At the end of the last episode, Thea had decided that her mother had cheated on her last two husbands, so she took this new drug called "Vertigo" and drove her new car into a tree. And now she's in danger of going to jail, because the judge has overruled her plea bargain. So Oliver sets out to take down the whole drug operation, because god forbid his sister have to pay the penalty for what she did.
He hunts down a street-level dealer and finds out that Vertigo is being supplied by "The Count." Then he makes Diggle come with him as he negotiates with the Bratva to become a mid-level drug dealer himself. He has to kill someone, but his vast knowledge of nerve pinches keeps his hands clean. When he meets with The Count, the deal is broken up by the police and Oliver gets jabbed with some Vertigo in liquid form. This gives him dizzy spells for the rest of the episode, but it lets Felicity Smoak locate the exact neighborhood it came from. When Oliver gets there, he's barely ahead of the police, but he doesn't quite kill The Count. He just gives him an overdose that might leave him permanently delirious! Hooray!
Thea, meanwhile, gets off with hundreds of hours of community service and two years' probation. So now she'll be working at CNRI and somehow Laurel is in loco parentis even though Thea's got a regular parent right there. At first, Thea wants to go to jail instead, because it will hurt her mother. But eventually Oliver has enough of her nonsense and reveals that instead of their mother cheating on their father, it was the other way around. So now Thea's in a good mood again.
Oh, and Felicity has had enough of Oliver's hilariously unconvincing excuses for needing her help. But instead of confronting him with the obvious knowledge that he's the vigilante, she gives him the notebook she got from Walter.
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The episode is called "Vertigo," but it doesn't have any Swamp Thing in it. What a rip-off. Anyway, it starts with no voice-over explanation. A thug is running through alleys while Oliver stalks him from catwalks. He tries climbing a piece of machinery, and Oliver pins his jacket to the metal with a well-placed arrow. Oliver demands to know who supplies this thug with his Vertigo, and he throws in allegedly menacing lines like, "There's nothing honest about what you do!" and "Whoever you fear, fear me more!" The guy says he gets his Vertigo from The Count, and Oliver leaves.
I should remind you that Vertigo is the drug that Thea took before smashing up her new car at the end of the last episode. The extent of Vertigo's effects are, "It makes you feel floaty," but it's a drug from the bad part of town, so I think we're supposed to pretend it's worse than heroin and iocane powder combined. Of course, Oliver didn't care about Vertigo until his sister took some.
In the Arrowlair, Diggle complains that "The Count" is a dumb name. Well, first of all, it's not a name; it's a rank. Anyway, Oliver wants to go back out, but Diggle thinks Oliver should be by Thea's side for her court appearance.
Thea is brushing hair over an extremely tiny scar. Oliver is here to take her to court. He's full of helpful advice. They have a moment together, and then Moira shows up to drag them along.
At the courthouse, the paparazzi are very interested in this whole thing. In the court, it turns out there was a plea bargain. But the judge is outraged at Thea being treated as a juvenile because she was two days under eighteen. So the plea arrangement is denied, and the case will proceed to trial. You'd think the prosecutor would be ticked off about everything, since they're being overruled in public like this. And Thea has no priors and hurt no one but herself in her crash.
The Queens reconvene at home. Their lawyer says they should prepare themselves for the possibility that it might not go their way, and he goes off to work on the appeal. What, a family of billionaires couldn't afford more than one lawyer? Thea sneers at her mother and slouches off. Moira moans to Oliver (and recaps for us) that Thea took drugs and drove, so why does she have to be made an example of? Oliver says he has to go do something (seriously, that's his entire excuse: "I have to go do something") and he's out.
Back on Flashback Island, Yao Fei looks at Oliver, who's in a bamboo cage and complaining up a storm about how he thought they were friends. He'd like to be let out of the cage, but Yao Fei won't help him. Oliver is positively distraught.