At a police gala, the new Captain Pike asks Thea on the whereabouts of her brother the mayor. Thea informs him the Oliver is simply running late and is still interested in discussing the Anti-Crime Initiative for the city. While the captain believes that Oliver is out with another woman, Oliver is actually in the middle of a fight as the Green Arrow against Anarky who has planted a bomb in the city. Oliver successfully takes out Anarky but is momentarily distracted by a vigilante wearing a hockey mask trying to disable the bomb. Oliver then pulls him aside as Felicity deactivates the bomb from the lair. Recognizing him from the streets, Oliver warns the vigilante to keep away from these fights despite his enthusiasm to help his own city. To make his point, Oliver fires an arrow into the man’s leg before he leaves.
Oliver returns to the gala and begins to speak with the press on the Anti-Crime Initiative. Though he hopes to make a good start in the initiative, Oliver emphasizes identifying and taking care of the corruption within the SCPD. Thea then takes him aside and admonishes him for criticizing the entire police department to the public. Oliver reminds Thea that being mayor allows him more intel as the Green Arrow, but Thea reminds him that he originally ran for mayor for more than that. Despite her words, Oliver emphasizes his need to protect the city, even if that must cost him some time as mayor. Seeing no argument, Thea lets Oliver go after promising to go over more official initiatives.
Five years ago, Oliver takes part in an underground fighting ring in Russia. After a lengthy fight, Oliver manages to overpower his enemy and snaps his neck, winning the battle. One of the officials offers him payment, but Oliver reminds him that he only signed to fight in order to find Kovar. Unfortunately, a gang of men arrive shooting in their direction, leading the man to admit that Oliver was not supposed to beat their prized champion. One of the members knocks Oliver unconscious as they reveal themselves to be the Bratva.
Felicity: Aw, you're not making a new friend?
In the lair, Curtis helps Felicity fix one of the processors on the system since Felicity has had trouble on her own. With Curtis’s help, Felicity tries to convince Oliver to speak with the vigilante he saw named Wild Dog. However, Oliver refuses to get someone else involved after already losing Laurel. Nevertheless, Felicity brings up a number of masked heroes appearing throughout the city, including Evelyn Sharp. Oliver argues against their help since he believes that Thea and Diggle will return to the team eventually.
Meanwhile, the police monitor a raid of a gang. However, the police eventually overpower the gang and plan to take the spoils for themselves. Before they can, they meet up with another leader, a man named Tobias Church. Instead of surrendering to the corrupt forces, Church reveals his own men who kill the police. To assert his own leadership, Church himself kills the leader.
The next day, Captain Pike and new detective Malone investigate the area, recognizing one of the bodies as a member of the force. Though they don’t have the time to ascertain if he was corrupt, they soon discover a gold coin on the scene of the crime, the calling card behind Tobias Church, otherwise known as Charon. With little knowledge on crime lords, detective Malone suggests bringing back Lance. The captain scoffs at the idea since Lance has returned to the city without any notice.
Oliver goes to meet with Lance after hearing he has returned but find the former captain in a drunken stupor. Lance admits that he has returned to Star City a few weeks earlier after breaking up with Donna, leading him to a depressive state. After Laurel’s death and Sara’s leave, he feels lost in his life. Oliver still tries to convince Lance to return in order to balance his fight for the city. Though Lance refuses to rejoin the force, Oliver maintains that the others will soon return. Although his efforts prove useless, Oliver still invites Lance to a ceremony to honor the Black Canary.
Back in Russia, Oliver is tied to a chair as the leader interrogates him on his behavior. Although they are eager to kill him, they are interested in his book of names and curious at what he intends to do with it. Oliver orders them to hand it over, revealing it to be left by his father. For now, he waits for the right time to use it. Because Oliver refuses to discuss its meaning, the leader plans to shoot Oliver.
At the lair, Felicity identifies Tobias Church from the crime scene with Oliver eager to find him. Felicity advises against it, believing he has little chance taking on a crime lord by himself. She also admits that he is living in denial in waiting for Thea and Diggle to return to the team. Still, Oliver continues to ignore Felicity and prepares to search for Church. In the meantime, Felicity sends Curtis out to the street to gather more intel on Wild Dog.
Outside the city, Oliver gathers the ceremony to honor Laurel Lance as the Black Canary. He reminds the audience, which includes a returning Lance, that the Black Canary reminded them that there is always something better out there and dedicates a new statue to her memory. Suddenly, the ceremony is ambushed by Church’s men as they begin abducting city officials. Oliver initially fights back but, after noticing the public eye, surrenders to the criminals to maintain his innocent image.
Back at the lair, Felicity, Curtis, and Thea search for Oliver’s location. Because of the corrupt forces, Felicity finds that the security cameras have gone dark, preventing them from finding Oliver. Thea insists they keep looking but blanks at Felicity’s suggestion that she helps the search by returning as Speedy.
Lance: You wanna cover this beautiful face with a mask?
In an unknown location, Church’s men gather the kidnapped victims as Church explains his plan. Oliver quickly deduces that he wants to go after the Green Arrow to establish his power but warns that the vigilante will not be coming. The mayor offers Church a deal to let the others go, but Church refuses to let go his opportunity to face the Green Arrow and beats Oliver to prove it.
Back in Russia, Oliver’s death is prevented by the return of his friend Anatoli who runs the members of the Bratva. Though Anatoli is glad to see his old friend, he still dislocates Oliver’s thumbs in order to release his restraints. However, Oliver then reveals his plan to kill Kovar.
Lance arrives in the lair to provide his limited evidence to look for Church. Instead, he surprisingly finds Thea, whom he assumed would be on the streets. Thea admits that the past few months have been the first time in a while she had felt normal after her blood lust. After that time, she feels unsure if she should ever return to being Speedy. Lance relates to her story, having felt lost after Laurel’s death. However, after remembering Oliver’s speech, he advises her to move on with her life just as he had now.
One of the corrupt cops brings Oliver to a back room and attempts to beat him. Without any surveillance, Oliver escapes his restraints and beats the cop to near death. Before any backup arrives, Oliver snaps the man’s neck to keep his identity secret. At the nick of time, Thea arrives to his rescue as Speedy, taking out the remaining guards. Though Thea tries to help the other captives, Oliver warns her about a device triggered to the captives. If they attempt to help them, the building will explode. Despite their reservations, the two leave to develop a new plan.
Oliver and Thea return to the lair with Thea concerned about Oliver’s murder of the guard. Thea reminds Oliver that he swore against killing, but Oliver admits that he feels he has been too lenient with that mindset, leading to Laurel’s death. In his anger, he once again denounces Felicity’s idea to create a new team, especially with the amateurish takes throughout the city. Felicity fires back that they were only inspired by his efforts to create a better city and reminds him of the promise he kept to Laurel.
In Russia, Anatoli questions why Oliver would prefer taking on Kovar rather than returning home. Although Oliver emphasizes the promise he made to Taiana, Anatoli prescribes to him an old Russia proverb: the shark that does not swim drowns. Instead of being trapped in the past, he needs to move forward in order to return hope. Nevertheless, Anatoli, using his status in the Bratva, agrees to help his friend move up in the ranks.
As Curtis moves out to look for Wild Dog, Oliver tries to contact Diggle, admitting he needs his advice. He is then greeted by Lance who tries to relate to him on his inability to move on with his life. Oliver describes the same Russian proverb to him in that the shark that does not swim drowns. Lance admits that the only way Oliver can do that is by reforming a new team. To do that, Lance assists by giving him a file of cops Lance trusts to look for Church.
Cop: I didn't vote for you.
Oliver: That's okay. I ran unopposed.
Oliver then remembers his promise to Laurel. As she lied in her hospital bed, she made Oliver promise that she would not be the last Canary on the street. That way, the city can be safe and she will always be by his side.
Together with the team of cops, Oliver infiltrates the area as the Green Arrow to save the hostages. Though Church threatens their lives, the cops successfully takes out his men as Oliver fights Church. Unfortunately, one of the cops accidentally triggers the explosive device, forcing everyone to evacuate. Oliver, however, spends his remaining moments looking for Church who seems to have disappeared. Before the explosion, Oliver leaps through a window and aims an arrow at a nearby helicopter. Taking off, he confronts Church, but the criminal forces him off, escaping the scene.
The next day, Oliver gives a press conference regarding the ACI. Though he admits his misgivings on the corrupt police force, he honors the four officers who fought with the Green Arrow, proving that some on the force still fight for what’s right. Using them, he develops an anti-crime unit to provide hope to the city. Meanwhile, Church gathers the forces from other gangs and officially takes charge as the head of them all in order to take on the Green Arrow. When one of the leaders refuses, Church’s men kill him.
Back in the lair, Felicity tries to congratulate Oliver’s success in saving the hostages, though Oliver feels somber about Church’s escape. However, he admits the need for a new team in order to secure the city, agreeing to look through the files Felicity has gathered on the others. In addition, Curtis rejoins the two, having had to fight off two muggers in his search. He agrees with Felicity’s notion as long as he also joins the team.
In Russian, Anatoli offers to help Oliver in his goal by initiating him into the Bratva. However, that process will require surviving each member in a fight. Even then, he cannot promise that Oliver would be able to survive Kovar.
Back at home, Oliver finally contacts Diggle, and the two catch up with each other on their lives. Oliver reveals the development of a new team, something Diggle actually agrees with being the right thing. This moment, Oliver admits, will be him making peace with everything that’s happened. Diggle questions whether that also includes his relationship with Felicity, something Oliver leaves ambiguous. Meanwhile, Felicity returns home to the loft to greet her new boyfriend: Detective Malone.
At night, an officer walks through the city while speaking with his wife on the phone. He spots on archer on a roof and greets him as the Green Arrow. However, the archer fires an arrow towards his chest and begins fight the man to death, proclaiming that he is not the Green Arrow.
- The man Felicity refers to as "Mr. Ski Goggles" is actually a police sketch of Vigilante who is set to appear later in the season.
- The fight between Oliver and the corrupt copy is eerily similar to Oliver's first fight in the pilot, down to the use of chair.
- Oliver fires an arrow into Wild Dog's leg to discourage him off the streets. This is the same move Oliver does to Roy before he joined the team.
Photo Credit: CW/DC