As Oliver Queen's friends struggle with their vision of who The Arrow was and what he has become, Al Sah-Him prepares for marriage and for his final mission before becoming Ra's Al Ghul. Malcolm Merlyn has some idea of what is coming and is ready to make what remains of Team Arrow an offer to save their city... but will they accept his help, even in this darkest hour? And what of Thea Queen, who has gone off in search of Roy Harper?
Five years ago, as tensions mount in Hong Kong and the Alpha/Omega plague spreads rapidly, Oliver and the Yamashiro's search desperately for anything that might cure Akio, eventually planning to attack General Shrieve himself.
The Batman comics of Dennis O'Neil (Ra's wanting to marry his daughter to a hero he hopes to win into his service), Batman: Son of the Demon (plot involving hero becoming Ra's Al Ghul's heir and Ra's addresses Ollie by this title), various comics featuring The Outsiders ,The Black Arrow Saga by Mike Grell (Oliver being thought a criminal by the world at large and most of his allies as well as the scene where Tatsu tells Felicity about what a wounded Oliver said) and Batman: Contagion (Ra's Al Ghul seeks to destroy a whole city with a plague).
Roy seems to cut out of work pretty easily for a guy who just started working for another mechanic a few weeks earlier. Then again, maybe he has an understanding boss who is all too eager to help an employee out when a woman like Thea comes along?
Not so much a goof with the episode itself as it is with the advertising on The CW, but any tension that might come from the cliffhanger ending of this episode is negated by them showing ads for The Flash which depict Oliver in his League of Assassins garb and The Atom fighting alongside The Flash against The Reverse Flash.
David Ramsey gets to play John Diggle with an uncharacteristic degree of anger throughout this episode. And it's a damn fine performance.
While her role in the episode is a relatively minor one, Rila Fukushuma makes the most of every scene she has as Tatsu Yamashiro. The duel between Maseo and Tatsu is heartbreaking as is the flashback scene where we see the exact moment her family fell apart.
The whole of the fight sequence between all of Team Arrow and The League of Assassins over the airplane is very well handled, from the duel between Tatsu and Maseo to Ray's sudden appearance in The Atom suit.
As is the trend for the penultimate episode of every season of Arrow, this episode takes its name from a Bruce Springsteen song. Given that the song is about fighting for what you love despite all the darkness in the world, it seem a fitting title given that idea is a reoccurring theme for most of the core cast in this episode all ready to fight over their respective loves.
Roy's new name in his assumed identity is Jason. This could be a reference to Jason Todd, a.k.a. The Red Hood, whom Roy partnered with in the New 52 comic Red Hood And The Outlaws.
In the comics, Roy Harper is a good mechanic.
Once again, Merlyn uses Ferris Air - the employer of Hal Jordan in the comics - to book his charter plane.
Ra's names Nyssa's mother as a woman named Ameena Raatko. In the comics, Nyssa went by the name Nyssa Raatko before she tracked down her birth father and impressed him into acknowledging her as his child, thus earning the name Nyssa Al Ghul. The comics never gave a name to Nyssa's borth mother.
The scene in which Tatsu tells Felicity of how a wounded Oliver spoke of Felicity while he was recovering mirrors a similar scene from Mike Grell's Black Arrow Saga. In that story, the assassin Shado - who cared for Oliver Queen after accidentally wounding him mortally - reported to Dinah Lance that Oliver spoke only her name while he was recovering in her care.
It is worth noting once again that, in the comics, Tatsu Yamashiro is the name of the superheroine Katana.
Meryln admires Tatsu's sword and asks if it is a Masasumne blade. Masasumne is a legendary Japanese swordsmith whose swords and daggers would - in terms of quality - be comparable to Stradivarius violins. One popular legend claims that Masasumne once made a sword so pure that it could not be used to harm the innocent and that it could only draw blood from the wicked.
Tatsu's sword in the comics is not so noble. In fact, her sword in the comic is a soul-drinking weapon that contains the souls of her son and husband.
The costume that Tatsu wears in this episode is based on the costume worn by Katana in the New 52 DC Comics Universe.
Ra's bequeaths another name to Oliver - Ibn Al Ghul. Son of The Demon. This is similar to the name of the head of the League of Assassins in the book Kingdom Come, Ibn al Xu'ffasch or Son of The Bat. This character was, it turns out, the son of Batman and Talia Al Ghul.
Vastatio is a Latin word referring to the Roman practice of systematically destroying a land in order to subjugate it and its people.
Felicity: You were completely unhinged out there tonight, Digg. You're in denial about how angry you are.
Diggle: (half-growled) No, Felicity. I'm not in denial. But I am angry!
(Diggle hits his chair arms and slowly stands, eventually speaking cooly and deliberately)
Diggle: Oliver... was my best friend. He kidnapped... my wife.
Felicity: And you think that justifies hospitalizing people?
Diggle: No, Felicity. It doesn't. You're right. It won't happen again.
Felicity: I not saying that life doesn't suck right now, but you can't go around the city taking it out on every criminal you see.
Laurel: How can you, out of all people, be so sanguine after what happened last week?
Felicity: Because I know that that wasn't Oliver!
Diggle: Now who's in denial?
Felicity: It wasn't! Our Oliver - my Oliver - died the day he joined The League! This is someone else!
Laurel: You truly believe that?
Felicity: ... I have to.
Nyssa: I would rather die than wed this pretender!
Ra's Al Ghul: You speak as though they are the only two options before you, my daughter.
(After throwing a masked assailant to the ground while walking outside of Nanda Parbat)
Oliver: You're late.
Merlyn: (removing his mask) Sorry. Nanda Parbat's not exactly the easiest place to infiltrate.
Oliver: Don't joke. (offering Merlyn a hand up) Things are worse than we thought.
Merlyn: This plan was born the moment Oliver realized he had to capitulate to Ra's to save Thea.
Diggle: And instead of sharing this plan with us, he trusted you?
Laurel: The man who had my sister murdered?
Merlyn: Well, I am better practiced in the art of deception and, no offense, none of you are particularly good actors.
Tatsu: I did not come here to convince you of the threat to your home. There is nothing I can say that you will believe more than what you have seen.
Felicity: Then why are you here?
Tatsu: To speak with you about Oliver. During his recuperation, Oliver spoke of you. Of how his last thought before the fall was of you. You love him... still.
Felicity: Oliver belongs to Ra's now.
Tatsu: If you believe that, you must fight for him!
Felicity: There is no him left.
Tatsu: I thought as you do once. My husband, Maseo, was consumed by The League's darkness. I was so convinced that he was lost to me that I didn't even try to reach him. Don't make my mistake, Felicity.
(As Laurel is being strangled, her assailant is shot in the back with two arrows at once. She looks up to see Merlyn grinning at her.)
Laurel: (glaring at Merlyn) You know I wouldn't have done the same thing for you.
Merlyn: I know.
(Maseo draws his sword and stares down Tatsu)
Maseo: Your husband is long dead. If Sarab must die as well, then so be it.
(As the plane carrying the virus begins to take off as she's trying to hack its controls)
Felicity: Oh frack!
(Suddenly, an arrow whizzes past Felicity, only to break her tablet screen)
Felicity: More frack!
(In desperation, Felicity pulls the arrow from the tablet, and throws the tablet at the archer who is shooting at her. The tablet hits him in the chest as he begins to choke in pain and fall forward. Felicity smiles, until she sees the arrow in his back and Merlyn standing off to one side.)
Felicity: Oh. That makes more sense.
(Maseo has Tatsu down and disarmed)
Maseo: Tell Akio I love him.
(Suddenly, Tatsu, spins around, grabs her sword and thrusts it up as Maseo walks into the blade)
Tatsu: You tell him for both of us.
(Maseo falls forward and Tatsu takes him into her arms)
Maseo: Thank you... for releasing me... from my prison.
Oliver; Is everyone okay?
Diggle: Like you give a damn.
Oliver: Didn't Maclolm speak to you?
Diggle: He did. So was it part of your plan to leave my daughter alone when you kidnapped my wife?
Oliver: I had to do something to prove my loyalty to Ra's.
Diggle: So taking Lyla?! That was your idea, Oliver?! In front of our daughter?!
Oliver: (long pause) Yes. You met Tatsu.
Diggle: What does that have to do with anything?
Oliver: Tatsu told me... that in order to beat Ra's I would have to sacrifice all the things in my life that I hold most precious. And your friendship is on that list.
Diggle: Oliver, you didn't just lose my friendship. You lost my trust. And you lost my respect.
Roy: Dear Thea. I wasn't supposed to make it this far. I was supposed to end up in jail or dead by now. But then I met you. And you made me want to be the man I saw through your eyes. And now all I want to do is give that back and help you be the person you can be without Oliver. Without your father. And without me. Living on the run from the police isn't the life you deserve, Thea. It's not what Oliver gave up his life for you to have. Whatever happens with me, I will always love you.
P.S. Thanks for the suit, but I always thought red was more your color anyway.
It is revealed that Maseo gave Ra's a sample of the Alpha/Omega bio-weapon in order to secure his place in The League of Assassins. He later says that he stole it before his son died, intending to use it to avenge himself directly upon General Shrieve.
Roy is now working as an auto mechanic named Jason.
Tatsu has spent most of the last five years in isolation, apart from the time spent looking after Oliver.
Thea has Merlyn steal the Arsenal suit from Starling City's lock-up to return to Roy as a gift.
Ra's names Nyssa's mother as a woman named Ameena Raatko.
Ray has now made The ATOM suit strong enough to survive the impact of a ballistic missile. He can also fly through a plane, causing it to explode, and emerge relatively intact.
Tatsu kills Maseo.
League of Assassins tradition dictates that Ra's Al Ghul may consider granting mercy to any enemies of the League he deems worthy of it upon the eve of a wedding.
Roy leaves Thea a Dear John letter along with the Arsenal suit.
General Shrieve is diabetic.
There is no cure for the Alpha/Omega virus - only a vaccine. The vaccine is ineffective on children.
The Fridge Factor
Roy denies Thea the choice of spending her life with him and seems to push her into taking up his role as Oliver's partner.
The Bottom Line
A marked improvement from last week, with a lot of great dialogue and a hell of a great action sequence in the fourth segment. It remains to be seen just how much treachery is a foot and if Merlyn's attempt to sell out Ollie was another gambit meant to insure Ra's does not see Ollie's plan coming to fruition. Next week can't come fast enough.