Arrow TV Reviews

Arrow’s “Sins of the Father” (S4,EP13): Oliver Queen’s Version of a Campaign Fundraiser

Let’s ponder, for a moment, the lives of anyone who happened to be working late in the various high rise corporate buildings of downtown Star City last night. The town is under attack by random ninjas yet again. Innocent bystanders are dying in the streets, shot down in a hail of arrows. However, your boss won’t let you leave because those quarterly reports are due to corporate headquarters in Gotham/Metropolis by the end of the week. You can’t afford any kind of delay. So you toil away, crunching the numbers, convening for emergency meetings in the office board room. Just as Jim from Accounting is going through his latest slide about dividends you notice this on a neighboring rooftop:

Arrow Sins of Father OfficeHow did none of you notice all of those ninjas setting up those ceremonial fires in the first place?

You look across the way and see various other dumbfounded on-lookers crowding the windows in the other well-lit buildings facing the rooftop. Bob from Marketing, zooming in with his smart phone, cries out, “Holy crap! That’s Malcolm Merlyn!”

Suddenly anyone who had been trying to ignore all of this and keep working flocks to the windows to get a look for themselves. Malcolm Merlyn, the Butcher of The Glades? How could this be? Didn’t he die, killed by the vigilante Roy Harper? Susan from Human Resources claims she has a cousin who saw Malcolm standing in the middle of the town square talking to Oliver Queen just last year, and Becky from Sales swears she personally bumped into him on the street just last week. Various others chime in with their own “brushes with Malcolm Merlyn” stories, leaving you to wonder if you’re the only one who had no idea he might still be alive.

Everyone’s zooming in with their smart phones. “Hey, is that Oliver Queen?” someone cries out. “And that’s definitely Felicity Smoak!” another person excitedly proclaims. Jerry from Production has the great idea to take a close-up photo of the rooftop ceremony and posts it to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook with the caption “Oliver Queen’s version of a campaign fundraiser #He’sGotMyVote.” Everyone follows suit, enjoying the insanity of it all. “Maybe this is how they settle disputes at Palmer Tech!” someone jokes.

Just as Cherly, your boss, tries to get everyone to get back to work (“Let’s not pretend this is something we haven’t seen before in Star City”) this happens:

Arrow Sins of Father SwordWhoa, shit just got real. Mayoral candidate Oliver Queen is fighting known terrorist Malcolm Merlyn with a sword while the CEO of Palmer Tech sits idly by. Should someone call the police? It’s not like they’ve been great at stopping this kind of thing in the past. Should someone flash the Arrow signal in the sky? Oh, that’s right. You don’t have one of those. Jim from Accounting claims that this is proof that Oliver Queen is the Green Arrow, but Susan from Human Resources says the two look nothing alike. Bob from Marketing coldly wants to start taking bets on who’ll win the fight, but it’s all over after just 2 minutes. Everyone, even Cheryl, is leaning in to see if Oliver will actually kill Malcom:

Arrow Sins of the Father Handless MalcolmYou can’t believe what you just saw. Oliver Queen cut off a man’s hand! Someone, clearly desperate to draw upon their history degree, jokes, “Talk about speaking softly and carrying a big stick!” Somebody else attempts to start a slow clap, “Let’s give him a hand everyone!” However, Susan and Becky are horrified while Jim from Accounting is rushing to upload the video he took of the behanding to YouTube. That video will take just a couple of hours to go viral, making all of the Star City morning talk shows the next day, easily taking center stage over the story of how a longtime conman who sources claim is Palmer Tech CEO Felicity Smoak’s father was arrested in Star City yesterday.

In a hastily put together press conference, Oliver will dismiss the video as being too grainy and blurry to be reliable, and Chief of Police Quentin Lance will publicly exonerate him of all wrong-doing, leading the entire city to conclude, “So, he’s pretty clearly the Green Arrow, but we’re all cool with that. Who wouldn’t want to cut off Malcolm Merlyn’s hand?”

Just another day in Star City. Now, back to those quarterly reports.

I joke because part of the fun of watching Arrow now is mocking it, even if the mockery comes from a place of love. I also joke because, frankly, I feel like my reaction to “Sins of the Father” is going to mostly be a repeat of what I’ve already praised about season 4 on multiple occasions. This is Oliver Queens’ first genuine hero season. They’re not simply calling him Green Arrow now because “The Hood” and “Arrow” got old. No, this show has always been the origin story of how Oliver Queen went from a bloodthirsty vigilante to a bonafide hero who always strives to do the right thing and protects the innocent, regardless of how boneheaded and quasi-boring that might make him seem.

The past 3 years have changed him, but being in love with Felicity has also profoundly changed him. Season 4 Oliver recognizes that his natural impulse to put the weight of the world on his shoulders and to act unilaterally when the chips are down is not always the best option. That type of growth received lip service in the past, but season 4 is repeatedly following through on it. In “Sins of the Father,” when a League of Assassins civil war breaks out and leaves Thea’s life in the balance Oliver sues for peace, desperate to find a solution where nobody gets hurt.

The fact that all of Oliver’s character growth might ultimately be responsible for whoever ends up in that coffin at the end of the season makes it all seem so tragic. His choice to spare Malcolm’s life in “Sins of the Father” could certainly lead to considerable heartbreak (surely it won’t be Oliver’s son in that coffin, will it?), the cost of trying to be the hero when some people simply won’t change.

Arrow Sins of Father Team ArrowI think all of that is fascinating, and “Sins of the Father” was overloaded with the kind of debate Oliver is now more open to. Nyssa wants Malcolm dead, but Oliver can’t bring himself to rob his sister of the chance to have a relationship with her father. Felicity, Diggle and Laurel all make their logical arguments for why Oliver should just kill Malcolm and be done with it, and he actually hears all of them out, clinging to his argument that regardless of how dirty his own dad was he would give anything to have him back so who is he to take that away from his sister. “Yeah, but if you don’t kill Malcolm Thea will die, and isn’t that the most important part – saving Thea?” they all countered. “Think of all the shit Malcolm is responsible for” they pointed out.

In a way, this episode was the show’s course-adjustment, a reminder of how insane it is that these people have been working with Malcolm for around a full season now. More than that, it was Arrow‘s conclusion to its arc with the League of Assassins, an organization so nebulous Malcolm had to remind Oliver that they’re not just a bunch of ninjas running out killing people. It was a crucial point because it was the primary reason for Malcolm holding onto his ring instead of handing it over to Nyssa, fearing she would turn the League into a weapon of destruction. It was also a stupid point (seriously? like Nyssa would really be a more evil ruler than Malcolm Merlyn) and perhaps one which we weren’t meant to believe, a tale told by a man lying to himself to justify letting his daughter die. It’s disappointing that Nyssa wasn’t granted the same level of introspection, although now that she is finally free of the League perhaps the show will realize that her fierce loyalty and fish-out-of-water quality when placed in normal society makes her an incredibly interesting character they should be doing more with.

The whole episode was true to its title “Sins of the Father” as everyone seemed to be working through their daddy issues, be they fathers who’d already died (Oliver’s, Nyssa’s) or ones who were still around (Felicity’s, Thea’s).  Oliver was backed into a corner and still figured out a way to win without killing anyone, for better or worse. It was an interesting change of pace to see Laurel, Diggle and Oliver actually working as a genuine team and glorified peacekeepers, and Oliver and Felicity have become an astonishingly well-adjusted couple, openly communicating and helping each other out with their individual crises. Also, good riddance to the League of Assassins.

But, mostly, the best part was imagining what must have been going on in those buildings overlooking the “Trial by Combat” rooftop.

Favorite Line

“In the interest of good taste, I’ll forego the shirtless provision”

Biggest Nitpick

Little fuzzy on the chain of custody on the device Felicity’s father used to try to steal all of the data in Curtis’ lab. She says he left it behind as a little “souvenir,” but it’s a different shaped device than the thumbdrive he gave her earlier in the episode. He never gives her anything during the tour of Curtis’ lab. So is the idea that he brought that device with him during the tour, but he accidentally left it behind/had it stolen from him by Felicity?

Second Biggest Nitpick

Still struggle to believe that Nyssa wouldn’t have been able to defeat Malcolm on her own.

Biggest Groan

Did they seriously have Felicity’s father say the line “We are not so different, you and I”?

Biggest “This Again?” Moment

When we realized that with William back we’re heading for a repeat of Oliver and Felicity’s idiotic break-up fight from the Arrow/Flash two-parter.

Biggest “They Better Handle This Very Carefully” Moment

Using Oliver’s son as a “kid endangerment” plot point could go so very wrong

Biggest Regret

That Laurel and Nyssa had multiple conversations, but none of them were over hamburgers and milkshakes.

Honest Admission

I have no memory of where that rock in the flashbacks came from or what it means.

Latest “Who’s In That Grave?” Theories

  1. Oliver’s son, and the person responsible is not Damien Darhk but Malcolm Merlyn
  2. Felicity’s mother, and the person responsible is Felicity’s dad


  1. I have to say this is the best review I’ve read! It made me appreciate the show because I thought it was boring and stupid. You also said what I have been questioning throughout the show, why doesn’t anyone recognize Malcolm when he is out and about?

    The rock was given to Oliver in the dream sequence by Shado.

    Thank you. Great analysis.

  2. Let me know when they’re showing “Arrow meets The Office” because i would watch the heck out of that.

    I’m very happy with Arrow this season because Oliver is finally growing up. Still making stupid decisions but not so many of them.

    “We are not so different, you and I” may be George Lucas-level writing but at least it has proper grammar, not so easy to find on TV these days.

    I think they flip a coin as to who can defeat whom on which day. Nyssa defeated Malcolm last season, he’s a year older now and he couldn’t have got that much better.

    Over coffee, Felicity’s father gave her the thumb drive with information on himself to prove to her that he’s a good guy. Based on that and her mother’s comments, she invited him to tour Palmer Tech but also used it as a test. He secretly left behind a device that would steal the electronic magic they were working on and that’s what she showed Oliver in the lair, proving that Noah at least doesn’t change.

    I want to know how Hallucination Shado gives Oliver a rock and it turns out to be a real thing in the cell..

  3. Oliver is dumber than the rock that chick gave that guy in the pointless flashbacks.

    The kid’s not in the grave. Oliver made a big deal about the death being his responsibility, but not his fault. If the kid were killed, it WOULD be Oliver’s fault. He’s only in danger bc Oliver is dumb enough to visit him while Damien Darhk is after him, and now is dumb enough not to do anything about Malcolm/protect the kid now that Oliver knows Malcolm, whose power and HAND Oliver just took away, and who has sworn vengeance, knows about the kid. It is all just astoundingly stupid. He should have killed Malcolm AND instantly called Barry to grab the kid and his horrible mother as soon as Malcolm indicated he knew about the kid.

    Dumb for days.

  4. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! I just laughed so hard because everything you pointed out is so, so true. I’ve also been especially curious about Malcolm wandering around Star City in broad daylight without anyone noticing. And I’ve been really pleased with various characters’ development here in this current season. This is a great review!

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