$#@! Everything. Arrow Recap 322, “This Is Your Sword”

I am literally drinking as I write this, so if this degenerates into random consonants and pictures of goats, you’ll know why. One of the platitudes being fed to us shortly before this ep was that “it’s always darkest before the dawn” and that certainly came to pass. 322 is a dark cave, and it is full of terrors.

Let’s go spelunking! First, the entire flashback because it sets the tone.

***FLASHBACK IN ONE TAKE*** Akio’s got a fever. The inoculation didn’t work on him because he is too young. As the boy starts to lose consciousness, his mother tenderly holds him on her lap, tells him everything will be okay, and sings to him as she rocks him like a baby.

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Me at home:

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Maseo is eager to get a cure from Shrieve and convinces Oliver to go with him to a restricted army base. They kidnap Shrieve so he can mix the cure in the correct ratios, but when they arrive back at the pharmacy, Tatsu is crying over the body of her son. Turns out Shrieve lied about the cure, instead making them bring along his insulin because on top of being a heartless bastard, he’s also a diabetic. ***END FB***

 

R’as is telling Oliver about how he can’t become the Heir to the Demon until he has severed all ties with his old life. His new beginning, therefore, rests upon his destroying Starling with the alpha-omega bioweapon.

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As Oliver chews on this, R’as gives a shoutout to Maseo, who it turns out was the man who gave him the bioweapon in exchange for his acceptance into the League. This shocks Oliver, but he barely has time to react because R’as gives him his itinerary for the next day or so: Marry Nyssa, fly to Starling, destroy the city, and ascend to R’as.

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Even though he nods obediently, when R’as leaves, Oliver and Maseo lock eyes. This is not something they previously discussed.

In Starling, Diggle is chasing criminals with no mask, to the point where one of them is even like UM DUDE WTF NO MASK? Diggle compliments his own intelligence because it turns out his plan was to have this kid lure him to his gang, then have Laurel bust their collective eardrums and prime them for a beatdown.

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Laurel finishes with her batch and turns to probably ask Digg for a milkshake, but he’s busy beating a single dude WAAAY too many times until Felicity shouts at him to stop.

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John heads back to his house, where Laurel and Felicity have stopped off to meet with him. Laurel wants to go back out there, but Felicity rightly points out that Digg was out of control, and is in denial about his anger. Digg denies he’s in denial, and throws the bag of peas Felicity gave him for his hand down to illustrate his point. He says that Oliver was his best friend and “He kidnapped…my wife.”

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His voice is rough with tears, but so is Felicity’s when she asks if he thinks “that justifies hospitalizing people?” John admits it doesn’t, and promises it won’t happen again. Felicity admits “life sucks right now,” but he can’t take it out on the criminals. Laurel puts her absolutely unhelpful two cents in, asking how Felicity can be so sanguine after what happened last week. “Because I know that that wasn’t Oliver,” she says, and John points out that now she’s in denial.

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Felicity denies it again, saying that their Oliver, “my Oliver died the day he joined the League. This is SOMEONE ELSE!” Laurel and John both look at her, and wonder aloud that she really believes that. “I have to,” she says quietly.

 

At Thea’s loft, she is packing up to go and Malcolm is encouraging her to stay, because “Mr. Harper went to a lot of trouble to fake his death“ and pointing out that she knows he can’t come back here.

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Thea points out that she’s not sure about things right now. Malcolm tries to empathize that not many people have had her experiences and he understands her confusion, but Thea hasn’t spoken yet about coming back from death. She tells Malcolm she would have rather died than have Oliver join the LoA, and that she remembers that the entire reason why this all happened: Malcolm brought R’as into their lives.

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Malcolm suddenly points out she is no longer at risk from the League and perhaps it’s better for her to go. His acceptance worries Thea, but she just wants to be with Roy right now.

 

Nanda Parbat. Dinner with  the mopiest family since Dark Shadows. Nyssa is so angry she’s going carb-free, and R’as chooses to treat it like she’s dieting to fit in her dress because there is literally no occasion in which he can decline being a dick.

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Their dinner conversation is an exercise in patriarchy, as Nyssa points out she would rather die than wed Oliver and R’as is like YEP those are your options. Nyssa says she once held the title of “daughter” with pride, and he points out that perhaps “mother” will suit her better.

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Can you choke to death from a grape? I sure hope so. The conversation goes from bad to worse when he tells his daughter that she will bear Oliver a child and is to be given “no choice in the matter,” any more than her mother was. The thought that she is the product of rape is enough to mute Nyssa for the time being, and R’as turns his conversational skills to Oliver, and they discuss why he’s so wasteful with his food. HAHA just kidding it’s more ascension $#@.

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Al Sah-him states that while he is ready to ascend to R’as, he is still “coming to grips with marriage.” He says that perhaps a walk will do him good, turning down the offer of a guard to protect him. As he gets up to go, Nyssa grips and steals a knife from the table and hides it in her robe.

 

Outside, Oliver’s walk was really an excuse to meet someone in the dark, and it’s not the someone we hoped for (I wonder if someone fic’d it.). He flips his attacker over and says “You’re late,” in his Oliver voice. The man flips up his hood and it’s none other than Malcolm Merlyn, who took the 8:20 from Starling to Nanda Parbat, but reminds Oliver that it ain’t easy infiltrating NP.

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“Don’t joke!” Oliver says as he pulls Merlyn up. “It’s worse than we thought.” Oliver tells Malcolm about R’as plan to fly the bioweapon over Starling the next day, and Merlyn points out that “it’s strangely modern” of the League. Oliver and Merlyn had estimated months before ascending to R’as, and in that time could have dismantled the LoA from the inside.

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“Malcolm,” Oliver says, “we need help.” Merlyn tells him he was “too good” at convincing his friends of his loyalty to the League, and that he himself doesn’t carry much weight with them. “I know someone who they’ll trust,” Oliver tells him. Suddenly, we see Maseo walking towards the fire, but by the time he gets there, Merlyn is gone and he finds Oliver alone. He tells him that there was concern since he has been gone a while, but Oliver says he’s just been thinking.

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Somewhere other than Starling. Thea comes into a garage looking for “Jason.” Roy rolls out from under a car, surprised to see her but covering admirably. Thea keeps up the ruse, saying she has a ‘67 Mustang that needs a bit of work, and that someone told her he was “the guy to see.”

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“You came to the right place,” he whispers. They go into a secluded spot, where they hug and Thea tells him she can’t believe he is alive. He tells her he wanted her to know, but didn’t want to risk Oliver finding out and breaking him out. Not to mention kicking his ass, for which Thea says she would have helped. During all of this, I am distracted by superhot greasemonkey Roy.

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“I had to do it,” Roy whispers, “for all of them.” Thea, probably distracted by the phrase “do it,” asks if there is another place they can go talk. Roy answers his place, and she smiles and says, “That’s such a good answer.” It does my heart good to see these two together.

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They were always so legitimately considerate of each other.

 

Starling City, Palmer Tech. Felicity is visiting with Ray, who is tooling around with a “little idea” for his suit.

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He asks her if she’s okay, because she has a “little cloud” over her, which he correctly guesses is Oliver-related. Felicity, ever loyal, points out that she’s handling it, and maybe that’s a line they shouldn’t cross. He responds that if she ever wants to talk, he’s still her friend and will always be there for her. “That’s non-negotiable.”

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It’s both sweet and weirdly devoid of consent in the way most Ray-edicts tend to be, but Felicity is touched, and thanks him. He asks her for a favor in the meantime, and gets her to sign her name to “some corporate stuff” in her function as VP, which she does. Her phone beeps immediately after, with a text from Malcolm saying that they have to meet. She leaves, and the camera closes up on the papers Ray had her sign: a transfer of ownership to Palmer Technologies.

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Again Ray, SWEET BUT DISTURBINGLY DEVOID OF CONSENT.

 

Nanda Parbat. Oliver and Maseo sit before the fire and finally have it out about the alpha-omega. It turns out Maseo stole it even before Akio died, because he wanted revenge on Shrieve. Then he used it to gain entry into the League because he was not strong enough for himself, “and certainly not enough for Tatsu.”

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Oliver asks him if he could go back to her, would he? Maseo says it’s “immaterial,” as “Maseo Yamashiro is no more.” Oliver insists, saying he doesn’t have to be, and that when he is R’as, he can release him from his oath, set him free. “The League is not my prison,” Maseo says sadly. “From my prison, there is no escape.”

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Starling, either the remnants of the Old Cave or the Alterna-Cave. Felicity, Diggle and Laurel wait for Malcolm to arrive “waving the white flag”, as he told John. Felicity calls him out right away as a sociopath and a liar, and he doesn’t deny it, asking only that they “fast forward” through the usual denials and admit he is telling them the truth when he says that Oliver’s “allegiance with the League is a charade,” born the moment that he realized he would have to capitulate to R’as to save Thea.

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Felicity thinks he is playing with their emotions, while John doesn’t believe he would ally himself with Malcolm instead of them. Malcolm points out that not only is he more “practiced in the art of deception,” but that none of them are “very good actors.” John has had it, and turns to go. Felicity and Laurel both turn to follow his lead as Malcolm keeps talking, saying that they have seen what the LoA and R’as are capable of, and the “the circle of trust” had to remain very small.

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“What changed?” Felicity asks, turning around. John urges her to go, saying that they can’t believe anything Malcolm says. Merlyn admits that “Mr. Diggle is right, which is why I brought along a friend of Oliver’s.” The team turns at the opening of the door to see Tatsu STOMPING IT TO THE DEATH. “My name is Tatsu Yamashiro, and your city is in great danger.”

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It’s not the reaction Oliver hoped for, as Felicity points out that they never met her and don’t know her. Tatsu explains that besides helping Oliver recover from his wounds, her life has been one “of isolation.” To Digg’s point that they have never heard of her, she quietly says that “Oliver doesn’t like to speak of the past.” Felicity points out that he’s not so forthcoming about the present, either.

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Tatsu once again speaks gently, and her words are all the more painful for their softness. “My son was killed by the virus R’as intends to use on your city,” and Diggle recognizes her at once as Akio’s mother. She tells them Oliver was with her when it happened, and that the danger they face is very real. Laurel isn’t disposed to believe Merlyn after all he’s done, but Tatsu points out that the request isn’t from Malcolm, but Oliver. Digg tells her that, at the moment, that may not be any better.

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Malcolm loses patience and says he is not playing, reminding them that his daughter lives in this city (RIP Tommy, who didn’t get this consideration). He hands Digg a folder with all the information he has on the bioweapon and tells them that he has arranged passage to Nanda Parbat for all of them. If they are in, they should be at Ferris Air before sunrise.

 

“Jason”’s place, unknown. Thea compliments Roy’s apartment, but he says both it and the job at the garage are temporary and he will leave soon, before people “put 2 and 2 together.” She asks about his other night job, and he replies that he is leaving the crime-fighting to the cops, because he just wants to be normal.

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When Thea laughingly asks how that’s going, he admits he’s “so bored.” She triumphantly then pulls out his costume, which she had Malcolm steal out of impound for her.

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He admits he didn’t think he’d see it again, and she says that if everyone thinks Roy Harper was The Arrow, they wouldn’t suspect him of also being Arsenal. “Hmm,” Roy mutters, asking if bringing is costume was the only reason she came. Thea admits it was one of the reasons, and then sets about showing him the other one.

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SIGH.

 

Starling, Palmer Tech. Digg, Felicity and Roy watch footage of the bioweapon attack on Hong Kong, which was previously thought to be a chemical spill. Felicity is worried that her friend is believing a man who lied to them so often “it should be a drinking game,” but John says it’s irrelevant now, because if there is the slightest chance of this happening to his city, he has to report for duty. Laurel agrees with him, but Felicity says she can’t go back to Nanda Parbat. “Not after what they did to Oliver.”

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Nanda Parbat. R’as has a little visit with Nyssa before the big day, and chastises her for speaking to him as if he is a monster.

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“I’m your father, Nyssa.” She asks him why then will he ask her to marry someone she doesn’t love, and he answers in his favorite way: long-ass story about himself. He tells her that once upon a time while out on business, he met a woman who was “breathtaking in her visage and fortitude“ (Jesus what did he do to her?) and her name was Ameena Raatko. Nyssa smiles, recognizing the name.

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He tells her he had taken other lovers, but Ameena had “wit and a fire about her” that he found he couldn’t live without, so he made her his concubine. A servant steps forward with a box which R’as opens, showing it to Nyssa. It contains an ornate necklace and headpiece, his gift to her mother upon the occasion of her birth. “I kept it in the hopes that one day, you would wear it on your wedding day.” It is a tender moment between father/daughter, and you can see them both struggle with the emotion, but this is not a tender family.

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Nyssa throws the gift on the bed, scoffing that he expects her to marry Al Sah-him “because of some trinket.” R’as, quick as a snake, takes his only child by the face and reasserts himself as the asshole we all know.

I expect you to marry Al Sah-Him because it is my will. You defy that, and I will see you suffer the pain of a thousand deaths

He leaves Nyssa with tears in her eyes, but as he walks away the camera pans up from her hand, holding her knife, to her dry-eyed face.

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Palmer Tech. Felicity is alone in the office when Tatsu shows up. She came looking for Felicity, not to convince her of the threat to Starling, but to speak to her about Oliver.

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Tatsu tells Felicity that during his recovery, Oliver spoke of her, and his last thought before the fall was of her. “You love him…still,” Tatsu points out, but Felicity replies that he belongs to R’as now. Tatsu says that if she believes that, she must fight for him. “There is no ‘him’ left,” Felicity replies, sadly.

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Tatsu shakes her head, saying that she thought as she did once, that Maseo, her husband (and here she smiles a heartbreaking tiny smile at his name), was so lost to the League’s darkness, that she didn’t even try to  reach him.

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“Don’t make my mistake, Felicity,” Tatsu whispers, and walks out, leaving Felicity with the images of her city’s destruction.

 

Early the next morning, Ferris Air. Tatsu is packing her katana, which she tells Malcolm was passed on to the eldest son in her family for generations. When Merlyn points out she is not a son, her face is hard when she responds that indeed, she is not.

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Diggle and Laurel show up, wanting to get it over with. Malcom replies that the plane he booked is big enough for all of them-including Felicity, who has shown up at the last minute to join them. She tells Malcolm that is he betrays them, she’ll reveal to the world that he is alive, and where they can find him.

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Nanda Parbat. The team wanders around in the open in THE least covert outfits ever while Felicity bemoans the lack of horses, asking if they can get some next time. “There won’t be a next time”, Digg growls.

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They crest a hill, and Malcolm announces that the stealth bomber they see is how R’as plans to distribute the alpha-omega over Starling. Felicity says she has to be withing 50 feet of it to disable its navigation features, but Malcolm shushes her abruptly.

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Laurel, who must be facing the wrong way, says she doesn’t see anything, but in the next instant Malcolm has nocked an arrow and shoots a LoA member on his nine. “There’ll be more”, he says calmly, walking everyone into an open space. As the fighters become vigilant, they form a circle around Felicity and prepare to do battle. The music swells, the camera pans around the circle, and they each get a heroic beat. It is pretty. Effing. Cool.

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After Digg shoots some assassins down, Malcolm shouts at Felicity to get to the plane, and they’ll cover her. She runs, kneeling about thirty feet out to start running her programs.

In the meantime, all hell breaks loose as Malcolm, Laurel and Digg shoot, kick, punch and swordfight a whole bunch of assassins. At one point, Malcolm saves Laurel’s life, and calmly accepts her statement that she would not have done the same for him.

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Malcolm may be a murdering lying SOB, but he’s pretty self-aware.

Tatsu is also fighting, but a bit apart from them, in full Katana gear including mask. Her movements are graceful and ruthless, and when she kills the last man, she hears an assassin tell her to surrender that she may live. She recognizes him instantly.

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“Maseo,” she says softly. “Maseo is a memory,” is the stern response, but Tatsu is not put off. She advances towards her husband, and states her case: their child is gone, and he left when she needed him most. “But you can still come back to me. It’s not too late.”

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Maseo’s reply is as stoic and cold as his earlier one. “Yes, it is.” He takes his mask off and draws his sword against his child’s mother, telling her that her husband “is long dead, and if Serab must die as well, so be it.” They clash swords, and fight.

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Over by the plane, Felicity is working to ground the plane when it begins to take off. “Frak!” she exclaims, looking at her malfunctioning tablet. In another instant, more frak happens as an arrow goes through the tablet. Felicity dives, yanks the arrow out and tosses it frisbee-style into an assassin’s neck.

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He drops like a stone, and both she and we are pretty impressed with her until we realize that Malcolm shot him with an arrow in the back and saved her.

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“Oh, that makes more sense,” she deadpans, and I am cautiously optimistic things won’t be that bad if she can still joke.

 

The plane takes off despite their efforts, and when Malcolm asks Felicity if there is anything she can do, she confesses that she had some “insurance” come along. “The atomic kind.”

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Bless this over-prepared nugget.  Ray blasts the stealth bomber, not anticipating that a STEALTH BOMBER HAS BOMBS ON IT, and gets boom’d back. His suit is short-circuiting, so before it gives out, he flies himself through the plane like a human plane-kebab and falls to earth like a big dopey metal Icarus, almost landing on the girl he came to help. Oh, Ray.

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Felicity runs to check on him, but he makes a dumb joke, which is optimal health in Ray world, so we’re good.

 

Somewhere not far, the sun shines down on the Yamashiros, who do not spare each other at all until finally, Maseo holds his sword to the throat of his prostrate wife.

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He walks around her, and speaks gently to her as he raises his sword to deliver the fatal blow. “Tell Akio…I love him.” As his arms go up, Tatsu rolls and kneels, stabbing him in the gut.

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Maseo is astonished, and looks down. Tatsu’s eyes are swimming, and she replies to him just as gently. “You tell him for both of us.” She pulls her sword out, and Maseo falls forward into her arms. She drops her sword to hold him, and he rests his head against her shoulder. “Thank you…for releasing me…from my prison.”

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He lies quietly while Tatsu sobs, singing to him until he passes, and she keens his loss. It is a painful reminder that not all stories have happy endings, and certainly not when characters embrace their fatal flaws.

Damn it. Screw you, Ray. Your joke was dumb and things are awful.

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I will never not hurt for Maseo and Tatsu. They are the Doctor and Rose of this series. Their love was marked for tragedy, and the fact that it was doomed by the inability to come together after the unexpected loss of their only child was painfully, terribly realistic. If Diggle and Lyla are Olicity’s aspiration, then the Yamashiros were certainly their cautionary tale, and what a bitchslap of a warning it is.

And on a shallower note, where the hell am I supposed to go for my Karl Yune fix now? I’m reduced to watching this on a loop! (You’ll see what I’m talking about from 3:13 on. )

Damn straight you creeped, girl. Did that rapper talk about motorboating? Never mind. KARL. CALL ME.

 

The Team limps back together and R’as and Al Sah-Oliver appear on a hill overlooking them, along with dozens of not-dead assassins, and R’as tells them it has all been in vain.

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Ray points out the grounded airplane and Felicity tells him they destroyed the bioweapon, but he holds up an intact vial of the alpha-omega and says that they only think they have.

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Cue assassins, and our heroes are taken prisoner. LoA Oliver isn’t familiar with the concept of overkill, because he shouts “Surrender…or DIE!” dramatically. Felicity looks heartbroken, and Diggle angry.

As they are led inside by Oliver, Felicity runs up to him and calls him by his name, asking what they are doing here. He turns around and looks at all of them, speaking in his most Oliver-y voice since the fireside conversation with Maseo. “If any of you speak, we’re all gonna die.” Felicity lets out a quiet, confused, “What?” and Oliver looks right at her, his mask down for an instant. “I need you to trust me.”

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They silently file after him into R’as’ main room, right in time for an interrogation. The ruse with the plane was meant to weed out any traitors in his midst, and he wants to know how they knew about the virus and the plane. Oliver stares straight ahead as R’as walks the line, stopping by Diggle and Merlin, but when the Head of the Demon pauses before Felicity, his eyes go right to her.

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Tatsu quietly says that Maseo told her, and she told them. R’as points out the convenience of saying that a dead man was his traitor, and Tatsu tells him that Maseo said only three men knew of it: himself, R’as, and Oliver. “Oliver Queen is dead,” says Al Sah-him, back to robot voice. “I am Al Sah-him.”

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R’as seems to accept this, saying that it is not the first time Serab betrayed him for Maseo’s weaknesses, and points out that the timing at least is fortuitous, as traditionally R’as would contemplate mercy upon his enemies on the eve of a wedding. Ray expresses his surprise that R’as is getting married, saying “there really is a kettle for every pot,” and Oliver speaks up, saying that the wedding is his.

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At this, Felicity’s head whips to him, and he looks down as he announces he is “betrothed to Nyssa Al Ghul.” When he is done, his gaze flickers right to Felicity, and you can see the apology and sadness in his eyes, and the shock in hers.

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It is only when R’as issues a command that they be taken below that Oliver tears his gaze from hers, looking down. Felicity keeps her eyes on him as she is led away, and eventually, he looks back. THESE TWO MORONS. I pity the fool who gets in the middle of this.

 

Back in Not-Starling, Thea got her groove back. She’s blissfully post-coital and happy, and it’s about damn time.

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Roy realizes what show they’re on though, and that there is a reason his girl came looking for him other than the whoopie. Thea tells him that she got hurt, and that to save her Oliver joined the LoA. She tried to stop him, she says, but couldn’t, and “now he’s become someone else.”

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She turns to him and says that when she is with him, everything just slips away. Roy understands her, but points out that her go-to move when something goes wrong is to bolt out of Starling, and that this isn’t something she can run away from. Thea says she wasn’t running away, but to him, and asks if he doesn’t want her to. “The only thing that I want is what’s best for you,” is his answer.

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Bless Roy, he always did love this girl right. “You always did,” she sighs, and they kiss, and I am instantly suspicious of their happiness because this show is a carousel of pain.

 

Nanda Parbat. A dungeon.

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Everyone is in actual physical chains, and Felicity is both in chains and shock, muttering sadly that she can’t believe Oliver is going to marry Nyssa. “You should worry more about getting out of here alive,” Malcolm says not unkindly, and Ray asks if that could even be a remote possibility. Malcolm doesn’t say anything, but Laurel says Oliver wouldn’t let them die there. “He let this happen,” Digg points out, holding up his chained wrists.

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The door opens, and Malcolm asks quickly in Arabic to speak to R’as. The assassin walks directly to John, however, and tells him that “Wareeth Al Ghul” has commanded his presence.

 

In the room where he once consummated his great love affair, Oliver paces and waits for Diggle. He asks the guards to leave them alone, and then quietly asks John if everyone is okay. “Like you give a damn!” he answers, rightfully tee’d off. Oliver seems surprised at his anger however, asking if Malcolm didn’t speak to them.

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John says he did, but wants to know if it was part of his plan to leave baby Sara alone when he kidnapped his wife? “I had to do something to prove my loyalty to R’as,” is Oliver’s response, but when Digg spells things out for him, asking if it was his idea to take his wife in front of his daughter, Oliver’s voice is small when he says yes.

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He tries to tell him that Tatsu said in order to beat R’as, he would have to sacrifice all the things in life that he held most precious, “and your friendship is on that list.”

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Digg points out that he didn’t only lose his friendship, but also his trust, and his respect. Oliver obviously wants to say something else, but the door opens. Oliver bellows “WHAT?” at the guard, but he answers that R’as has demanded that John be returned to his friends, and leads him out.

 

Meanwhile, Merlyn got the time with R’as that he wanted, and the Demon’s Head points out that while he expected Nyssa and Maseo’s treachery, his was a surprise, especially after he saved his daughter.

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Malcolm says he tried to pledge fealty then, and is willing to do so now. R’as holds a sword to his throat, saying he had nothing to offer then, and nothing now, and Malcolm says that he does, the name of his betrayer. Not Maseo Yamashiro, but Oliver Queen. “He’s been lying to you all along,” he chuckles. At that moment, Oliver walks in and R’as shares Malcolm’s accusation with him. I’d be more worried if I thought R’as would ever actually kill Malcolm.

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The two men face each other as Al Sah-him makes his case.

I have killed for you. I have severed all ties to my past. I have hurt people who were friends to Oliver Queen, and if you wouldn’t have stopped me, I would have murdered your daughter at your command.

R’as points out that this may have all been part of his ruse, and Oliver’s answer is laced with very real anger. “Then I will have nothing and no one to go home to. Oliver Queen is dead, and the Arrow is gone.”

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R’as isn’t entirely convinced, muttering a “We shall see” that has Oliver looking faintly apprehensive. Kudos to Amell for the nuances here.

 

Not-Starling, morning.

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Thea wakes up alone in Roy’s apartment and goes to look for him at the garage. When she gets there, the manager says ‘Jason’ came in and quit an hour ago, and he left her a leather bag (containing his old suit), and a note.

Dear Thea, I wasn’t supposed to make it this far. I was supposed to end up in jail or dead by now. But then I met you, and you made me want to be the man I saw through your eyes. And now all I want to do is give that back, and help you be the person you can be without Oliver, without your father, and without me. Living on the run from the police isn’t the life you deserve, Thea. It’s not what Oliver gave up his life for you to have. Whatever happens with me, I will always love you.

P.S. Thanks for the suit, but I always thought red was more your color, anyway.

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That’s love, guys. I am humbled by Roy goddamn Harper’s capacity to love.

 

Nanda Parbat, the dungeon. Felicity wants to know what Oliver said to John. “Nothing worth hearing” is his response.

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Felicity turns to Tatsu and says she was right about Oliver, and she should have listened to her. The door opens and Merlyn is led back in, followed by R’as and Oliver, complaining about what he is getting in exchange for telling R’as about Oliver.

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R’as asks if he expected his mercy, and that he is going to grant it. “Because this death will be a lot shorter than the one I had planned for you.” Malcolm is struck down, and he shows the group a vial of the alpha-omega bioweapon. Felicity speaks to Oliver directly, saying that if what Malcolm told them is true and he is going to do anything, now is the time.

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R’as responds by asking that Tatsu be moved to another chamber, since Oliver told him she is inoculated. Over everyone’s cries of protest and betrayal, Oliver does nothing as R’as breaks the vial and drops it in the room, instead staying behind to close the door on them.

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Now that THAT unpleasantness is over, it’s wedding time! Oliver looks appropriately miserable but handsome in black as he walks to meet his future FIL.

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R’as is giddy with the thought of adding yet ANOTHER name to the alphabet soup of Oliver’s life. Scenes of the ceremony are intercut with scenes of the dungeon.

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The priestess speaks of the sanctity of the vow between man and woman, and how their souls will never again be free, captive by their love for each other.

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During this little speech Nyssa reaches for the knife hidden in her sleeve, and takes this part as her cue to attempt to stab Oliver in the heart. He expected it, however, and blocks her, throwing the knife down.

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“Continue,” he says quietly. Downstairs, John apologizes to Felicity and she says that there is nothing to apologize for, and she is glad to have known him.

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As the marriage is blessed and sealed, the camera cuts from the bride and groom’s impassive, unsmiling faces to the occupants of the basement, who one by one lose consciousness until all are unmoving.

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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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