The big Starling-based development of this episode is Laurel coming into her own as Canary, and apparently all it takes is a rousing pep talk to take her from completely incompetent to pro status.
The first we see her, she's attempting to save a young woman from a thug I'll call Poor Man's Dax Shepard, who apparently works for crime boss Danny Brickwell, a.k.a. Brick. Even though she gets the drop on the guy, PMDS manages to slice her on the arm with a knife. It's so bad that Not-Dax even comments on how she's not the old Canary. Tough crowd. She'd be done for if Arsenal didn't show up and give the guy a kick in the butt.
This in spite of the fact that we saw Canary beat up two Brick thugs singlehandedly last week. It's one of many examples of the show hitting the rewind button this week for some weird reason.
With Brick still at large, the mayor calls a meeting of Important People at city hall to figure out what to do about him. Before it starts, Captain Lance tells Laurel that Sara's apparently back in action. Laurel, as is her wont, says nothing to dissuade him from that belief.
The meeting starts, and Lance says the cops have no idea where Brick might be. Just then, Ray Palmer arrives and suggests calling in the National Guard, because surely Starling has them at the top of their contacts list at this point.
Before things progress much further, Brick and some goons burst in and start shooting up the room. Brick says he always wanted to meet the mayor (despite this being only the second time we've seen this particular mayor, given that Starling's chief executives have a bad habit of dying all the time), and orders his lackeys to kidnap all the aldermen and kill everyone else, because Brick is just plain not f---ing around. Again: He's really the bad guy this show needed.
His main problem is that he leaves rooms too early, though. Palmer bumrushes one of the goons, which gets Lance and Laurel in on the action, too. After taking a hit, Laurel manages to capture one of the guys and gets him in an interrogation room at police HQ.
In there, Laurel just starts threatening to charge him with crimes, including the death of a gang leader. That... seems pretty wholly unethical there, Laurel. You're on some Jack Bauer kick there. He should probably hire an attorney. But it works. The guy gives up Brick (and thereby the kidnapped aldermen's) location.
In the Arrowcave, Dig, Roy, and Laurel have one of several arguments about how Sara isn't her sister and probably isn't prepared for any of this. Roy has training from Ollie; Laurel has a law degree. Roy has come around by this point, though. Dig still won't have it, so Laurel throws the whole thing about his dead brother back at him, like those are the only credentials he has. Laurel, Dig did like 15 tours in Afghanistan. It's not exactly parity here.
Nonetheless, Dig lets Arsenal and Canary head out and take on Brick, whose location was apparently "a van somewhere." They attack the van and force it to stop, so Brick does what he does and comes out blasting what looks like an M-16 at them.
Canary goes in for the attack, but Brick just tosses her away, saying he prefers not to hit women. Classic heel move. Brick eventually gets back in the van, which starts speeding away. Seemingly out of spite Arsenal shoots Brick in the shoulder with an arrow, and of course, that just makes him mad. He tells the heroes this is their fault, and shoots one of the aldermen in the head.
Back at City Hall, everyone is watching footage on Starling's One News Channel of Canary and Arsenal utterly failing to do anything productive. How embarrassing.
Brick calls up the mayor and tells her that he wants to talk. He does this by quoting Shakespeare's Julius Ceasar and saying he wants to parley. It's the most stereotypical thing an English villain can possibly do, but there's something about Vinnie Jones doing it that makes it so great.
Before that meeting happens, Laurel sits in a room in City Hall feeling bad about what happened. Smoak walks in, and before she can really say anything, Laurel says she isn't good enough to fight for Sara and won't be wearing the mask again. Smoak tells her to buck up and fight for the people who are alive, which is all Sara needs to get back out there and risk her well-being, as well as the well-being of others.
The sad thing is it's not even an original pep talk; it's one Smoak got from Palmer earlier in the episode.
The mayor goes to meet with Brick out by the docks, and after some verbal sparring with Palmer (Brick is apparently a fan of his; he knows about the Star City plan and everything), Brick says he'll release the aldermen on one condition: No more police presence in The Glades.
Lance pushes back, but Brick insists. So Lance calls up Smoak and asks if Arrow can help. Smoak says Arrow is definitely, totally gone, but Canary can maybe do something.
In the Arrowcave, as Dig and Roy toast with Ollie's secret vodka (Ollie may not be too happy about that, because he's a jerk), Smoak and Laurel swoop in and say the mayor has decided to cave to Brick's demands, leaving saving The Glades up to Team Arrow.
The first step in that process: Laurel calls her dad to ask if the cops have any clues as to Brick's whereabouts. Here's the weird part, though: She calls using Sara's voice. It's explained, but the explanation is basically, "Smoak can do technology magic."
But really: Isn't it super morbid for someone to talk to their dad using their dead sister's voice? Like, how is this protecting anyone at this point? This is just going to make it that much worse when Captain Lance finally learns all this stuff. Are they waiting for Sara to be not dead? (Which is possible, I guess.)
Anyway, Lance reveals that one of the alderman has a pacemaker, and apparently pacemakers have GPS trackers now, so Team Arrow traces Brick and the aldermen to--where else?--a warehouse.
Smoak borrows Palmer's personal helicopter (there's a cute little discussion about whether it has keys) and Dig flies it to the warehouse with Arsenal and Canary in tow. Somehow, Brick's goons don't hear the helicopter right over the building and Team Arrow gets the jump on them.
Canary and Arsenal hold their own pretty well for a while, with Canary saving Arsenal at one point to even the odds from earlier in the episode. They find the aldermen and release them with some hilarious video game logic. You know, that thing where as soon as you untie the hostages, they're OK? Roy helps them escape.
Canary finds herself trapped in there with Brick, who says he's rethinking his policy on not hitting women. Canary asks Dig to get her out of there, and after a quick fight with Brick, she busts out a window and jumps onto a ladder hanging down from the helicopter. It's not a bad move.
Brick looks out the window and goes, "Grrr!"
Not that any of it really mattered. Canary (again morbidly talking in Sara's voice) meets up with Captain Lance in an alley. There, he reveals that the mayor took all the police out of The Glades anyway because Brick knows all the city council's home addresses and could still eff them up. (So why'd he bother kidnapping them?) Even in winning, Canary and Arsenal don't succeed.
Canary turns down a dinner offer from her sad father and just leaves him standing there in the street. What a great daughter.
(That said, Captain Lance doesn't seem to notice that Canary is like four inches taller than she used to be.)