Review: Arrow 4×13-Sins of the Father

by Sean Blumenshine
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This review contains spoilers.

In this episode, Thea’s life hangs in the balance as Team Arrow is caught up in a civil war among the League of Assassins.


Previously on Arrow, Thea was stabbed nearly to death by Ra’s Al Ghul but was saved by the Lazarus Pit. Unfortunately, the Lazarus Pit has consequences. She has to kill to satisfy the bloodlust or she will die. Because she refuses to kill, she is again comatose. Nyssa Al Ghul has found a cure for the bloodlust but will only give it to Oliver if he agrees to kill Malcolm Merlyn. Additionally, Team Arrow faced off against a villain called The Calculator who turned out to be Felicity’s father. Oliver found out that he had a son named William. In the flashbacks, Oliver admitted to Taina that he killed her brother.

The episode begins where the last one ended. Apparently, Oliver is the only person who can possibly defeat Malcolm which is why Nyssa wants to make the deal with him. Oliver is naturally pissed that saving Thea has to come with a condition of killing her father.

I have a problem with this basic premise. In season two, the member of the League that was after Sara pointed out that Ollie barely beat Merlyn and nearly died in the process. And it was then made clear that the other members were far more sufficient than Merlyn and Oliver needed help from Sara and Detective Lance to beat them. In season three, the writers decided that Malcolm was the king of bad-asses for no reason and gave him a ridiculous amount of skill. I do not buy for a second that Nyssa cannot take on Malcolm.

Another fun tidbit about this scene, and the entire episode, is that Nyssa constantly refers to Oliver as her husband which is true. They got married last season. It’s good to know that Oliver hasn’t lost his cheating habit. He’s even trying to marry another girl. The League of Assassins does not approve of polygamy, Oliver.

Felicity is having dinner with her father where he reveals that he is the Calculator and he knows that she works with Green Arrow as Overwatch. He points out that they may not be that different and wants to prove to her that he isn’t a bad guy.

In the Arrow cave, Oliver discusses the situation with Diggle and Laurel. Ollie decides that they need to solve the problem diplomatically. He will convince Malcolm to give Nyssa control of the League while Laurel convinces Nyssa to hand over the cure if Malcolm does.

I do not understand Oliver’s toleration of Malcolm. It is one of the many things that made him so hard to like in season three. Malcolm killed over 500 people in the Undertaking including Tommy and he probably killed just as many people as a member of the League of Assassins. Ollie’s argument is that Malcolm loves Thea and he doesn’t want to take her father away. Malcolm drugged her and forced her to kill one of her best friends. He practically raped his daughter just to save his own skin. He gave her a drug so he could control her and have fun with her body. That is rape. The only real reason that Oliver won’t kill Malcolm or at least throw him in prison is that the writers want John Barrowman to be a regular. And Barrowman is still a blast but his character should never have been allowed to become such a major part of the characters’ lives. It makes no sense and paints Ollie as a moron.

In the flashbacks, Oliver explains to Taina why he killed her brother before showing her the magically appearing stone. She takes it from him to give to Reiter.

Malcolm points out that this cure is a gigantic convenience from the writers and refuses to believe that the cure is real while Laurel is easily able to convince Nyssa to compromise.

In the flashbacks, Reiter takes the stone from Taina.

Back in the present, Oliver requests that Nyssa provide a sample of the cure to prove to Malcolm that it is real. The sample slightly heals Thea and Malcolm agrees to meet Nyssa.

Felicity and her mom discuss the former’s father and if Felicity can trust him.

Malcolm goes against his word and attacks Nyssa with his minions. There is some cool sword fighting before Nyssa retreats.

In the flashbacks, Oliver tells Taina what happened to his father which leads to her giving him a motivational speech.

Diggle points out to Oliver that he has been an idiot and that he absolutely needs to kill Malcolm. At Palmer Tech, Felicity discusses what her company is doing with her father.


Black Canary finds Nyssa and tries to reason with her. However, Malcolm’s forces show up and the women have to team up to stop them. There is an amazing fight sequence on the streets of Star City between the two sides of the League with Green Arrow, Spartan and Black Canary in the middle. The production value is just incredible and shows how intense and brutal the situation is. Cars are crashing everywhere while several people are getting hit by stray arrows. It is the kind of stakes that have been missing from the show since season two. Malcolm’s forces retreat before Diggle knocks Nyssa out.

In the Arrow cave, Laurel tries to reason with Nyssa which doesn’t work. Oliver and Felicity discuss the fact that her meeting with her dad was a test. Her father was attempting to steal information from the company.

I actually hate this scene. For one, Oliver and Felicity spell out all of the themes of the episode in painful dialogue with no sign of subtlety. Secondly, it would have been much more interesting if Felicity’s father was telling the truth. If he believed what he was doing was righteous and wanted to be in Felicity’s life. Making him a simple-minded criminal takes away anything that was potentially cool about this subplot. It also would have made him a good foil for Malcolm. The father motif is simply a bunch of dads in this show sucking at parenting. It feels almost like a gimmick or a joke.

Oliver discovers Malcolm in the Arrow cave and the latter reveals that he knows about Oliver’s son before Ollie comes up with a plan. Oliver suggests a trial by combat between Malcolm and Nyssa to get the cure. However, at the battle, Oliver takes Nyssa’s place acting as her husband. Ollie is easily able to defeat Malcolm and cuts off his hand which makes the fact that Nyssa cannot do it even sillier. Ollie gives Nyssa the ring as an incredibly late wedding gift and she gives him the cure for Thea.

Thea is cured. Felicity gives her father to the cops and I don’t understand why he doesn’t immediately tell them that she is a vigilante. Nyssa burns the ring and disbands the League of Assassins which is odd. I assume that DC has plans for the League so the writers had to take them out of the show. In the flashbacks, Reiter figures out where the map leads to while Ollie and Felicity decide to get married soon in the present. The episode ends with Malcolm revealing to Damien Darhk that Oliver has a son as an act of vengeance.

Arrow -- "Sins of the Father" -- Image AR413b_0549b.jpg -- Pictured John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn -- Photo: Dean Buscher/ The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


There is a lot that works and this is the best episode since the beginning of the season. The writers have been relying on gimmicks and guest stars to hide the fact that they don’t have a story. This episode actually has interesting ideas and potential. There are parallels and themes that work for the most part and there is terrific action. However, the characters are still acting like idiots and the show is too obvious about everything. Nothing is surprising or interesting. They keep going for the easy way outs instead of actually dealing with things. It’s a massive improvement on the show recently but it still isn’t completely working.





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