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I was really excited to watch “This is Your Sword” because I thoroughly enjoyed last week’s “Al Sah-him.” And that is something I haven’t been able to say much this season, much to my disappointment. But “Al Sah-him,” which I didn’t get to review due to my vacation last week, was as strong of an hour of Arrow as we have seen this season. The story arc moved forward crisply, and there were a number of really great character moments (the scenes between Katie Cassidy’s Laurel and Katrina Law’s Nyssa were particular standouts). Even though I was wary of where some of the stories were heading (the idea of marrying Nyssa against her will to Oliver – even though we know it is against his will as well – left a particularly bad taste in my mouth, that wasn’t improved at all with this week’s developments), I thought I knew where things were headed and it seemed like a solid course. Then “This is Your Sword” happened, and I’m just plain disappointed.
It was clear at the end of “Al Sah-him” that Oliver was faking his allegiance to Ra’s (although, it was quite a convincing fake out). The look on his face when presented with the arranged marriage and Ra’s wonderful plan of total Starling City destruction gave that one away. But the explanation offered this week to explain how that fake out was conceived was such a hatchet job, I’m not sure what to believe. So, at some point during this strange truce with Malcolm, Oliver and Malcolm decided they would work together once Oliver was forced to take the position of Al Sah-him? And, the only person Oliver could think to send to prove that Malcolm was lying was a character Team Arrow has never met before? It just doesn’t make sense. Oliver seems to trust Malcolm (and vice versa) only when it is convenient for the writers. And shoehorning Katana into the present day story again was such a reach, it was almost laughable. Yes, it was awesome to see her fight in full costume, but really? If the team is already on the fence about Oliver, sending in someone they don’t know to chat about Oliver’s plan should magically make them believe.
The entire confusing plot of the episode was weak. Characters were acting completely out of character, from Felicity being reduced to a whining shell, Ray suddenly being super cool with jumping back into Team Arrow after the Felicity brush-off, Diggle reacting to Oliver’s perceived betrayal with extreme vitriol (I can get being mad that baby Sara was in danger, but Lyla was a trained killer, so it’s not like she was helpless), Nyssa barely tried to fight her way out of the situation (despite being one of the best killers in the League), and Laurel being generally useless after such a strong showing last week. The only person acting the way I would expect him to was Malcolm, who was all too willing to save his own skin when the time came. And Oliver’s constant jumping from “Don’t worry guys, I’m pretending” to “No Ra’s, I’m totally brainwashed” was just exhausting. I doubt anyone in the audience thinks for one second that Oliver isn’t playing Ra’s and that he has some plan to save the team (or, at least most of the team – I wouldn’t be shocked if there were a casualty). After all, Ray has a spin-off to be alive for, and most of the team is going to be on The Flash next week anyway (how that fits into the timeline of both show’s is beyond me).
So, the stakes aren’t nearly as high as I think the writers want them to be. I presume that Oliver and Nyssa will best Ra’s in the finale, Oliver will rise to the position of Ra’s and dissolve his sham marriage, and perhaps place Nyssa in command of the League in his stead. And maybe Thea will roll in and save Team Arrow, wearing a snazzy new superhero costume (heck, considering that Oliver’s uniform apparently fits anyone who puts it on, maybe she’ll just wear Roy’s old suit). Truthfully, I don’t have any idea what will actually happen, but we all know things will be resolved in Oliver’s favor. Which means this dilly-dallying in “This is Your Sword” did nothing to provide additional character development or real plot movement (beyond getting everyone together in Nanda Parbat). It was pure filler. And considering the forward momentum the series gained from “Al Sah-him,” I’m just really disappointed in the writers for failing to continue the drive to the end.
— Oliver pronounced Ra’s correctly! Amazing!
— Seriously, how far away is Nande Parbat from Starling City? Because people come and go between the two incredibly quickly.
— It looks like Ray is planning on shipping out at season’s end, and giving Felicity the company. Which would be awesome on a number of levels.
— I am so incredibly glad the Hong Kong slog is almost over.
— I’m sad to see Maseo go, but I’m hoping for more Katana next year. She’s such a badass.