The Arrow targets Nyssa.
Tonight’s episode served a lot of story needs heading toward the end of the season, as well as serving as a pretty entertaining hour in and of itself, which is saying something as the main character (Oliver Queen) is absent from Starling City for much of the proceedings, as the episode is basically carried by John Diggle.
Oliver’s story (FYI, hereafter for this recap being mostly referred to by his new name, Al Sah-Him) begins during his indoctrination into the League of Assassins, where through torture, sensory deprivation, starvation, and extreme training the man is basically brainwashed into becoming Al Sah-Him, the loyal and dark member of the League, the next Heir to the Demon. We see evidence of his transformation when Maseo brings in John Diggle, who he claimed had returned on another rescue mission. Al Sah-Him hands Dig a sword, claiming he will not kill an unarmed man, and bests him in combat, ending by driving a sword through Diggle’s heart (a little heavy on the metaphor ‘Arrow’ writers). We learn it was not actually John Diggle but a hallucination brought on by a drug Ras has been feeding Al Sah-Him, but his performance and actions have proven to Ras that Al Sah-Him’s transformation is complete, and he is ready to get down to work. Ras takes Al Sah-Him to his former home, a destroyed village in the snow, explaining that when he rose to become Heir to the Demon, he had a rival named Damien Darhk that Ras was not quick enough to kill, a man who now heads up HIVE and is responsible for the death of John Diggle’s brother, and attempting to buy Merlyn’s earthquake machine. Ras claims that Al Sah-Him has a similar rival, and he does not want that person to become a problem for Al Sah-Him. He is of course speaking of Nyssa, and he sends Al Sah-Him to take her down in Starling City, along with Maseo and a compliment of assassins.
Back in Starling City, we see the Black Canary taking down a mugger, being saved from a miscalculation regarding the man’s knife by Nyssa, who is still training Laurel. Afterwards, they have a meal at a local diner, with Laurel introducing the woman to a black and white milkshake, and the joys of dipping french fries into the shake. Nyssa reveals the past few weeks have been the happiest of her life (happier than her times with Sara, seems odd), but the moment is ruined when Laurel reveals to her that Oliver accepted the offer from the League of Assassins (clearly Laurel learned nothing from the aftermath of lying to her father.) Nyssa is angry and scared, and after they leave the diner, tells Laurel they will be coming to kill her, knowing that Ras will not allow his new heir to have a challenger.
Meanwhile Felicity and Diggle are still fighting crime, taking breaks for team meals at Dig’s house, to visit Lyla and little Sara, and for everyone to cope with the loss of Oliver. Thea joins as well, Dig and Felicity clearly becoming surrogate family for her in Oliver’s absence, and as they sit around the table we learn one important fact: #1 dinner time rule at Diggle’s house is “no glocks on the table.” Felicity suggests that if John is going to continue going out fighting crime they create him some kind of uniform (John balks at the idea of a costume), but it does tease possibilities, as there’s been many rumors of late about which costumed hero Diggle could become, from the most lauded rumor that he’s John Stewart Diggle (aka Green Lantern) all the way to one rumor I heard about John becoming the hero Steel. The group reminiscences about Oliver, ending with the group knowing the best way to keep his memory going is through the good work they do.
Later, the team reconvenes at the new Headquarters (Palmer Technologies), where Laurel fills them in on Nyssa’s plight. They decide to help Nyssa, with Felicity and Diggle not believing that Oliver would actually come back to Starling City to hunt her down, not wanting to believe that he was brainwashed, which is what Nyssa warns them happens to new recruits. Nyssa finds Oliver at the spot where Sara died, and they battle, Al Sah-Him hardly using his bow as he attacks her with his sword. He is about to deal the final blow to her, when Diggle and Black Canary reveal themselves, Laurel using her new Canary Cry vocal enhancement to get his attention (to find out where that little toy came from, you have to watch last week’s ‘The Flash.’) Al Sah-Him leaves Nyssa behind and retreats, finding Maseo and his team later, who ask whether or not those people are still his friends.
In answer, we learn that Al Sah-Him has kidnapped Diggle’s wife Lyla, calling Diggle and telling him to bring Nyssa to exchange for his wife. Incensed, Diggle demands that they turn over Nyssa, not wanting anything to happen to Lyla and pissed that Al Sah-Him and the League crossed a line. Laurel reminds John that they would be worse than Oliver if they handed over Nyssa without trying to save her.
Thea meanwhile, is frustrated that they lost Oliver because of her, and after a visit from Felicity wherein she learned Roy is still alive, and only a phone call away (and that she could potentially leave Starling City and join Roy in his new life), we see her invite Merlyn over to talk, seeing what he knows about Oliver being in town, and about the brainwashing techniques of the League. Thea sympathizes with her brother since she was forced to murder after being brainwashed, (and throws that in Merlyn’s face), and demands his help. Right before we cut away from the scene, Merlyn asks her what he can do to help. Lyla meanwhile, even while bound and in the League’s custody, is attempting to break through to Oliver, telling him how Oliver’s quest saved Diggle from the pain he was in following his brother’s death, and how much Oliver and his friendship means to her husband. Al Sah-Him does not change his mind, but hopefully her words will be remembered by him in the coming weeks.
In another abandoned Starling City warehouse, the two teams meet for the exchange, Nyssa willingly going with Al Sah-Him in order to save Lyla. However, as soon as they get Lyla back, Felicity hands her a gun, and a battle ensues. It does not go great for the Quiver Crew, with Lyla not faring well against League men, Felicity not able to do much, Dig taking on Al Sah-Him and barely holding his own, and Nyssa being recaptured after she is distracted by Laurel being struck. The fight ends with Al Sah-Him about to land a killing blow on Diggle, stopped when an arrow goes through his arm, fired by Thea. She demands that he leave Diggle alone, or the next arrow will go through his eye. Al Sah-Him barely seems to recognize his sister, but he heeds her warning, breaking the end off the arrow shaft in his arm and retreating, still the victor though as they now have Nyssa.
In tonight’s flashbacks (still not great, but at least we see the connection to the present now), Maseo, Tatsu and Oliver destroy a truck trying to further infect citizens with the virus, and head back to the safe-house to grab Akiro and escape Hong Kong, knowing they’re all safe from the virus as they took the stolen inoculations last week.They make it through the chaos and finally steal a car, but Tatsu notices blood coming from her son’s mouth, and they all realize that Akiro has been infected by the virus, though whether or not it is the virus that kills the boy is not revealed this week.
Back in Nanda Parbat, Ras reveals that he wanted Nyssa returned because she has a vial in her sword that she stole from the League. He shows mercy to his bested daughter, claiming killing her after she was so thoroughly beaten would only be gluttony. He then states that it would be better to unite their houses, and decrees that Al Sah-Him and Nyssa will wed, and she will become the Bride to the Demon. Ras also reveals that the vial itself is a sample of the Alpha-Omega virus (FINALLY tying the terrible flashbacks to the present), and that just as Ras had to destroy his home village to complete his ascension to the head of the League, so too does Al Sah-Him need to destroy Starling City (using the virus of course) to complete his journey.
– I’m not convinced yet that Akiro truly dies, only that his parents think he did. I think Akiro still being alive (and perhaps with HIVE) will inspire Maseo to fight back against the League, and that Maseo will be the key to saving Oliver from his fate.
– Thea wants to join the team, and the others are not sure of it. I’m guessing by next season she will be Oliver’s new sidekick.
– Are we actually seeing a love story develop with Laurel and Nyssa? Or is it just a close friendship? We all know how Nyssa’s last relationship with a Lance went.
-No Captain Lance this episode, though when Oliver returns with a virus designed to destroy the city, I’m sure he’ll be around to point out that he told Oliver that he only brings death.
– Another HIVE mention, the show is certainly doing their best to set up next season’s storyline.
– Felicity crying alone in the battered and abandoned Arrow Cave was one of my favorite moments of the episode, as it will make it that much more powerful and meaningful when the team reclaims their former base of operations with Oliver as their leader.
Pretty fantastic episode, and I love that they didn’t “fix” Oliver this week, meaning that he is essentially the big villain for the season finale episodes, a nice twist that builds upon how much the team has had to survive with Oliver either absent, or unable to help this season. Looking forward to where the show is heading!