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Arrow Recap: This is Your Sword
May 9, 2015 By Trevor Richardson
First off, right out of the gate, we find out that Maseo gave Ra’s the Alpha-Omega when he joined the League of Assassins. That was a huge surprise and a very good twist.
In Starling City, meanwhile John is on the edge, taking his aggression out on street thugs and gang members. Felicity confronts him by saying, “You’re in denial about how angry you are.”To which John appropriately responds, “No, Felicity, I’m not in denial. Because I am angry! Oliver was my best friend and he kidnapped my wife.
There are occasional moments of awesomeness afforded by this kind of storytelling that fans, followers, readers, and viewers live for. One such moment comes after the feeling that all is lost, that your heroes are hanging on by a thread, suspended over the proverbial pyre, when allies and cavalry are scattered on the wind, not likely to show up in time, and two people speak in shadow about a plan they have had in place since before the trouble arrived, only we as the audience have only just found out. These moments where the heroes are the ones skulking in shadow and holding secret meetings about the villains are some of the best moments you get in spy thrillers, crime dramas, and superhero adventure tales. I’m reminded of watching the team meeting with Nick Fury in Winter Soldier as he burns all evidence of his existence and goes on the lam. It’s cool, intense, and more than anything it fills you with a kind of pride for someone who does not technically exist, but is very real to you.
In the early part of this episode, after the stone-cold Oliver as Al Sah-him discusses his forthcoming marriage to Nyssa and says he needs a walk to clear his head, he crosses paths with a would-be attacker on the road. Then everything you thought you knew about this most recent saga flips on its head in the same manner in which Oliver tosses the masked man. Pulling away the hood, it’s Malcolm Merlyn and Oliver says, “You’re late…things are worse than we feared.”
Holy crap, this was amazing. If anyone says they saw it coming, punch them in their lying mouth. Merlyn has seemed so feeble, almost defeated of late, and Oliver seemed so far gone into his new persona that I expected some serious torment to get him to come back to his senses. Instead, no, he’s been himself all along, plotting his escape and the defeat of Ra’s. I’m so happy right now I can’t even tell you. Last week, I wrote that I was ready to see Oliver do some real superheroing and this absolutely qualifies.
Then, of course, they pull another fast one. As Oliver and Merlyn discuss their plans, alluding to Oliver’s original intention to dismantle the League from within, Maseo arrives at their campsite and finds Oliver sitting alone beside the fire. Merlyn has vanished, leaving us to wonder if Oliver is just delusional and talking to himself, or if Merlyn managed to slip away before being seen.
Another great scene that came much sooner than expected was Thea tracking down Roy Harper, now calling himself Jason. It felt like something out of a spy movie as she walks up to him, pretending to not know him personally, and asks him about her 67 Mustang that needs work. She says, “I hear you’re the guy to see,” and he replies, a knowing look on his face, “You came to the right place.” I love writing where people are saying one thing but meaning another, and this scene plays out with so much subtle passion that it really hits home. I especially enjoyed this exchange where Thea asks if there is some place where they can talk more and Roy/Jason says, “There’s my place.”
“That’s such a good answer,” Thea replies.
That’s just great dialogue.
It feels as if, with all the negativity and tension lately, this episode is trying to tie loose threads back together. Ray and Felicity were recently on the rocks as Ray figured out that Felicity is in love with Oliver and always has been. This week, however, he seems to be moving past that, even going so far as to say, “You’re my friend, that’s non-negotiable.” During their conversation, he very casually gets Felicity to sign a contract for Transfer of Ownership, meaning that he is likely moving on to other endeavors, probably superhero related, and Felicity is about to be a billionaire. This might also be the source of an ongoing question, when and how will Oliver get his company back? We’ve all been wondering, I mean, Oliver is supposed to be one of those billionaire CEO type superheroes, but for over a season now he’s basically been unemployed. Looks like, with a little help from a friend, Oliver and Felicity might be starting up a new Queen corporation in not too long a time. For those that have been paying attention, the newspaper from the future depicted in The Flash made mention of Queen Incorporated, not to be confused with Queen Consolidated, and it seems likely that this moment with Felicity is the first step toward that new company.
Back in Nanda Parbat, Oliver and Maseo have a discussion that pretty much boils down to Oliver asking him about when and how he stole the Alpha-Omega, why he did it, and if he wants out of the League or not. Maseo says, “The League is not my prison, from my prison there can be no escape.” Poor, sad, Maseo, I just don’t know whether to hate him or feel sorry for him.
Meanwhile, Merlyn assembles the team for a discussion about Oliver’s plan and the danger to Starling City. Gratefully, Merlyn was not a delusion and was just good enough to slip away before Maseo snooped around. The expected insults and mistrust are tossed around and then we get an awesome and unexpected arrival. Tatsu Yamashiro, who has largely been a character only in flashback stories, shows up to meet the team and warn them of what is coming to their city. This was a really cool moment and bodes well for her having a more extensive role in the show as it moves forward.
So much is happening so fast right now. Thea and Roy have reunited and she also reunited him with his Red Arrow/Arsenal uniform. The team is supposed to go to Nanda Parbat to help Oliver deal with Ra’s, but they are not sure if they can trust Merlyn or Tatsu. They view the footage of the biological attack on Hong Kong, which according to Diggle was covered up as a chemical spill, and the flashback storyline from this season is beginning to mesh with the present plot. Ultimately, they decide that if there is even the slightest chance that what they are seeing is real and is coming to Starling, they have to try. Nyssa and her father are still having it out and it seems like just a matter of time before she and Oliver have joined forces.
With all of the pieces in place, things lead to a pretty epic fight scene centered around the plane that Ra’s intends to use to deliver the Alpha-Omega to Starling. Felicity is there to hack the plane to keep it from being able to fly as Merlyn, Laurel, Diggle, and Tatsu in a pretty intimidating costume as her alias “Katana.” Perhaps the most important event from this fight, despite the general cool factor, is Katana and Maseo crossing blades as she tries to win her husband back from Ra’s. The most impressive moment, however, comes just after Felicity appears to fail at grounding the plane. Her insurance policy, in case that happened, is Ray Palmer in the ATOM gear, who has a brief, but awesome bout with the jet and brings it down by flying his entire body through the hull of the plane, quipping as he crashes into the dirt, “You should see the other guy.” Then we jump right back to the duel between Tatsu and her husband. For a few seconds, the episode becomes a classic Japanese martial arts film with the two lovers having to fight one another. Everything about it, right down to Maseo dying in her arms, her telling him to give their dead son her love, and him thanking her for freeing him just felt very much like a warrior film out of Japan in the best possible way. Then, of course, she sings the same lullaby to his body as she did to her son. Tatsu, your life sucks. I’m sorry.
Of course, it wouldn’t be Arrow if things didn’t get horribly messed up at least once more. As the fight winds down, Ra’s and Oliver stand over the team, surrounded by League assassins. Ra’s says they only think they destroyed the bioweapon and Oliver cries out, “Surrender or die.”
Next follows some typical bad guy speak about rooting out traitors and the airplane being a ploy. When asked how they knew about the attack, Tatsu puts the blame on Maseo and reveals to everyone that Oliver is betrothed to Nyssa Al Ghul before taking them to the dungeon. Felicity, of course, looks distraught and there is a lot at work here. Oliver told them to shut up and trust him, but he is also still being pretty spooky.
Diggle and Oliver have it out finally and things end with John basically telling him that they are no longer friends, that he has no trust or respect for Oliver after what he did to Lyla. Meanwhile, Merlyn is interrogated by Ra’s and gives up Oliver as a liar plotting against him. When Ra’s confronts Oliver, it is basically Oliver’s word against Merlyn’s, which likely means they are going to have to fight, but we’ll see.
Roy leaves Thea and the suit behind, telling her in a note that she deserves better than a life on the run and that red was “always more your color anyway.” For fans of traditional Arrow backstory, his original sidekick was a character called Speedy, this eventually evolved toward the Red Arrow and a lot of other variations on the idea, and now it looks as if Oliver’s kid sister, nicknamed Speedy since season one, might end up being his Speedy after all.
In the final moments of “This Is Your Sword,” Ra’s tosses the vial of Alpha-Omega into the dungeon with Oliver’s team, taking Tatsu away since she was inoculated during the attack on Hong Kong. The flashback story concludes with the death of Akio and Shreve capturing Oliver and Maseo. Then we go to watch Oliver and Nyssa getting married. In the last seconds, the vapors from the vial spread through the cell and everyone passes out.
Next week, I have my money on a few things happening really early in the episode. First, the vial was switched with something to knock out the team and possibly simulate death. It’s possible that, alternatively, it never was the Alpha-Omega that Maseo gave to Ra’s, but that seems less likely since Oliver clearly just let his people get gassed. Tatsu will come to the rescue somehow, either to free Oliver or to get the unconscious team to safety. Oliver and Nyssa, once they have their privacy, will discuss the fact that Oliver has no intention of being the next Ra’s and they will form a new plan.
How much or how little of that actually goes down will remain to be seen. These are just my best guesses. All in all, a much better episode than last week. I can’t wait to see the conclusion.