Oliver and Thea travel to Lian Yu to begin training to defeat Ra's Al Ghul. Unfortunately, Slade Wilson is out of his cell.. and out for revenge!
In the flashback, Oliver and Maseo travel to Starling City in search of Chien Na Wei. And despite Waller's orders to the contrary, Ollie checks up on his family and friends.
The Count of Monte Cristo (a man who was wrongfully imprisoned returns home, wanting to know what happened to his friends and family while he was away), Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan (Slade's line about leaving Ollie the same way Ollie left him), Green Arrow: Year One (Ollie fighting for survival on an island) and various Green Arrow comics by both Judd Winick (Ollie returning to the island he was stranded with loved ones to learn new skills and Slade's threat to fake Ollie and Thea's deaths) and Dennis O'Neil (Quentin Lance's "fat-cat" speech).
It's a hard choice what is more infuriating - Maseo's belief that a multinational corporation would never remove the finger-print records of a dead employee from the database that governs access to their private computer records or his belief that Ollie attempting to access Queen Consolidate's records with his own identity when they are supposed to be hiding the fact that Oliver Queen is alive isn't a stupid idea.
Manu Bennett, as always, proves a real treat as Slade Wilson, however briefly he appears.
Ditto Colin Donnel as Tommy Merlyn. If Lazarus Pits become a reality in the DCTVU, I want Tommy Merlyn in line right behind Sara Lance.when they start bringing back beloved characters.
Paul Blackthorne's performance here makes you realize how underutilized he's been during Season Three and his turn as a younger, drunker and more easily irritated Quentin Lance proves a welcome reminder of the character from Season One and serves as an interesting set-up for the powerful scene in which he tells Laurel off in the present.
Finally, Willa Holland rocks every bit of material she is given in this episode, including some lines that almost, ALMOST don't work (i.e. most of Thea's break-down moments). And then we get that final speech to Merlyn... and all is forgiven.
The three-way fight scene between Ollie, Slade and Thea.
Ollie says Lian Yu reminds him of who he is. This is similar to comments Oliver made in the comics, where he would revisit the island where he was stranded for a few days each year. He also took frequent camping trips to hone his skills in the wild.
The company that Laurel took a job with in San Francisco is Wethersby Posner. This is one name away from the firm of Wethersby, Posner & Klein - the law-firm from Eli Stone. Eli Stone was a show that Arrow Executive Producers Marc Guggenheim and Greg Berlanti both created together before Arrow.
When chewing Laurel out for taking a job with a big law-firm, Quentin Lance makes reference to "fat cats getting fatter". This was a frequent phrase in Oliver Queen's rants about corporate corruption in the Green Arrow comics of Dennis O'Neil.
In the comics, Lt. Matthew Shrieve is an United States Army officer associated with a group called Project M or Project Monster. Shrieve was the commander of a sub-group of Project M known as The Creature Commandos - a group of monsters that fought the Nazis during WWII.
SHACAL-4 Encryption protests the computers in Queen Consolidated's offices. This encryption is unhackable, at least by Maseo.
The computers at Queen Consolidated are protected by biometic encryption i.e. finger-print scanners.
Oliver is given a crawler that will search all of Peter Yang's network trafficking.
The ARGUS facility on Lian Yu is a former Chinese prison complex retrofitted by eight ARGUS technicians.
(While dueling with Thea)
Ollie: Did he teach you to cheat?
Thea: There's no such thing. There's only survival and death.
Tommy: You shouldn't grow up too fast.
Thea: Yeah, well you're not my brother!
Tommy: You're right. No, I'm not. But I think about him every single day. And for the first time I'm glad he's gone. Because seeing you like this would break his heart.
Thea: Funny how Ollie seems to care about me more now that he's dead than when he was alive.
Slade: I'm going to leave you, kid, the same way you left me - alone in Purgatory.
Felicity: (to a picture of Ollie) You're cute. Too bad you're, you know, dead. Which is obviously a lot worse for you than it is for me. (sighs) I really need to learn to stop talking to myself.
John: Nothing like a rich kid's party to remind me of what I miss about being shot at in Afghanistan.
Quentin: You spoiled billionaires sure know how to throw yourselves a party. You've got underage girls. You've got drug dealers. You've even got dead drug dealers!
Maseo: What were you thinking! Anyone at that party could have seen you!
Ollie: Yeah... I pulled the hoodie down to cover my face.
Maseo: That disguise wouldn't work even if you smeared greasepaint over your face!
Maseo: Oliver, if you want redemption, start with all the lives Chien Na Wei's bio-weapon could end.
Ollie: Those people are strangers to me. These people... they're my friends and my family.
Maseo: And they will be ashamed of this selfish choice you are making.
Ollie: They're already ashamed of me.
Thea: This whole thing with Lian Yu...This is ridiculous! What the hell are we even doing here?!
(Slade comes up behind Thea and puts a gun to her temple)
Slade: I ask myself that very same question... over... and over...
Robert Queen: You can right my wrongs. You can be better than I was. You can save this city.
(After stepping in to save Maseo from a firefight)
Ollie: I'm sorry I'm late.
Maseo: Actually, you were right on time.
(Thea is holding a gun on a helpless Slade)
Ollie: You're not a killer!
Thea: Tell that to Sara!
Ollie: What happened to Sara is not on you! What happens to him is! All this is what Malcolm wanted! He freed Slade to prove that we're killers because he wants you to be just like him. You've got to prove to him that you're not!
Slade: How many people can Oliver Queen lose before there is no more Oliver Queen?
Quentin: The reason why I want to open up this bottle and want to crawl inside is because of what you did to us. I loved your sister. I loved your mom. So much like each other, and, you know, these wild spirits. But you and I, we had something more than that. 'Cause we were the ones that were alike. And we had a trust. And we had a bond. And you broke it. And - I don't know... how you could do that to us. Look, I'm going to survive this. I mean, I've got to. It's my baby girl. But what you've done... I don't know how I'm going to live through this.
Laurel: Daddy, I think we should go to a meeting...
Quentin: Yeah. I'll to go the one on Broxton. You go to the one on Fourth.
Thea: (to Merlyn) I will work with you to stop Ra's, because that's what my brother says we need to do. So I will be your student. I will be your partner. Even if I have to, I will be your soldier. But never again will I be your daughter!
Laurel: Hey! Do you remember when I was going to take that corporate job in San Francisco? Do you remember what you said to me? You were mad because I wasn't choosing a life where I was going to help people. It's like you knew. Already even then. You knew that my life was always heading towards that mask.
Starling City celebrated its centennial in 2010.
Ollie refers to his returning to Lian Yu between Season One and Season Two.
Thea refers to Laurel telling her about Sara's death (A309).
Ollie says Sara's name in his sleep.
Oliver buried a gun with his father's body on Lian Yu.
Slade refers to the murder of Moira Queen (A220) and Ollie's lying to Slade about how Shado died (A209).
We get our first look at Andy Diggle and find out the first job he got John working security after he left the US Army was as security for Tommy Merlyn.
Laurel originally planned to work for as a lawyer for a corporation in San Francisco before a drunken rant by her father made her reconsider her desire to "save the world in Starling City".
Oliver kills the drug-dealer who sold to Thea by snapping his neck after the dealer recognized him.
Ollie makes reference to the one other inmate of the Lian Yu ARGUS jail - Captain Boomerang - who has been imprisoned since A308.
We finally see the message Oliver's father left him regarding The List, first mentioned in A111.
General Matthew Shrieve is Amanda Waller's superior.
In 2010, Laurel gave up the job in San Francisco to take a job with CNRI.
Quentin calls Laurel by the name Black Canary.
Lian Yu. Starling City five years earlier, in the flashbacks.
The Bottom Line
A wonderful return to form after last week, with nearly every element of the show rocking on eight cylinders. We don't get nearly as much Slade Wilson as we might have wanted and it's a little disappointing that Merlyn engineered his escape rather than Slade escaping on his own. Still, the flashbacks are fun in how they play against the events of the present and Ollie and Thea finally lose the final layers of secrets between them.