Episode Title: The Return
Original Airdate: 2-18-15
“Arrow” had more of a 50/50 flashback/present day ratio this week and it came at the expense of two really intriguing plots— Oliver’s return to Starling City and the latest chapter in his rivalry with Slade Wilson.
To hone their skills, Merlyn suggests Oliver and Thea head to the island, but he neglects to mention he freed Slade making it even more of a deathtrap than normal. Slade wastes little time taking out the Queen siblings and places them in his cell so they can experience his life since his failed attempt to destroy Starling City. They eventually escape and Oliver finally tells Thea that Merlyn made her kill Sara.
The realization that she’s been used as an assassin is going to drive her to the breaking point, Slade warns Oliver after he convinces Thea not to kill Slade. That cat and mouse battle with Slade and the Queen siblings really should have been an entire episode.
In flashbacks, Maseo and Oliver tap into Queen Consolidated computers to get information on an employee working with China White, but since he’s in town, Oliver checks in on his family and friends. Tommy’s trying to prevent Thea from descending further into her drug habit, spots Felicity for the first time as she admires his picture on Moira’s desk and a drunken Quentin Lance calling out Laurel for helping fat cats getting fatter (a classic Green Arrow line from the comics). Sadly, no appearance by Susanna Thompson as Moira Queen or Colin Salmon as Walter Steele.
It was great seeing Tommy again and he’s become a more appreciated character now that he’s dead than at any point during the first season. If only Merlyn could use a Lazarus Pit and bring Tommy back. I didn’t like the forced logic of why Oliver has to stay on the missions with Waller and Maseo, but hopefully we’ll spend less time on the flashbacks during the next nine episodes.
Some of the episode’s best moments involved this season’s MVP, Katie Cassidy and Paul Blackthorne as both in flashbacks and present day, their relationship is strained. You feel for Quentin struggling not only with Sara’s death, but the feeling of betrayal from Laurel, but you get that she meant well. I’m kinda more interested in how this plays out than the rematch with Ra’s. Next week, we finally see what Ray’s been doing with that Atom suit.