After five years on the island of Lian Yu, Oliver Queen runs through the forest until and climbs a cliff. He spots a fishing boat in the bay and grabs his hunting gear, and then fires a flaming arrow into a signal fire that he's prepared. The fishermen spot it and rescue Oliver.
The Starling City news is soon announcing Oliver's return and noting that he's the son of billionaire Robert Queen, who died on the Queen's Gambit
, the boat that went down five years ago. Five years ago, Oliver was known for his night clubbing. Meanwhile, Oliver's mother Moira comes to see him at the doctor's office. Dr. Lamb warns her that Oliver is covered in scar tissue and may not be the same Oliver that she lost five years ago. Moira goes to her son and they embrace.
The next day, Moira drives Oliver home. He is greeted by Robert's business partner, Walter Steele, who Oliver doesn't recognize. He does recognize the maid, Raisa, who tearfully greets him. Oliver's younger sister Thea comes down and hugs him, saying that she knew he hadn't died.
Dinah Laurel Lance is at a legal aid office discussing their case against Adam Hunt with her co-worker, Joanna. As Laurel looks at the board with all of the articles on Hunt, she hears the news broadcast about Oliver's discovery... and the fact that Laurel's sister Sarah was one of those who died in the shipwreck. Everyone in the office stares at Laurel, who abruptly turns off the television.
Oliver goes to his bedroom and recognizes almost nothing. He examines his scar-covered body in the mirror and remembers the shipwreck...
Queen's Gambit makes its way through a storm and Robert receives word that they're heading into a hurricane. As he tells the captain to set course away, Oliver comes in to see what's happened. Sarah comes in behind him, wearing a bathrobe, and Oliver sends her back to his room. Robert warns him that it won't end well.
Oliver's friend Tommy Merlyn arrives and greets his old friend. Over dinner he brings him up to speed on what he's missed. Oliver wants to go to the office the next day, much to Walter's surprise. When Raisa spills a drink, Oliver assures her in Russian that nothing is the matter. The others are surprised that Oliver speaks Russian since he didn't five years ago. Oliver then points out that Walter is sleeping with his mother and they tell him that they married once Robert was legally confirmed dead.
That night, Oliver sleeps in front of the open window and dreams.
As they drink in Oliver's cabin, he tells Sarah that the storm is getting closer. As they kiss, Sarah says that Laurel will kill her but Oliver assures her that she'll never find out. The ship suddenly flips over in the storm and Sarah is sucked out through a hole in the side. Oliver goes out seconds later and tries to find Sarah without success. Robert and another crewman pull him into the life raft as Sarah sinks beneath the waves.
Moira tries to wake Oliver up and he grabs her by the throat before he knows what he's doing. As Walter comes in, Oliver apologizes and Moira tells him that it's all right because he's home.
The next day, Oliver collects his wooden case from beneath his bed, the case that he brought back with him. Inside is everything he brought from the island, including a journal. He then goes to see Thea, who is in her room with her friend Margo. Once Margo leaves, Oliver gives her a hozen, a Buddhist symbol of reconnection. He explains that he kept it knowing that one day it would reconnect him to her. Tommy arrives to take Oliver into town and they discuss Oliver's funeral. He tells Oliver that he plans to throw him a welcome-home bash and promises to take care of everything.
Oliver has Tommy drive to the neighborhood where Robert had his factory before he sold it. When Tommy asks what he missed the most, Oliver says he missed Laurel.
Laurel gets word that Hunt has filed a change of venue and the case is going before Judge Grell, who is in Hunt's pocket. Oliver comes in and she reluctantly goes out to walk with him. He comments on how she went to law school and wonders if she's ready to take on Hunt. Laurel wonders why he's here and Oliver says that it was his fault and that he's there to apologize. He asks her not to blame Sarah but Laurel says that Sarah only did the same thing that she did. She knows that Sarah was with Oliver and says that it should be Oliver who died, not Sarah. Laurel tells him to rot in hell and walks away past Tommy, who isn't surprised.
As Tommy and Oliver walk back to their car, masked men drive up, shoot Tommy and Oliver with tranq darts, and kill a storekeeper when he comes out.
Robert gives Oliver something to drink. When the other man objects, Robert tells him that Oliver is the one who will escape if any of them does. He tells Oliver that he's not the man Oliver thought he was and that he wasn't the one who built the city.
The masked men wake Oliver up and demand to know if Robert died in the accident. They torture him with a taser and demand to know what Robert told him, and Oliver glances over at the unconscious Tommy. He then tells his interrogator that his father told him he was going to kill him. The abductors laugh and point out that he's zip-cuffed to the chair, and Oliver reveals that he's revealed himself. He takes on the men and takes out all but one. After checking to make sure Tommy is okay, Oliver goes after the last man, avoiding his gunfire as they run across the roofs. The man ducks into another building and Oliver takes him down. As he prepares to break his neck, Oliver tells him that no one can know his secret and then kills him.
Later, Oliver gives detectives Hilton and Quentin Lance his statement. He claims that a hooded man rescued him but doesn't know why. Tommy says that he didn't get a good look at the man. Quentin, Laurel's father, doesn't believe it. He makes several sharp remarks about the Queen fortune and then leaves. As he goes, Quentin comments that Oliver's luck never seems to run out.
Later, Oliver goes over the computer files on Hunt and consults his journal. Hunt's name is among those written there. Raisa brings in some food and Oliver admits that he missed her. She tells him that he still has a good heart and Oliver says that he wants to be the person she always told him he'd be. As Oliver leaves, Moira tells her son that she's hired John Diggle to serve as his bodyguard and chauffeur. As they drive away, Oliver realizes that Diggle is ex-military. Diggle tells him that he will keep him safe no matter what... and then discovers that Oliver has slipped out of the car while it was in motion.
Oliver goes to the old Queen factory, realizing that he has to move up his plans due to the abduction. He breaks open a hole in the floor and brings in banks of computers. Next Oliver starts forging arrows and exercising. Finally he brings in his case and takes out the bow that he used on the island. Firing rapidly, he nails a half-dozen targets in rapid succession. Oliver then prepares to go after Hunt.
Hunt tells his assistant to fix the situation with Laurel and goes to his car with his two bodyguards. One bodyguard takes an arrow to the chest and the other one fires into the darkness. As Hunt cowers in his car, a hooded Oliver takes out the second man and tells Hunt to transfer $40 million into a specific bank account by the next night or he'll take it himself.
Back at his office, Hunt calls in Quentin and Hilton and tells them what happened. They're not particularly enthused about helping him, but Hunt insists that he gets the best and tells them to coordinate with his new head of security, Drakon. As they go, Hilton admits that Oliver was telling the truth and Quentin figures that if the vigilante wants trouble, he'll find it.
Oliver goes to his car that night to drive to his welcome-home and finds Diggle waiting for him. Tommy has brought in a DJ and a hundred of people, and calls everyone to attention as Oliver comes in. he offers a toast and everyone cheers.
Across the street, Hunt hears the noise from the party at the building opposite.
As Tommy directs Oliver's attention to the hottest woman at the party, Oliver sees Thea come in and collect drugs from someone. When he goes over and pulls her away, she says that in the last five years she had no one and she's doing the best she can with what she has to work with. Thea leaves with her friends but discovers that the drugs she just collected as missing from her purse. Oliver drops the drugs in the garbage and bumps into Laurel, who says that she reconsidered after talking with Tommy. They go up on the balcony and Laurel apologizes for her earlier comment. Oliver says that he would trade places with Sarah if he could, and Laurel asks if her sister suffered. Oliver lies and says that she didn't, and Laurel offers to be there if he wants talk to anyone about what happened. He gets a notice that Hunt didn't transfer the money and tells Oliver that there's something he has to do. Oliver then tells Laurel that the time on the island didn't change him and she's safer staying away with her. Laurel admits that at least now he's honest and walks away.
As Oliver slips away through the hotel kitchen, he finds Diggle waiting for him. The bodyguard directs him back to the ballroom but Oliver applies a choke hold and takes him out.
Drakon tells his men to guard the elevator and then goes into Hunt's office and locks the door. They're unaware that Oliver has fired an arrow into the side of the building.
Quentin and Hilton stand guard outside.
The hooded Oliver takes out the lights and then comes in via the elevator. He takes out Drakon's men and then breaks into the office, and Drakon attacks him while Hunt runs for it and calls Quentin. As the police run in, Drakon grabs a gun and opens fire on Oliver, who throws a knife into him before going down himself. As the police arrive, Oliver pulls the bullet out of the bulletproof vest that he's wearing, shoots a shot at the officers, and goes out the window. Quentin and Hilton get to the window just in time to see the vigilante slide away on a rope.
The police try to shut down the party but Oliver arrives and says that it's a private party. Quentin points out that the same hooded guy that saved him just attacked Hunt, and Oliver offers a $2 million reward to the crowd. Disgusted, the police leave and Tommy points out that it's quite a coincidence that the same guy who saved them attacked Hunt. He asks Oliver what happened to him on the island and Oliver tells him "a lot.
The next day, Hunt is having his men clean up his office and discovers that someone has taken the $40 million out of his account. At the warehouse, Oliver finishes transferring the funds.
in the life boat, Robert tells Oliver that there isn't enough food for all of them. He tells Oliver that he has to make it home and right his wrongs. Oliver tells him to get some sleep and dozes off, and Robert first shoots the other survivor and then puts a gun to his head and shoots himself.
Laurel is at the law office and learns that her client got a transfer of money into their account. Joanna has received another call from another of their clients who received an anonymous donation. They figure that Starling City has a new guardian angel. Tommy stops by to talk to Laurel, who asks what happened with Oliver. She says that there's nothing between them and Tommy points out that they've been involved over the years. She figures that he's not a one-girl kind of guy and Tommy says that it depends on the girl. As she leaves, Oliver watches them from hiding and vows to track down the others on his father's list.
Oliver looks up out of the lifeboat and sees the island ahead.
A man reports to his boss that the police won't find out anything about who arranged Oliver's abduction. When he asks if they should try again, Moira tells him that there are other ways to find out what her son knows.