By Rich Epstein
Last week, Arrow ended with Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) in the middle of a nightmare in which he is the one who killed Sara Lance (Caity Lotz). This week's episode, "Guilty", picks up with an obviously distracted Roy helping Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and John Diggle (David Ramsey) take down a group of drug dealers. Oliver and Diggle go in, leaving Roy on watch. So, um, I guess we are all forgetting about that first episode of the season, when Diggle was going to try to stay out of danger now that he's a father? Am I the only one that still remembers that? Yes? Ok, moving on. When Oliver and Diggle find the drug dealers, it seems that somebody beat them to the punch. They find a half dozen or so dead gangsters with a message written in blood "GUILTY". Their only clue is that one of the gangsters says "Paco" before he dies.
Flashback…Oliver and Maseo Yamashiro (Karl Yune) are waiting for someone who can lead them to China White. Oliver isn't very good at sneaking around yet, so they get made and the man is hit by a car as Oliver chases him. Maseo tells Oliver that he must have seen the man stash an envelope as he was being chased, even if Oliver doesn't know it yet.
Back at Arrow HQ, Roy asks Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) to test his blood for mirakuru.
Oliver and Diggle beat the crap out of another gang looking for "Paco," only to find out that it's the street name for Emilio Ortega. Luckily, there is only one Emilio Ortega in Starling City, so Felicity has no problem finding him via his cell phone's GPS. She sends Arrow to the glades, only it's too late for poor Paco. As the screen pans out, we see that Oliver is in a gym. There is a noise behind him, and in walks Ted Grant (J.R. Ramirez), Laurel Lance's (Katie Cassidy) personal trainer/boxing teacher with Laurel right behind. Lucky for Ted he has Laurel for an alibi.
Lucky for Roy, Felicity can do blood tests really quickly. No mirakuru for Roy. I guess he didn't kill Sara, which is too bad. Roy tells Felicity about his dreams, about how he remembers killing Sara. Felicity seems a little worried anyway.
Laurel talks to her father in the gym, then goes outside to talk to Oliver. As she does, she passes a red-headed woman dressed all in black who stares at Laurel as she walks by. Either this woman is going to be important, or she's a terrible extra. After an obligatory argument, Oliver asks Laurel to keep an eye on Ted.
Flashback number two…Oliver and Maseo's son are sitting in a room. Oliver is trying to remember the chase, figure out where the man stashed the envelope. The son beats Oliver at a memory game, until Maseo's wife tells him to stay away from her son. At Maseo's request, she helps Oliver with his memory through meditation.
Back at the Arrow-cave, Oliver fills everyone in on Grant, while Felicity tells the group that the drug dealers were killed with brass knuckles. She found a file from six years earlier that matches the m.o. Oliver tells them he slipped a tracker on Grant, and he is off.
He follows Grant to a storage facility, where he finds another body, about six brass knuckles and newspaper clippings about a vigilante. Oh, and his tracker, on the floor. As he bends down to pick it up (Why exactly does he do this? Does he not realize at this point that Grant is on to him?) Grant attacks him from behind. They fight, and we finally get it! The moment everyone has been waiting for! The boxing glove arrow!
Oliver rolls away from Grant and gets an arrow ready. As he is comes down, he shoves the arrow into a glove lying on the floor and uses it to take out Grant. Ok, that was pretty awesome. Of course, Grant denies killing anyone. He says that he is being set up, that he used to be a vigilante. It was six years prior. Gee, didn't I just hear a reference to something that happened six years ago? Grant found the key to his old storage locker on the body in his gym but doesn't know who is setting him up. Grant says that he never killed anyone, when Oliver reminds him about that guy six years ago. Turns out that was the mistake that made Grant quit.
Time for a 3-way with Oliver, Laurel and Grant. An argument of course. Laurel tells them that the dead guy in the storage unit has no criminal record. He used to be a magician's assistant at the club where Grant beat someone to death. Oliver berates Laurel for training with Grant, a vigilante (Kettle, this is pot. Nice to meet you.) Grant asks how they know each other, and she tells him that she and the Arrow used to date. It's going to be real hard to figure out his secret identity now. An ex-boyfriend of Laurel's (how many of them are still alive?) who showed up in Starling City a little more than six years ago. Could be anyone I guess. Oliver pulls Laurel aside to tell her that he knows she is trying to follow in her sister's footsteps and warn her against it.
Diggle and Roy are going to meet Oliver and Grant, but Felicity pulls Roy aside and tells Diggle to go on. Turns out, the arrows that killed Sara were most likely thrown, not shot out of a bow. Could there have been some mirakuru left in Roy that burned itself out during Sara's death?
Oliver and Grant arrive at the theatre and are immediately shot at by someone from Grant's past, someone who trusted him. Oliver disarms him and runs after him when the cops immediately show up and arrest Grant for murder. The killer told them about the body in the locker.
Laurel meets Oliver and Diggle at Verdant and they head down to the hideout. Roy comes clean. Good timing. Oliver lets him go, and we get more moping Laurel. The problem with Laurel is her character spends so much time moping about things that when she actually has a good reason we just don't care anymore.
Back to the flashbacks. Maseo's wife is helping Oliver quiet his head to help his memory. She helps him meditate and he remembers where the envelope was stashed.
Laurel interrupts her father's interrogation of Grant to ask who the vigilante is. He tells her the story of how he became a vigilante. He had an apprentice, Isaac. Turns out it was the apprentice who killed the drug dealer six years ago. Grant knew it, and rather than turning Isaac in, Grant told him to leave town. Now, he blames himself for everything that happened.
Diggle tells Oliver that they need to bring in Roy, that they can't have a different set of rules for their own team. Of course, he seems to be ignoring the fact that Roy was shot up with mirakuru against his will. If he killed Sara as a result of that, how would it be justice to turn him in?
Laurel walks grant out of the precinct, and they are immediately taken at gunpoint by Isaac. Really? Right outside of the precinct? I mean, they went out a side door and all, but that seems like a really stupid place to pull a gun on someone. Anyway, Isaac tells about how the drug dealers caught up to him, tortured him for months as payback for killing one of theirs. As they are driving, Laurel manages to call Felicity, letting Oliver track them down. Oliver chases them down on his bike, but Isaac manages to knock him off when another biker with an arrow shows up. Isaac, in an incredibly stupid move, opens the door and leans out of the car to try to shoot at the biker. Laurel swerves and Isaac goes tumbling out. Of course, this being Arrow, Laurel can't do anything right and she immediately crashes the car once they are free. Oliver and Diggle save Laurel and Grant while the other biker (Roy) goes after Isaac. Isaac gives Roy the speech about how the vigilante will abandon him as soon as things get tough, and Roy knocks him out before telling Oliver not to abandon him.
Oliver asks Grant to stay away from Laurel, he says only if she wants to. Oliver then goes to visit Laurel and offers to train her. Roy is ready to quit and turn himself in. Oliver shows him the same meditation trick that Maseo's wife showed him to help Roy remember. Roy sees himself killing the police officer from last season, with Sara and Oliver looking on. He realizes he confused the two events in his mind, but also that he is in fact a murderer.
Laurel shows up at the gym looking to train with Grant.
Back at the precinct, Isaac is taken out through the side door by two cops when they are shot with arrows. In the legs only. Hey, our redheaded, black-clad onlooker from earlier is back, calling herself cupid. She points an arrow at Isaac and the episode ends with the sound of the bow string being loosed.
Overall a pretty good episode. A lot of Laurel, but no Thea, so it balances out. Really, the thing that works is that there were two plot threads, and everything else was connected. The Oliver/Laurel arguments didn't distract because they were directly related to the main plot. As for Roy, the episode really showed where Arrow exceeds as a show. Last week, it teased us with a really interesting idea, and this week it resolved the thread. The show works best when it moves at a fast pace rather than lingering over everything.
On that note, it seems like we also finally found out who killed Sara Lance. The episode ended with Cupid taking out the bad guy (but sparing the cops) with a bow and arrow. It certainly seems like she was the one who took out Oliver's lover. I'm looking forward to learning more about her backstory in the show next week. It certainly seems like Laurel Lance may be her next target, judging by how we saw Cupid staring at Laurel earlier in the episode. I hope Laurel's training picks up speed. With Laurel's training and Thea learning from Merlyn, maybe Laurel and Thea can stop being the damsel in distress all the time.
I am a bit disappointed that Roy didn't kill Sara. It would have led to some really interesting questions. How would the group have handled him? Oliver says he wouldn't give up on Roy, but that was when he was pretty sure that Roy didn't kill Sara. Would he feel the same way if Roy killed someone Oliver cared about, not just a random cop? What would Laurel do? Would she try to arrest Roy? Would she try for vengeance? Would Diggle go behind Oliver's back to do what he thought was right? Seems like a missed opportunity, and I would much rather have to deal with those consequences than just some random villain that we haven't seen before, and probably won't be around for more than an episode or two.
My biggest questions so far…what are Ra's Al Ghul and Amanda Waller up to? They seem like the big bads for the season, but we haven't seen much of them. We briefly saw Ra's at the end of last week's episode, and we heard about Waller a couple of weeks ago (and she has been the focus of Oliver's flashbacks) but we really don't know much about what is going on yet. Hopefully we find out soon.
Rich Epstein writes for Bleeding Cool. He can be found on twitter at @kaspe_r11.