Let’s start things off in the recent past in Hong Kong, shall we?
The Yamashiros rush an afflicted Akio to a nearby pharmacy with the hopes of quelling his fever. He tries to swallow down some Ibuprofen with a mouthful of blood as Tatsu sings to him. Maseo and Oliver head after Shrieve in the hopes of finding a cure. Oliver brings out his inner killer as they storm the base. They demand the cure from Shrieve, who tries to explain world politics and economies before Maseo shoots him. He offers up the cure and they take him along to show them how to administer it. By the time they reach the pharmacy, Akio is already dead. Shrieve played them, revealing that there’s no cure. Instead, Shrieve turns the tables and captures them.
The flashbacks are finally starting to pay off this season in that the conflicts shown within the short segments are being resolved in the current timeline. The major ones from season three? The falling out between the Yamashiros, and the nature of the Alpha-Omega bioweapon. There are some big moments for both of these sources of drama in “This Is Your Sword,” but we’re not quite there yet.
Tonight’s hour was a tale of two cities (maybe two and a half) at least until all of Starling City’s superheroes were once again reunited in the apparently not-very-far-far-away land of Nanda Parbat. All that’s really going on back at home base is that Diggle and Canary are mopping up criminals wherever they can (with police absolutely nowhere in sight tonight), and Felicity is moping about because of Oliver’s apparent betrayal. It’s up to Malcolm Merlyn, of all people, to get them to trust in him, and thereby trust in Oliver once more. To do this, he brings in Tatsu, an absolute stranger to Team Arrow but a very familiar face to fans.
Meanwhile, in Nanda Parbat, Ollie and Nyssa are preparing for their nuptial in two very different ways. Oliver, who is not exactly loyal to Ra’s al Ghul (spoiler?), is sneaking off to meet with Malcolm, who apparently has teleportation abilities. Unfortunately for the schemers, Ra’s plans are progressing faster than theirs, so they step up their game. Nyssa, on the other hand, is busy fighting against her father’s orders, rejecting his gifts, and plotting to murder her betrothed before they even consummate the vows. What a happy family this could be.
Now it’s time for one of the episode’s big moments. When Malcolm and the others arrive in Nanda Parbat (out in the open in broad daylight…) they’re immediately waylaid by the League of Assassins. And though their arrival was done in the most illogical possible way, I’ll allow it because it led to an awesome fight sequence. The Team battles the league on open ground in the middle of the day, a scenario quite different from their usual midnight rooftop/dilapidated warehouse battles. While the group melee is fantastically shot and choreographed, there are three standouts: Felicity’s pseudo killshot of one of the assassins, A.T.O.M.’s arrival to take down an attack jet supposedly carrying the bio-weapon, and the Yamashiro battle. That’s right, Tatsu (in her excellent Katana costume) takes on her estranged husband, Maseo. It’s a beautiful, kinetic fight carried out with precision and heart against a wonderful mountaintop vista. The bittersweet end sees Tatsu victorious, releasing Maseo from his prison through death.
Unfortunately, the rest of the team is outnumbered by the League and is thrown in their own very real, very iron-clad prison. Tatsu reveals that she knew about Ra’s bio-weapon, and Ra’s reveals that Oliver is about to marry Nyssa, which pretty much breaks Felicity’s heart in two. And although Oliver has a relatively loud conversation with Diggle about how they can totally trust him and how he only kidnapped Lyla for the greater good, if you had any doubts about Oliver’s loyalties, just leave it to Malcolm to spell it out for you. The weaselly archer/assassin once again throws Oliver under the bus, leaving him to re-prove his loyalty to Ra’s. Is a wedding not enough? Okay, how about murdering all of his friends with a sample of the bio-weapon, to which there is no cure! That’s the other big plot element dropped in tonight’s flashback, and it spells doom for Diggle, Felicity, Laurel, and Ray.
Except it doesn’t, because the preview for next week’s finale shows that everyone looks healthy, wealthy (well Ray is, at least), and wise. We’ll have to wait until that episode to see how they escape this week’s cliffhanger (and to see just how Ollie and Nyssa’s wedding night turns out), but it robbed any sense of tension from the show. That’s been a common thread this season, with plots rushing ahead of themselves to explain everything away or to reassure the audience that everything is going to be totally fine. It’s an unfortunate misstep that, in my opinion, comes from over-thinking things.
Don’t worry, I didn’t forget about Thea and Roy/Jason. Short and sweet version, Thea visits Roy in his new town and they hook up, with Thea confessing (sorta) her recent troubles in Starling City, and Roy confessing his love. He sure has a funny way of showing it since he packs a bag and leaves her behind with a note saying that she should live her own life without being on the run from police. But in the same sentence, he says that she should be the new Red Archer as he leaves her Arsenal’s costume.
Will we see Speedy suit up as … Speedy any time soon? Stay tuned to find out!
Rating: ★★★ Good
Ra’s al Ghul: “You’ll have no more say than when your mother was given.” Yikes.
Felicity to Palmer: “You got flight, what more do you want?”
Okay, so is Palmer tricking Felicity into transferring ownership of the company completely to him, or is there something else shady going on?
Maseo: “The League is not my prison. From my prison, there is no escape.”
Tatsu: “My name is Tatsu Yamashiro, and your city is in great danger.”
I love Malcolm’s face while they’re deciding whether or not to trust him. He does not give a shit and it’s fantastic.
Are we ever going to go back to that random moment when Oliver recognized a woman from his past, a woman with a son? Who was that?
I’m loving Rila Fukushima as Katana! Finally!
Al Sah-him: “Oliver Queen is dead. I am Al Sah-him.”