Don’t you love a wedding? The traditions. The fancy outfits. The love that’s shared between two people. Oh, well, two out of three ain’t bad: Mazel tov, Oliver and Nyssa!
But before we get to — shudder — that event, let’s back up a bit. The last episode left open the question of whether Oliver had truly transformed into Al Sah-Him. “This Is Your Sword,” thankfully, doesn’t leave the audience hanging too long. When Ra’s is Ghul-splaining to Al Sah-Him his plan for using a plane to drop the Alpha/Omega virus on Starling City, it’s revealed that Maseo was the one who delivered the virus to Ra’s in exchange for a life in the League of Assassins. Al Sah-Him, with his back to Ra’s, lets his jaw drop to the floor in disbelief long enough to clue us in that Oliver is very present.
So it’s all a charade (or, as Malcolm would put it, “a charaaaade”). Oliver continues to play the Al Sah-Him role well, even capitulating on the pronunciation of Rayssh Al Ghul. He barely flinches at dinner when Ra’s suggests that Al Sah-Him and Nyssa start popping out little Ghuls as soon as possible. (Does this man ever stop talking about Oliver’s sex life?) Nyssa is not so great at hiding her feelings. She can’t even pass on the bread basket without a hiss. But you know what she can hide? A knife she finds lying underneath a fruit platter. Nyssa, you better Chekhov yourself before you wreck yourself.
While Oliver doesn’t sweat at the baby-daddy suggestion, he does need to take a walk to clear his head. While strolling on the grounds, he starts to attack a dark-hooded figure in the shadows when he suddenly stops and says, in a very exasperated Oliver-like tone, “You’re late.” It’s Malcolm! So Malcolm is in on Oliver’s ruse. To stop Ra’s virus-plane plan, Oliver is going to need help. Malcolm lets Oliver know that his brainwashing scheme worked too well, and that Team Arrow may not believe Malcolm’s claim that Oliver was faking.
Malcolm’s right in both respects. Team Arrow is still suffering from the after effects of Al Sah-Him’s visit, with Dig taking his frustration out on criminals’ faces. Do you blame the guy? He almost lost his wife, and he’s now lost his best friend. Felicity is convinced that Ra’s has extinguished “our Oliver, my Oliver,” and therefore Oliver can’t be blamed for what’s happened. I have to admit, throughout the episode I had trouble following who thought Oliver and/or Al Sah-Him was to blame for what, exactly, and at what point.
But I definitely know everyone hates Malcolm. And while with good reason, Team Arrow piles it on so thick in the first half of the episode that I start to feel bad for the guy. He “summons” the group to let them in on Oliver’s plan. When Team Arrow cries foul at being left out of the plan, Malcolm reminds them that he’s the master of deception: “No offense, but none of you are particularly good actors.” (Hee-hee.) To help the group understand the seriousness of the Alpha/Omega virus, Malcolm provides them with disturbing footage of the Hong Kong virus and introduces them to Tatsu.
Felicity balks at trusting this “Tatsu,” but Diggle and Laurel are convinced that the danger is real and are ready to pack their bags for Nanda Parbat. The video and Tatsu are not enough for Felicity to believe Malcolm: “He’s a mass murderer who’s lied to us so many times, it should be a drinking game.” Later, Tatsu pays a solo visit to Felicity. She begs Felicity not to make the same mistake she did with Maseo by not even trying to fight for Oliver. Tatsu also reveals that while recovering from the duel, Oliver confessed to Tatsu that his last thought before falling off the cliff was of Felicity.
Yep, sign Felicity up for rescuing Oliver. She meets the group at “Ferris Air” (a nod, presumably, to DC character Carol Ferris), a private airport that looks suspiciously like a former Citibank ATM vestibule. Not sure how this passes TSA muster, but I don’t care that much because I’m too busy chanting, "Please get to Oliver before the wedding. Please get to Oliver before the wedding." Before departing, Felicity tosses another barb at Malcolm’s expense. It’s confusing. Weren’t they Nanda Parbat travel buddies two episodes ago? But maybe that was a special Thea’s-mostly-dead-let’s-not-pick-on-Malcolm trip?
Speaking of Thea, she takes Felicity’s advice and goes to visit Roy, who now works as an auto mechanic and apparently copied his new look straight out of Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” video. They’re happy to see each other and fool around. Thea wants to be with Roy, but he knows that’s not what her brother would want (um, what about what Thea wants?), and he disappears the next morning. He leaves her a good-bye letter and his red Arsenal suit. Speedy! Speedy!
Back in Nanda Parbat, Team Arrow arrives, along with Tatsu in full Katana costume. Felicity valiantly attempts to shut down the virus plane’s computer system, but an arrow destroys the tablet Felicity is using to hack the plane’s system. The plane takes off with the virus. Felicity, however, has a backup plan: She invited Ray, who zooms up into the sky in his A.T.O.M. suit and destroys the plane.
Meanwhile, the rest are fighting off minions, and Katana/Tatsu and Maseo face off in a graceful-but-deadly sword fight. With every blade strike, my heart dies a little. Maseo eventually pins Katana to the ground and gently asks her to “tell Akio I love him” before preparing to slice her in two. He’s not fast enough. She twists out of the way at the last moment and slays Maseo: “You tell him. For the both of us.” Maseo, with his dying breath, falls onto Katana’s chest and thanks her for freeing him from his “prison.” As the life drains out of Maseo’s face, Katana lets out a painful wail. I do, too.
Team Arrow is outnumbered, and they become Ra’s’s prisoners. Turns out the virus was not on the plane; it was merely a Ra’s loyalty test. He demands to know who leaked the plane information to Team Arrow. Tatsu lies and says it was Maseo, taking the heat off of Oliver. Ra’s then mentions that there is to be a wedding, forcing Al Sah-Him to inform Team Arrow that he is betrothed to Nyssa. Felicity’s face is part pain, part confusion, part disbelief. Oliver, in Al Sah-Him mode, offers no explanation, except for a brief glance at Felicity, seemingly begging her for forgiveness. The scene is a five-second blip, but it is visceral and scarring.
Team Arrow is imprisoned, but Ra’s wants a word with Malcolm. Malcolm quickly reveals that Oliver is just pretending to be Al Sah-Him. (I don’t buy that Malcolm gives up Oliver so fast. What’s the point in Malcolm making all of these goodwill gestures? I’m guessing there’s a larger plan at work.) Ra’s confronts Al Sah-Him, who denies it. To truly test Al Sah-Him’s loyalty, Ra’s has Al Sah-Him to release the virus into Team Arrow’s prison cell and seal the doors. Team Arrow’s pleas and cries are in vain; Al Sah-Him walks away, leaving them to slowly succumb to the virus’s poison.
Nyssa is not interested in succumbing to her dad’s wedding plans, but she gives in, as his threats grow more aggressive (as does his storytelling … I swear he’s like an eccentric uncle who just can’t answer a straightforward question without a parable). The wedding begins, and Nyssa makes her way down the aisle. She can barely keep from vomiting, as the League priestess notes that they “will never be free and will always be held captive” by their love. Instead of throwing up, though, she pulls out the fruit-platter knife and tries to stab Oliver, who is quick to catch the blade. The ceremony is completed; they become husband and wife. Now it’s my turn to throw up.
HONG KONG FLASHBACKS
Medical and pamphlet chaos ensues. Oliver and Maseo kidnap General Shrieve, who claims he has an Alpha/Omega cure. He’s lying: It’s just insulin. Akio dies.
• Surprised that Ra’s would use the virus on Team Arrow to make a point, unless he has a backup?
• Yes! Ray signs the company over to Felicity. Maybe would have been nice if he asked first, but …
• David Ramsey did an excellent job this episode establishing the new mistrust between Dig and Oliver. It was subtle but effective.
• “I’m glad to have known you,” Felicity says to Diggle before the virus knocks them out. Sniff.
• “You know I wouldn’t have done the same thing for you,” Laurel says to Malcolm, who saved her life.
• “Oh, that makes more sense,” Felicity, after realizing it was Malcolm’s arrow that killed a minion, and not the tablet she threw.
• Dig finally got his own mask: earplugs!
• I love how open Felicity is about her love for Oliver in front of Team Arrow; it’s nice that the writers have just let it be the new normal, without the need for explanation or discussion.
• Katana’s eye shadow is almost as badass as her sword.
• I’m so, so, so bummed that Maseo is dead. Can’t Ra’s throw him in the magic hot tub? Karl Yune added a great presence to this season. Also, is it weird that I still found him so attractive as the life drained out of his face? It is?
• Ooh, the camera cut to Felicity when talking about a vow between man and woman … please let this be foreshadowing!
MISSING THE MARK
• In the middle of complete virus panic, no one notices that a well-stocked pharmacy is just sitting there?
• How does Malcolm get to and from Nanda Parbat so quickly and with such ease?
• “I’m your friend. I’m always going to be there for you,” Ray tells Felicity. (Sweet!) “It’s non-negotiable.” (Creepy!)
NUMBER OF SHIRTLESS STEPHEN AMELL SCENES: -2 (again, Al Sah-Him, what’s with the layers?)
How do you think next week’s season finale is going to play out? Come theorize with me on Twitter.