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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