Following last week’s episode of Arrow I felt like my world was crumbling down in front of my eyes. Oliver was gone. Al Sah-Him was in his place. And he hurt the ones he loved. There was pain. So. Much. Pain. Surely after “Al Sah-Him” I could survive anything, right? Right? RIGHT?
I hate how they lure you in with false reassurances only to rip out from under you the very ground you stand on. But that’s the sign of great storytelling. The way this show has elicited this level of emotion out of me — and countless others — is proof of this show’s impact and it’s no-fear mentality when it comes to potentially killing their fandom with CRAZY. With all of the success that befalls The Flash or Gotham, let us not forget the reason those two shows — and upcoming ones — were possible: Arrow.
Need a quick refresher on where we left off last week? Oliver began his transition as the next Ra’s al Ghul — Al Sah-Him — where he did unspeakable things all amid a League of Assassins voodoo brainwash thing, which included kidnapping Diggle’s wife and betraying his friends.
So naturally one of the first things we learn in “This Is Your Sword” was that Oliver was faking being brainwashed.
Turns out he’s been secretly working with Malcolm ever since he agreed to be the Heir to the Demon and trying to convince Ra’s al Ghul that Oliver Queen was dead when in fact he is still very much alive. So that means that the whole betrayal of his friends and kidnapping Diggle’s wife…yeah, that was all Oliver. Even before later on in the episode I was convinced that that was going to come around and bite Oliver in the ass. But Oliver asks Ra’s for him to help out his friends. Malcolm reveals the obvious, they won’t trust him, but Oliver has someone they can trust. An old friend…
Back in Starling City, Team Arrow — now Diggle, Felicity and Laurel — are continuing to fight the good fight. Like Diggle told Oliver back in episode 3×13, this crusade lives on after him. But the only thing different from the last time Oliver was “gone” is that emotions are heightened — Diggle’s anger and Felicity’s hopelessness. When Diggle and Laurel pounded some street thugs, Diggle let his anger toward Oliver get the best of him. And Felicity let her hopelessness about Oliver — how her Oliver died when he joined the League — out in the open.
Later at Queen Consolidated (yeah, still never calling it Palmer Technologies), Felicity finds Ray working on his Atom suit. Automatically he can sense that something bad happened. Again. It follows her like a rain cloud. My poor baby. And he knows it has to do with Oliver because of how heartbroken she seems.
How is it that just four episodes ago I absolutely despised Ray Palmer and now I actually, uh, like him? How was it that the writers were able to change his characterization around so quickly? It’s because they wrote him not to come off as a creepy stalker. See, told ya.
But the most interesting part about this whole exchange was the papers that Ray had Felicity sign. Just some corporate stuff, he says. Um, have we not learned from the whole Isabel Rochev signing fiasco of season two to read what you’re signing? Lord.
But it turns out this was actually good. Very good. Very, very good. Ray just signed over Pal — his company — to Felicity Smoak, making her not only the CEO but the owner. And remember that teaser from the future newspaper on The Flash? Ray’s company will be renamed…renamed as Queen Inc…and be owned by one Felicity Smoak.
Following this very good piece of news was a not-so-pleasant text message from one Malcolm Merlyn that required a summons from Team Arrow. The team met with Merlyn — unwillingly — where he tried to explain the truth about what was happening: that this was all a ruse by Oliver; that he wasn’t brainwashed; that this was all part of a plan he set in motion to help best Ra’s. To defeat Ra’s, he had to become him.
Team Arrow is not believing a word that is coming out of Malcolm’s mouth because he’s a “sociopath and a liar.” Laurel offers to shove a flag right up his ass, and Diggle is so done with all of this. Then Malcolm brings in an old friend of Oliver’s…Tatsu.
At first the team is untrusting because they’ve never met this person before in their lives. Why should they trust her? Then she mentions Akio and Diggle understands now…she was Maseo’s wife. Things start to click in place. Tatsu warns them of the Omega virus that killed her son and the one that Ra’s is to have Oliver inflict upon Starling City. So Malcolm informs them of their trip to Nanda Parbat to stop it. Diggle and Laurel are gung-ho about going to stop the dispersion of the virus upon their city, but Felicity needs some convincing.
Ever since the midseason premiere, I’ve noticed a parallel between Oliver/Felicity and Maseo/Tatsu. The men had been torn away from the woman they love, and while they ache to return to their loved ones they can’t risk it, for different reasons. As far as the relationships go, one was doomed, but the other still had — still has a chance.
So when Tatsu has a discussion about Oliver with Felicity, it feels like it’s come full circle. Tatsu told Felicity that Oliver told her — back when she was helping him recover — that his last thought was of her. Tatsu can see it. Felicity loves him. “But he’s lost to the League.” “You have to fight for him.”
There it is. Right there. The parallel. And the difference between the doomed relationship (Maseo/Tatsu) and the hopeful one (Oliver/Felicity). Tatsu didn’t fight for Maseo when he was lost to the League, but Felicity has to if she doesn’t want to endure the same fate. So, ultimately, she decides to go.
Let me touch on the Thea/Roy part of the episode real quick. Here’s the thing, I loved it. But I’m pissed off that it had to happen during an episode where everything was so hyped around Nanda Parbat that that’s the only thing I could focus on.
Anyway, if you remember last week, Felicity told Thea that Roy was still alive, as they faked his death (foreshadowing of something else that happened in this episode? More on that later). Felicity gave her Roy’s whereabouts and Thea paid a visit to “Jason” aka the secret identity Roy is now using. He’s a mechanic. Swoon.
After the two get in a little sexy time — cause we needed a break from the tension of the whole League of Assassins storyline — the two have a serious talk about why Thea is there. She’s running. Running because she can’t stand to be in the city that her brother once protected but is now not inhabiting because he sacrificed his soul for her. But Roy understands. She’s running from her problems. And if she decided to stay with him, she’d be running for the rest of her life — literally — from the cops as Roy is constantly on the move.
So as Thea is sleeping, Roy leaves this town and leaves Thea a letter that is a startling parallel to the letter Thea left for Roy in the season two finale. Only both letters had opposite implications. Thea’s letter was meant as an act of defiance, while Roy’s was meant out of love. Look at how far these two have come. Please tell me that we’ll get Roy cameos occasionally throughout the rest of this series.
Now, back to the action…
Team Arrow + Katana + Weasel Malcolm arrive in Nanda Parbat to bring a stop to this Omega virus that Ra’s has intended Oliver deliver to Starling City. They arrive looking all badass as one of the biggest fight sequences in the show’s history goes down.
But there’s a purpose. Felicity needs to get within 50 feet of the airplane that’s to deliver the virus to deactivate it and make sure it can’t be used. Only now the team has to fight League of Assassins assassins.
Felicity manages to get the plane moving, but then an arrow is shot through her tablet. Luckily, she brought assurance in the form of the Atom. The Atom tries to destroy the airplane eventually flying through it — that’s right, straight through it — which results in it exploding and everyone breathing a sigh of relief. Who’d ever thought I’d be thanking Ray?
I’d never experienced pain before much like the pain I experienced when I watched Tatsu kill Maseo.
The two were forced to duel as the League descended upon Team Arrow (+ Malcolm). Just when it seemed as if Maseo had bested Tatsu and was about to deliver a death blow — telling her to tell Akio that he loves him — Tatsu outsmarts him and stabs him through the chest. Oh, it gets worse.
Earlier in the episode, Oliver spoke with Maseo about ultimately releasing him from Ra’s reign. That when he became the new Ra’s that he would be free by his order. But Maseo confided in him that “there is no release from my prison.” Except there was. It was just in death.
I got super emotional during this scene. Much more emotional than I ever expected to be. The weight of Maseo’s words coupled with Tatsu’s reaction and the flashbacks where Aiko died in Tatsu’s arms was so much that I just broke. Like I said, Maseo/Tatsu and Oliver/Felicity are parallels. One ends in tragedy, the other thrives in hope. Maseo and Tatsu ended in tragedy.
Maseo has been a slave to the League for nearly nine years. He’s lost everything: his son, his wife and his soul. There was nowhere left for him but the League. But death was the thing that ultimately freed him. He was now able to be with Aiko and be free of a life of torture and despair.
As if all of this emotion wasn’t enough, things went from bad to worse when Ra’s and Al Sah-Him arrived…
“Surrender or die.”
So clearly they surrender because no one will be dying here. You hear me, Arrow writers? Oliver escorts his friends and Malcolm through the League headquarters as Felicity questions Oliver about what exactly he’s doing.
Oliver brings them into the Lazarus Pit room — is this the main room or does the pit make for nice decoration? — where Ra’s addresses them. Wondering who betrayed him to alert them of the Omega virus’ whereabouts. With Maseo’s initial betrayal in mind, Ra’s suspects him. So Oliver is safe. For now.
This is also the time where Ra’s mentions a wedding — and Ray throws in a hilarious one-liner about there’s a kettle for every pot, as he assumes it to be Ra’s getting hitched. But then Oliver reveals the shocking bit of information: he’s betrothed to Nyssa. Ew. Still gross typing that.
Yep, our reaction, too, Felicity.
Always trust your hunch. Especially when that hunch involves trusting Malcolm Merlyn and how that’s the worst idea ever. Because then — with his selfish motives in mind — go to Ra’s and rat out Oliver about “faking it,” which caused Ra’s to question Oliver’s loyalty and forced Oliver to do something that sent a shockwave through the fandom.
Ra’s and Oliver go the chamber holding Oliver’s friends and return Malcolm. Saying that he thinks it funny that Malcolm actually thought he’d get out of this alive. Only now it’ll be a slow death.
Oliver unleashes the tube filled with the Omega virus — or what we’re to believe is the Omega virus — in front of Ra’s before they both turn away and leave Diggle, Felicity, Laurel, Malcolm and Ray to their deaths. I’m literally screaming at my television at this point.
As if the current moment could not get any worse for me, there’s still a wedding to take place. The Wedding from Hell. Or Weddings by Ra’s. Same thing.
You have to admire Nyssa al Ghul. All throughout this episode she tried to find a way out. Because her misogynistic father was trying to force his daughter into a heterosexual marriage. She tried to talk her way out. Ask for death. But Ra’s wouldn’t give her the easy way out. So she took matters into her own hands, literally. During the ceremony, Nyssa turns to Oliver and pulls a knife she took from dinner and tries to kill him. But he’s too quick. He catches her hand midair and you hear the knife clatter to the ground and with it, Nyssa’s heart. She’s forced to go through with this. They both are. They both don’t want to. But it doesn’t matter.
As this ceremony is going on, the Omega virus is filling the chamber that Diggle, Felicity, Laurel, Malcolm and Ray are locked inside. It overlays each other as Ra’s speaks the vows. And just when you think the Arrow writers couldn’t be any less subtle, you get this:
NO. THEY CAN’T BE. THERE’S NO WAY.
I don’t know how — actually I have a theory, which I’ll touch on in my Finale Speculation post next week — but I know they’re not dead. THE PROMO TOLD ME SO. But it doesn’t mean I didn’t end that episode screaming and sobbing. Because I did.
But can we talk about this moment:
This is after Oliver unleashed the vial — which we’re to believe was the Omega virus — they believe they’re dying. This is it. This is the end. And Felicity and John will “die” together. Diggle apologizes to Felicity for everything. The everything being related to their predicament in which they’re dying by a chemical weapon. Diggle was the one that pressured Felicity to come with them, so Diggle is blaming himself for her being in this mess they’re in. Only Felicity doesn’t let him take that blame.
But focusing on what Felicity said, I couldn’t help but think the same can be said for myself. “I’m glad to have known you.” Even though I know that they’re not dead, even entertaining the idea that they might actually be dying, I couldn’t help but be thankful for the opportunity to have gotten to spend three seasons with these two characters — two of my favorite characters. (And now I’m sobbing again)
But I absolutely hated how – even though i don’t believe they died — that in that scene they thought they were dying at the hands of Oliver. For Diggle, at the hands of his best friend. For Felicity, at the hands of the love of her life.
Oh, and if the show dares to (permanently) kill off Felicity Smoak or John Diggle…
WHAT’S ON OUR MINDS…
1. So what did Oliver really unleash on Diggle, Felicity, Laurel, Malcolm and Ray? Cause it wasn’t the Omega virus.
There was no blood from the mouth and it’s not nearly instantaneous. Nice try though! So what was it? Was it the stuff they used to fake Roy’s death?
2. This Oliver-Nyssa marriage is gonna be annulled soon, right?
The Wedding from Hell has now evolved into the Marriage from Hell. Please tell me this show is cancelled after the first episode.
3. Please tell me Oliver and Diggle’s relationship can be saved!
This scene absolutely broke my heart. But Diggle was completely right in where he came from. And the fact that Oliver was Oliver — and still risked it — was completely unacceptable. It was said that their relationship would never be the same, but I just hope that they can slowly mend it because I don’t know what I’d do if they didn’t.
4. Give me more Felicity and Tatsu scenes please!
These two ladies are literal parallels of each other. And they’re equally beautiful, strong and caring women.
5. Felicity is totes the new CEO (and owner) of the future Queen Inc.
You remember that futuristic newspaper from The Flash? The one that mentioned “Queen Inc.” Yeah, well, Ray just signed the future Queen Inc. over to one Felicity Smoak. That’s right, Felicity is now CEO and owner. And you know when it’ll be named Queen Inc. When she eventually marries Oliver Queen.
6. I’m never going to be over Maseo’s death scene.
Just leave me alone to sob and rock back and forth.
7. Considering how I felt about Laurel and Ray early this season, I actually like them now. Weird.
What is happening to me? Look what happens when these characters are written in this way.
8. Why can’t we have Roy back?
I know, I know. It’s Colton Haynes. But still, WHY?!
9. I want to personally kill both Malcolm Merlyn and Ra’s al Ghul.
Don’t even talk to me about this weasely SOB or that misogynistic demon’s head.
NEXT TIME ON “ARROW”
Episode 3×23 “My Name Is Oliver Queen”
Wednesday, May 13, 8/7c on The CW
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.