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"Slade. I told myself I wasn't going to come down here. That I never needed to see you again. You'll be happy to know I was wrong."
Oliver greets Slade Wilson in his prison

"The Return" is the fourteenth episode of the third season of Arrow, and the sixtieth episode overall. It aired on February 18, 2015.



On Lian Yu, Oliver and Thea are sparring with sticks. Oliver is impressed that Thea got so good in nine months. Later that evening, Thea is eating something unknown. Thea gushes about being there and asks if he ever thought would see them again.

In the past, Oliver wonders why Starling City and learns that it is due to the possible buyer of the drug. He is told that he can't reveal to being alive. As Oliver is easily spotted, Maseo plants a tracker on the car. Oliver walks around wearing a hat. At the same time, Laurel finds her father at the Del Mar Bar during the day as he is still upset about Sara. As Oliver and Maseo follow, they spot him go to Queen Consolidated. He is told that he needs to go to Queen Consolidated. Oliver spots his sister from far off.

In the present, Thea sees Oliver mutter Sara in his sleep. She wakes him up and she asks him about why he didn't tell her about Sara dying. Oliver reveals that Sara went back to the league after Slade and Thea asks if the League killed Sara. Oliver says he's going for a walk to clear his head. He heads to the grated area where A.R.G.U.S. has locked up Slade. Oliver enters and finds out that Slade has escaped and killed his guard. He rushes out remembering Slade's promise. He heads back to camp and talks to Thea about trying to leave the Island. Malcolm calls him and tells him in so many words that he let Slade go to train him.

In the past, Oliver and Maseo follow Thea around near two gravestones. Thea then has a meet with a drug. Tommy shows up breaks it up. He mentions a birthday party that night that she can't go to. In the present, Oliver takes Thea to Taiana's grave to grab a gun. They both are knocked out by Slade. When Oliver wakes up, they are locked up in his cage. Slade asks Thea if she knew about Shado. Slade threatens to send bodies burnt but recognizable as the siblings.

In the past, Oliver breaks into the Queen Consolidated and breaks into the computer using his thumbprint. He comes across a private file of his father's that had two videos, one for Oliver and one for Thea. Wanting to downloading them as well, he stays behind and is almost caught by Felicity as she enters and places a file on the desk. Oliver happens to hear her talk to herself as she compliments a picture of him. They head to Waller and the file is going through everything.

Oliver rushes off to the party, which happens to be where Dig is the guard along with his brother. Oliver wears a hoodie and happens to overhear Tommy flirt with Laurel. Oliver thought he was spotted when Tommy said, "Queenie," but in reality it was Thea. Oliver ends up killing her drug dealer when he spots him give her drugs again.

In the present, Thea asks about how they would get out of there. Thea asks him about what Slade had said. He hedges and she asks about Sara. She mentions Tiny and Oliver comes up with a way to possibly escape but would hurt Thea. He dislocates her arm to get it to be able to reach the button to free them. It works and the gate opens. Oliver then hugs her. After leaving the cell, they discuss the plane.

In the past, the party is broken up by the cops, including Quentin who insults Laurel and the others. Maseo shows up and pulls Oliver away. In another room, Quentin and Laurel are fighting about her job opportunity. He is upset with her and leaves. Maseo yells at Oliver before telling him where the meet is. Oliver tells him he's done with the mission, but Maseo says that he needs to start with redemption. Oliver backs out however and leaves.

In the present, Thea spots a path and runs off. Oliver stops her before she could get hurt by a booby trap. However he got hurt and they wait a few minutes. Thea then asks about Sara again. Oliver then tells her about what Malcolm had done to kill Sara. He mentions the word she and he reveals that she killed Sara whilst drugged. Thea then yells and it causes Slade to show up. Thea then fights her way free, surprising Slade. Oliver then goes at Slade, knocking him away from his sister. Thea watches as Oliver and Slade fistfight before joining the fray. Thea then points the gun at him.

In the past, Oliver breaks into his home which has all the lights on. He sits down and looks at a photo of his dad and notices a laptop. He puts the flash drive with his father's message and is able to watch it. His dad tells him about the men who were destroying Starling and how he needs to right his wrongs. He then removes the drive.

In the old steel factory, China White meets up with the different possible buyers. Maseo is above taking pictures. Suddenly a noise erupts and A.R.G.U.S. agents are shot at and others injured. Maseo is brought forward, but then suddenly, Oliver arrives and helps Maseo, but China White leaves along with the buyers. China White then declares that Yameshiro dies that night. Oliver catches up with both China White and the man.

In the present, Oliver tries to stop Thea from killing Slade. She instead of sending a killshot, injures him enough to get him locked up again. Slade then tells Oliver that his sister is lost. When Slade mentions Felicity, Oliver is pissed off. He leaves the prison and locks the door behind him.

In the past, Oliver, Waller and Maseo meet with the man in charge, General Matthew Shrieve. He is then told that he needs to be debriefed in China but would be free afterwards.

In the Glades, Laurel ends up bumping into Tommy after leaving CNRI, where she has decided to work. Tommy asks her to dinner, which she agrees to and they leave together. The next morning at the Queen mansion, Thea brings white roses to Robert and Oliver's graves.

In the present, Laurel heads to the cemetery and informs Quentin that Dinah knows about Sara. He is upset and Laurel reminds him of what he had said in the past. Quentin is angry with Laurel for lying about Sara. She suggests he go to a meeting, but he refuses to attend the same one as her. Quentin leaves after giving Laurel his bottle of alcohol. Laurel pours it out.

Thea and Oliver return to Starling and he wants to talk to Thea. Malcolm reveals that he is there and Thea gets upset about it. She tells him that other than working together, she won't be his daughter. Oliver looks upset for the man.


Main cast[]

Special guest star[]

Guest starring[]



Preparation began December 1 and ran until December 9, 2014. Filming began December 10, 2014 and ran until December 19, 2014.[1]


  • Much like Season 1's "The Odyssey" and Season 2's "The Promise", this episode focuses primarily on the flashbacks.
  • The original title card from Season 1 makes a return at the beginning of this episode.
  • The title refers to Oliver and Thea's return to Lian Yu as well as Oliver's return to Starling City in the flashbacks.
  • This is the first episode of Arrow in which Starling City appears mostly in the flashback storyline instead of the present storyline. The second would be "Lian Yu".
    • Interestingly, both of these episodes feature Lian Yu as the setting for the main conflict.
  • This is the second episode that Oliver doesn't appear as a vigilante, the first one being "The Promise".
  • Unlike most episodes in the series, this episode features many of the present storyline's characters only in the flashback storyline; Felicity Smoak, John Diggle, Laurel Lance, and Quentin Lance. Tommy Merlyn also appears.
  • This episode marks the debut of Andy Diggle, who would play a recurring role in Season 4.
  • The video message Robert Queen made for Thea isn't revealed until the Season 5 episode "Honor Thy Fathers".
  • Robert's message explaining The List to Oliver is revealed, which was briefly mentioned in the Season 1 episode "Trust but Verify".
  • Oliver is wearing a Starling City Rockets cap during his mission in Starling City.
  • After Maseo chastises Oliver for risking being seen at Tommy's party, Oliver explains that he pulled his hoodie over his face, to which Maseo remarks that this trick wouldn't work even if he smeared grease paint over his face. This is exactly what Oliver did when he first became a vigilante in Starling City before receiving the Arrow mask from Barry Allen.
  • The grave on Lian Yu where Oliver took the gun from is unknown at time of the episode because the name is not shown (it's not Yao Fei Gulong's because his grave is located near Robert's). In the Season 4 episode "Schism", it is revealed to be the grave of Taiana Venediktov.
  • The booby trap on the island which was created by Oliver makes its first appearance in a flashback in "Lian Yu".
  • In the flashbacks, Laurel is contemplating a job offer from a corporate law firm, Weathersby Posner. The firm's name is likely an amalgamation of the two law firms, Weathersby & Stone and Posner & Klein, from the series Eli Stone, which was also produced by Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim.
  • The scene with Slade threatening to leave Oliver and Thea imprisoned in his cell on Lian Yu is a reference to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, with the quote "I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her... marooned for all eternity...".
  • Several real-life photos of Stephen Amell and Willa Holland make an appearance in the table Oliver looks at. One of the pics had Oliver in a band outfit. In reality, Stephen was once a drum major in school.
  • The shots of Oliver inside the Queen Mansion were not filmed on location. Instead, he is superimposed onto existing shots of the interior.