This is a review/recap of a show. This means there’s going to be SPOILERS. If you haven’t seen Arrow S3 E22, I would recommend holding off reading this until you have. You’ve been warned.
The Scottish poet Robert Burns coined the phrase “The best laid plans of mice and men aft gang agley,” meaning even the plans with the best of intentions can go boobs up. To say nothing of the mice plans at work, all the plans by men in this week’s Arrow, the penultimate episode of Season 3 “This Is Your Sword,” proved to be pretty poorly thought out and easily foiled. Also, it featured two female characters who had men they trust/used to trust decide what’s best for them without any input from them. So, real great stuff going on here, but with the season almost over, it couldn’t be all wine and roses on this show, could it?
So, remember how Oliver really made everybody think he had completely lost his soul and had given himself over fully to Ra’s al Ghul? Well, I, and probably a million other people, thought that was probably a liiiiiittle too convenient and quick for someone who survived “five years in hell.” And guess what — We were right! We’re schmarties. You know who else can see through all of that? Ra’s al Ghul, turns out. Booooooy.
Let’s get the flashback crap out of the way first: Akio is dying and Maseo and Tatsu are justifiably panicked. As Hong Kong falls apart because of Shrieve’s Alpha and Omega virus, the Yamashiros along with Oliver make their way to a pharmacy. Akio’s incessantly bloody nose tells them the inoculate didn’t work on him and he’s probably going to need more than penicillin. Oliver and Maseo decide to find Shrieve and make him give them the cure, which they’re just assuming exists. They get to Shrieve pretty darned easily and shoot him in the arm and take what he tells them is the cure back to Akio, who has essentially already died in Tatsu’s arms (tonight, must have been something she said) and Shrieve laughs and says there’s no cure, and what they have is just insulin because he’s a diabetic. He lights a cigar like a real asshole.
In Nanda Parbat, Oliver is having dinner with his wife-to-be Nyssa and her psychopath father. Ra’s wants Starling City leveled using the Alpha and Omega virus and wants him to do it ASAP. We find out that Maseo is the one who gave Ra’s the virus in the first place, as a trade-off for him joining the League. He was distraught, after all; what could he do? Well, I mean, not give a devastating chemical weapon to the head of the world’s largest terrorist ring, I GUESS. Nyssa, obviously, doesn’t want to marry Oliver at all, but Ra’s tells her she has no say in the matter at all, and if she refuses, she will endure the suffering of 1,000 deaths. That can be an empty threat, but dude has a Lazarus pit; he could make her literally die 1,000 deaths.
But, Oliver isn’t quite as gung-ho for the Starling destruction as you might thing; he goes outside to think, saying that he’s prepared to become Ra’s al Ghul but not prepared to become a married man. He needs some time, you understand. BUT, he doesn’t go sit alone; Malcolm Merlyn joins him. It seems they’ve been in cahoots this whole time, ever since it became apparent that the League would never let Oliver NOT become the new Ra’s. They thought they’d have a lot more time for Oliver to systematically dismantle the League from the inside before Ra’s would deploy the virus. But now they have to speed the timeline way up. Oliver’s going to need assistance, but Diggle, Felicity, and Laurel will never believe Merlyn, will they?
SIDEBAR: At Wondercon, Andrew Kreisberg was asked about the pronunciation of Ra’s in this series, why some people say Raysh and some people say Roz. His response was that the name is Raysh, and has been so in the comics forever, but the Nolan movies pronounced in Roz, so instead of ignoring that or confusing people, they decided that anyone on the side of Raysh will pronounce it that way and anyone against him will pronounce it Roz. Oliver in this episode says “Raysh” when talking to Ra’s, but when he goes outside to talk to Merlyn, he pronounces it Roz again. This is about as stupid as anything could be.
Back in Starling City, Thea is getting ready to go find Roy. Merlyn (who can apparently apparate between Starling and Nanda Parbat within seconds) ultimately tells her she should go, which raises a couple red flags in Thea, but she laughs them off and heads to see Roy. Roy is working at an auto body shop in some other city and he’s going by the name Jason. He’s surprised to see Thea but not unhappy and the two go back to his place, wasting no time at all. She gives him his red Arsenal suit which Merlyn SOMEHOW (he is a magician after all) got from Starling’s evidence locker. They spend the next huge amount of time in bed and Roy asks what happened to make her come looking for him. She tells him the whole story (well, the abridged version) and he says her M.O. is to run away when faced with a problem. But she still wants to be with him. The next morning, Thea wakes up and Roy is gone, leaving a note saying she should return to Starling, and he’s left her the Arsenal costume because “red looked better on her anyway.”
Sooo, she just doesn’t get a say in what happens to her at all? Both Merlyn and Roy think they know what’s best for Thea and remove any and all choice on her part. Couple this with Oliver choosing to sacrifice himself to save her when Thea never would have asked him to do that and you have a character who isn’t allowed to live her own life. And, I mean, Nyssa, who is only of the strongest and most driven female characters on the show, is reduced to a betrothed at the behest of her violent, sadistic father; and the usually level-headed Felicity has been in a weird tizzy since she and Oliver hooked up. I’m just saying, it’s not the best time to be a lady on Arrow these days.
Speaking of Felicity, she speaks to Ray, who missed a LOT during his week away, and he asks if she needs anyone to talk to, because they’re still friends and he’s always going to be there for her. Ray is only the best. He has her sign some papers and we see fleetingly that it’s a transfer of ownership, presumably of Palmer Technologies over to Felicity. She gets a call from Merlyn and is upset that she feels like she has to go meet him. That he can summon them at will.
Earlier, we saw Diggle chasing a perp into a dark corner full of the bad guys bad guy friends. But Black Canary is there to scream at them so it’s okay. But Diggle’s a liiiiittle bit cheesed about everything and nearly beats the perp to death. Felicity’s all like nah dawg, but while he says he’s not going to lose control again, he’s still super angry.
And that anger doesn’t go away when the three remaining heroes meet with Merlyn who tells them of his and Oliver’s ruse. Naturally, they don’t believe him, so he brings out his ace in the hole: Tatsu? Okay. Diggle even says “Now we’re supposed to believe this woman we’ve never met before? But, Merlyn simply says if they want to save the city and Oliver, they’ll meet he and Tatsu at Ferris airfield to head to Nanda Parbat.
In Felicity’s makeshift crimefighting headquarters, they watch video from the Hong Kong attacks, which the Chinese government called a chemical spill and not an attack. Diggle says if there’s any chance of that happening to Starling, he has to go and try to stop it. Laurel agrees but Felicity says no. But, of course, she goes anyway. When they land in Nanda Parbat (in the daytime, believe it or not) they see the stealth plane that will carry the virus and Felicity tries to incapacitate it, but they’re beset by League, which allows Tatsu to be Katana in the mask and everything for the first time. She fights Maseo who will never come back to her and she kills him. He dies thanking her for freeing him. The plane manages to take off but luckily the ATOM is there to help! He swoops in and destroys the plane, but they all get captured.
Gosh darn everything! Ra’s locks them all up and Oliver says, quickly, that they have to trust him if they want to live. But Ra’s knows that someone has been spilling secrets to Merlyn and the others, and they blame Maseo cuz he’s, you know, dead. But Ra’s decides he’s going to kill them all anyway. Oliver has Diggle brought to him and Diggle is not prepared to believe or even trust Oliver ever again after he kidnapped Lila last week in front of their daughter. The problem is, Oliver has to be super undercover and can’t show weakness in front of Ra’s in any way.
Merlyn proves to be the spineless weasel we always expected and tells Ra’s that Oliver was the spy and not Maseo, hoping it will buy him some favor with the League. Ra’s simply says that he’ll make Merlyn’s death quicker than he originally planned. That’s a favor, I suppose. Ra’s tosses a vial of the Alpha and Omega into the cell and it breaks, leaving Felicity, Laurel, Diggle, Ray, Tatsu, and Merlyn yelling to Oliver to save them, but he doesn’t. He goes and gets married to Nyssa (who of course tries to kill him) while his friends seemingly die in the next room.
Wow, that’s quite a lot of stuff. I’m really glad we’re reaching the end of the proceedings, though, because this Ra’s al Ghul storyline, while interesting, has worn out its welcome a little bit. Everything is built up and it seems like we’ll finally get the action finale we’ve been hoping for, especially because it looks like, go figure, none of the regulars actually died.
Next week, he’s Oliver Queen again. Bout time.