So here we are, the penultimate episode of Arrow’s third season. We pick things up with Al Sah-Him (Stephen Amell) looking to further distance himself from the life of Oliver Queen and to continue his rise to leading the League of Assassins by wiping out Starling City. But maybe all is not quite as it seems.
In a nice nod, the opening of This is Your Sword has
Oliver Al Sah-Him change up the regular show-opening line to “My name was Oliver Queen.” Hey, it’s a little thing, but it’s good to see some attention to detail (note to The Flash, Barry Allen is supposedly no longer the fastest man alive…). As mentioned, the former Mr. Queen is under Ra’s al Ghul’s (Matt Nable) order and instructed to unleash the deadly Omega bioweapon on Starling City. To emphasis the point of what this toxin can do, we drift off to the Hong Kong-based flashbacks where we see Omega causing chaos and infecting innocent civilians… including young Akio Yamashiro. Dovetailing back to the present day, we also learn that it was Maseo (Karl Yune) who handed a vile of Omega over to Ra’s upon turning up at his doorstep. Silly, silly lad.
Following from last week, we also get to see the wedding of Al Sah-Him and Nyssa al Ghul (Katrina Law). Nyssa is a tad reluctant (as evidence by, y’know, her brandishing a blade on her hubby to be), and it’s also some saddening news for Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) to hear about. What’s that? Felicity is around? Why yes, that would be because the remnants of Team Arrow decide to take a trip to Nanda Parbat (again!).
For those losing faith in Oliver Queen (which is pretty much the entirety of Team Arrow bar some Felicity denials), we learn early on in This is Your Sword that this whole ‘join the League of Assassins and take over as the next genocidal Ra’s al Ghul’ is all merely a rouse. Kind of. Al Sah-Him ends up having a secret, fireside chat with Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), who is apparently the only person in on the big secret that Oliver used this whole thing to merely infiltrate the League and take down Ra’s. Now it’s time for the plan to become known to the rest of Team Arrow, although they of course don’t believe a word that comes out of Merlyn’s mouth. To prove Merlyn is speaking the truth, it’s been arranged for an old friend to back up Malcom’s chatter. Enter, Tatsu Yamashiro (Rila Fukushima).
As rightly pointed out by Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity, why would the words of someone they have never met all of a sudden make them believe Merlyn. Either way, they do eventually come to believe that Malcolm may be talking some sort of truth when Tatsu reveals that there is a virus heading to Starling City, a virus that she has encountered first hand in Hong Kong. And by this point in the game, viewers have seen young Akio die in the arms of mother Tatsu during a flashback. He was always likely to be used as emotional collateral, but RIP little man. So it is set: Merlyn, Diggle, Black Canary (Katie Cassidy), Felicity and Tatsu head to Nanda Parbat. Oh, and once there they get conveniently joined by The Atom (Brandon Routh), who arrives just in time to take down a plane in a scene ever so reminiscent of an Iron Man movie. Still, it did look pretty damn cool nonetheless. Plus it was far cooler than having to believe that the clumsy, learning-the-ropes Black Canary was capable of taking down multiple members of the League of Assassins at the same time. Equally cool was seeing Tatsu go full-on “Katana”, even donning a version of the mask that her comic book counterpart is famous for wearing.
During all of this, Thea (Willa Holland) has gone off in search of Roy (Colton Haynes). When she finds him, he’s now fiddling with cars and going by the name Jason – a nod that will likely get long-time Batman fans hot around the collar. Her stint with Roy is short lived, however, when he decides to toddle off to pastures new (again) after doing the horizontal hustle with his one-time girlfriend. Ever the kind sort, he leaves her a note… and his Arsenal suit. As mentioned last week, mark Thea Queen down as the angsty, tormented sidekick who Oliver takes under his wing next season. Whether she goes by the Arsenal name or instead uses Speedy will be interesting to see, though.
Flipping back to the happenings at Nanda Parbat, we get to see a mighty cool face-off between Maseo and Tatsu, with Tatsu running her husband through and finally helping him escape his “prison”. Whilst Tatsu was showcased brilliantly during the assault on Nanda Parbat, it was also a heartbreaking moment to see her comfort her dying husband as she put him out of his misery. Either way, the goings-on of this particular moment certainly ring true with the comic book roots of Katana.
With Oliver instructing Team Arrow to trust him – despite him having them locked up in Ra’s lair – things take a sudden twist when Malcolm Merlyn lets the cat out of the bag to Ra’s al Ghul. The thing is, is this all really a part of the plan that Merlyn and Oliver concocted or is it merely Merlyn being Merlyn and trying to save his own behind? To add even further doubt to the whole thing, and to maybe whether Al Sah-Him was really playing Merlyn, the former Oliver Queen ends up infecting Merlyn, Diggle, Felicity, Laurel and Tatsu with the Omega virus. Dun, dun, dun, dun! Then off he trots to tie the knot with Nyssa and look ahead at baby al Ghuls, seemingly leaving his former friends (and Merlyn) dying or dead.
This is Your Sword certainly gave audiences plenty of hugely impressive moments, and it also threw up plenty of questions as we look towards next week’s Season 3 finale. What really is the “plan” in place for Oliver/Al Sah-Him? Chances are we could see something bigger for Oliver Queen by the time Season 3 comes to a close. As in, “Green” Arrow big. Regardless of what’s ahead next week, this episode was masterful in how it showed Felicity and Diggle handling the situation that they find themselves in. In fact, Diggle’s early takedown of some random hoods was almost something that could’ve been pulled from Marvel’s recent Netflix-exclusive Daredevil in how Digg was left with blood on his hands after nearly pounding the face off of a man. After all, this is a Diggle who now either has to believe that his “brother” has either really, really joined the League of Assassins to become the new Ra’s al Ghul or it’s a case of his “brother” concocted a cunning plan that put Diggle’s wife in danger. Not cool, Ollie. Not cool. And then there were the uber-cool moments in this episode, such as The Atom taking down a plane and how this outing utilised the badass Tatsu Yamashiro.
Some may say that Season 3 of Arrow hasn’t been up to the standards of Season 2 – and they’d be right – but it has certainly been a good season for the show, and This is Your Sword was the perfect set-up episode for next week’s finale. Oh, and for those of you who were wondering why The Flash wasn’t called in to help out with all of this, don’t worry…