Twists. Turns. Shocks. Surprises. Action. Emotion. Betrayals. Revelations. Deaths. A lot happened in ‘This Is Your Sword’. Some of it good, some of it bad, indeed there’s a fair bit to talk about.
This episode, on its own, delivered. In the context of the season, it was disappointing. Oliver playing Ra’s al Ghul all along is the area of disappointment in terms of the season. The idea of evil Oliver was a really interesting one, as was the League in general. To have it all have been a charade the entire time, it just felt slightly underwhelming.
The season’s identity arc, which I don’t feel has been as well executed as it could have been, really could have come into its own here. Oliver, consumed entirely by Al Sah-Him ends up choosing Oliver in the end, he fights back for the people he loves and after giving himself to the Arrow at the start of the season, it’d cap it nicely. He gave his soul (well, we thought he did) to save Thea’s life and the idea of her then saving him, showing him the importance of Oliver Queen, it just would have felt a little stronger to me than the whole idea he was faking it.
In terms of the season, it was a let down that it came to that. Particularly, I think, that it came out so early in the episode. If you’d kept it going a little longer and upped the tension, it may have been more effective. But the idea of ‘Darth Oliver’ was quickly erased which was a shame. Diggle’s anger, however, is something that really shouldn’t be. So, my fingers are crossed on that one.
Back to Oliver, in the context of the season, it was disappointing.
Episode-wise, however, it made his actions towards the end of the episode all the more shocking. Though, it must be said, that cliffhanger didn’t really pack the punch I think it meant to. The tension isn’t there. They’ll get out of it somehow. It would be unbelievably bold to kill off a good chunk of your cast, commendable in some ways, not that I want to lose them. But it was never going to happen. Moreover, the CW promotional tools for the finale further eradicated the tension. Not the best move, guys.
The one thing this episode did do well is further make it easy to see Ra’s as grotesque. The fact Oliver is running rings around him felt a disservice to him as a villain. He’s one of the biggest that DC has to offer. They’ve made him look an idiot for the most part. Oliver Queen, who came out with all sorts of, in Dig’s words, ‘BS’ excuses to Felicity before she was part of Team Arrow can capably outwit a man who is centuries old?! Ra’s should have killed Maseo by now as well, for his betrayal in 3×20. He’s just felt far too naive at times, which doesn’t seem like it should happen.
HOWEVER! It’s fair to say that him forcing Nyssa to marry Oliver is grotesque. All we know about Nyssa romantically is that she loved Sara so we can assume she’s a lesbian, unless told otherwise. This makes it even worse. To cap his effort for ‘Dad of the Year’ award, he comes out with that she’ll be forced to bear a child. It was also hinted that he may have raped one Nyssa’s mother. What a lovely, lovely man. Credit to Nable for coming across quite so horribly. Kick his ass, Nyssa.
Elsewhere, it’s the first time I think I’ve felt sorry for Felicity. Mainly, as I feel the writers have done her character a disservice with some of the things they make her say. I think it was near universal that people loved Felicity for the first two seasons. Furthermore, giving her development made sense. Unfortunately, this season has stunted that development and eaten away at her likeability factor.
To be fair, she was much better than in recent weeks. She had some good moments. But there were two lines, two, that were poor stuff and another case of ‘Olicity propping’ that unfolded. The lines were when she came out with “My Oliver” that and her “I can’t lose you” line after drugging Oliver didn’t come across loving. They come across a little obsessive and slightly creepy. She’d brought out the “Our Oliver” which was fine. She’d outlined how she still believed he wouldn’t do this, that was fine. The “My Oliver” just wasn’t needed and was an eye-roll worthy moment. The second line came when imprisoned, where she expressed dismay at Oliver marrying Nyssa.
She’s in a dungeon. Probably going to die. That’s what’s grating on her? Emily Bett-Rickards put forth a fantastic look of hurt as that revelation came out. Writing, more often than not, is showing not telling. As an audience, we could see what that had done to her. We don’t need her to then say that out loud in a later scene. It was nothing short of ridiculous. It makes it seem as if she’s selfish. She seems to care they’re about to die or Starling City is in danger, she cares Oliver is marrying Nyssa? We get that she loves him. Trust me, Guggenheim and co., you’ve made that abundantly clear. Malcolm pretty much said what the entire audience was thinking, though. Showing NOT telling Arrow writers, follow it.
But compared to the gripes of recent weeks, Felicity was better in patches. Her tablet boomerang and reaction to Malcolm being the one who took down the League member raised a smile.
There were three major highlights in this episode for me, which I’ll crack on with shortly. I’ll just deliver the honourable mentions.
Firstly, Ray. What a guy. He came across so nice in this episode. I can’t imagine him flipping over tables after losing the woman he loves to someone else, *cough* Oliver *cough*. We saw the ATOM out in the field, flying straight through a plane no less which was impressive CGI. I really wish we’d had more of Ray integrating with the others throughout the season. Signing over his company to Felicity didn’t really feel all that earned, but it allows him to swan off onto the spin-off without any responsibilities I suppose. I’m quite the cynic.
That fight scene. The fight scenes this scene really haven’t hit the heights of previous years, but Team Arrow vs. The League in Nanda Parbat was impressive and really well done. It felt big which was undoubtedly appropriate. So, kudos on that one.
The Canary Cry was once more put to good use. I’m actually really liking Laurel this season and although her transition to the Black Canary could arguably be called ‘rushed’, I’m pleased we’re there. The initial fight scene with Dig early on was really well done. I never thought I’d be saying it last season but quite honestly, the more Laurel with Team Arrow – the better.
Right, onto the highlights. Malcolm. Tatsu. Thea and Roy. These were the best parts of the episode, in my opinion.
Malcolm was good. His line, “No offence of you are particularly good actors.” was probably one of my favourite of the season. Partly, it was just the way he delivered it. Slightly smug with a little shake of the head. He could have been close to breaking the fourth wall. I’ve struggled not to laugh each time I’ve watched it. In the big battle, he was trotting around, putting League members down with a smug ease. It was impressive.
Obviously, he was also in on Oliver’s plan. This was a good thing, in my opinion. If you ignore the fact that he was responsible for the death of his own son, another 502 people, making Thea into a brainwashed murderer and in the process, killing Sara, he’s really not all that bad. It was a good thing though as Oliver asking him for help, asking him to train him feels like it had a pay off now. At the time, we had one training scene I believe then it just felt dumped. So, it came full circle in some ways.
I also liked him then selling Oliver out. Yet that could actually be part of the plan. It strengthens Oliver’s credibility with Ra’s and puts Team Arrow in big trouble, but I suppose we’ll find out next week.
Tatsu in the present day, Olicity propping aside, was very good. Rila Fukushima absolutely nailed the emotional moments. Both Akio and Maseo’s deaths were powerful moments. The latter, especially. Maseo’s grief for his son literally had taken too much of a hold and he got his release, in the end. Tatsu singing to him as she did Akio was really touching. Also, we can safely say Katana has been born now which is pretty rad.
Finally, we got some closure with Thea and Roy. The ground breaking thing for me was that Arrow CAN actually write romantic scenes well, without the need for viewers to cringe. And, also, we now have the birth of Speedy to look forward to as she’s still got his costume… If you’re eagle eyed when watching the promo for the finale, you’ll spot it in action.
So, wow. A lot of words. A long, long review. I did say there was a lot to talk about. A good episode. Not perfect. The cliffhanger, although intended to be shocking wasn’t really. But I can safely say, I’m looking forward to what the finale brings.