Not cool, brah. Arrow Recap 321,“Al Sah-him”

Finally getting back into the final three before next season kicks off. I tried to  make both 21 and 22 into one recap because I honestly did not like them first time around, but it was more work than just tearing them out individually. So here is the first of two of the saddest, angriest episodes of Arrow ever through the lens of MS Paint and my trademark IDGAFness. Let’s begin.

Oliver’s been trained, tortured, shaved, chained and seemingly converted into the realm of steely-gazed emo killers.

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He can now only speak in his super-deep voice, so you know he is very evil. R’as congratulates him on saying that Oliver Queen has been forgotten and reassures him that he is truly Al Sah-him, Hot Heir to the Demon. Suddenly a hooded man is brought in and Maseo/Sarab says he is known to Al Sah-him.

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When they take his mask off, it’s another hot man: Diggle. Digg reminds Oliver of who he is, but Oliver gives him a sword and tells him to fight, ending it by stabbing him in the heart.

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When he turns the body over, however, it is one of the guards. It was a test administered by R’as to gauge his loyalty, and the Demon’s Head is curious to see who Oliver saw, but Ollie Sah-him won’t tell.

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R’as reacts with to this with an offer of a road trip to “a place of the dead.” Deader, I guess.

***BEGIN FLASHBACK*** Okay, all in one blow. Maseo, Oliver and Tatsu wander through Hong Kong as the contaminant spreads. Shreve is injecting people with the virus under guise of inoculating them, and they blow up the van containing the supply before going back to look for Akio. When they arrive, they find that the woman caring for the boy has died, and Tatsu and Oliver convince Maseo to leave.They manage to get a cab out of the city, but when Tatsu turns to tell her son it’ll be okay now, she notices the blood pouring from the corner of his mouth. We always suspected this would be the direction this story would lead, but it doesn’t make it any less horrifying.***END FB***

R’as tells Oliver that he was conscripted into the League with another man, Damian Dahrk. They were “as brothers” and trained together, both serving the R’as of their time.

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However, when it came time for the Heir to be determined, Damian challenged current-R’as, and he hesitated to kill his friend. Because no good deed goes unpunished in the League, Damian then escaped, taking with him some loyal members and water from the Lazarus Pit, and has been punking R’as ever since. R’as calls Damian’s organization “a hive” and credits him with, among other things, being the purchaser of Merlyn’s earthquake machine back in S1. All this came to pass, R’as says, because he was slow to swing his sword (HA!).

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He wants Oliver not to repeat his mistake and eliminate his competition for Heir to the Demon “without mercy”: Ra’s’s own daughter Nyssa.

 

Back in Starling, Laurel is getting better, but isn’t so invested in Nyssa’s offer of additional training that she she can’t decline it to get a milkshake and gab.

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I LOVE these two as friends. Nyssa’s woman-out-of-time quality is a good foil for showing Laurel as a warm, caring presence, and there is a humor, honesty and affection in their interactions that neither character easily conjures with others in the cast.

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I don’t relation-ship it, but I sure as hell friend-ship it. Nyssa is fascinated by fried foods and milkshakes, and Laurel enjoys seeing her act “like a normal person.”

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Nyssa admits that her life was one of the survival of the strongest, and has perhaps lacked in small pleasures. Laurel says she is returning the favor of both the training and what she did for Sara, and takes the moment of closeness to reluctantly tell her about Oliver accepting her father’s offer to become Heir to the Demon.

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Nyssa, upset, tells her she should not have kept that from her, and leaves. TAKE THE MILKSHAKE GIRL.

 

At Chez Diggle, Thea and Felicity are over for family dinner, helping feed baby Sara not-chicken-cacciatore and being ADORABLE. I don’t know whose cheeks I want to pinch more.

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Probably John’s, because he and Lyla have a “No glocks on the dinner table” house rule and I need to live with them. Turns out he’s been booming baddies all alone, and Felicity points out the need for both “identity concealment” and a new status quo now that…. “Ollie’s gone,” Thea finishes for her, as Felicity wipes a tear.

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Digg asks Thea how she is doing, and she says that “mornings are the worst” and it’s good to be able to come there since she can’t really be seen out and about. Lyla says she is always welcome there.

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When Thea points out that she both misses Ollie and regrets that he is gone because of her, Felicity tells her he wouldn’t want her to think that. They are a tight little support circle. Digg toasts his friend with an old military saying for a soldier who has made the ultimate sacrifice. “Gone but never forgotten.”

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Laurel finds Nyssa and tells her that she won’t leave her alone, even as Nyssa questions why Laurel always defaults to keeping secrets.

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She also tells Laurel that the League will come for her “with as many men as it takes” to see her dead. Somewhere in Starling, Oliver, Maseo, and other League soldiers land on a roof and state their intention to find and kill Nyssa.

 

Laurel takes Nyssa to Palmer Tech to give the news to Digg and Felicity, who both stick up for Oliver and say he wouldn’t do this to someone he loves.

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Nyssa points out that he has undergone a type of “reprogramming”, and is no longer Oliver Queen. When she realizes they don’t believe her, she leaves to face him alone, telling Laurel she won’t cower and wait for death.

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Diggle points out that even if Nyssa isn’t insane as Felicity claims, since when is she a person they endanger themselves for? Laurel points out that R’as aside, Nyssa saved her sister and is a good person, and “protecting good people is what we do.”

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Digg and Felicity reluctantly agree to follow her to Oliver, via the tracking device that Laurel planted on Nyssa before she left.

 

While waiting for Oliver to show, two important convos take place: Laurel asks Digg to let her handle the League alone. She doesn’t want him in a position where he is forced to hurt Oliver.

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Diggle assures her that there is nothing that would make Oliver hurt people he loved, and now I’m worried because that’s too much emphasis.

 

At Palmer, the second conversation is between Thea and Felicity. Thea offers to help with the vigilant-ing, and Thea tells her about Oliver being back in town to kill Nyssa. She tries to reassure her that they are handling it, but Thea doesn’t believe her. Poor Felicity is so stressed and obviously an only child.

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Thea wants to see her brother, but Felicity tells her that he wouldn’t want her in harm’s way. “Yeah, sounds like Ollie’s not here anymore,” Thea grouses, walking out.

 

Nyssa is waiting for Oliver on the roof where Sara died because it is at once stone cold and tender AF. Oliver shows up and she taunts him with everything from Sara to his brainwashing to the fact that he won’t beat her again.

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Even though Oliver said he was there to take her to Nanda Parbat (not to kill her), she shoots first. They fight, and Oliver has his knife to her throat when he is interrupted by Laurel’s new Canary Cry, and turns to see her and Diggle standing across from them.

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John shouts that they can’t let him hurt her, and Oliver steps off the building in the most eloquent WEVS of the series. Dudebro ain’t scared of gravity.

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(gif courtesy sailorslayer3641​)

 

Later, Laurel tells Nyssa that she wasn’t going to let her die, and Nyssa says that she was marked for death the moment Oliver accepted her father’s offer. Her time in Starling, though it made her briefly happy, doesn’t change the essence of who she is. “I am daughter of the Demon. Happiness is not something that was ever meant for me.”

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Laurel admits she didn’t recognize Oliver, and Nyssa repeats that he has been changed. Laurel asks that if he can be changed, why can’t she?

 

Back at Palmer Tech, Digg and Felicity discuss their first sighting of

Al Sah-him, and how neither of them believed Nyssa when she said he had turned.

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Diggle admits he heard of people being broken by the enemy, but he never imagined that Oliver, the strongest man he’s ever known, would ever be a victim to it. Felicity confesses that the only way she’s been able to “get out of bed” is to remind herself that Oliver is still alive, but he didn’t just give up his life to the League, but his soul.

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Back in Nanda Parbat, which is apparently right next door to Starling, Oliver tells Maseo that Nyssa had friends protecting her. When Maseo asks if those friends were also his friends, he ignores the question and states that they “need to draw her out.”

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Starling, Thea’s loft. Thea has invited Malcolm over with the sole purpose of finding out if Oliver is back in town to find Nyssa. Malcolm says that his sources say he is there to eliminate her as a threat to his position. Thea wants to stop Oliver, reminding Malcolm that even if he is the Heir, he is also her brother.

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Malcom asks what exactly she thought he would be doing in The League of Assassins if not killing? Thea doesn’t back down, growling very pointedly that she heard Ollie was brainwashed, and she knows what it is like to kill under someone else’s influence.

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With a bitty smile that both conveys pride at the hit and a change of tactics, Malcolm says he doubts Oliver risked all he did for her to put herself in danger. Thea acknowledges that Felicity said the same thing, but even if she couldn’t stop him joining the LoA, she can stop this.

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Malcolm gives in gracefully, telling her she was a warrior long before he trained her, and that she has always had an incredible strength in her, which her brother knows of as well. “What do you need from me?”

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Kudos to Willa for somehow looking like Susanna Thompson here. Eerie.

 

Felicity and John arrive at Casa Diggle, since John thinks it is best they stay close with the League out and about. As soon as he shuts the door, however, John senses a disturbance in the force and takes his gun out. They follow the sound of Sara crying to find her alone in her crib.

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John picks her up, and immediately his phone begins to ring. He hands the baby to Felicity and answers, and we all get the shock of the episode along with him. It’s Al Sah-him.

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He calls him “John” and assures him casually in his Oliver voice that no harm will come to his wife if he brings Nyssa to a warehouse at an intersection he has designated, where he will then let his wife go.

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Digg is stunned, and swears that if he does anything to Lyla… but he is cut off. “You have thirty minutes,” Al Sah-him says, and hangs up, and the tone is so matter-of-fact as to be chilling. John hangs up, his hand shaking once as he turns to look at an equally flabbergasted Felicity. This crossed a boundary. Grievous violation of the bro code, Oliver. Damn.

 

At what I can only assume is the site of the new lair, Digg and Felicity tell Laurel and Nyssa what happened. Digg backs Nyssa against a wall in his anger at “her people” and shouts that even as warriors, “there are some lines that you do not cross.” Laurel asks him to back off, and he yells at her, too.

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Nyssa is visibly upset and apologizes to John for the harm to his family, but he wants her to prove it by giving herself up to the League. The body language is interesting here, with Laurel stepping forward to bodily shield her friend and Felicity standing with John, but off to one side, as if indecisive.

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Laurel asks John if they are just turning over innocent people now, and Digg says that as the Daughter of the Demon, Nyssa’s killed hundreds. Finally, Felicity steps in. “Enough. The only thing that matters is getting Lyla back.”

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John says he doesn’t care how he does it, but Laurel says that they are supposed to be better than that. Nyssa steps around her, volunteering to exchange herself for John’s “beloved”, but Laurel objects again, reminding her that she said the past few weeks were some of the best of her life, and that she won’t let her commit suicide. Nyssa says she remembers that, and also saying that happiness was something denied to her.

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Nyssa asks Digg for the site of the exchange, but before he can give it, Laurel speaks once more, saying that there has to be a way to get Lyla without giving Nyssa up, because if they get Lyla back by exchanging Nyssa, then “Oliver won’t be the only one who lost his soul.”

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It’s a great line, but I can’t believe that Felicity wouldn’t be the one saying it. It feels sudden to have the conscience of the team be Laurel, but what’s one more oddity this season at this point?

 

Nanda Parbat. Lyla is asking Oliver how he could become this person. Girlfriend might be tied up, but her psychological warfare is ON FLEEK. Oliver tells her to quiet, and that it will be over soon.

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His calm voice belies the fact that he is marching around her with a hand on his sword. For a man who is holding her captive, he really does resemble a guard.

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Lyla refuses to be quiet because fuck you, she’s Lyla goddamn Micheals, and gets the poison out by saying what we all wish we could, asking how the man who stood up at her wedding do this? How could the man who’s been like a brother– “QUIET!” Oliver bellows, but she keeps going.

You know, when John’s brother died, a part of him died too. His guilt and the emptiness from the loss outweighed everything. I tried my hardest to help him, but no one seemed to be able to comfort him or fill that void…until he met you. You gave him hope, and purpose again.

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Oliver listens quietly, with a look that could be concern or constipation, for all we know, until Maseo walks up to him and says “It’s time.”

 

At the assigned meeting place, Oliver and Maseo meet with John, Felicity, Laurel and Nyssa.

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As Maseo pats him down, John demands to know where his wife is. Lyla is brought forward by men at Oliver’s signal with her arms tied behind her back, and Digg calls Oliver a sonofabitch, wondering at what R’as did to him.

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When Maseo finishes patting Laurel down and turns to Felicity, she tells him sternly to not dare touch her.

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Maseo turns to look at Oliver, and he gives a small nod, closing his eyes as if in pain.

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Felicity asks him to look at her, saying that she knows that this isn’t him and assuring him that she knows he’s “still in there somewhere.” Oliver doesn’t respond, only looking at Nyssa and ordering his men to “bind her.” Oliver then turns to Lyla and tells her she is free to go. Lyla rushes to her husband, saying that she was scared they wanted Sara.

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Digg reassures her that Sara is fine, and kisses her forehead, whispering that she should ” tell Felicity this is just like Jakarta.” Lyla walks straight to Felicity and hugs her and Maseo tells Nyssa to kneel before the true Heir to the Demon and she refuses. The camera pans down the embracing women, we see Lyla withdraw two guns from Felicity’s coat, and IT IS ON.

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The room erupts into fighting, until finally Nyssa and Laurel go down, and Maseo hauls Nyssa away. John and Oliver are still battling it out, however, in a disturbing echo of the opening sequence. Oliver is not pulling any punches, slashing his best friend across the chest and kicking him after. While John is down, Oliver picks up a second sword (looks like the one R’as stabbed him with UGH) to deliver a killing blow while John looks up at him.

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Despite his anger at his friend, he shouts that Oliver is still himself. “I don’t care if the hood is black or green. YOU’RE STILL YOU!” Oliver pauses, the sword in his hand, and it goes neither up nor down. Suddenly, an arrow pierces his forearm.

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“Get away from him,” Thea growls in her best Arrow-voice, and the astonishment on his face is the most emotion we’ve seen all episode.

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She is dressed in the black of the League, up on a scaffold, a drawn bow in her hands. HOLY SHIT I LOVE THIS GIRL. Still, Oliver doesn’t move, and she repeats herself. “Get away from him, or the next one goes in your eye.”

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Oliver lowers his knife, using it to casually slice away at the portions of the arrow protruding from his arm while he stalks away, his now furious gaze pinned on his sister, who points her bow at him until he is out of sight.

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At Palmer Tech, the girls are all soberly staring off into space when Digg comes back with news that Lyla has taken Sara out of town until they can get things straightened out.

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Felicity, bringer of cheer, says that there is no straightening this out, and Digg snaps that he doesn’t know because he can’t see past tomorrow at the moment.

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Laurel chimes in with her fear that Nyssa will be killed. and Thea apologizes for it. Felicity finally asks out loud the question they all wonder about. “There’s no ‘getting him back’, is there?”

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John answers simply. “He’s gone, Felicity.” He says that no one wants to believe it less than he does, but that there is one thing left of him.

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“Us,” John says instead. “Gone, but never forgotten,” Thea intones.

 

Nanda Parbat. Oliver brings Nyssa before her father, stating that there are no more threats to his reign. R’as tells him that his fealty continues to impress him. He point out that while Nyssa may not approve of him, it is not her approval he needs.

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He is looking for something that Nyssa hid, and he tells a lovely anecdote about Nyssa stealing as a child and how she cannot hide things from him, despite thinking she can. Out of her sword hilt, he pulls a canister and hands it over to Maseo. He tells his daughter that he will remember her as the warrior she was, and not “the shell I see before me.”

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Nyssa tells her father that she has lived in fear of him, “But now, as I stand before you ready to leave this earth I want you to know: I am not afraid.” R’as grins slightly at her, and tells Oliver to do what needs to be done, taking with him the satisfaction of an unchallenged reign.

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Nyssa is pushed to her knees as Oliver pulls his sword out, and they look into each other’s eyes as he raises his arm for the killing blow and she gasps. Suddenly, his arm is stayed. It is R’as. He tells him he doesn’t need to kill his rival, as he has broken her. “Spilling her blood now would only serve as gluttony.”

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R’as walks to his daughter and signals her to rise, speaking to Oliver at her side. “Perhaps her blood could be of another purpose. As a means to unite our families.” This gets Oliver’s attention, and he turns to look at R’as with concern, looking away at his next words.

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“You as husband,” and here R’as turns to Nyssa “and you as wife.”

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Nyssa refuses, saying she would rather die than become his betrothed, but her father says her wishes have not been his concern since the moment she betrayed him. This is a lie, because we all know her wishes were NEVER his concern. “So you WILL marry Al Sah-him. And you will become Bride of the Demon.”

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R’as walks out, bomb dropped, leaving a pretty unhappy pair behind.

 

Starling, Thea’s loft. Felicity has come by to see Thea, who is numbly staring into space and saying that her brother should have let her die. Felicity says that it was never an option for him, and one of the reasons she loves him.

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Thea admits that she didn’t know about what was happening between her brother and Felicity. “Well, it was complicated,” says Felicity, in maybe the largest understatement of the series. “But I did love him. Despite everything, I still do.” Thea admits that she still does as well, and wonders how that is possible.

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Felicity doesn’t know, but thinks that John’s advice is good, and they should remember the best parts of him, and move on. She tells her that they need to figure out a way to keep living, because it is what Oliver- she corrects to Ollie for Thea’s sake-would have wanted, for her to be with the one she loved while she still could.

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Thea points out that Roy is gone, and Felicity walks over to her, explaining that “Roy’s alive.” She swears they planned to tell Thea that they faked his death, but between her being “mostly dead” and “Darth Oliver,” there didn’t seem to be a good time. She hands her a piece of paper with Roy’s information, and tells her that he left to start a new life, which might include her if she wants it.

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End montage: Diggle walks to the photograph of he and Oliver at his wedding and picks it up. Somewhere across town, a french fry dipped in her milkshake makes Laurel sad instead of happy, and in the remains of what once the Arrow Cave, Felicity falls into her old chair and falls apart all alone.

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Nanda Parbat. Person-I-want-to-see-the-least R’as and Oliver-Al-Sah-him walk the evil halls and R’as tells him what he took from Nyssa.

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The village he showed Oliver earlier was his own, and as the final act of ascension, he destroyed it, because the Demon’s Head can only become so when he has wiped away all traces of his home. He takes a vial from the cylinder he pulled out of Nyssa’s sword hilt, and asks Oliver if he recognizes it.

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It is the alpha and omega bio weapon, and Ra’s wants him to unleash it upon Starling that very day.

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What an asshole.

 

Next ep: Things get worse. If you’re finding me for the first time, here’s a link to all my Arrow recap master post. Thanks for reading!

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The Crimson Field Recap, E6

Well, it happened (again for those of you in the UK). The series ended and our cries blended into the universal weltschmerz. There was a brief hope at the time the series premiered in the U.S. that perhaps demand would greenlight it for another season, but a week after the finale, no word, and so we assume it will only live on in our memory. At least it gave us one final episode full of so much OMG, it can live forever in our hearts, and other parts of our anatomy that are now very fond of Richard Rankin.

We begin with noble doe Joan having her hand bandaged by Tom, who tells her he can’t give her any pain medication. She begs him to know if Anton has been caught and even if he tells her (not yet), he is  anything but sympathetic and says that it would be better for her if they had, and that he doesn’t know what she thought she was doing.

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**LOVEBACK** Anton and Joan in bed two weeks before war breaks out. He is telling her he must go home to check on his sick father. She begs him not to, despite his assurances that war will not break out between two nations with so “many shared interests” and that the English king is more German than he is.

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As he gets ready to go, she tells him she is scared. “Liebchen, you are never scared,” he reassures her, and they kiss farewell. **END**

In the VAD tent, Flora is griping to Kitty and Rosalie about Joan and saying she would have never gone near her motorcycle, had she known. She is also worried that any suspicion could fall upon them for being friendly to her. Kitty asks if her affection for Joan is all in the past, and Flora replies that she has brothers fighting, and even showed her their photographs.

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Kitty asks if Rosalie is also going to turn her back on Joan, but Rosalie reminds the girls that they have been asked not to speak of the matter by Matron, and she plans to obey. Later that day Kitty tries to make up with Rosalie, but she reveals that she knows about her marriage troubles, and lays into her not unlike Kitty did to her upon their arrival. She accuses her of trying to pretend to be decent, and of hiding.

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Grace is telling a visibly aggrieved Roland that he should “distance himself” from the matter and let her accompany Joan during questioning as she is her staff, but he refuses because it is his hospital. “She must have been desperate,” he says sadly. What a good man to be in such a horrid position.

Joan is brought into the interrogation room and made to stand upon an X, whereupon she is accused in “aiding in the escape of a German Prisoner of War” by the only person who could have made this situation worse, Purbright. He tells her he wants a full account of events so he can present Intelligence with a “clear and concise” summary of events.

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He also coldly informs her that she is subject to military law, and that if found guilty by means of her court martial, she will be “liable to suffer death.” A shocked Joan can only nod and tremble in silence when Purbright asks if she now understands her situation, and it becomes apparent that until that very moment, she very much did not.

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Outside, Kitty waits for Tom to walk by so she can ask about Joan’s welfare, but Tom’s replies are curt and uncaring. When Kitty exclaims at his aloofness, he stops and asks her what she thinks they are doing there.

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Flustered, Kitty walks away from him into the woods as he follows, his voice getting louder  and his accent thicker with each sentence.

“What do you think this is? I don’t hack the limbs off men for fun.I don’t pull shrapnel out of their brains so they can spend the rest of their lives in a nursing home dribbling down themselves for fun. They’re not dying for fun.”

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Kitty, obviously thinking that an explanation will help make sense, turns to him and tells him that Joan did not know Anton would be there, and thought it was only a letter. Tom fixates on how she knew beforehand, and Kitty says that she guessed, it wasn’t that hard. “But you knew and said nothing,” he insists, and Kitty asks him gently why he is so angry about it.

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Tom says that it is because his boss, “a good man,” could lose his job over it. “He trusted her, and now his neck’s on the block. And you knew…and said nothing.” He stares at her in obvious contempt and accuses her of being complicit. “You’re as much to blame as she is. You’ll be in serious trouble if they find out.” He brushes past her as he walks away, and Kitty’s alarmed face tells that she had not considered that anyone would think her as aiding treason, mush less Tom.

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Just a moment to get into the central conflict of this episode. It’s very tempting to be angry at all the people railing at Joan for her betrayal, because Joan has been a character that so strongly represented all that was noble and sensible about nursing-just as Margaret represented the opposite. The true crux of this, of course, is that every character has their fatal flaw, and Joan’s just happens to also be one of her most cherished virtues: her love for Anton. So Flora, Tom, and the others are not wrong in their estimation that Joan is a traitor to the English army, because in the strictest sense, she is. But they are wrong in assuming that her intent was to betray her side when Joan’s only intent was always to ensure Anton’s safety and their eventual reunion. It is a classic case of there being no right or wrong, and Joan and Anton’s situation is all the more tragic for it. All they want is to carve out a quiet, safe space for themselves free of greater allegiances, but war is no place for pacifists.

During Joan’s trial, people are called to speak to testify. One is Reggie, who lies about his embezzlement and confesses to having some guards “employ some encouragement” to remove her necklace, which is the reason Joan is bruised and hurt.

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Purbright then asks Joan if she came to France to communicate with the enemy, but she says that no, she came to nurse. Purbright then tells Joan the story of three German prisoners, among them one Anton Ehrlich, who were put on a train for transport. Because Ehrlich was deemed to be intelligent and cultured, he was invited to tea with the officers. Seeing the coast from his window and discovering his location, however, Ehrlich breaks the officer’s jaw and escapes.

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He asks Joan if she knows the man, and if he is who she met last night. Joan admits he was. Purbright accuses her of planning the escape by purposefully purchasing a greatcoat and a motorcycle prior to her arrival, which she denies. He brings up Jaco Tillen, and asks if he was a contact of hers to give her information, which she also denies. When told Jaco will be arrested upon his arrival in England, Joan confesses with tears that he knew nothing, she told him nothing and it was only her.

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Purbright seizes upon this as a confession, and when she says she didn’t plan any of it, shows her the engagement ring and says she did, because her loyalties were always on the other side.

Among the new prisoners are Jimmy, a child-like cook who spilled grease on his leg and Greville, a stretcher-carrier who spent two nights holed up alone in a shell-hole “being nibbled by the rats.” A fever has left Greville hearing voices, despite Rosalie telling him there is no one there.

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In the meantime, Flora has Jimmy, and upon recognizing his last name, deduces that he is brother. Flora tells Peter, and he rushes to see him. Jimmy hugs him enthusiastically and as they talk, one can see Jimmy is not as mature as he should be for his age.

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Peter takes him to his tent and Jimmy asks why he left without saying goodbye. “No one talks about you.” Peter has not told his brother his secret, then, and attempts to take him back when Jimmy asks if he can wear his slippers home. Peter tells him he isn’t going home, and Jimmy confesses innocently that he burned his leg so that he would. Peter gets angry at his brother for “running from the enemy” instead of “wanting to kill them with your bare hands,” and leaves a crying Jimmy behind.

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Purbright asks Joan how she met Anton, and she tells him that they met in LIverpool when he, a civil engineer, was working on the foundation of a building. He points out that she never mentioned this in her paperwork, and she says that after the sinking of the Lusitania, German families that had lived in England for years were “being dragged out into the streets to have their heads stomped on.”

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Purbright points out that she lied, and she says it did not come easy. “Still, you lied to gain people’s trust,” he insists, and Joan begins to look resigned. Purbright’s questioning is less about arriving at the truth than justifying her guilt.

Into this sad state of affairs comes Margaret, back from her forced holiday from her brother’s house in Kent, where he must annoy her as she annoys everyone else.

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She gives Grace her false sympathy on the issue of Joan, and affectionately tells her that she can rest, now she is back. Grace asks her pointedly if she thought while she was away, and she asks her  forgiveness, saying she “is deeply ashamed” or her outburst and won’t “challenge her again in any way.”

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Despite her meekness, Grace asks once more for the blighty ticket, saying that it is not the time for Brett’s loyalty to be called into question by that coming to light, and Margaret fakes her best outrage to insist that she destroyed it, which of course she did not. She tells Grace that “a show of unity” is what is needed, and offers to go with her to speak on Brett’s behalf.

Because the situation isn’t sad enough already, Grace receives a telegram for Roland and hurries to give it to him. As Purbright and Brett listen to Joan tell that she heard from Anton’s family that he was conscripted and likely sent to France, and then nothing more for an entire year, Grace tells Purbright she needs to take Brett out, and gently informs Roland that there “is no good way to do this,” handing him the telegram informing him of his son’s death in action.

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Brett walks back into the interrogation in a seeming daze, holding the telegram in one hand, not unnoticed by Joan. When Purbright mocks Joan’s dedication to being a nurse, saying she has betrayed the men she cared for, Joan objects. Her quiet, tearful speech seems to be aimed directly at her former boss.

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No, no. I am a nurse. I am a nurse. You bring me shattered men, with shattered bodies and shattered minds and I will try and put them back together again and if I can’t, I will stay with them ‘til the very last moment and beyond. No, I am a nurse.

Purbright tries to interrupt her to ask about her purpose in coming to France, but she speaks over him, openly weeping.

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I was desperate! I thought the not knowing would send me mad. I thought I’d die from it.

Purbright interrupts again, asking louder if it was her purpose in coming to France to communicate with the enemy, and a hysterical Joan responds honestly.

It was just a letter! That’s all it was, it was…it was just a letter. I was just asking if he was still alive.

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Purbright, unmoved, repeats the same question. Joan looks away, wipes her face, sighs once, and resigned to her fate, looks sadly forwards as she whispers, “Yes. Yes, yes it was.”

That night, laying on her cot, she remembers Anton’s proposal, the morning he left to see his sick father. He gave her the ring and upon seeing her expression, told her not to answer him at that moment, but when he came back home.

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Anton is asleep in the woods after waiting all day for Joan. He wakes up, notices he is still alone, and gets up. At camp, Peter gives his condolences to Brett, and it is this polite gesture that finally causes the officer to release great gulping sobs.

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The next morning, Peter spits in Joan’s breakfast and calls her a traitor. Kitty sees Tom about the camp, but the do not speak and she seems overcome by fear that he will tell of her involvement.

Joan is brought in once more to the interrogation room, but instead of questioning her, Purbright tells her that at dawn that morning, Edith Cavill, a Red Cross nurse in German-occupied Belgium, was executed by enemy firing squad. Joan, unsteady, asks why. Purbright replies that it was for aiding the escape of Allied POW’s from German territory. “Aiding escape. Treason. The same crime to which you have confessed.”

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Joan guesses she will be court-martialed for treason, and both Purbright and Brett urge her to give up Anton’s location, since she may invoke leniency if he is found. Purbright reminds her of the penalty, and demands she be helpful, but she is aware, and says,  “I won’t betray him. I’ve got nothing more to say.”

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She stands, quietly dignified and resigned. Brett tries one last time before she is taken away, but she only says that she enjoyed working for him, that he is kind, and she is sorry for the trouble she has brought upon him, and is taken away by a guard.

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In one brief, blunt conversation, Kitty and Miles get to the heart of the matter. Kitty says Joan is not a spy, but was “just in love with the wrong man at the wrong time.” Miles says that it doesn’t matter, because those sorts of mitigating factors blur the clear lines “the machine” needs to keep them their toes, and that “examples must be made,” though he admits under duress that he does not think her a spy. When Kitty asks if Brett is one of the examples and tells Miles that he didn’t know anything, Miles points out that he facilitated, knowing or not. Kitty admits she is happy she got to know him better, and he smiles.

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In a surprise to no one, Reggie flatters Margaret with the sort of hyperbole that she seems to demand of her gentlemen admirers and reveals that she came home because he sent her a telegram. He has kept copies of Brett’s signature on the passes and urges Margaret to speak up and say that he can’t run the hospital, and she can be put in charge. “The hospital or the war?” Margaret asks with a smirk, because Margaret is the worst.

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Ugh. He even calls her “Matron Quayle” at one point.

She goes into her tent and breaks her figurine, pocketing the blighty ticket and leaving the broken pieces purposely arranged to draw attention. When Grace comes in to look for her, ready to have her testify on Brett’s behalf, she finds the broken figurine and succumbs to the mindf*ck.

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Margaret then dodges Grace and goes to speak to Purbright alone, wearing her medal because one sycophant recognizes another. Grace walks in, and when Purbright asks if Margaret has any reason to doubt Brett’s leadership, the music and the lighting lead you to believe that she will use the opportunity to gain power as Reggie suggested, but she does not. Margaret compliments the Colonel lavishly, calling his competence and judgement “beyond reproach,” and says she wouldn’t care to serve under anyone else.

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Both Grace and Purbright are surprised, but the latter accepts.

The morning the soldiers with blighty tickets are getting ready to leave, Peter makes up with his brother by hurting him enough so he has to be sent home.

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Jimmy’s screams wake the delusional Greville, who wanders out into the woods. Rosalie sees him and follows, despite the fact that he has stripped off his pants. She stops him when he says he must get to the lost men “out there” and chastises her “a lady” for being “in that terrible place.”  Rosalie smiles reassuringly at him, and says that it is all right because ‘I’m not a lady. I’m a nurse.”

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She wraps him in a sheet she took from the line and when he compliments her “beautiful eyes,” gently guides him back. Later on when he awakes to see her fixing his glasses, he does not remember her, and introduces himself by taking her hand. Rosalie tells him her name, and smiles.

The next morning at the service, Flora tells Reggie that he is wanted in theater for his brother’s injury, and Rosalie tells a grateful Kitty that she burned the newspaper her story appeared in without showing it to anyone else.

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She admits that Kitty was right when she said she volunteered to escape, and Kitty says she did, as well. As Joan is walked by on her way to interrogation, the singing in the tent stops, and Matron hurries over to reassure a lost-looking Joan with a firm nod. Suddenly, a motorcycle comes roaring through the archway, and Joan throws herself forward, struggling against her guards.

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It is Anton, come to turn himself in. He takes off the greatcoat she gave him and announces that Joan did not help him escape and he is no longer at-large.

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As a half-dozen soldiers apiece try to hold them apart, the couple reaches desperately for each other, barely managing to touch hands before they are pulled apart. HOLY F IT’S ROMANTIC.

Some time later, Joan is alone when a pair of soldiers walk silently into her room. They have Anton between him, and are giving him an opportunity to speak to her though they separate them with their bodies. Anton asks if he can stand with her, but is denied. He notices she is hurt, but she says she fell and asks about him. He says he was offered an arrangement: Joan would go home, be monitored, and Anton would act as a spy on behalf of the British.

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Joan asks him a bit wryly if he thinks she will let him agree, and he explains that since he is no longer escaped she would not be shot, but she would go to prison, hard labor for the duration of the war. “I really don’t want you to go to prison.” Joan says lovingly that if he is caught, he would be “up against a wall,” and that he would be caught, because he is “a hopeless liar.” She smiles indulgently at him and he briefly smiles back. “I don’t care about prison,” Joan says calmly. “I don’t care if the duration is 20 years. I want you to tell them no.” She tells him that if he loves or thinks anything of her at all, to say no. “Then, liebchen, that is what I will tell them,” he responds gently, immediately followed by “Are you going to marry me?” This surprises a laugh out of Joan. “Yes,” she says, still smiling.

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When Anton starts forward as if to kiss her, the guard stops him with a hand on his chest, but Joan’s voice is still sweet as she comforts him. “It’s only the duration. It can’t last forever.”

Left alone with Brett, Purbright bemoans the damage to the hospital’s reputation, “all because of one bloody stupid woman.”

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Roland, not in the mood for any of it, points out that she had him “on the ropes at one point,” and Purbright strikes back without thinking, telling Roland that he ought to be grateful Quayle wore her medal, and that part of the problem is his attitude toward his subordinates. “For Christ’s sake, toughen up! Stop trying to be a father to everyone!” Roland’s head falls toward his chest, and he holds a hand to his mouth, upset.

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Purbright is alarmed at upsetting him, but not enough to apologize. Instead he lowers his voice and haltingly asks which of his sons it was, and whether his wife knows. Roland answers while looking away (Freddie, the eldest. His youngest, Alexander, is still at school. He imagines his wife Hetty knows.) Purbright mows on, saying precisely the wrong thing to the bereaved man: that it is tough for the mothers (when Freddie’s father is so clearly suffering) and that at least there is a comfort in knowing it wasn’t “a wasted death” because it “meant something” (when the death of a child will always be an unconscionable weight to a parent.).

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Roland asked if there was any diplomatic intervention for Ms. Cavell, the nurse. Purbright says that the Americans tried, as they do, but Brett insists, asking about the British Army. Purbright says they didn’t want to make it worse for her. “She was going to be SHOT!” Roland yells at him, distraught,” How the HELL could it get ANY WORSE?” Purbright tells him to control himself, and later, to shut his mouth, but Roland keeps going, giving his assessment of the situation.

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It is bitter, sardonic, brutal, and by Purbright’s reaction to it, likely true.

We’re going into a second winter when we weren’t supposed to have the first, and there’s no end in sight but nothing gets the shoulder to the wheel like an executed nurse. That’ll reignite the fervor! Everyone behind the war effort, no matter what! So… not a wasted death, then. It meant something.

Purbright tells him icily that he will overlook what he is saying due to his recent bereavement, and as he walks away you can see on Roland’s face that he is somewhat grateful for the reprieve.

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Now would not be the best time for him to court disciplinary action.

In Grace’s office, a smiling Margaret waits for her praise, but finds none. She takes the blighty ticket and says she wouldn’t get rid of something “so invaluably damning.” She hands it over to Grace, as a “lesson in the true value and meaning of loyalty.”

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Margaret really is the Littlefinger of this show. She tells Grace that Brett is lucky to have Grace, and that in turn, she is very lucky to have Margaret. She reminds her that she meant it when she said she wouldn’t challenge her again, and leaves.

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Whatever goodwill she possessed exhausted by her efforts with Grace, Margaret sees Reggie walking Joan’s motorcycle and tells him she wants her share when he sells it. Alone in her office, Grace burns the blighty ticket.

In the storage room, Kitty is putting packages away when Tom walks in to speak to her. She shrinks away, and he asks if she thought he was bringing the intelligence officers for her. “Yes,” she says quietly.

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He asks if she honestly believed that he would deliver her up and watch while they dragged her away. She looks down, and does not answer, and his voice gentles. “Why would you think that?” His voice rises again in emphasis, “You drive me mad, but…” lower, almost shy, “I’d never hurt you.”

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Now it is he that looks down, and Kitty begins to speak, telling him why she came to the hospital. She tells him that she wants him to understand, and that  she has a daughter back in England who she is not allowed to see. Tom gasps quietly, then seems to compose himself and asks why not. “Because I made a terrible, terrible mess of things,” she says, tearing up. “I really made such a mess.“

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Her head is down, and she cannot look at him. Very kindly, he asks about her daughter, and what she is like. The details come at first slowly, then rush forth as Kitty warms to her subject. “Her name is Sylvie… She’s six… She likes climbing trees. She hates wearing shoes. She wants a dragon for Christmas.“ At this, Tom grins.

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“She’s beautiful,” Kitty whispers, overcome,”and utterly fearless. She really is such a fierce, spiky little thing.” Tom is emotional as well, and covers it with a bit of dry humor. “Can’t think where she would get that from.” It has the intended effect, and Kitty laughs.

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Suddenly the door opens and a nurse walks in, and Tom walks past her to leave but Kitty catches his arm and whispers urgently to him. She asks him to meet her in an hour, in the same place they agreed upon before. “I’ll be there,” she says upon his doubtful look. “I’ll understand if you’re not-but I’ll be there.”

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Alone for a moment, Peter explains to Flora that Jimmy was born with the umbilical cord around his neck and he couldn’t leave him alone, because he needs to be cared for. She asks him why he left, if it was because his family found out “what he is,” and he scolds her for thinking he wants his life laid out like that all the time.

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Flora tells him her secret then: she is not twenty-one but only nineteen, and she locked herself in her room for two days so her family would lie for her and let her come be “a girl nurse.” She points out that he can trust her with his secret, now he knows hers, and asks him to be careful. “Where’s the fun in that?” Peter replies with a smirk.

Outside, Joan and Anton await their transport and lay eyes on each other for the last time until the end of the war. In the most romantic moment of my life that isn’t actually part of my life, they look at each other and wordlessly reach their hands out to touch before they are separated.

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Suddenly Joan wrenches free and rushes to Anton, grabbing his face and laying a kiss on him that lasts just as long as Purbright’s exasperated “For Christ’s Sake!” before they are pried apart. As they are forced into their separate trucks their eyes never leave each others’, and in their last instant staring at each other, they both smile.

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KILL ME NOW. No wait don’t kill me because….

Kitty is darting to the edge of the woods looking about as suspicious as anyone can, and does not notice Miles observing and then following her.

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When Miles sees Kitty linger he smiles and seems inclined to approach her, but suddenly she is no longer alone.

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Tom walks up to Kitty, takes off his hat, and Kitty smiles at him. Miles sighs deeply and retreats.

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For a few moments Kitty and Tom just look at each other, their eyes darting, until Tom swoops in and kisses her.

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Kitty, who is no dummy, wraps both her arms around his neck and gives back as good as she gets.

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I can’t believe I won’t ever see these two move past first base.

DAMN YOU, BBC.

Out for her morning rounds, Grace observes Brett doing paperwork, and moves on.

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Finally, a quote from Edith Cavell, who was a real person and yes, was executed. She has a holiday on the Anglican calendar in her name (though not a feast day), October 12.

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So this is it. I wanted to make this one a bit more detailed since it is not only the season’s end, but thanks to the unexpected cancellation, the series’ end. I will forever mourn this little gem of a show for its depth, detail, and its richness of character and emotion. The Crimson Field did more than present truly nuanced individual stories with the lightest of touches; it managed to communicate real truths about war and human nature: that violence can expose both the best and worst of us, and that in doing so, it forces us to become the heroes or villains of our own lives. And that was just one season. I will never stop wishing to know how this all ends.

Sarah Phelps, if you write it, I will consume it.

Thank you all for reading.

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7 Reasons Jamie Fraser Makes You Reconsider Monogamy

I’m a happily married lady, even if I didn’t marry a
Jamie. Nope, I married more of a Roger, and glad for it, but he’s not likely to
be okay with the idea of bending my vows a wee bit for the sake of one
redheaded Scottish chief-turned-fugitive. Jamie himself would also most
definitely not be on board with this, devoted as he is to Claire, but let’s
play a little imaginary game called “Claire doesn’t exist and my significant
other is a freak.” Not only is it fun but, if you can rationalize like a pro,
it actually starts sounding like a great idea to those of us into both dudes
and the modern relationship theories of one Miss Britney Spears.
Here are seven reasons why:

 

1.      Tunnel vision.  If you can get Jamie to care for you, it doesn’t matter that your focus is
divided because his would be so wonderfully, deliciously laser-like. Anyone
coming to get a scoop of his ice cream would be repelled by a combination of
innate loyalty and his earnest inability to fathom just how hot he is.

Bonus: THOTs bounce off like bumblebees.

2.      Less downtime. Who hasn’t had to nurse a significant other through a cold that more closely
resembles an agonizing death from consumption? Not an issue with the addition
of a man who will still stab someone with a table leg after having his hand
nailed down.

Bonus: Injured Jamie is frequently shirtless.

Read the rest of my article here at Scotland Now!!

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10 Times Claire Fraser Sassasmacked the Patriarchy

Everyone loves a man in a kilt, but in my book there is much to be said for an intelligent woman who tells you to stuff it when you shush her. My love affair with Claire Randall Fraser began in the books and Caitriona Balfe’s spirited portrayal only enflamed my lady-crush. At the heart of Outlander’s chronicle of a marriage, this practical healer with knowledge of the future lives in not one, but two time periods when her outspokenness was not the norm.

It is maybe because of this that her agency is a thing of beauty, a unicorn out of time that trots on despite danger, convention and even her own better judgment. The point isn’t whether or not Claire is always right —in fact she is often not— but that this is a woman who trusts herself as her best resource, and that’s a message that is crucial. The greatest love of all, ladies.

Here are ten times Claire leaned in when others may have pushed away:

1. That time she got hers. Remember in the premiere when Claire subjugated her sexuality to her husband’s and resigned her needs to luck and fate? Of course you don’t, because that is not how the Notorious CRF rolls. What Claire needs, she is not scared to insist upon. Dust and creaky beds, you are on notice.

Read the rest of my article here at Scotland Now!

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