When Arrow Executive Producer, Andrew Kreisberg tweeted these three words about tonight’s episode: “Best. Cliffhanger. Ever.” He wasn’t kidding. But before we get to any of that, let us setup what leads to this.
Tonight’s episode was all about Cyrus Vanch (guest star David Anders aka Dr. Frankenstein from Once Upon a Time and Uncle John Gilbert from The Vampire Diaries), who is ready to reclaim his position as leader of the underworld after being released from Iron Heights Prison.
And how does he reclaim his position? Read on to find out. As always spoilers ahead.
Once Vanch is released, he goes with his girlfriend Vivian, to his lawyer’s house, George. Apparently, George wasn’t quite that good of a lawyer to Vanchi while he was in prison, mentioning the Triad and Bertinelli getting captured and Arrow as reasons why. Vanch kills George and takes over his pad as his new base of operations.
Back at the Arrow Cave, Diggle and Oliver discuss the other book that contains the List. Oliver doesn’t want to believe that his mother is behind Walter’s disappearance or is connected to the List. Diggle believes that Moira isn’t as innocent as she appears and is more inclined to believe Walter since he is missing and presumed dead, which is more telling than Moira being in possession of the book.
In our first island flashback of the night, Oliver arrives at a clearing and sees a downed cargo plane with its contents and debris littering the field. Inside the plane, Oliver gets ambushed by an unknown assailant (Manu Bennett) asking if there are other with Oliver. Oliver tells this unknown man that Yao Fei sent him to his plane.
Back at the police station, Detective Lance’s boss, Frank, has given him a case but Lance doesn’t want it as he is the midst of taking down Arrow but his boss doesn’t seem to be a hurry to catch him. He sees Arrow as a hero because he saved hostages back in episode 9’s “Year’s End”, saved people from an arsonist in episode 11’s “Burned” and took down the Vertigo drug ring in the last episode. If his boss believes that Arrow is a hero, Lance then questions why is he a cop. Lance is resolute in his quest and believes he is close in catching Arrow but his boss tells him until he has something concrete, he is assigned to another case.
At Queen Manor, Oliver has a conversation with his mom about Walter and shows her the List. Moira gives a somewhat true answer about the book. She says it is Robert’s notebook that is filled with names of people in Starling City that owed Robert a favor. Oliver tells his mother that he looked up those people on the Internet (somewhat true) and that they aren’t good people.
She claims that she didn’t know what his father was involved in and Oliver wants to look into this but Moira doesn’t want Oliver to and promptly throws the other List in the fireplace, where conveniently a fire is burning. Moira says that the only way to keep their family safe is for people in it to stop asking questions and tries to get Oliver to promise that he won’t ask any more questions.
At the CNRI, Thea bemoans to Laurel how much community service hours she has left and we meet Anastasia, a young lawyer on a pro bono sabbatical from her law firm. Anyways, she mentions to Laurel how Vanch has been released from Iron Heights Prison. Hearing this, Laurel tries to call the DA to get Vanch back in prison but according to Anastasia, Vanch was released because of lack of evidence.
Apparently, Vanch has been connected to human trafficking, drug running and at least 52 different homicides. Anastasia tells Laurel that there is nothing she can do unless she has access to a private police force. To the Arrow Phone does Laurel go.
Back at the Arrow Cave, Diggle finds it very convenient how Moira burned the other List but Oliver believes that she did it for his safety and she knew none of the names of the list but Diggle thinks she is lying. Diggle said that if it wasn’t his mother, he would have a Arrow-side chat with her.
The Arrow Phone goes off and it is Laurel asking Arrow’s help in bringing Vanch to justice. Arrow asks Laurel why she doesn’t go to the police but she says she can’t without evidence but Arrow says that getting evidence is not what he does but she says that Vanch is dangerous. Hearing that, Arrow says they will be in touch. Diggle believes that Oliver wanting to help Laurel is way for him to avoid the issue surrounding his mother.
At the police station, the tech guy comes to Lance and tells him that Laurel had placed a call to Arrow. Hearing this, Lance believes that Laurel will eventually meet with Arrow in person and he will have a task force ready to take him down.
Meanwhile at Vanch’s new HQ, while Arrow is taking down his henchmen, Vanch is telling his girlfriend that now that the Triad and Bertinelli’s gangs have no leader, he primed to be the new criminal overlord of Starling City. Arrow shoots an arrow with a listening device to try and get evidence. When one of Vanch’s henchmen opens fire, this alerts Vanch to something is amiss. He notices the listening device and decides that he wants to take Arrow down thus he joins the line of people that want to catch him.
Just as Tommy and Laurel were about to go on a date, the Arrow Phone rings and Laurel lies to Tommy that it has to do with work (well that sort of is true). Arrow tells Laurel that he has something for her and asks to meet her in 5 minutes on top of a building, while Lance and the IT guy listen in. I have to say I am getting annoyed with Lance’s vendetta against Arrow, it is tiresome. Why can’t Lance by like Batman’s Commissioner Gordon?
Lance gathers his task force and tells them to use rubber bullets so as to not harm Laurel but other than that they should do whatever it takes to bring down Arrow.
Lance’s partner (Roger Cross) fears that this hunt for Arrow will destroy his relationship with Laurel but Lance counters that he was hurt when Laurel has turning to Arrow for help.
Laurel tells Tommy that something has come up at work and needs to delay their date.
Meanwhile, Moira’s driver as conveniently taken a day off and Diggle fills in and drops her off at a building; Diggle is suspicious and follows her in only to see that there some swanky birthday party happening. Diggle covers saying he was looking for the restroom
At the rooftop, Arrow and Laurel meet and in his disguised voice tells Laurel that he couldn’t so much saying that Vanch’s place was well guarded. But he gives Laurel the voice recording of Vanch wanting to take over the Triad and Bertinelli’s gang. However, they are interrupted by Lance and his task force. Arrow takes Laurel hostage and uses as a shield and just before he escapes, he apologizes to Laurel and jumps off the roof with Lance on his tail but Arrow gets the better of him and knocks him out.
At the police station, Laurel has it out with her father in how he manipulated her and put her life in danger to catch Arrow and knowing that she had the Arrow phone, he could use it to his advantage. Lance yells back saying that he asked her to stay away from Arrow. But Laurel tells her father that his hatred for Arrow is hurting the people in his life as well as his own. She asks him once he catches Arrow, what would be his next obsession and walks away. But Lance stops her and thinking that perhaps he is going to apologize, he asks for the Arrow Phone instead and Laurel slams it on his desk.
At the Arrow Cave, Oliver tells Diggle that Lance’s actions could have hurt Laurel but Dig believes that Oliver loses perspective when it comes to Laurel and his mother. Oliver doesn’t want to get into this argument with Dig again and tells Oliver he has been driving her around. Oliver is pissed that Dig is spying on his mom but Dig believes his objectivity can help them get to the truth. Oliver refuses to believe that his mother is involved with the problems of Starling City.
Laurel rants to Tommy how her dad used her to catch Arrow. This surprises Tommy and realized that Arrow was the work thing that Laurel had to do in lieu of their date. She mentions to Tommy how she wanted to tell him how Arrow contacted her to help with the Declan case (episode 4’s “An Innocent Man”) and with the arson case (episode 11 “Burned). Tommy is none too pleased at his girlfriend meeting with a murderer and sides with her father. Laurel tries to defend herself saying that her dad has been lying to her for weeks and Tommy can relate and walks away.
Vanch watches a news report of the failed police ambush of Arrow, and he seems to be impressed with how Arrow operates. Vanch’s girlfriend comes in and gives Vanch some intel on how to draw Arrow out: Laurel Lance.
Tommy goes over to the Queen Mansion, and confides in Oliver how Laurel is working with Arrow, Oliver looks on with fake disbelief and admonishes Tommy for letting Laurel work with Arrow. Tommy is fed up with all of Laurel’s lies and believes that Laurel is attracted to Arrow because she has always been attracted to dangerous men. Oliver suggests that he and Laurel have an honest conversation and Tommy wonders how the people that are closest to you can lie to your face. This statement hits home to Oliver. Oliver tells Tommy to fix the situation before it becomes in fixable.
Back on the island, Oliver and the unknown man, look over the map and the word Shengcu and how it means survive in Chinese. Oliver wants to know what Yao Fei meant by this and the stranger tells Oliver that there is an airfield nearby that is key to leaving the island. He mentions how he and Yao Fei have been observing the air field and they were supposed to leave together until they got separated. The stranger hans Oliver a sword and tells Oliver that Yao Fei was sent to him to help him take the airfield. To know that Oliver is up to the task, they engage in a sword fight but Oliver is losing badly while the stranger gives him advice on how to fight.
At Laurel’s apartment, she is leaving Tommy a message when there is someone at the door but it isn’t Tommy. Instead it is Vanch’s goons trying to kidnap Laurel, after smacking them around a bit (shade of Black Canary), Vanch shows up and taser’s her unconscious.
Diggle continues on his role in Driving Miss Daisy to an appointment with her accountant but Diggle suspects something and follows her to an office and in a storage closet, overhears her conversation with Malcolm Merlyn about the matter that he wanted Moira to take care of two episodes ago. Before Moira leaves, Malcolm gets all like Columbo and says “just one more thing.” He wants Moira to clear out the warehouse where she has stored the Queen’s Gambit. Malcolm tells Moira that it serves no purpose in other people finding out that the yacht was sabotaged.
Diggle gets caught by Malcolm’s bodyguard and demands to know what Diggle put in his pocket. Diggle produces a lighter and some cigarettes so he has got away from this predicament.
Tommy arrives at Laurel’s apartment to have that honest chat but sees her door is open, discovers signs of a struggle and finds instead that listening device arrow. The arrow contains a message for Arrow for them to meet or pieces of Laurel will be scattered over Starling City. Tommy brings the message to Lance and Tommy wants to know if they can trace where this guy is at. But Lance is concerned at how Vanch knows that Laurel is connected to Arrow. Lance realizes that someone on the police force has squealed and tells Tommy that he can’t do anything and immediately grabs the Arrow Phone.
Diggle shows Oliver what he overheard at Merlyn’s office. We can hear Moira’s end of the conversation clearly but Malcolm’s voice is garbled and Oliver misses bits and pieces of the conversation but hears that the yacht was sabotaged. Diggle believes that Moira was involved but Oliver doesn’t believe it but Diggle says the truth is that Moira knew and kept it a secret and questions why she would do that if she has nothing to hide.
The Arrow Phone goes off and Arrow is pissed that Lance has called until he mentions Laurel’s name and tells Arrow that she has been kidnapped by Vanch and will be killed by him. Lance hopes that Arrow believes him.
Island flashback number 3. Oliver wakes up from his fight with the stranger and finds himself tied to a chair. This stranger is going to kill Oliver for fear of him giving up his location but Oliver painfully escapes his ropes thus impressing this stranger who introduces himself as Slade Wilson. In the comics, Slade Wilson is known as Deathstroke, character that has appeared earlier episodes.
At the same rooftop where the ambush on Arrow happened, Lance and Arrow meet. Lance tells Arrow that their is snitch at the precinct so he can’t trust anyone there so needs his help. Arrow tells Lance that Vanch as Laurel but his HQ is heavily fortified and the need each others help. The end result is they come to an understanding and team up.
At Vanch’s hideout, he seems surprised that Arrow hasn’t showed up to rescue Laurel but Laurel taunts Vanch saying that everything he has done to her is enough evidence to put him away. Vanch is none to worried because he believes that Laurel will be dead and Arrow has no chance of rescuing her because his men are quite heavily armed. But he is wrong as we hear arrows whizz around the complex and Vanch’s men fall like flies and even takes out the sharpshooters that Vanch boasts will take down Arrow even if he were to get by his men. But Vanch does have Arrow in one respect in that Arrow has run out of arrows and tiny arrows. And is soon caught and brought to Vanch.
And just as one of Vanch’s men is going to kill Arrow, Lance comes to the rescue who is about to shoot and kill Vanch but Arrow stops him and tells him that he is the vigilante while he is the cop. But Lance still gets his way and knocks Vanch out before arresting him.
Despite Lance rescuing Laurel, it seems that the ambush on Arrow as damaged their relationship.
Outside the Starling City Police Station, Arrow wants to know if Laurel is okay. She doesn’t know and Arrow appreciates the honesty. Laurel mentions to Arrow how her father as the Arrow Phone and doesn’t believe he will give it back to her. Arrow didn’t realize the risks he put Laurel through but Laurel tells him that she knew the risks. However, with Arrow now knowing he doesn’t want to take risks with her and says goodbye. Tommy and Laurel reunite but it seems that Laurel is more concerned over her break up with Arrow than having her boyfriend forgive her for her lies.
Final island flashback has Slade discussing taking on the airfield and how they need each other. Slade wants to train Oliver to fight and when Oliver goes and chooses a weapon, he discovers the Deathstroke mask. Slade denies that he was the one that tortured Oliver back in episode 5 “Damaged.” Slade tells Oliver that Deathstroke is his partner, part of Australian Intelligence, sent to rescue Yao Fei.
And that cliffhanger. Well it is all about Oliver trying to find out more about this undertaking that his mother was talking about. So as Arrow, he has a pointed conversation with his mother at her Queen Consolidated office and utters Arrow’s catchphrase “Moira Queen, you have failed this city.”
Smallville connection: Adrian Holmes, who plays Frank, Lance’s boss, played Basquiat in season 9. He was also Griff in season 5.