Arrow: “This is Your Sword” Season 3 Episode 22 Review

The Flash may have taken its light tone and run with it while Daredevil has the aesthetic of an award winning drama, but there’s no question that Arrow is still the king of live-action superhero television. “This is Your Sword” was a masterful episode for how it brought everything going on this season together in a surprisingly cohesive manner. Drama ensued.

Sure, Ra’s al Ghul hasn’t blown up half of Starling City or taken it over with an army of super soldiers, but the stakes are at an all-time emotional high. The characters’ personal lives are so smartly intwined with the fate of Starling City this year.

The Demon’s Head may not be attacking the city just yet, but the flashbacks are finally matching up with the present to show the carnage the bioweapon will inflict on the Starling. But these scenes aren’t just fueling the present, they’re showing how a loving marriage crumbled at the death of their son. If there’s one criticism I have, it’s that their son’s death maybe should have been shown before Maseo and Tatsu, in her full Katana costume, had their climactic duel in the present. But I’m still so glad to have the flashbacks finally feeling like they matter. Better late than never, I suppose.

But back to the current happenings of these characters. It still hasn’t gotten old to watch Team Arrow growing in Oliver’s absence. Diggle and Laurel are in the field, and the latter appears to finally be up to par with the rest of her team in battle. Surely the Canary Cry continues to be of service.

We learn at the top of the episode that Oliver has actually entrusted Malcolm with the fact that he’s still working to bring down Ra’s. Malcolm actually makes sense because he’s outside of the core team and has the closest relationship to the league. But with Ra’s’ plan revealed, it’s time to act. Malcolm enlists Tatsu as a new ally to Team Arrow. She proposes that they sneak to Nanda Parbat to destroy the plane that will carry the bioweapon to Starling City.

The ensuing battle honestly didn’t feel that different from what we all likely watched in Avengers: Age of Ultron this past weekend, even if it didn’t look nearly as expensive (TV budget constraints and all). But every member of the team, all varied in skill, had their moment to shine in what was easily Arrow‘s best action sequence ever. I have to admit, I got a pretty heavy dose of chills with that shot panning as the assassins surrounded them. Just plain epic.

Specifically, Diggle had some pretty badass moments (that gunshot right to the chest!), while Laurel was able to hold her own. Malcolm had some great moments taking out several assassins at once. But the true highlights went to Arrow‘s newest heroes. Katana’s duel with her former husband was emotionally charged, to the point where Maseo’s death as she held him had me misty-eyed. Then there was ATOM flying in and taking out the plane after Felicity failed to stop it with hacking. Just all around, this was pretty outstanding.

They get caught of course. The episode ends in such a dark place, with Ra’s throwing a vile of the bioweapon into their prison cell leaving all of Oliver’s old team to die. Meanwhile, Oliver and Nyssa are being forced to wed. I kept waiting for the bride and groom to pull some move, but it never came. Oliver even stopped Nyssa’s knife. What a mess, I can’t imagine how this will all be fixed next week.

The only characters removed from the main action were Thea and Roy, “This is Your Sword” providing a much more rewarding goodbye to the Arrow’s former sidekick than “Broken Arrow” did. After all, Thea is really the only reason Roy ended up at Oliver’s side anyway. She tries to deliver him his Arsenal costume, but he leaves again and starts anew somewhere else. His letter summed up his time on the show pretty neatly, but also hinted at big things for Thea’s future. I seriously look forward to seeing her in action as the new Arsenal, if that’s even her name.

“This is Your Sword” was as perfect as a penultimate episode could be. The flashbacks finally started working in the show’s favor, while the drama between the characters is better than ever. But so is the action! It’s going to be a very long week waiting for the finale, but with some big character moves on the horizon, all things point to it being a grand one. Grade: A

 

Some Other Thought Bubbles:

– In an outstanding moment of pure comic book comedy, Felicity threw the tablet she was using to hack the plane at an assassin, hitting him right in the neck. She smiles as she thinks she killed him, but the body falls to reveal arrows in his back and Malcolm smirking from afar. A small moment of brilliance from a show that started as a cheap imitation of The Dark Knight.

– You’ve got to give credit to the show for not holding back on Katana. The costume and mask were lifted straight from the comics and fit the show’s world well. More and more frequently, Arrow goes all out and lands on its feet.

– I wonder what role Malcolm will play after this season, if he survives it. But without his history to the League of Assassins, I wonder how he could fit into next season without just becoming a full-fledged member of Team Arrow.

– We haven’t seen Captain Lance for two full episodes now. Will his role in the finale be minimal or massive?

– It’s rather forward thinking to have a female become the the main superhero sidekick. Speedy/Arsenal/Red Arrow has traditionally been male since the character was created in 1941, always being Roy Harper. That changed in 2001 when Mia Dearden was introduced as the new Speedy. Funnily enough, Dearden is actually Thea’s middle name on the show, and she called herself Mia while training with Malcolm in Corto Maltese. This has clearly been the plan all along and I never saw it coming. I’m very impressed.

 

By Matt Dougherty

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