attorney, Laurel has no authority to speak on behalf of a convicted criminal who is speaking to the press and say that he has no comment. If she was defending him, it would be another story.
Thea's turning on Merlyn seems somewhat abrupt, given that last week she was defending everything he'd done - even The Undertaking - because Merlyn had risked his life to save her during The Seige of Starling City.
For that matter, Roy's agreeing with Thea's sudden change of heart is quite a change from last week when he was the one person on Team Arrow willing to suggest that Malcolm could be reasoned with.
Felicity's analysis of Sara's motivations vs. Laurel's motivations seems hopelessly flawed, with Felicity claiming that Sara wore a mask to hide her demons but that Laurel (whom Felicity has barely interacted with until recently) has some kind of light inside of her. This in spite of Laurel's motivations being entirely driven her inner demons - i..e. rage and guilt over Sara's death
Oliver tells Laurel that there is something he can tell her that she doesn't know. We never do find out what this is, though.
Willa Holland steals the show this time around, as Thea finally learns the truth about Oliver's secret life.
As in the comics, members of the League of Assassins will frequently commit suicide before allowing themselves to be captured alive. Chase demonstrates this, as he poisons himself before Merlyn can kill him.
Felicity tracks Count Vertigo to Daggett Pharmaceuticals. This may be a reference to Roland Daggett - a corrupt businessman from Batman: The Animated Series. He was the one responsible for creating Clayface. Daggett also appeared in the movie The Dark Knight Rises, as the businessman who hired Catwoman and Bane as part of a plan to bankrupt Bruce Wayne.
Chlorine Trifluoride is a colorless, poisonous, corrosive and extremely reactive gas. It is used as a component in rocket fuel and is surpasses the oxidizing abilities of pure oxygen!
According to Merlyn, noblemen frequently used red wine when poisoning someone because the strong smell of the wine can hide the scent of various poisons, particularly cyanide.
Illusion Sara: Dinah Laurel Lance. Selfish Bitch. You're not a hero. You're a liar. A fraud. And an addict.
Oliver: Will you think for a second about what it will do to your father if something happened to you?! What you're doing is selfish!
Laurel: Fighting for your city isn't selfish! It's what a hero would do.
Oliver: You're not a hero.
Oliver: I know that this isn't going to mean much. I've give you no reason to believe me when I say it.. But I've lied all this time to protect you.
(Thea looks at the case holding The Arrow costume)
Thea: You're... you're him.
Thea: That night with the- the hoods and... that woman in black... that...
Oliver: Was Ra's Al Ghul's daughter.
Thea: That was you. All those times I got so mad at you for being a flake or telling me something I knew that had to be a lie... you were saving someone's life.
(Thea moves to hug Ollie)
Thea: Thank you. Thank you, Ollie. Thank you.
Laurel: I know what you're going to say. But I risked my life for this city while you were gone. That should earn me some respect.
Oliver: This isn't about respect. And it's not about you risking your life. I understand that you miss Sara. And I understand that when you go out there like this, all that pain goes away.
Laurel: It's the only time it ever does.
Oliver: And that relief isn't real. It's a drug.
Laurel: If you're implying -
Oliver: You are an addict. And just like with booze and pills, that high you're chasing every night is endangering your life.
Laurel: Go to hell, Oliver! You don't get to play that card with me! Ever! And if there is anyone who is using adrenaline to hide the pain of real feelings and real life, it's you!
Thea: You smell like smoke. Korean barbecue?
Ollie: C4. (pause) Yeah.
Thea: It's nice that we can tell each other this stuff now.
Ollie: It is, actually.
Quentin: Have you heard from Sara lately?
Laurel: No. Why?
Quentin: I ran into her a few weeks back and something just felt a little... off. Then I ran into that friend of her's. You know, the one with the, uh.. boy hair?
Quentin: Yeah, Sin. That's it. She said something strange. She said that the woman in black isn't Sara.
Laurel: That doesn't make any sense.
Quentin: No. (pause) I mean, I just want to talk to her, you know. Sara or not.
Thea: I felt pretty lame not recognizing my own brother just because he's wearing a hood. I can't believe you knew before I did.
Roy: He saved my life, Thea.
Thea: He saved a lot of peoples lives. (pause) He thinks we need Merlyn's help.
Roy: Hmm. And what do you think?
Thea: I think I want to get as far away from Malcolm Merlyn as I possibly can.
Roy: Well, there's your answer right there.
Diggle: What I know, Oliver, is that you started something. Something strong enough to live on past you. Question is... can you live with what it's become?
Illusion Quentin: You lied to me, Laurel! Straight to my face! My own daughter! Sara was my daughter! I deserved to know! I had a right! To grieve! To mourn! Who do you think you are to take that from me, huh? Who do you think you are?! You keep my own daughter's death a secret just because you think I'm too weak for the truth?!
Felicity: I think Sara wore her mask just as much to hide her demons as she did to help people. And I don't see that with you. You have a light inside of you that Sara never had. So maybe you should stop trying to be Sara and just be yourself?
We see the new Count Vertigo for the first time since A301.
Oliver reveals his secret identity to Thea.
Thea refers to The League of Assassins trying to kill her in A304.
Oliver tells Thea about their mother knowing his secret, which was revealed in A220.
Thea refers to the events of A309 and how Ollie broke the window of her apartment.
Oliver can survive being water-boarded for ten minutes. Most special forces soldiers do not last three minutes, according to Amanda Waller.
Quentin refers to the events of A311 and A312 regarding his meetings with "Sara" and Sin.
Quentin figures out that Sara is the new Canary on his own.
Laurel tells Quentin about Sara's death.
At the end of the episode, Ollie and Thea travel to Lian Yu.
Maseo turns himself in rather than let Oliver take all of the blame for their escape after he learns of Oliver's capture by ARGUS.
In the flashbacks, Waller escorts Oliver to Starling City.
Oliver makes reference to running into Laurel in costume sometime between the events of last week's episode and this episode.
The Fridge Factor
Pretty much the everything involving Laurel in this episode is dedicated to showing how she's incompetent as a vigilante as well as being "a selfish bitch, a liar, a fraud and an addict". And it isn't entirely wrong, Ollie's dislike of vigilantes he hasn't trained to the contrary. Hell, the only thing that saves her at the end is Vertigo's drug eventually triggering her fight response and her getting the jump on him.
Had Laurel shown any signs of guilt for her past behavior before now, this might have been an effective way of showing that. As it is, the whole thing comes off as incredibly forced. At least Laurel finally comes clean to her father at the end but the fact of the matter is that Laurel is still a pretty terrible person whose only reason for being a vigilante is as a means of coping with her guilt and rage over her sister's death.
The Bottom Line
The weakest episode of the series in quite some time. The writing is sub-par, with most of the cast seeming out of character and spouting opinions that are totally the opposite of what they were saying in the last episode. The fact that the episode is called Canaries when most of the action is focused upon Thea and how things change now that she knows all about Ollie's secret life says it all. Still, at least a lot of the stupider plot points of Season 3 have been resolved (i.e. Laurel's going through increasingly ludicrous ends to hide Sara's death from her feather and Thea's obliviousness to what's going on around her own nightclub.) and the next episode promises to move the plot along.