Last night’s Arrow episode, “This Is Your Sword,” combined some really cool stuff with some very bad stuff. Some of the bad stuff was “bad” as in evil and tragic. But some of it was just bad.
Running totally outside the main story is Thea’s reunion with Roy. Roy’s working in a garage and staying in a sublet and bored out of his mind. Thea brings him his uniform. They talk a little, hook up, and confide in each other. It’s a good conclusion for the characters, and it’s good that the show is letting the Roy character go.
But it’s a conclusion because Roy leaves before Thea wakes up in the morning, giving her the uniform but saying that a life on the run from the law is not the life her brother wanted for her. A hell of a lot of people have laid that line on her in this show, and it’s getting distasteful. Basically, it’s Thea getting no say in her life because her brother’s supposed wishes for how she should live her life outweigh her own. This is especially disturbing considering Nyssa’s story in this episode.
The kicker about this is Merlyn becomes the best and Ra’s the worst in the exact same way; being a villain. Up until recently, Ra’s has been playing the man of ancient honor, the courtly but implacable villain who wants what’s best for his society. In the last episode we got a glance at the nastier side of all of that. This episode it comes out in full force. It’s just tawdry to see Ra’s making cute comments about how his daughter is skipping meals before saying that Nyssa will be forced into marriage just like her mother was. It’s nasty to see him then wax poetic about how he couldn’t live without Nyssa’s mother and presenting Nyssa with a diamond necklace, then roughing Nyssa up and telling her she’ll be forced to bear children. Turns out the luxurious palace and formal speech covered up a boorish thug.
Meanwhile, Merlyn becomes the absolute best by being just as much a liar and a coward as he can possibly be. I’m not saying that John Barrowman’s innate likeability doesn’t have something to do with it, although every time he speaks I hallucinate ducklings playing with kittens playing with puppies playing with John Barrowman in an infinite vortex of likeability, but it’s just so great seeing an awful person be an awful person.
Oliver has supposedly been collaborating with Merlyn. They know about the virus and they’re trying to save the city. (And anyone notice that when Oliver was pretending to be brainwashed he called Ra’s “Raysh,” but when he wasn’t he called Ra’s “Ras”?) Merlyn convinces the entire Arrow team to trust him and come to Nanda Parbat and destroy the supervirus, which is supposedly on a plane. It wasn’t on the plane, the team is captured, and Ra’s threatens Merlyn. Merlyn turns in Oliver in a hot second, and then he has the nerve, the iron-clad nerve, to be indignant when Ra’s uses the virus to try to kill him as well as Ollie’s team. Oh, that indignant outcry! It lives in my dreams, and it lives like a king.
Commenters have mentioned that they have had just about enough of the crying, over-reacting, stomping-around Felicity, and I am beginning to see their point. The sunniest, funniest character on Arrow is getting turned into a drag. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s the end of the season, and so it’s for the best that we’ve had enough of this character arc.
And she does still bring the goods. The half-baked kidnapping plot a little while ago was divine. This episode, she gives me the biggest laugh. When they’re trying to bring down the plane, Felicity is hacking its system with her tablet. (Anyone else get flashes of Jeff Goldblum from Independence Day hacking the alien ship with a Mac?) An assassin shoots her computer. He’s about to shoot her. She chucks the tablet at him, and hits him right in the throat. He crumples and falls. She looks so thrilled. But there’s an arrow in his back — Merlyn killed him. Her face falls. “Oh. That makes more sense.”
I laughed so hard I think a part of me died. I’ll have to carry that dead weight around with me for the rest of my life and it’s worth it.
I think we all agree that the flashbacks were the absolute worst. And they continue being the worst, as Ollie and Maseo rush off to find a cure for Akio, figure out there isn’t one, and lead General Shrieve and his men straight to their position.
But the pay-off, in terms of the flashbacks relating to the present-day story, is the best we’ve seen so far. During the fight over the plane, Maseo and Tatsu face off, her pleading for him to leave the League and come back to her. He tells her that will never happen. He gets the upper hand. Maseo raises his sword and asks Tatsu to tell Akio he loves him. She runs Maseo through, saying, “Tell him for both of us.” He thanks her for releasing him, and that’s the end of Maseo Yamashiro’s story.
If either of those lines were angry, that would be the most clichéd shit. But they’re not. Both partners really do love each other, but see no other way to end this. It’s the DC version of an amicable divorce over irreconcilable differences. It’s sad, but fulfilling, the way a good sad story should be.
Anyway, Ollie and Nyssa are married, and the gang are virused to death. Somehow, I think another few twists are coming in the last episode.