Believe the hype: this was an incredible episode of Arrow we all got to watch tonight. And as producers promised, it felt like a season finale, bringing back characters and storylines that we may have even believed had been dropped, but no, they were lurking in the background waiting to pay off as wonderfully as they did tonight.

Where to begin? It’s probably just best to go in order since the episode does nothing but layer massive shocker on top of massive shocker. If you haven’t seen “Deathstroke” yet, stay far, far away from this review.

Oliver Faces Enemies on Many Fronts

The majority of the plot developments in tonight’s episode happen as result of Thea being kidnapped by Slade at the beginning of the episode. Not that anyone notices right away.

In fact, Oliver first has to contend with an angry Roy who regrets breaking up with her (and in the worst way possible), as well as Isabel, who has returned for a very important board meeting, and his mother, Moira, who wants to make sure he shows up at her debate with Sebastian Blood that night.

When Thea fails to show up for the debate, Oliver starts to get suspicious about his missing sister. Soon, however, all of Starling City knows she’s been kidnapped as someone plays a videotape of Thea fearing for her life  during the debate.

When we come back from commercial break, reporters and cops are already swarming Queen Industries. Knowing that he’s got to focus on rescuing Thea, Oliver appoints Isabel temporary CEO while Team Arrow starts the search.

Before they head out to check the warehouse where they think Thea is being held, Oliver tells Roy not to hold back on his rage anymore. He, Sara and Roy don’t find Thea there, however. They find Slade. And instead of, you know, killing him, Oliver orders Roy to call Detective Lance to come and arrest him. Oliver then shoots Slade in the shoulder with an arrow so there’s no doubt who helped catch him.

It’s not an open and shut case, however. One of Lance’s bosses is furious with him that he arrested Slade on the vigilante’s suggestion. Oliver also only gets a few minutes to interrogate Slade before he’s set free.

Team Arrow attempts to follow Slade, but of course he’s able to get away. He visits Thea in her “prison” and tells her she’s welcome to go free, but she might want to stay around to find out a secret her brother Oliver has been keeping from her.

While waiting to figure out the next step, Oliver decides to go and comfort his mother. No matter how angry he is with her about Thea’s true father, he still tries to help alleviate her guilt and pain. It’s an amazing moment between the two characters–easily one of the best of the series.

Oliver has to rush back to the Arrow Cave, however, and he immediately has to stop Roy from doing serious damage to Diggle in a fight. Roy is furious they’re not doing more and he tells Oliver, “I believed in you … [and] there’s nothing left for me here.”

Oliver doesn’t have long to swallow that accusation and the guilt that comes with it before he has to rush back to Queen Industries where Isabel has taken over as CEO–permanently.

That move wasn’t surprising. I never bought her becoming Oliver’s friend, but consider me floored when she told Oliver he should focus less on his ‘evening activities.’

Oh that’s right! She knows he’s the Arrow. How? Because she’s in league with Slade. WOW! Such a shocker.

They fight and Oliver is able to best her. She gives him the location of Thea, but warns him he must go alone if he wants her to survive.

Oliver makes his way to the location where Thea is being held. He dispenses with a number of henchmen to, once again, find out Thea isn’t there. But this time, there’s a purpose for that deception. Slade intercepted a prison bus and freed a number of very, very nasty prisoners while Thea casually walked into a precinct having been set free.

At the precinct, Thea confronts her brother. Slade didn’t tell her that he’s the Arrow, but he did tell her that he lied about knowing who her true father is. Thea actually is angrier at Oliver than Moira and storms out,  Roy watches in a parked car before driving off and leaving Starling City. I wonder if producers would dare keep him out of play for the rest of the season and not bring him back until next season.

And then, the bombshells start to really drop:

– Lance is arrested for refusing to give up the identity of the Vigilante, even though he swears he doesn’t know who it is.

– Moira surges in the polls and Sebastian Blood is PISSED at Slade for this.

– Isabel is going to use the Applied Sciences division of Queen Industries to replicate the mirakuru.

– A warrant has been issued for Wilson since of course Thea told the cops he took her. He can’t hide in plain sight anymore.

– Slade goes to see Laurel. He’s not there to harm her. He tells her that Oliver is the Arrow.

Wow. Just wow. If that was a season finale, you’d be sad that you have to wait months for the conclusion, but so excited about all the game changing moments.

But luckily, you only need to wait 2 weeks for the next new episode!

Last Minute Thoughts

– We learn first, via the flashbacks, and then via the present, that Slade has visions of Shado telling him what to do. Not sure we needed that extra incentive for him to be doing what he’s doing.

– Loved the image of Malcolm popping in Moira’s head when she imagined who could have kidnapped Thea. Can’t wait till he comes back to the show and messes up everything that’s going on.

– Slade told Oliver that he swam off the island. And while his body was all cut up by coral, the mirakuru healed him. That’s pretty damn badass, I have to admit.

– Detective Lance asks Sara, “Does Oliver know you’re working with the Arrow on this?” Welp… there goes that theory that he actually has known all along that Oliver is the Arrow.

Arrow airs 8pm Wednesdays on the CW

(image courtesy of the CW)

Alan Danzis

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV