Previously on Arrow, Felicity told Thea that Roy is actually alive, Oliver kidnapped Lyla to trade for Nyssa in his attempts to be Demon’s pet, and Ra’s told his new heir that Al Sah-him was going to drop the Alpha and Omega bioweapon on Starling City to get rid of all traces of Oliver Queen once and for all. Oh and also marry his lesbian daughter because he wanted to go above and beyond the usual murder and mayhem of most bad guys.
Ra’s is giving Al Sah-him more details on his plans to use the Alpha and Omega to destroy Oliver Queen and everything he knew, and in doing so reveals that it was Maseo who gave the bioweapon to Ra’s in the first place, so that he could become Sarab. Luckily, Oliver had his back to Ra’s in this moment, because his face betrayed him; it is now we know for sure that Oliver is not totally brainwashed, that the Ollie we know and love is in there somewhere.
Anyway, Ra’s says it’s settled; first Oliver will marry Nyssa, then he’ll kill everyone in Starling City.
Meanwhile IN Starling City, Felicity is chatting with Diggle from the safety of her lab while Diggle chases a kid, who leads him right to his gang of gun-wielding buds. Diggle smiles and is happy to see he followed the right worker bee back to the hive and slips in ear plugs just in time for Laurel’s new favorite trick: Caw caw, motherfuckers! (Or the Canary Cry, whatever.)
Together, the two of them kick the gang’s ass, but Diggle punches the last one with a little too much zeal, earning him a Felicity scolding when they get back to home base. Felicity says he might be in denial about how pissed off he is but Diggle says he’s not in denial, he’ll shout from the rooftops about how angry he is. His best friend kidnapped his wife! His infant child was left without supervision! The only queer character left on this show is trapped in a terrifying storyline! Of course he’s angry!
Felicity says he can’t take that anger out on common criminals and Laurel asks why the hell not? She asks Felicity how she can be so sanguine about this whole situation, and I find her choice of words really interesting. First of all, because “sanguine” isn’t a word you hear every day. But also because it means “optimistic” and “positive, especially in a bad situation” but it comes from the same root as “blood” and when people first used the word “sanguine” they meant “blood-thirsty.” And I think the juxtaposition of those two definitions describe Felicity to a T. She has a blood-thirsty type of optimism. She is relentless in her determination to see the good in people, she will fight tooth and nail for that last glimmer of hope. So right now? She’s clinging to the belief that the Oliver Queen they know and love is gone. She has to believe it, she has to hold on tight. It’s the only thing keeping her from falling.
Across town, Thea is packing to find Roy. Merlyn doesn’t bother trying to stop her, and even tries to give her permission she doesn’t want or need. Malcolm asks if she’ll come back someday and she honestly isn’t sure. All she knows is that she still harbors a lot of resentment for her bio-dad, and that she needs Roy right now.
In Nanda Parbat, Ra’s is having a family dinner, with his heir and his daughter, joking around with her like Nyssa is a blushing bride and not a prisoner. Nyssa reminds Ra’s that she’s still very willing to choose death as an option over marrying Oliver Queen, but he’s not letting her off that easy.
When Nyssa scoffs at his use of the term “daughter,” he says soon she’ll be a mother instead and Nyssa looks queasy. Ra’s says Nyssa will bear Al Sah-him’s child and will have no more say in it than her mother did, proving that he’s an irredeemable monster with a long history of monsterdom. Oliver is having a hard time keeping his unease at bay; faking a marriage is one thing, because what’s marriage? A ceremony, a promise, some paperwork. If one or neither of the parties believes in it, it’s not real. Marriage is what you make it. But Oliver Queen would rather have beheaded Nyssa than rape her. He excuses himself and says he needs some air, and his exit is distraction enough for Nyssa to swipe a knife from the dinner table.
When Oliver gets outside, a guard appears and Oliver hisses that he’s late, and the guard pulls back his mask to reveal it’s Malcolm Merlyn. And just like that, Oliver Queen is back. Our Oliver. With light and worry in his eyes, desperation in his voice. He says things are worse than they thought, and instead of months before his assent to the leader of the League, they have days. They need help. Malcolm points out that Team Arrow isn’t likely to take his word for anything, but Oliver has an idea.
Felicity goes to see Ray and he asks why she looks so glum and knows it must be Oliver-related. Ray says they’re still friends so if she does ever want to talk about it, it will only be a little weird, he promises. He asks her to sign something as VP of Palmer Tech and she does it without reading it, and gets a text from Merlyn that has her excuse herself. When she leaves, Ray smiles at the papers she just signed. It was a transfer of ownership document.
Maseo finds Oliver brooding alone and explains that he stole the Alpha and Omega from the truck before they blew it up and used it to get into the League. Oliver asks him if he wants to be set free once he’s the one calling the shots, but Maseo says his prison isn’t Nanda Parbat, but something much more metaphorical and more impossible to escape.
Felicity doesn’t love the fact that Malcolm Merlyn sent an SOS text and they all responded like they were Liars or something. When Malcolm comes in, he’s met with a three-person wall of sass and anger. Merlyn tells them then that Oliver isn’t brainwashed, that he’s been faking it, but Felicity doesn’t appreciate that people keep moving the target at which she should be aiming her optimism.
They ask why, if that were true, Oliver wouldn’t have let them in on that factoid, but he points out that they’re terrible liars and even worse under pressure. They start to leave, not willing to risk being tricked by Malcolm Merlyn yet again, until Tatsu comes in and says that their city is in danger. Felicity is pretty sure they’ve never met her before, but she explains that she is all too familiar with the bioweapon at play here. Merlyn tells them when and where to be if they want to help Oliver save Starling City.