The penultimate episode of the third season of Arrow opens in a chaotic flashback. Hong Kong is in flames, the Alpha/Omega bioweapon having decimated the populace. One of the victims is Akio Yamashiro, who is slowly succumbing to the effects of Alpha/Omega. Desperate, Oliver and the Yamashiros loot a pharmacy, trying to find anything to slow Akio’s march towards death.
In the present, Ra’s al Ghul explains to Oliver that the very Alpha/Omega bioweapon that decimated Hong Kong was given to him by Maseo as an offering, a means for him to join the League of Assassins. This is the very weapon that Oliver needs to use on Starling City as the final step in his ascension to the mantle of Ra’s al Ghul.
We then cut to Diggle chasing a crook through the streets, trying to keep up the good work that Team Arrow once represented. The crook leads Diggle down a dead end alley, where the rest of his gang lie in wait. The crook remarks on Diggle’s stupidity, but it was all a ruse: Black Canary disables them with her Canary’s Cry (a sound which freaks my cats out) before starting to take them out one by one. Diggle takes it too far, however, and beats one of the gang members almost to death.
Back at Diggle’s apartment, Diggle ices his bruised knuckles while Felicity expresses her concern over Diggle’s rage. He explains that he’s furious that Oliver kidnapped Lyla and how far he’s gone to join the League. Felicity says that Oliver died the day he joined the League.
“You believe that?” Diggle asks.
“I have to,” she responds.
Malcolm goes to see Thea, who is packing her bags to go see Roy, who she found out wasn’t really dead. Malcolm, surprisingly, is okay with this, telling her that getting away will be good for her. She agrees, as she’s still pretty burned out over the whole drugged-up-assassin-who-was-killed-by-an-immortal-assassin-and brought-back-to-life thing. Who wouldn’t be?
Over in Nanda Parbat, Oliver, Ra’s, and Nyssa are sitting down for the most awkward family dinner ever. Ra’s reminds Nyssa that she and Oliver will be getting married, and that she will “continue the bloodline” by making babies with Ollie. She protests, but Ra’s tells her that she will have no more say in the matter than her own mother did. So Nyssa will have to have sex with her dead girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend. Yeesh.
Ollie says that he needs to go outside to clear his head, but he secretly meets up with Malcolm Merlyn (how far away is goddamn Nanda Parbat?), where he explains that his whole “heir to the Demon” shtick was all a ruse to try and save Thea. He fills Malcolm in one the Alpha/Omega plan, when Maseo comes wandering along. Somehow, Merlyn disappears without being caught, and he and Oliver talk about Maseo’s life in the League. Oliver offers to free Maseo from the League when he ascends, but Maseo refuses, saying that the League is not his prison. Keep notes on that comment. It’s gonna come up later, I’m sure.
Back in Hong Kong, Ollie and the Yamashiros try to save the dying Akio with over-the-counter medication. Akio coughs up the ibuprofen, and spits up a gout of blood with it. Tatsu starts weeping and singing Akio a Japanese lullaby, which makes Maseo snap. He wants to find Shrieve and see if there’s a cure to save his son. Oliver offers to go along and help him.
Thea goes to a grungy auto shop looking for “Jason.” When the shop owner points Jason out to her, it turns out to be Roy. They exchange a cover conversation before departing for Roy’s apartment to catch up.
Felicity goes to see Ray to try and vent a little about the Oliver situation, which Ray is all too willing to do. Their interlude is cut short by Malcolm Merlyn texting Felicity saying they need to meet. Before she departs, Ray has Felicity sign some paperwork which turns out to be…a transfer of ownership for Palmer Technologies! Seems like something you’d want to double check before signing, Felicity.
Merlyn meets up with Team Arrow with a revelation: Oliver has been playing Ra’s al Ghul and is trying to find a way to beat him. They don’t believe him—Malcolm Merlyn hasn’t really been fostering much trust over the past couple of seasons—but Malcolm has an ace up his sleeve. Tatsu Yamashiro enters, warning the team that Starling City is in danger. The team doesn’t really place much faith in a random stranger, but Merlyn is persistent. Diggle finally puts two and two together that Tatsu is Maseo’s estranged wife, and they take information about Alpha/Omega. Merlyn tells them that he and Tatsu are heading to Nanda Parbat, with or without the rest of the team.
Thea and Roy reconnect back at Roy’s apartment in more ways than one. Thea brought Roy’s Arsenal suit to help him scratch his vigilante itch—remember, the world thought that Roy was the Arrow—and the two of them have sex. CW, ladies and gentlemen!
The team views archival footage of the Hong Kong attack, which was covered up as a “chemical spill.” Felicity remains skeptical of Merlyn and his motivations, but Laurel and Diggle decide that they are going to try and help Merlyn and Tatsu stop Ra’s Alpha/Omega attack.
Meanwhile, in Nanda Parbat, Ra’s visits Nyssa in her chamber. He tells her about his love affair with her mother and how she became his concubine (Gross, Ra’s!), and offers Nyssa her mother’s jewelry as a wedding gift. She refuses, but Ra’s reminds her that she will marry Oliver, for it is his will. Nothing gets a girl more in the wedding spirit than talking about how you boned her mom. You’ve still got a lot to learn about fatherhood, Ra’s!
Flashing back to Hong Kong, Ollie and Maseo make their way to Shrieve’s base, but find that Shrieve has doubled up on security. Maseo reminds Oliver why he brought him along: he has a killer instinct, and he needs to tap into it to try and save Akio. Oliver is all too willing to oblige, and drops Shrieve’s men with a volley of arrows.
Tatsu and Malcolm go to Ferris Air (Green Lantern reference!) to depart for Nanda Parbat, when the rest of the team shows up. They pack up to leave, and we get a quick peek inside of Tatsu’s luggage, and her comic mask peeks back at us. Neat!
Well, we get to see Tatsu in her full comic get up in the very next scene as her alter-ego Katana. The team arrives in Nanda Parbat to try and find the remote-controlled drone that will spread the Alpha/Omega over Starling City. They find it quickly, and Felicity has to try and hack it. It will be a difficult task, as the League shows up and attacks. Maseo and Katana confront one another, and she tries to reason with Maseo, telling him it’s not too late to come back. “Yes, it is,” he responds.
Felicity fails in hacking the plane—the stray arrow that shattered her tablet saw to that—but she called in an insurance policy. Ray Palmer enters in his Atom suit and shoots the drone. It isn’t enough, so he takes a more direct approach, flying through the plane and exploding it in midair, which unfortunately damages his suit in the process.
Maseo and Katana continue their fight, and Maseo gets the upper hand over his wife. He hesitates in killing her, and she takes the opportunity to run him through with her sword. “Thank you for releasing me from my prison,” he declares with his dying breath, and Tatsu responds by singing the same Japanese lullaby she sang to Akio. Jesus, there’s a lot of pollen coming in through my window…making my eyes water…
It’s all for naught, however, as Ra’s and Ollie show up, telling the team that the drone was nothing more than a decoy intended to draw them out. Oliver gives them an ultimatum: surrender or die.
They get scuttled back to the temple, where Ra’s grills them about their informant, as only a League insider could have told them about the Alpha/Omega. Tatsu explains that Maseo fed them the information, but Ra’s believes that is a ruse (um, it is). Ra’s tells them that he is feeling merciful, however, as it is the eve of a wedding. Oliver explains that he is betrothed to Nyssa, which doesn’t seem to sit too well with Felicity.
Roy and Thea share a post-coital cuddle, and Thea tells him about her experience in the Lazarus Pit. Roy notes that Thea tends to run away from her problems, but that he only wants what’s best for her. CW!
The team is locked up in Nanda Parbat, but Diggle is summoned from the cell to speak with Wareeth al Ghul (Ollie’s sweet new title). Diggle goes to see Oliver, who tries to explain his motivations behind his actions. His words fall on deaf ears, as Diggle tells Oliver that his actions—particularly kidnapping Lyla—made him lose trust in Oliver.
Returning to our flashback, Ollie and Maseo corner Shrieve in the base, demanding a cure for Akio. Instead, Shrieve goes on a paranoid rant on the power China holds over the US. Tired of his Fox News-esque rant, Maseo shoots Shrieve through the shoulder, which makes him reveal the location of the cure. He warns them that the cure has to be delivered in an exact ratio, so Oliver and Maseo tell him that he’s coming with them to make sure Akio pulls through.
Ra’s confronts Malcolm, certain that he was the leak that led Team Arrow to Nanda Parbat (he was), but Malcolm falls back on his old cowardly habits: he sells Oliver out, explaining that Oliver is playing Ra’s. Oliver enters and declares his loyalty to Ra’s, who doubts his fealty.
Thea wakes up in Roy’s apartment alone, and heads to the auto shop to see what happened. Roy’s boss hands her a note, where Roy declares that he loves Thea too much for her to constantly be living on the run with him, as she is just starting to come into her own. D’aww.
Back in Nanda Parbat, Malcolm is thrown into the cell with the rest of the team, and Oliver takes drastic measures to earn Ra’s al Ghul’s trust: he throws a vial of Alpha/Omega into the cell with them and seals the door behind him, leaving them to die.
One final flashback, and Ollie and Maseo drag Shrieve back to the pharmacy to administer the cure to Akio, but it’s too late. Akio succumbed to the Alpha/Omega while Oliver and Maseo were gone. Shrieve then reveals that there is no cure, and that it was all a trap in order to try and bring them out of hiding. The scene ends with a cluster of red sniper dots peppering Oliver and Maseo, signifying Shrieve’s men having pinned them down in the pharmacy.
Finally, the wedding is happening. “Before the night is over,” Ra’s al Ghul tells Oliver, “you will be Ibn al Ghul, Son of the Demon.” The wedding ceremony proceeds, with Oliver’s teammates dying of exposure to Alpha/Omega in their cell…
While I appreciate the attempts at finally picking up the pace, the rhythm in this episode feels rushed to a fault. There’s one episode left in the season to wrap up this entire arc, which means that in 40-odd minutes Team Arrow needs to be saved (it’s not likely they’re getting killed off), Oliver needs to disable or dispatch Ra’s, and then there’s the whole matter of the League potentially being left rudderless. I’m feeling pretty cynical, but the pacing on this season as a whole has been awful. Lesser aspects of the story unfurled at a snail’s pace, but more intense story elements (i.e. Roy’s incarceration/faked death/escape) were resolved in a heartbeat. Honestly, I’m not looking forward to where this last episode is going to take us, but I at least hope I can be pleasantly surprised.