At the beginning of the season, both star Stephen Amell and showrunner Beth Schwartz teased that Oliver would encounter another familiar face behind bars. Of course, once the show introduced the Demon — a mysterious figure who is imprisoned in Slabside Prison with Oliver and works with Diaz — it was clear that he would be someone we’d met before. And Arrow finally unmasked the Demon in tonight’s episode, and I’ll be honest, I did not see this coming (even though, in hindsight, it should’ve been obvious).
“The Demon” begins with Oliver being freed from solitary confinement and joining the rest of Level Two’s general population, all of whom are forced to wear some bling: a silver bracelet that the guards can use to shock the inmates whenever they step out of line or relapse. On Level Two, relapse is Dr. Parker’s term for when his test subjects fall back into their violent old ways, and the only way to treat that is to carry them through an ominous blue door that definitely violates the hypocritic oath. Oliver learns works how Level Two after the man who attacked him in the shower is carted away through the aforementioned door. But, of course, that’s not all that awaits him here.
Now that Oliver has left solitary, he can set about finding the Demon. But Oliver learns that in Slabside Prison, like in Soviet Russia, Demon find you. And by that I mean, the Demon shows up in Oliver’s cell that night and is revealed to be none other than Talia al Ghul. Yes, she managed to survive the Lian-Yu explosion at the end of season 5, and without the help of Lazarus Pit (which is for the best since her sister Nyssa is destroying the last ones). Did any of you call that? I definitely didn’t. At first, I found the reveal annoying because it was another reminder of how no one of any consequence actually died in the explosion, but as the episode continues, it soon becomes rather fitting that Oliver would run into his former mentor right as his identity is in under attack. As we’ll soon learn, Dr. Parker believes the way to rid people of their violent habits is to wipe them of their sense of identity.
Unfortunately, Talia didn’t make it off Lian-Yu unscathed, which is clear from the scars on her face. To deal with her injuries, she depends on a drug supplied by Diaz, which is why she was more than willing to organize an attack on the man that killed her father and then lure him to Level Two. After giving him grief for allowing his two sides — the normal one and the monster — to become one, she appeals to their past mentor-mentee relationship because she needs his help escaping from Level Two and Wannabe Hugo Strange’s torturous experiments. But Oliver, believing that WHS has a point about his cycle of violence, refuses. “There’s no Oliver in here. I’m inmate 4587.”
Next: “My name is Oliver Queen”