After Tommy's funeral, Laurel goes back to her apartment and doesn't leave for days. There isn't any point. There's no one she wants to talk to. She can't work. CNRI's office is a pile of rubble, the computer records are down, and Dylan, CNRI's IT manager, hasn't been seen since the quake.
She lies in bed for hours. Sometimes she'll go to the kitchen and put some food on a plate. She doesn't feel hungry and nothing tastes right. Eating is a just another chore now.
Her phone rings periodically. She ignores it. When the calls get more persistent, she turns it off.
Sometime after that, someone bangs on her door. She hears her dad yelling.
When she answers it, Thea's there as well. That's unexpected. Turns out Thea's lawyer has been trying to reach Laurel for two days. Thea got worried and called Laurel's dad.
They're expecting some sort of explanation, so she says, "I needed some space."
It sounds like a feeble excuse as soon as she says it, but her dad doesn't demand any more. He hugs her and says, "Just don't scare us like that again."
Laurel goes to court to testify that Thea had complied with the terms of her probation up to the point of the quake. Laurel expects the judge to assign community service somewhere else, but the judge releases Thea from probation instead. Thea's attorney tells her that the probation department is overwhelmed with the upheavals caused by the quake. They don't have the resources to track everyone anymore, so they're focusing on the noncompliant.
Thea says, "Let's go to Taste of Thai to celebrate." It's a hole-in-the-wall place, only a few blocks away from CNRI. Somehow it managed to escape damage from the quake.
Thea tells Laurel that Ollie's gone to Europe and didn't say when he'd be back.
That sounds like a weird decision-running off to party while his family is in chaos. Maybe old habits die hard for Ollie. Whatever the reason, it's better that she doesn't have to worry about running into him any time soon. Better not to be constantly reminded how Ollie tried to warn her to get out of the Glades, and if she'd only listened to him, if she hadn't been so stubborn-
Laurel stares at the menu. She's eaten here dozens of times, but her brain feels tired and slow, and she can't figure out what she wants.
Thea asks, "Do you want me to order for you?"
Laurel nods. Thea orders pad thai.
The owner sets the plate down in front of her. Laurel takes a bite, and her long-dormant taste buds finally wake up. There are salty crunchy peanuts, soft bits of tofu, chewy noodles and tart-sweet sauce, and she eats the whole damn thing way too fast.
Thea grins at her, "Wow, you inhaled that. Guess I picked the right thing, huh?"
Laurel says, "Yeah, that was great."
She's going to miss seeing Thea every day.
A few days later, her phone rings. It's Joanna. An anonymous donor has given two million dollars to CNRI, dedicated in memory of Thomas Merlyn. It's enough to get them up and running in a new office.
Laurel goes back to work. Wrongful terminations, evictions, workmen's compensation cases-she's done so many of them that she can do them on autopilot by now.
One morning, a potential client comes in. Janice lost her home, her husband, her two kids, and her job to the quake. Janice wants to know if there's anything Laurel can do on the legal front to help her out. Laurel tells Janice she'll look into it.
Laurel consults with Joanna and the others at CNRI, and eventually, they all agree upon the next steps. For several weeks, all of them spend every waking minute on legal research, investigations, and client interviews. Laurel pulls a couple of all-nighters when things get really hectic.
Laurel decides she wants to do the filing herself. She goes to court to file a class action lawsuit against Moira Queen, the estate of Malcolm Merlyn, Queen Consolidated, Merlyn Global Group, and 117 other co-conspirators identified by Moira Queen. Janice will be the class representative for the victims of The Undertaking.
Laurel knows she's setting herself for years of 16-hour workdays, of an all-out war against an army of the best lawyers money can buy. But she feels better than she's felt in a very long time.
She's visiting Tommy's grave when Ollie walks up. That's a hell of a way for her to find out he's back in town. But he's on the same page as her: they betrayed Tommy and can't be together again, blah blah blah. The conversation is going smoothly, low-drama for once, but she feels like she needs to say it. "Ollie, you should hear this from me. I'm working on a class action lawsuit against your mom and Queen Consolidated."
There's a moment where she thinks he's going to be angry, but he takes a breath and says, "Thanks for letting me know."
"Why aren't you angry with me?"
"I'm worried about what will happen to the Queen Consolidated employees if you win. But I could never be angry at you for this. You're doing what you've always done-helping people who need it."
Laurel goes to Coast City to ask Dr. Ramon Vicaro, a seismologist, to serve as an expert in the case. Dr. Vicaro is sure that the Unidac machine was the sole case the quake. He also warns her that the defendants will likely hire experts to create as much doubt as possible.
While she's there, she receives a phone call from her dad. He wants to let her know that he caught the Doll-Maker. Again. He tries to play it down, but it's pretty obvious that he's badly shaken up. She tries to get him to talk about it, but he just keeps repeating that he's ok.
It's only after the call is over that she realizes the implications: a horrific serial killer escaped from jail, and the people in charge chose not to warn the public about it.
A few weeks later, and Laurel and Joanna are in court. Lawyers for some of the co-conspirators have argued that Laurel's representation of Oliver Queen last year, and her ties to the Queen and Merlyn families, create a conflict of interest. They argue that Laurel has an incentive to downplay the culpability of the Merlyn estate and Moira Queen, which would harmful for the other co-conspirators. They also want the conflict imputed to CNRI, which means that CNRI would also be removed from the case. Joanna offers to have Laurel screened from the case: Laurel will not do any further work on it, and will not discuss it with any of the other attorneys.
The judge grants the co-conspirators' motion. The conflict is imputed to CNRI; Laurel and her firm are barred from working on the case.
Her dad takes her out to dinner.
"I don't understand why this is bothering you so much," he says. "You've had setbacks in court before, and it just made you more determined to fight back. What's different now?"
She laughs. "Tommy's dead, half of the Glades was destroyed, crime is so bad that we have multiple competing vigilantes patrolling the streets, the mayor was assassinated, and no one seems to care. Other than that, I guess nothing's different."
"I didn't mean that, I just-it's not the end of the world, there are other law firms that can take the case-"
"But it won't be one with ties to the Glades. It'll be some law firm with lawyers who want to make as much money as possible and don't care about the clients. And it will take the other law firm months to get up to speed on the case. The rich people can afford for this case to be delayed. The people in the Glades can't. They need help as fast as they can get it."
Her dad's nodding, it seems like he gets it now, but she just has to get the rest off her chest.
"And I keep wondering what I did wrong. I mean, I know Judge Mills has let attorneys be screened in similar cases. He's never thrown out an entire law firm before. Why would he start doing that now?"
Her dad sighs. "Maybe it wasn't your fault. Mills has a reputation for being in the pocket of every rich guy in town. We've investigated him four times and could never get enough evidence to prove it."
"So I've been working my ass off for months on a case that was doomed no matter what I did? Thanks, Dad. That's super helpful."
She gulps down the rest of her wine; her dad gives her a look.
Before he can say anything, she fires a peremptory strike: "God, Dad. It's fine. I can get drunk once in a while without it being a disaster. I'm not you."
They finish their meal in silence. At the end, he says, "I know it's rough right now, but don't lose hope, honey. Something that happened a few days ago showed me that no matter how bad it gets, there's always hope."
"Really? What was it?" She's dying to hear about something, anything good happening right now.
"I-I can't tell you. I'm sorry."
More fucking secrets. Everyone keeps secrets from her-Sara and Ollie, her mom, and now her dad is doing it too.
But he's really all she has left right now, so she lets it go.
Alderman Sebastian Blood comes to visit. Their paths have crossed a few times when she was working on the class action case. He offers sympathies for the ruling, but doesn't seem at all surprised that it happened.
"The whole system is sick, from top to bottom. We need to get people who represent everyone in this city, not just the one-percenters. We need to bring in a different breed of leaders to run the city."
That sounds like the kind of change Starling City needs.
She asks, "Have you ever thought of running for mayor?"
She starts spending most of her evenings canvassing. Calling up friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and telling them all the reasons that Sebastian Blood should be the next mayor. It's exhausting, but it's the single most effective thing she can do to help.
When Moira Queen is acquitted, Laurel's stunned. What trial were the jurors watching? How could they excuse Moira's role in a conspiracy to kill people in the Glades?
She calls Sebastian to vent. She can almost hear him shrug over the phone. "They were either paid off or intimidated. I mean, do you really believe that Vertigo guy was acting on his own when he kidnapped the DA? The people that are really pulling the strings, they would never let Moira Queen be convicted."
This is veering a little too much into conspiracy-land for Laurel, so she asks, "But Moira exposed them-why would they protect her after that?"
"Because if Moira were convicted, that makes it more likely that the others involved would be convicted, and they don't want that."
Oh, crap. That actually kind of makes sense. One of her dad's old sayings comes to mind: Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.
No good will come from brooding about things that are over and done. She should focus on things that she can do now, like helping Sebastian.
Her dad comes to see her just as she's about to leave the office.
"Kind of early for you to be leaving work, isn't it?"
Laurel shrugs. "I put in my 40 hours for the week."
"It used to be a lot more than 40," he says.
God, why won't he get to the point already? "I have different priorities now."
"Yeah, you've been spending all your time working for that alderman, and now you've turning clients away-"
So that's what this is about. "If you're talking about Detective Boyd's daughter, I didn't turn her away, I referred her to a great landlord/tenant attorney who can help her out."
"You never used to farm stuff out like that. Why are you spending so much time schmoozing for some sleazy politician, instead of helping real people who need you?"
"Maybe you haven't noticed, but this city has some real problems that need to be fixed. The work I'm doing for CNRI, it's not nearly enough. It's like putting a bandaid on a gunshot wound."
He's listening, but not about to back down. "This guy is not the one to heal the city. I've got instincts, and every single one of them tells me he's trouble."
"Look, I know he can be an asshole sometimes. Maybe a lot of the time. But we don't need someone to politely ask if he can change the system. We need someone who will start demanding it, who will take no prisoners. It's like you and the vigilante. I want to fight for this city, and I can't be too picky about whose help I'll accept."
Thea and a dark-haired girl named Sin visit Laurel at CNRI. A guy they know named Max has died. The police are calling it an overdose, but Sin is skeptical. She tells Laurel that Max gave blood at Sebastian's blood drive, and surely they wouldn't accept his blood if Max used drugs. Laurel promises to look into it.
Later she goes to visit Thea, Sin and Roy (who has some sort of leg injury, which Laurel decides not to ask about). She tells them what she knows-that the blood drive's a legitimate enterprise, that there were some comprehensive psychological tests, which are a bit unusual for a blood drive, and that they won't be able to get Max's records without a subpoena.
She's out Christmas shopping with Sebastian, and she decides, after a bit of dithering, to just be direct. "Can I ask you a question about your blood drive? Why do the donors have to take psych tests?"
He looks a bit flummoxed, but then says, "It's kind of a long story, but basically it was a requirement for a federal grant we received. Why are you asking?"
Then her phone rings, and her world is turned upside down again. Her dad's in the ICU.
At the hospital, there's good news. Her dad is alive and can talk to her. Then her dad tells her that Detective Hilton has been killed. He wants to call Jeannie, and Laurel understands why. The Hiltons helped her family during those horrible months after Sara disappeared. Her dad doesn't want Jeannie to hear the news from someone who doesn't know her as well as they do.
She tells her Dad she'll tell Jeannie, and walks out of his room. It just never ends around here.
Sebastian's in the hall. He tells her he wanted to make sure her dad was ok, and that she was ok. He pulls her in for a hug.
She thinks about the flowers Sebastian sent her. She thinks about how she and Oliver brought the worst out of each other when they were together. She thinks about Tommy and the awful way things ended between them.
She extricates herself from the hug as gently as she can. It would be nice to be with someone again. But the city needs Sebastian as mayor much more than Laurel needs a new boyfriend. And the last thing Sebastian needs is to be involved with the freakshow that is her personal life. He's a good person, and he deserves better.