TV Review: Arrow - Season 3 Episode 14 "The Return"
Join us each week as we review the latest episode of ARROW. Warning: the following review contains major spoilers for the newest episode of the show.
Episode 14: "The Return"
Synopsis: Malcolm puts Oliver and Thea in a dangerous situation that lands them on Lian Yu with Oliver’s former enemy, Deathstroke. A flashback reveals when Oliver and Maseo returned to Starling City to retrieve the Omega bio weapon, and despite being under strict orders from Amanda Waller not to reveal himself to anyone, Oliver looks in on his family, Laurel and Tommy.
In Starling City: At Malcolm Merlyn's suggestion, Oliver and Thea begin their training to battle R'as Al Ghul which takes them to Lian Yu, Oliver's prison for five years. Thea is pleased that there are no longer secrets between them, a twinge of guilt on Oliver's face; not only does he know Thea killed Sara Lance, but he also has not told her he returned to Starling City while everyone thought he was dead.
Thea wakes up a sleeping Oliver and tells him he was calling Sara's name. Thea then asks why Oliver didn't tell him about Sara's death. Oliver tells her that after everything with Slade Wilson, Sara returned to the League of Assassins. Thea asks if the League killed her, but Oliver doesn't answer and takes a walk. Along the beach, Oliver comes to the hatch leading down to the A.R.G.U.S. facility and finds Slade's cell open and the guard dead. Oliver rushes back to find Thea and warn her when a call comes in from Malcolm Merlyn who reveals he let Slade out to test Oliver and Thea in preparation for the fight with the League.
Oliver retrieves a gun from their father's grave when they are suddenly overtaken by Slade who knocks them both out. When they awaken, they are locked in Wilson's cell. He tells them he has no desire to kill either of them but plans to stage their death in Starling and leave them locked in the prison. Slade asks if Oliver told Thea about Shado but Thea says she doesn't need to know. Slade threatens them again and leaves them.
Oliver tells Thea that there is no escape from the prison but is formulating a plan. Thea then asks Oliver what other secrets he may be keeping, but Oliver says it is not the right time. As she begins to rant, Oliver realizes the prison was designed for grown men. Thea tries to stretch her arm to reach the release switch, but cannot. So, obviously, she lets Oliver dislocate her shoulder so she can reach it and set them free. Oliver then tells Thea they need to get to the hidden plane before Slade does.
In the woods, Thea finds a path but Oliver pushes her out of the way moments before a booby trap can kill her. Thea asks who put it there and Oliver admits it was him. His ankle hurt, the take a break and Thea asks the truth about Sara again. Oliver admits that Malcolm drugged her and that she is the killer and Thea can barely process it. Oliver says he didn't tell her because it wasn't her but the drug. As the argue, Slade sneaks up and holds Thea at gunpoint. Thea gets away and Oliver tackles Slade down the side of a hill. He begins to beat his former foe and Thea helps. They fight and Thea ends up holding a gun on Slade. Slade prods Thea to kill him but Oliver tells her she isn't a killer and not to feed into what Malcolm wants.
After cutting to black, we see Slade back in his cell, Thea not having killed him. Slade mocks Oliver losing all of his family members and asks about Felicity. Oliver grits his teeth as Slade asks how many people he can lose before he loses himself. Oliver leaves and locks the door.
In Starling, Lance leaves flowers at Sara's grave and Laurel arrives. She tells her father, who has a bottle in hand, that her mother knows. Lance clearly has not forgiven Laurel for not telling him about Sara. He tells her that the two of them are very much alike but he doesn't know how she could break their bond and lie to him. Laurel asks her father to go to a meeting and he agrees but that they go to two different meetings. Laurel opens the bottle, prepared for a drink, and pours it out.
Back at their apartment, Oliver begs Thea not to tell Laurel about what happened to Sara. They agree and Malcolm Merlyn arrives to concur. Seething with anger, Oliver confronts Merlyn for what he pulled with Slade. Merlyn says he had faith in both of them and wanted to force them to work together. Thea asks how he could have made her kill Sara to which he says she doesn't understand what they have to face in R'as Al Ghul. Thea tells him to stop using The League as an excuse. Thea says she will work with Malcolm to stop R'as Al Ghul but will never again be his daughter.
Flashbacks: In Starling City, Amanda Waller informs Oliver that China White landed 24 hours prior to auction off the Omega virus to a man named Peter Wang. Oliver Queen recognizes the man as someone his father and Queen Consolidated had worked with. Waller tells Oliver that is why he and Maseo are still alive but threatens to kill him if he jeapordizes the operation.
Laurel finds her father at a local bar, drunk and wallowing in the absence of Sara. Laurel tries to take him home but her father refuses until the bartender cuts him off. Oliver and Maseo track Wang to Queen Consolidated and learn they cannot hack into his computer but must get into the local network at Oliver's family's company. While they sit outside, Oliver sees Thea walk by. They follow her to the gravesite for Oliver and his father where she meets her drug dealer. Tommy Merlyn shows up and chastises Thea who brushes it off, saying he isn't her brother.
Sneaking into his father's office, Oliver is instructed to login to the computer using the biometric reader (conveniently still active for his fingerprint) and they locate the files they need. Oliver stumbles across an encrypted file addressed to him and his sister as well and copies them. As Oliver tries to get the files downloaded, Felicity comes upstairs into the office to drop off some documents and comments at a cute photo of Oliver. Back at their safehouse, they learn the auction is that night but they don't know where yet.
At a college party, Diggle and his brother patrol outside. Oliver sneaks in and sees Tommy and Laurel chat briefly when Thea walks in and promises to stay sober, but Oliver sees her buy more off her dealier. Oliver confronts the dealer upstairs who recognizes him and pulls a knife. Oliver grabs him and snaps his neck, dropping him to the ground below. Lance investigates and his partner suggests maybe the killer was some sort of vigilante, but they laugh it off. Lance begins to go off on everyone for their behavior while Oliver watches on. Maseo comes up behind Oliver and takes him away at gunpoint. Lance continues to berate his daughter for not taking a job that actually helps people and acts disappointed in her choices in the wake of all their losses.
Maseo questions what Oliver was doing, saying a hoodie and some greasepaint is not enough to hide his identity from anyone. Oliver, having seen everything broken in his life that he can fix, begs Maseo to let him try and use his family's resources to fight whatever Waller may do to him. Maseo says they need to stop the bioweapon that could kill everyone but Oliver refuses and says goodbye.
Oliver walks through his home and sinks into a chair, comprehending that he is back. Using a tablet, he retrieves the file from his father. The video explains the mistakes he made and the list he made, admitting the lies he told and that he wants his son to right his wrongs and be better than he was. At the Queen Consolidated warehouse, China White greets her potential buyers. Maseo takes photos from above as the auction begins. Opening fire, Maseo is captured but Oliver arrives and saves his friend. China White escapes but Oliver shoots them, taking out the driver and knocking the villain out.
Oliver thanks Amanda Waller for the trip home but she insists that it is not that simple. Despite having the Omega and China White in custody, Waller defers to General Matthew Shreve (Marc Singer) who tellls Oliver he will need to be debriefed back in China and then tells him he will let him go anywhere he wants to go. We then see Tommy meet up with Laurel outside of work and asks her out on a date. Thea then returns to Oliver's grave and leaves white roses.
Review: Ah, how much I missed seeing Lian Yu. Where the island served as the site of flashbacks for the first season, we now get to see the island in current time and Starling City in flashbacks. I am still not convinced as to where the heck the flashbacks are going this season, but the resolution to the convoluted Alpha/Omega storyline is finally taken care of. Captain Lance got to wear a shitty wig this week, which felt like the weakest segment of both the current and flashback sections of the episode. Seeing the Queen family and friends during Oliver's absent years was nice, especially the return of Tommy Merlyn, but the showdown between Oliver and Thea with Slade Wilson was an awesome return to form from the first two seasons.
ARROW has always worked best when the tension is ramped up to it's peak and this week delivered on that. Overall, this felt like old school ARROW and that is always a good thing. I would only complain that we didn't get to see enough of Slade Wilson, but he served his purpose and is still a viable foe for a future season. I do think the League of Assassins element has been stretched way too long, especially since Oliver reappeared in Starling City a few week ago, but I am looking forward to what they are going to do once they get their hands on Malcolm Merlyn next week.
Next on ARROW: "Nanda Parbat" airs February 25th, 2015: Malcolm is captured by Ra's al Ghul and taken to Nanda Parbat. Because of his love for Thea, Oliver considers saving Merlyn. Ray is obsessed with finishing his Atom suit so he can save the city but Felicity fears he is heading down the same path as Oliver and tries to pull him out of the lab.