Arrow returned this week with the shocking conclusion it had promised; but not necessarily the one we though – or wanted. After seasons of seeing people grow, this episode finally addressed the issue of “Can people really change?”. Apart from Oliver, we’ve seen Malcolm and Nyssa both struggle with this quest and this episode added more fuel to that fire as Felicity’s father tried to return to her life. Who changed? Who didn’t? If you watched, the answer is pretty apparent; but even so there were some particular nuances of this episode that still didn’t sit exactly right. Was this poor planning or are we to expect another Malcolm/Oliver team up?
We’ll find out now, as we take a Closer Look at Arrow “Sins Of The Father” and look ahead to what’s coming next!
Dealing With “Sins Of The Father” – Episode Theme:
It’s not exactly hard to see why this week’s episode was called “Sins of the father”. Whether you were Thea/Ollie, Nyssa or Felicity, you had to deal with the sins of your father and whether or not you can move past them. Malcolm’s end has been toyed with for the past several seasons and this episode brought him right up to the precipice of salvation before casting him in the darkest of lights. From seeing how he’s cared about Thea and helped Oliver in the past to hearing him talk about the first time he saw baby Thea, it truly seemed as though Malcolm would make good on his promise: “there’s nothing he wouldn’t do to protect his daughter”. And it was true, unless that other thing happens to be power.
It’s never explored WHY Malcolm is so set on controlling the League as Nyssa’s eventual dissolvent of the League cancels out Malcolm’s previous argument about trusting the daughter of the Demon Head. Perhaps he feels an entity of this much control needs to be around. Perhaps he feels without it there is nothing but utter chaos. It might not be clear WHY Malcolm feels the way he does, but his final act seems to damn this character beyond any hope of salvation… is it bad that we still like him though?
On the other end of the spectrum, we find Nyssa who all episode was seemingly getting crueler and crueler like her father before her. Similarly to how Malcolm was built up before torn down, Nyssa seemed to be scouring the darkest pits before bringing back that spark we once saw in her when she was with Laurel. By destroying the League in the end and healing Thea, it’s almost as though the whole League story arc never happened. Although whereas Malcolm and Nyssa’s role were quite apparent, the final member of this trifecta – Felicity’s father – is still up for grabs.
Exploring the role of Felicity’s dad might not seem like something of major importance – for now? – it did tie in perfectly to this episode’s theme. Was he still the same man who left? Did he return to steal something from her or did his battle with his vigilante daughter show him that there could be better places to spend his time and talent. It was also quite fitting that both Malcolm and ‘the Calculator’ stories began quite bright and then ended with a major betray (Ollie betrayed Malcolm, Felicity hands over her father). Will the parallels continue and Felicity’s dad strikes out in vengeance? Who knows; but this certainly isn’t the last we’ve seen of the Papa Smoak drama.
So About That Final Battle… – Staged Or Screw Up?:
If you’re like me, you had to rewatch the second half of this episode because something(s) felt very off. After we saw Oliver and Malcolm talking about finding a 3rd path, we find Oliver accepting to dual Malcolm instead of Nyssa – ironically enough what Nyssa wanted from the beginning. The excuse he used of wanted to protect his wife and preferring to see Malcolm die than her seemed … insincere. It seemed like he was actually setting Nyssa up for a betrayal and praying upon her adherence to their non-binding marriage.
As the fight began and ended – almost at the same time – this idea was strengthened as it seemed like this whole turn of events was part of Malcolm and Oliver’s plan. After all, how could ‘the man who beat Oliver so seriously in Season 1 and in recent episodes almost defeated Damian Darhk when Oliver could barely harm him’ BE BEATED so easily? There was the moment… the moment to spring the ruse to Nyssa and then…. Oliver cut Malcolm’s hand off. . . . Okay, maybe this was still part of the plan in some odd way. Maybe we’d hear Malcolm’s adherence to doing anything for his daughter, but then he threatened everyone Oliver loved and make his life a living hell.
Though to be fair, we’d seen Oliver pretend pretty Darhk and evil things last season, perhaps this was still part of the plan. Oh wait, Malcolm just revealed the existence of Oliver’s son William to Damian Darhk… Ok, it wasn’t a plan. But then HOW and WHY did all that awkward set up go the way it went? There COULD still be a plan; but using his son as bait to lure out Darhk is something Oliver would never do. A more likely outcome is the answer we’ve been seeking for months now – and just recently started to re-examine.
Re-Analyzing The Flashforward – Who’s Dead & Who’s He?:
So let’s re-examine the facts. Where we last left off we deducted that:
- The person in the grave was someone that would bring tears to both Oliver and Felicity
- It was someone that Barry knew – but not SUPER well, like Felicity
- This character’s death was enough to spur Oliver and Felicity to say “kill HIM”.
We of course know that it’s not Felicity in the grave and the top of my suspect list is still sadly Diggle; but as we noted last time: Oliver never says he’s going to kill Darhk. It seemed impossible that Malcolm could do something so bad in such short a time that it’d make Oliver kill Thea’s dad; but after this episode that theory becomes more plausible. Is the body in the grave that of Oliver’s son? And if so, who will Oliver vow to kill? Is Darhk still the architect behind Oliver’s misery (first trying to kill Felicity and now succeeding in killing William)? Or has Malcolm finally done the one thing Oliver cannot forgive?
If it is Malcolm who kills William, then it’s rather sad that this episode’s moral victory for Oliver (finding a way to not kill anyone) will ultimately result in him being a killer again.
Rapid Fire – Easter Eggs, Quotes & Other Notables:
- Whereas I’m intrigued about this season’s flashback story; everything about the Taiana portions just seems horribly rushed. As if hearing that Oliver loves her wasn’t jumpy enough, this episode we saw Taiana go from hating him to caring for him again way too fast. We’ve seen Oliver love some amazing awesome women in the past, but Taiana is at best bland and at worst an idiot – at least when it comes to bargaining. . .
- Seeing Momma Smoak go from the usual flirty wildfire to the serious single mom was actually a really great touch; and definitely served as the catalyst for us not trusting anything about Papa Smoak. Though was this passion spot on or is there a redeemable quality for him. Again, only time will tell.
- The League may have been disbanded; but hopefully Nyssa will stick around because she really is an amazing character.
It’s hard to fully rate this episode as some aspects made it the weakest of the season thus far; but others also made it the most climactic and ground shaking. Though perhaps that was the point – to quickly escalate things towards an even bigger climax. Darhk knows one of Oliver’s deepest secrets now – but is it the biggest. It might not be ‘his identity’ but the revelation of William is not only a weakness for Oliver in regards of safety; but also has the potential to harpoon his relationship with Felicity – like it did in the original timeline Barry rewrote during the Arrow/Flash crossover.
Will history repeat itself or has history yet to be written? We’ll find out in the coming weeks. So stay tuned for the next episode and our next “Looking Ahead”!