Moira Queen has been offered a plea bargain, where she'd plead guilty and take life in prison to avoid the death penalty. And she wants to do it, because if her case goes to trial, various other evil deeds she committed might come to light, which would make her children not love her anymore. But Oliver and Thea promise they'll love her forever, so this subplot will continue to drag on for at least a few more episodes. Oh, and Laurel Lance is now on the prosecution team, which everyone recognizes as being crazy. But it still happens, so deal with it.
Not much happens in the flashback segments on the boat. Although it's interesting that we mostly see what happened to Sara Lance after she got swept out of the Queen's Gambit, rather than focusing on Oliver. After she floated around for a bit, she got picked up by the freighter AMAZO, thrown in a cage, and dragged out by a crazy doctor. And by the time Oliver showed up, she'd been thoroughly brainwashed or something.
Modern-day Sara is being hunted by the League of Assassins, who want to drag her back to Ra's al Ghul. They start by invading Castle Queen, where she's hanging out with Oliver, but they only send one ninja, which isn't enough to defeat Sara and Oliver working together. Oliver takes Sara to the Arrowlair, where they decide they need to warn Quentin and Laurel Lance to watch out for ninjas.
Felicity warns Quentin to leave town for a few days, but he doesn't listen. Oliver takes Laurel out to dinner, where she makes a point of not having a drink, and then he decides not to warn her about the knife he finds in her wall. Once he's gone, Laurel takes some prescription pills. And since Felicity failed to scare Quentin, Sara decides to appear to him in person. He's quite pleased to learn that his daughter isn't dead, but he's less pleased when she takes him to her clock tower and they're attacked by three ninjas. Things go well for the ninjas until Oliver flies in to save the day. Sara kills a couple of ninjas but leaves the last one alive to carry a warning to Ra's al Ghul. Then she hugs her father and gets out of town. So he knows she's alive, but he can't tell Laurel or her mother.
We start with a "Six Years Earlier" caption, which is ordinarily an overused storytelling device. But this time, we didn't have a shocking scene to precede it. And also, a good chunk of this show has been set in flashbacks, so I'm going to allow it. For the first time, we're not picking up where we left off with Oliver's island adventures.
Instead, we're jumping back to just before the wreck of the Queen's Gambit. Sara is on Oliver's bed on the boat, lounging around in her underwear, talking to her father on a cell phone that mysteriously works even though they're in the middle of the ocean. She tells Oliver that her father is clueless and she downs some wine. There's a storm outside, and she notices that the lightning and thunder are very close together. Oliver mocks her for that, but he doesn't really explain what he thinks is funny or unscientific about it. Oliver talks about fermentation and biology in nonspecific terms, as the boat pitches wildly. He assures her, "Sara. We're gonna be fine." They kiss, the room flips over, and Sara gets pulled out through the new hole in the wall. We've seen much of this before, although it was with a different actress. That doesn't bother me; shows sometimes have to recast roles, and you might as well re-shoot the flashback while you're at it.
Next, we see her treading water in the storm. It looks rough out there and she sees the boat go down in a shot that's reminds me of a really good shot in Life of Pi. Then Sara wakes up in a nice bedroom.
She comes downstairs in Castle Queen, where Oliver is sitting on the couch, watching an NBA game. I'm surprised that she's just roaming around, since she's supposed to be dead, but Oliver says that Thea is staying at her boyfriend's. That's dumb. She has a castle, and Roy's a busboy, so I'm pretty sure her place is nicer. And what about the servants? This place is immaculate, and there's no way Oliver is cleaning it every day. Oliver says the other Lances have missed her, which she doesn't believe. But Oliver has some experience with coming back after a long absence. This show has a weird belief that if you're gone for five years and everyone thinks you're dead, people will be angry when you turn back up. It happened a lot to Oliver last season.
Iron Heights Prison. Oliver is late for Moira's meeting with the district attorney. Laurel is second chair for the prosecution, which seems like a conflict of interest. Even Oliver points that out, since Laurel was his childhood pal and practically grew up at the Queen house. But everyone brushes that off. The DA offers a plea bargain: life, with a chance of parole. This would take the death penalty off the table. Moira's lawyer declines it on the grounds that Moira is innocent. They're story is that even though she confessed on live television and turned herself in, what she meant to say was that she did whatever she did under duress because Malcolm Merlyn was threatening her family. Those 503 people who died were just too bad. Oliver and Laurel share a look, where he appears to be saying "Seriously?" and she's saying "Get off my back." The DA boasts about how many phone records and emails they've subpoenaed, so he's sure they'll find that her "duress" claim is fake. Moira would like a few days to think about it.