It may only be episode 15, but a lot has happened this season. After departing at the end of last season, Sara Lance returned to Starling City only to be murdered. This then became the driver behind pretty much everything that’s happened since then.
There will be some spoilers for UK viewers.
Knowing that Ra’s al Ghul would seek revenge for the death of Sara Lance by killing her murderer, Oliver took the blame in order to protect Thea. He was badly beaten and left to die by Ra’s before being rescued by Maseo (his handler from his conscription by Amanda Waller five years previously). Whilst he recovered, Team Arrow tried to keep his legacy going and make a difference when the police were unable to; with Laurel taking on the mantle of the Canary as a way to both keep the urban legend alive, and as her way to deal with the grief she felt.
With Thea now aware of Ollie’s identity, the only regular characters who are (at least superficially) in the dark about it and haven’t visited the Arrowcave are Captain Lance (and his knowledge of Roy as Arsenal tends to suggest he’s choosing to pretend he doesn’t know who the Arrow is in much the same way as the Commissioner Gordon/Batman relationship has been played for years) and Ray Palmer (though his completion of Project A.T.O.M probably means he’ll be joining the club before too much longer) – even Diggle’s baby has been in the cave!
Whilst comics wisdom of the past was about identities being very much a secret, notwithstanding plot elements and nods to discovery attempts; here, despite Oliver being tacitly known as being the Arrow, it doesn’t seem to matter – there’s no feeling that he’s going to be outed to the media, and given that his mother and father are dead, his sister has ninja fighting skills, Diggle is ex-special forces, Roy has enhanced parkour skills and was once dosed with Mirakuru, and Felicity seems to spend most of her time with a would-be superhero with an iron man costume… danger to family is probably not the issue it might once have been. In some respects, having everyone on the same page about his identity has helped in making Team Arrow a more collaborative operation, rather than The Oliver Show. There’s clearly been a shift since the early days, with the team often looking to Diggle as their leader moreso than to Oliver, who finds it easier to manage them by lying than by being honest about his objectives.
After learning that she had killed Sara whilst under Merlyn’s influence, Thea leaks Malcolm’s location to the League of Assassins. Laurel goes there as the Canary and hits him with her stick a few times before he shows how ineffectual she is against someone trained by the League… at which point Nyssa al Ghul arrives and takes him down easily before despatching Merlyn to Ra’s.
Oliver and Diggle head to Nanda Parbat and, surprisingly, are captured but not killed. It seems Ra’s has a reason for this, leading up to a revelation that demonstrates just how closely Oliver is being used to fit the Batman role in the show. Whilst this isn’t the same level of cliffhanger we had before Christmas, it is positioned as a potential game changer, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out in the run up to the finale.