Remember when I said that it seemed like Arrow had really turned a corner? Tonight’s terrific episode confirmed that it has. From big revelations to an attempted assassination and even some not-so-cheesy heartfelt moments, “Dead to Rights” had just the right balance of action and emotion. Let’s dig in below…
The episode opens with Det. McKenna and Co. rushing to get to the site of a helicopter landing, where a Spanish assassin has just touched down. As usual however, Oliver gets there first. After knocking down the assassin’s phone, our multilingual vigilante tells him that he has failed this city in Spanish and English. As if the catchphrase isn’t bad enough in one language, right? By the time the cops get to the scene, Arrow has already killed the assassin and made off with his phone.
At the hideaway, Arrow asks Felicity — who has been busy picking up combat tips from Diggle — to hack into the assassin’s phone so they can figure out who he was hired to kill. Then he ditches the duo to go meet up with McKenna. Before he heads out, Diggle tells him that it might not be such a great idea to date the cop who’s trying to hunt him down. “It’s slim pickin’ for us vigilantes,” Oliver retorts. Truth.
Before we get to the date though, a flashback! On the island, Oliver collapses after four — yes, four — exhaustive pull-ups and Slade — shockingly — holds back from telling him that he’s worse than a Girl Scout again. While Slade shows him how to do a real pull-up, Oliver decides to tinker with a damaged radio. He’s determined to find another way off the island.
Back in Starling City, Oliver and McKenna manage to stop making out just long enough to make it to Tommy’s birthday party, which is being hosted at Laurel’s place. Of course, considering the fact that the only people at dinner are Tommy, Laurel, Oliver and McKenna, it’s less a “party” and more an awkward double date. (Though not Helena awkward). Before the small-talk can get too painful though, the group is interrupted by Tommy’s dad, who stops by to drop off a present and an invite. Malcolm asks Tommy to attend Starling City’s annual municipal group gala, where he’s being honored with a humanitarian award. He even offers to reinstate Tommy’s funds to help allay the tension between the two of them, but Tommy declines on both counts.
Meanwhile, China White decides to visit Floyd Lawton. Now that her Spanish assassin is dead, China needs another hired gun, and who better than Deadshot right? There’s just one catch. Deadshot’s eyes are damaged — though it’s nothing some high-tech glasses can’t fix. So, who is Deadshot supposed to kill? Those who paid attention to last week’s episode will recall that Moira hired China White to takeout Malcolm Merlyn. It looks like her plan is finally moving forward.
While heading to a meeting with Malcolm, Moira informs her colleague Frank that she’s arranged the hit to take place at the Starling City Municipal Group gala. Nice of her to think about all those innocent people that could be caught in the crossfire.
Meanwhile, Felicity tells Oliver and Diggle that the last place the Spanish assassin called before his death was a restaurant in Chinatown named Jade Dragon. “I guess even hired killers enjoy the city’s best chow mein,” she says, only to have Diggle point out that Jade Dragon is actually a front for the Chinese mafia. Oliver asks Felicity (and maybe Diggle?) to make reservations for two at Jade Dragon and — while she’s at it — decrypt the assassin’s phone. Dude, she’s not your assistant, or for that matter, even your employee.
Oliver decides to take Tommy to Jade Dragon (however, they do not order the chow mein). Oliver tells Tommy it’s a makeup birthday dinner — though really, it’s a stakeout of sorts. The two end up having a heart-to-heart about their dads, and Oliver encourages Tommy to try to make amends with his father. After all, “your dad is your dad,” he says. Before the two can really dig into the gross-looking fish they ordered, Oliver spots a Chinese mafia man heading into the kitchen and excuses himself. Since he couldn’t exactly bring his arrows to dinner, Oliver gets creative and uses hot sauce to spook a money man in the back into revealing who the Triad’s latest target is. The man doesn’t know much other than the fact that the hit is supposed to take place the next day.
Cue flashback to the island: Oliver manages to get a signal on the radio. Slade immediately calls for help, only to realize that though he can hear air traffic control, no one can hear them.
Back in Starling City, Arrow lets Det. Lance know that the Triad have hired a contract killer. He says he needs Lance’s help to find out who the target is, but Lance refuses. After their call, Lance tells McKenna that they need to catch the vigilante. The man is obsessed.
Meanwhile, China White outlines the plan to kill Malcolm. She tells her men that they need to trigger the fire alarm inside the gala, so that Malcolm is forced to go outside along with the rest of the guests. From there, it’ll be up to Deadshot to take him down.
Cut to a dramatic montage of all the characters before the gala, which shows Felicity and Diggle failing to crack the assassin’s cell drive, Tommy staring at a family picture, Moira nervously getting dressed for the party, and Oliver looking very pensive.
Tommy, it turns out, has decided to take Oliver’s advice and patch up things with his dad. He gets dressed for the gala, while Laurel, who has apparently become quite the supportive girlfriend, ignores a call from her mother.
Meanwhile, Oliver enjoys a picnic with McKenna at his still-unfinished club. McKenna tells Oliver that it’s obvious something is bugging him, and he explains that he’s having a tough time dealing with everything in his life. She tells him to just be honest about what’s going on. Before he can get too emo on her though, Diggle drags him away. He tells Oliver that he and Felicity have managed to crack the assassin’s hard drive, which showed that his intended target was Tommy’s dad. There goes date night!
Arrow calls up Lance and tells him about Malcolm. He suggests the cops set up a perimeter around the gala.
Meanwhile, at the event, Malcolm gives a speech in honor of his late wife and promises to make Starling City a better place. After he walks off the stage, the lights go off and the mafia men kill Malcolm’s bodyguards. Instead of going outside like China White had expected though, Malcolm grabs Tommy and heads off to an exit on the second floor. Their escape is hampered by China’s men, but Arrow intervenes. He tells Malcolm and Tommy to get to a safe place. Malcolm leads Tommy to his panic room, but once again they’re blocked by China’s men. This time, Malcolm is prepared. After knocking both the mob men out, he shoots one of them dead as Tommy looks on horrified.
As Arrow and China White go head-to-head in a fantastic Mortal Kombat-esque sequence, Malcolm shows Tommy around his bulletproof penthouse. Tommy wants to know how his dad learned to fight. Just as Malcolm is about to show him his Dark Archer suit, however, Deadshot guns down the glass in the penthouse (apparently, it’s not quite as bulletproof as he thought). Malcolm gets up and walks toward the window (that’s probably the LAST thing you want to do after getting fired at), which of course gives Deadshot the perfect opportunity to gun him down.
Well, temporarily, that is. As it turns out, Malcolm is wearing a bulletproof vest. He tells Tommy that even though he’s bleeding, he’s totally fine…and then he passes out.
Downstairs, Arrow finally gets the upper hand on China White. Just as he’s about to take her out, though, McKenna shows up (bad timing much?!) and tells him to put the bow down. Arrow shoots a fire extinguisher next to McKenna, which makes it possible for him — and China White — to get away unharmed.
Arrow goes up to the penthouse, where he finds Tommy trying to revive his father. Arrow inspects a stray bullet and realizes it’s been laced with poison. He tells Tommy that Malcolm needs an immediate blood transfusion to survive, but Tommy isn’t about to listen. He wants to know why he should trust Arrow. So Arrow gives him a reason. He removes his hood and reveals that he is Oliver.
As Oliver performs the makeshift transfusion (squeamish people turn away!), Tommy wants to know why he became the vigilante, but Oliver says they’ll have to save that talk for another time. I wonder if Oliver would have been so heroic if he knew that Malcolm had tried to kill him.
Later, Det. Lance and McKenna ask Tommy why he allowed Arrow to do the transfusion instead of calling the paramedics. To his credit, Tommy protects Oliver’s identity and tells them he did what he needed to do to save his father.
Cue flashback to the island: Slade manages to tap into the frequency that Edward and his men are on. He and Oliver listen in as as Edward says something about Scylla. Slade is determined to figure out who or what a Scylla is, and Oliver explains that in The Odyssey (you know, the only book he’s ever read), Scylla was a monstrous character. They go out in search of it only to discover that Scylla is the name of a missile launcher, which can be used to shoot down a commercial airliner or possibly start a war. Hmm, that sounds like trouble.
Back in Starling City, Felicity asks Oliver how it feels to save a One Percent-ter. Nice to know we can always count on her for the well-timed quips. Oliver explains that Malcolm was poisoned. It doesn’t take long for Diggle to realize that Deadshot — the man who killed his brother — was behind the hit.
After sharing that bit of unfortunate news, Oliver heads to the hospital, where he runs into McKenna. She tells him they both have complicated lives but she’s willing to “figure us out, if you are.” Maybe they should try to actually get through a full date before making such lofty commitments.
Meanwhile, Tommy tells Malcolm that the vigilante was the one who saved his life, then asks Malcolm where he disappeared to after his mom died. Malcolm says he went to a place (the same island that Oliver was on, maybe?) where he met a man who helped him make sense of everything and made him want to make things better.
Before he can define “better,” Moira shows up with a face full of fake sympathy. Malcolm harshly tells her that there is a traitor in their midst (no kiddin!) and he wants Moira to find out who it is. Who else thinks poor, nice Frank will end up taking the fall?
Outside the hospital, Tommy asks Oliver if he ever intended to tell him that he was the vigilante. Oliver says he wasn’t planning to, and Tommy walks away. Come on Tommy, the guy just saved your dad’s life and revealed his top-secret identity to you to do it. How about a thank you?
In the meantime, Laurel — who is not so bad in small doses — goes off to meet Tommy but she’s interrupted by a surprise visitor: her mother, who shows up to tell her that her sister might be alive. How’s that for a bombshell?
— Did anyone else notice that Oliver didn’t react at all to Laurel and Tommy kissing? Could it be that the writers have moved on from playing up the tension between the two exes? Do you want them to?
— Dear McKenna, Fall Out Boy may not be coolest band but they are back together!
— Are you surprised that Malcolm made it out of this episode alive? Do you think Tommy will don the Dark Archer suit soon?
— Laurel’s sister is alive…really?