Arrow: This is Your Sword review

"This is Your Sword" might be the most ambitious episode of Arrow season 3. Here's Mike's review....

This Arrow review contains spoilers.

So, after last year’s multi-part city under siege slugfest, the Arrow season three finale looks like it’s going in a very different direction. At least, that’s what I have to assume after “This is Your Sword.” It was all out war on the penultimate episode of Arrow season two, but here in season three, even with most of the action taking place in Nanda Parbat, things were positively quiet.

Well, quiet is relative in this world.

Really, “This is Your Sword” is anything but quiet. I maintain that it might just be the most ambitious episode Arrow has ever attempted. It doesn’t always pull it off, but to deviate so much from the usual season finale formula to stick with intrigue and character moments is pretty gutsy.

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It’s funny how on last night’s episode of The Flash, they used a scene with Iris to explain the absolute lunacy of the concept of a secret identity. But tonight, Felicity explaining to Diggle why his behavior was unacceptable flirts with kind of exposing why vigilantism in general isn’t really the sanest solutions to life’s problems. 

Matt Nable has become a more and more capable Ra’s al Ghul over the course of the season, and as one tends to do with good villains, I’ve found myself liking him. You know, genocidal ambitions aside. 

That wasn’t the case this week. Maybe it’s forcing his daughter to marry someone she doesn’t love despite her wishes, or even her sexual orientation. Maybe it’s the way he casually talks about what is basically a proud tradition of rape in his relationships. Either way, I’m ready for somebody, preferrably Nyssa, to make sure Ra’s needs a dip in the nearest Lazarus Pit next week. Is there any chance at all that Nyssa is also in on the plan and even her attempt on Ollie’s life was for show?

Now, as for that insane cliffhanger…

I have to assume that Merlyn, master of deception that he is, is pulling a ridiculous quadruple cross here. All of this has to be going according to plan, because that was some proper Republic Pictures serial cliffhanger-ing going on there. Without the revelation that even Merlyn’s most recent betrayal is part of the grand scheme, I would just have to assume that Arrow will be saving on salaries in season four.

Since that clearly isn’t the case, though, let’s just take a moment to hope that Tatsu Yamashiro/Katana is going to be a permanent addition to the team next year. She looks pretty cool this week, although suddenly busting out a costume along with the ceremonial sword felt a little rushed. Maybe her story will become a major component of next season’s flashbacks or something.

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I also take a little issue with how easily Oliver has fooled Ra’s al Ghul. While Ollie has no trouble bullshitting civilians, you’d think a guy who is at least a hundred years old and who has basically built his whole reputation on subterfuge, would be a little bit sharper. The logic that Ra’s “has no reason to” suspect Ollie doesn’t fly, either. Oliver should be under constant suspicion until he’s done something utterly horrifying to prove his loyalty…and he’s always managed to stop just short.

I don’t want to make it sound like this episode was all introspection, though, because there’s plenty of action to go around. In fact, this is probably the largest supporting cast that can actually deliver on the action that’s ever been put in the field…especially when the field in question is Nanda Parbat instead of the streets of Starling City. And in all that action, none of it involves the show’s title character. You have to admit, they aren’t playing this safe.

The Atom flying to the rescue looked pretty good, and I don’t think they’ll have any trouble with him carrying his own show. I sometimes wonder if I’m just conditioned to expect the special effects on The Flash and when they show up on Arrow it’s ore of a surprise or something. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Atom looks cool, even if I do hope they transition him away from this Iron Man schtick, because it’s getting to be a little much.

I’ve kinda come around to Laurel as the Canary, though. The Canary Cry is appropriate for this show, and then watching her operate in Nanda Parbat, where there’s no need for additional disguise, was kind of refreshing. I’d like to see if they can find a way around that ridiculous wig for next year.

Meanwhile…on an Island

So, we know that the flashbacks are basically on a five year plan. Oliver spent five years in exile before season one, so it’ll take that long for them to catch up. Now, stick with me for a minute. It’s been awhile since I watched Arrow season one, but I seem to remember that the flashbacks during season one took awhile to get going, too. 

Ultimately, Oliver spent two years on the island, and season two’s flashbacks were much more substantial. Maybe the Hong Kong diversion was a two year plan, as well. The return of Shrieve was well-timed, though, and that should help make this all pay off. Assuming he survives, I could see him becoming the major antagonist of next year’s flashbacks.

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DC Universe Watchtower

– Roy takes on the name “Jason” and becomes a mechanic. I kinda feel like this is a nod to second Robin Jason Todd and his penchant for stealing the Batmobile’s hubcaps. Or it could just be, y’know, a name.

– He’s hiding out in Monument Point, which in the DC Universe is kinda near Washington DC, and it was the home of the Justice Society for a bit. I don’t think we’ll be spending much time here

– Once again, Ferris Air shows up. But seriously, how many times do these people fly back and forth to Nanda Parbat? They’re taking these minimum 14 hour flights like they’re nothing!

– Anybody have any ideas about what the safe combination of “4587” might be? And no, I couldn’t find any way to make it turn into “52.” BUT…

– On Felicity’s tablet when she first tries to hack the plane, something on there is sitting at 52%.

– Hey, remember when Speedy was just an affectionate nickname and/or a fun allusion to Thea’s love of recreational drugs? Hope you’re ready for season four…or the season finale. 

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4 out of 5