Amanda Waller sends A.R.G.U.S. agents to kidnap John. Waller informs John that Lyla has gone missing after following a lead on Deadshot in Moscow. When John tells the team he's headed to Russia to rescue Lyla, Oliver and Felicity decide to join, but things get messy when Isabel shows up on the tarmac and insists on joining Oliver's "work trip". Meanwhile, Moira's lawyer, Jean, tells Thea that dating Roy, a known criminal, is hurting her mother's case.
Roy places his red arrow to call for Oliver, after which Felicity urgently interrupts a meeting with an irate Isabel Rochev to draw Oliver to his mission for the night. Later, Arrow shows up to an exchange of counterfeit plates, tasking Roy to remain behind while he intercepts the meet and fights through the thugs. Unable to contain his enthusiasm, Roy gets himself arrested by tackling one of the fleeing criminals as the cops arrive, while John finds himself similarly abducted by an unknown task force.
John awakens in an A.R.G.U.S. cell, where Amanda Waller tasks him with retrieving his ex-partner Lyla Michaels from holding in Russia, following a lead she’d intercepted on Floyd Lawton. Meanwhile, Quentin goes about processing Roy for his latest arrest as Thea arrives, though Quentin opts to let Roy go once he realizes the boy has been working with Arrow, like him. Back at the lair, Oliver and Felicity watch the latest S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator protest, before John returns and reveals his mission to Russia, which Oliver insists on joining.
Back in the past, Sara silently advises Oliver not to reveal his true identity to an inquisitive Dr. Ivo, Oliver instead giving Tommy's name. Ivo relays that a WWII-era Japanese submarine carrying experimental super-soldier research ran aground on the island, tasking Oliver with retrieving it, now that his friends have been killed. Meanwhile, in the present, Isabel Rochev arrives to the landing strip, and insists on joining Oliver's supposed business trip to Russia.
Jean Loring drops by the club to point out that Thea dating a known felon like Roy reflects badly on her mother’s case, urging Thea to dump him. Meanwhile, after arriving abroad, Isabel chides Oliver for her belief that he used the corporate jet for a weekend getaway with Felicity. Oliver and John meet with Oliver's old contact Anatoly Knyazev, who reveals that Lyla found herself trapped in a Russian gulag prison after breaking in, though he has a contact that could at least get one of them inside the prison to liberate her.
Knyazev provides John with a shipment of drugs to get himself caught by the Russian police. Felicity questions the prudence of their plan implying they could do better with more time - even though this is for John's friend. John corrects the assumption that he's let slide until now and tells Oliver and Felicity that Lyla isn't just a friend, but his ex-wife. John explains they were actually married during one of their tours of duty and then broke up when they didn't have combat in common to sustain their marriage. John gets himself picked up on a nearby street corner, taken to the remote Russian facility, wherein he manages to make quick friends with his cellmate. Oliver and Felicity meanwhile meet with more of Anatoly's contacts to obtain a transport, Oliver threatening one of the men in Russian to secure the deal.
Back in the past, Sara urges Oliver not to indicate that they know one another, as she had no choice but to help Ivo and the crew when she was brought aboard. In spite of what he said earlier however, Oliver reveals that his friends are indeed alive, as we see Shado healing a burned Slade from inside their downed aircraft, and offering her body warmth when his injuries send Slade into shock. Back in the present, Thea breaks it off with Roy, insisting they need a little space between working and living together.
John's cellmate directs him to Anatoly's inside man, though unruly prisoners quickly start a fight with John, for which the guards drag him into a freezer cell alongside none other than Deadshot himself. Meanwhile, back at the hotel, Oliver finds Isabel drinking, and the two bond over their shared knowledge of Russian, Isabel pointing out that she knows Oliver to be far smarter and lonelier than he lets on.
The guard releases John from the cell to take him to Lyla, but Deadshot quickly breaks free and stabs the man, offering to lead John to Lyla himself in exchange for being included in the escape plan. Meanwhile, Oliver and Felicity tersely work together with Anatoly to infiltrate the prison as soldiers in anticipation of their rendezvous with John. Back in the past, Sara secretly brings Oliver to the radio room to contact Shado, though Sara quickly severs the connection and leads both Ivo and the ship’s captain into the room, confirming that Oliver lied about his friends’ survival.
Deadshot finally leads John to Lyla, leaving John to reluctantly honor his word by sparing the man. At the same time, an explosive left with John's personal effects detonates, sounding the alarms while providing a path to exit. Deadshot retrieves his eyepiece, while Oliver assists with the rescue, taking out guards in a bid to free the three prisoners. Once the group gets clear of the prison, John reluctantly frees Deadshot, who leaves with a parting revelation (supported by his proficiency and reputation that he never misses) that he hadn’t killed John's brother by accident, but rather was tasked to by an organization known as H.I.V.E.
Back in the States, Oliver and Isabel share an awkward goodbye, as John thanks Oliver for his help in freeing Lyla. Meanwhile, Thea arrives to Iron Heights Prison to find her mother meeting with Roy, having heard of Jean's actions, and making a personal effort to get the two back together, given all Thea has been through on her account. Awhile later after John and Lyla get reacquainted, John begins researching H.I.V.E. Felicity asks Oliver why he hooked up with Isabel, to which Oliver knowingly responds that he shouldn’t get involved with anyone he might actually care about.
Finally in the past, Sara convinces Ivo and the Captain to spare Oliver's life, provided he helps them find the graves on the island. "You’re going back to the island, Oliver", Ivo menacingly warns.
Preparation ran from August 27 until September 5, 2013. Shooting ran from September 6 until September 17, 2013.
- This is the first episode of the series to not feature Katie Cassidy (Laurel Lance).
- Oliver claims to have said "please" to the Russians, though a close approximation was actually "If you do this to my people, I will make your children orphans".
- It is the first episode to feature Russian soldiers as a villains of the episode.
- This episode marks the first appearance of Anatoly Knyazev in the present day, as he mostly serves as a recurring character on the flashback storyline of Season 2 and Season 5. The next time he appears in present day will be in Season 5's "".
- During the first scene in the Arrowcave, Felicity and Oliver are watching a news report on the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator protests. The protesters claim that turning on the particle accelerator is not worth the risk, foreshadowing the creation of The Flash.
- The title comes from a quotation, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer", which Al Pacino's character Michael Corleone attributes to his father Vito in the 1974 film The Godfather Part II.
- ↑ Arrow Episode #2.6 “Keep Your Enemies Closer” Official CW Description - GreenArrowTV
- ↑ Marc Guggenheim (@mguggenheim) - Twitter
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