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Arrow - Sins of the Father - Review

Arrow, “Sins of the Father,” was written by the team of Ben Sokolowski and Keto Shimizu and was directed by Gordon Verhuel, who’s perhaps better known as the cinematographer on the show. I really liked how the theme of fathers was woven throughout the episode.

It was hilarious that Nyssa (Katrina Law) kept insisting that Oliver (Stephen Amell) was her husband. It is her father, Ra’s al Ghul who started most of the balls rolling. Clearly, he wasn’t a good father to her, and he also killed Thea (Willa Holland). But then Thea’s father, Malcolm (John Barrowman) usurped the position of Ra’s from Nyssa and also drugged Thea and had her kill Sara. Oliver also muses on his own father’s nefarious throwing in with Merlyn on business deals.

Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) is trying to determine what, if any, kind of relationship she wants with her father, Noah Kuttler (Tom Amandes). He tries to explain why he left. I loved Felicity’s comment that she figured he was doing time for petty theft because “anything else requires commitment!” At the end of their super awkward meeting, Noah reveals that he knows that Felicity is Overwatch!

He tells her that his employer isn’t a diabolical bad guy – he’s certainly no worse than a vigilante. Noah also insists that he just wants to prove that he’s not a bad guy, and he gives her a thumb drive with all of his best hacks on it. He tells her it’s just the first step on the long road to win her trust.

I like that Oliver agonized over doing anything to jeopardize Malcolm because at the end of the day, he’s Thea’s father regardless of what he might have done. He draws a parallel to how regardless of what his own father did, he’d always want him back. He won’t deny that possibility to Thea. Oliver is determined to try to solve this problem with diplomacy.

Malcolm has some great lines in the episode, such as “I’ve been holding off telling you this for years. You’re very handsome, but not especially bright.” Malcolm insists that he’d do anything to save his daughter, but isn’t prepared to meet with Nyssa.

Laurel (Katie Cassidy) tries to persuade Nyssa to meet with Malcolm, and Nyssa proves to be more willing to try. Nyssa tells Laurel to get Malcolm to agree or her Assassins will attack. Oliver also goes to Nyssa – as she’s training and showing more mercy to her men than her father did in a similar situation. She tells Oliver that it’s na├»ve to think the leadership can be resolved without bloodshed, but she gives him a good faith sample of the Lotus to try on Thea. It’s not enough to cure but just to prove it’s efficacy.

They’ve  brought Thea to the lair, and Malcolm shows up to watch. As soon as it’s clear that it worked, Malcolm wants to know what the term are. When push comes to shove, however, Malcolm refuses to give Nyssa the ring, instead inciting bloodshed all over the city in skirmishes between pockets of assassins. Oliver can’t believe that Malcolm would choose the ring over Thea. Laurel points out that just because Oliver has changed, it doesn’t mean that everyone else has too.

Donna (Charlotte Ross) arrives at the apartment and knows instantly that something is amiss with Felicity. Felicity tells her Noah is in Star City. It’s completely understandable that Felicity wants her Dad to be better than she know he is. She asks Donna if it’s possible that he’s not as bad as they thought. Donna tells her that he will tell her exactly what she wants to hear and then he’ll pull the rug out from under you. And really, that’s what con men are best at.

Felicity takes Noah to Palmer Technologies and shows off all of Curtis cutting edge research. They talk about baby steps to trust, but Felicity is setting him up. It’s all a test. She later tells Oliver that she gave Noah unrestricted access to the R&D lab and Noah flunked the test. Oliver says “you’re hoping he’s the parent you always wanted. The one you deserve.” And Felicity responds that people don’t change – yet we see that many of our heroes have broken away from their parents, and it’s emphasized in the episode just how much Oliver has changed.

Both Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity tell Oliver that he needs to kill Malcolm. Diggle tells Oliver to use the hate to do what needs to be done. Laurel confronts Nyssa – this time as Black Canary which comes in handy when they end up in the middle of one of the skirmishes. She uses the Canary scream to help save Nyssa and some of the innocent bystanders. Diggle and Oliver arrive because the plan is to take Nyssa prisoner.

Laurel goes to Nyssa who is back in her cage. She wants the Lotus. Laurel tells Nyssa that letting people die for a lost cause isn’t who Nyssa is – It’s who Nyssa’s father was. She tells Nyssa she can be free from his shadow.

Oliver still holds out hope that Malcolm will love Thea enough to try to have a normal relationship with her. Malcolm is with Thea in the lair. He talks about meeting her when she was 4 months old. The housekeeper brought her with her when she came to pick Oliver up from the Merlyn’s. Malcolm stuck his head in the bassinet and Thea stuck her tongue out at him. Barrowman is simply wonderful in this scene. He turns on a dime from doting father to bad guy.

Malcolm tells Oliver that he remains ignorant of the League’s true nature. It’s a silent force that influences global forces. And this part has me worried. What happens now that the League is gone? What checks and balances will have been lost? Most importantly, however, Malcolm appeals to Oliver as a father. He tells him he knows about William – Oliver’s son. He knows that Oliver would sacrifice Star City to save his son. There is a clear threat implicit in Malcolm’s disclosure.

Oliver proposes trial by combat with Nyssa. We’ve heard all episode that Nyssa can’t defeat Malcolm, and Malcolm says it will result in her death. Oliver says she backed everyone into a corner.

The trial by combat proceeds. Nyssa is not happy but is given no choice. And then Oliver claims his right – as her HUSBAND – to fight on Nyssa’s behalf. He does say that they are married only in the eyes of the League, so I guess the ultimate destruction of the League is an annulment? Felicity’s face at Oliver’s announcement clearly indicates that Oliver hasn’t shared his plans with anyone.

Malcolm goes from cocky to worried. Malcolm was prepared to forego Nyssa fighting bare-chested but why should Oliver? LOL! I suspect that unlike the Ra’s/Oliver fight from last season, Barrowman’s body double needed to stay dressed! In the end, Oliver defeats Malcolm but only takes his hand and the ring – not his life. It was a terrific twist for me, but I was a bit sad that this clearly pushes Malcolm into the realm of bad guy. It’s hard to believe there can be any redemption for him now.

Nyssa gives up the Lotus, and Thea is healed. Laurel and Oliver go to Nyssa, and she tells Laurel that she showed her what she needed to do to be free. She destroys the ring and disbands the League – She tells them “No one will be held prisoner by my father anymore.” Malcolm is beyond angry when he arrives to see it. He tells Oliver he thought of him once as a son – another father/son relationship! Now, death would be a mercy because of the debt Malcolm now owes Oliver. Oliver stands his ground and tells Malcolm not to threaten him.

Felicity also pushes her father out of her life. He comes to Palmer to bring her a portable ramp, and she tells him she wanted to say good bye. She tells him she wanted to know her whole life what was wrong with her that would have caused him to leave her. Noah tells her it wasn’t her, it was him – and isn’t that the truth! Felicity tells him she waited her whole life for an explanation and now she doesn’t know if she believes it. But she does know that he’s wanted by the police. Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) arrives and arrests him!

Felicity feels badly about it, but Oliver tells her that she feels bad exactly because she isn’t like her father. Oliver tells her that he knows from experience that it’s not over. Oliver admits that he feels badly about Malcolm – he should feel badly about that really bad fake stump! A little disappointing show… The two wonder why they are waiting to get married and Felicity suggests a small ceremony – that her mother will hate!

The flashbacks finally tie very nicely into this week’s present storyline. Oliver finally explains to Taiana (Elysia Rotaru) what happened and confides in her that he has something Reiter (Jimmy Akingbola) wants and shows her the stone. She takes the stone from him and demands to see Reiter, who simply takes it away from her – really? What did she expect?!

Reiter tells her that is simply makes Oliver more valuable, and he tells her to nurse him back to health because if Oliver dies, so does she. Oliver tries again to reach out to her, telling her he knows how she feels. He knows about the pit in her stomach and the emptiness – a pretty accurate description of how a loss of a loved one feels. Oliver tells her about his father committing suicide. This is a terrific scene from Amell and reveals his feelings about his father killing himself for him. It’s also nice to see that raw guilt so much closer to the event.

Taiana declares she saw in his eyes when they first met that he was lost. She tells him that the same hammer that shatters glass can forge steel. In other words, tragedy can break you or make you stronger. We’ve seen plenty of evidence to show that Oliver isn’t broken, but that he has been made stronger by the forging. Reiter comes and tells them that the secrets will be found between the writing on Oliver and the stone and that the Heaven he seeks is below them, so they will dig.

And in the final scene, Malcolm goes to Darhk (Neal McDonough) and sells out Oliver’s son. There will be no going back for Malcolm after this. His only redemption going forward is to die for the team. And what will Darhk do with the information? What did you think of the episode? Favorite scene or line? Any guesses to what heaven holds for Reiter? Do you suspect that disbanding the League will have unintended consequences when the powers they were holding in check are now free? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The X-Files, Defiance, Bitten, Killjoys, and a few others! I'm active on the Con scene when I have the time. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.
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