Arrow: Sins of the Father

Felicity: "So much for the Gandhi method."

In an episode about fathers and daughters, the drama centered around two characters who were not even remotely related.

While Nyssa's primary struggle was with Malcolm, her real emotional struggle was with her father's legacy. Her entire life, her entire purpose, has been to become Ra's Al Ghul to the point where she had no sense of her own ideals or interests. She has been a much more heroic character than her father ever was and could be a great person if she chose to follow in the footsteps of any whom she calls friend, husband, or beloved (yes I'm referring to Laurel, Oliver, and Sara).

So having Nyssa win the title of Ra's and then disband the League was a beautiful way to turn a corner in her character arc. Whether we get more from her or if she will become a hero down the road is totally unknown, but at least there is some interesting character development potential there.

The other side of the whole battle for the title of Ra's Al Ghul was the crazy ninja battles that ran throughout the episode. The action was nuts, and the stakes were also pretty high with the lives of the people of Star City and more specifically Thea's hanging in the balance. While it would have been better to have Thea's father/daughter struggle be between her and Malcolm, having Oliver as her surrogate was an interesting writing choice. Watching Oliver deal with the emotional weight of a choice that could take Thea's father away from her, and having that dictate pretty much the course of the entire plot of the episode simplified everyone's convoluted motivations.

While the actual theme of the episode was 'Bad daddies don't change', how each father/daughter relationship was depicted was radically different. Where Nyssa and Thea had their lives and potentially the lives of thousands hanging in the balance, Felicity's struggle was far more intimate. Her father just came right out and told her he was the Calculator. He tried to spin it as a good thing, like he was the same as she is, a vigilante doing heroic things. Except none of it rang true, and in the end, she called out his lies and sent him to jail.

Thea was freed from her slumber, despite Malcolm's interference. Nyssa rejected her father's legacy, and decided to forge her own path, and Felicity realized that she will never have a relationship with her absentee father. They all overcame their primary struggle, but the actual relationships between them and their respective fathers didn't change at all. That's a pretty negative conclusion for a show about redemption.

Flashback:

In more incremental movement, Oliver and Taiana haven't made it out of their cell, but they have almost resolved their emotional dilemma. Taiana hasn't forgiven him for killing her brother, but she has chosen to work at his side in the best interests of the innocent people imprisoned on the Island. Unfortunately, she hadn't figured out her priorities before Oliver revealed the stone Shado gave him in that vision, so now the Baron has it. My big question is whether Oliver knew that Taiana was going to do that and if it was part of Oliver's plan to stop him, or if Oliver just screwed up showing it to her too early.

Bits:

I loved how for the most part, our heroes were not in masks, with their identities and their alter-egos being totally interchangeable in this situation. It was a nice change after the last episode where our heroes were basically in costume most of the time.

So Diggle does use tranqs. I thought as much, but it is good to have it confirmed. Unless that is a detail I missed at the beginning of the season.

Nyssa constantly referring to Oliver as her husband was disconcerting. I forgot that they were married. So of course, Oliver started planning his wedding with Felicity at the end of the episode. Does his marriage to Nyssa even exist now that the League has disbanded?

So, Malcolm actually lost a hand. At first I thought that it was a trick, and Oliver and Malcolm had arranged some sort of illusion, but no. Oliver really cut off Malcolm's hand. Wow.

It was probably inevitable that Malcolm and Darhk would eventually join forces, but I had hoped that Malcolm might become something better in the long run. Now William (Oliver's son) is in danger.

Although Laurel and Quentin have had their issues in the past, their relationship has been an important and positive one in the series. It would have been difficult to squeeze something between the two in, but it would have been nice in contrast.

Quotes:

Nyssa: "It is naive to think this can be resolved without bloodshed."

Felicity: "In an extremely ironic role reversal, my mother was smarter than me. She said, 'people don't change, no matter how much you want them to'."

Felicity: "I don't even know why I'm so upset. Doesn't every long awaited father-daughter reunion end with the dad being taken away in handcuffs?"

Oliver: "I think that remorse is a pretty clear indicator that you a very different person than him."
Felicity: "Maybe Thea and I can make t-shirts. We could join a club."

4 out of 4 Daughters with Daddy issues.

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.

5 comments:

jrs said...

Love the review! I think this ep was one of the better Arrow eps this season. I love the fact that Oliver is really sticking to his change of MO, and manages to find a way to not kill Merlyn.

I also loved Felicity's mom here. She's so often played as the dimbo bimbo, but underneath the fun exterior is the sharp, perceptive and experienced woman who gave birth to Overwatch.

Billie Doux said...

Good episode, nice review. I particularly liked how strong Felicity was this time, testing her father and taking him down the moment he failed. I also liked how in the end when Oliver and Felicity were talking wedding, he was crouched down facing her as if he were in an invisible wheelchair -- that was such a lovely visual.

Is John Barrowman getting handsomer (if that's possible)? I kept thinking about how terrific he looks for a man in his fifties. I also had two completely unrelated thoughts: like Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoit, Barrowman is a professional singer. If they ever did decide to do a musical episode set in the current DC-verse, they ought to find a way to write Barrowman in. And second, like Arthur Darvill (Rip Hunter), Barrowman played one of the Doctor's long time companions. It's a small television world.

Profe said...

Stephen Amell is a pretty decent singer as well. Not on level with Gustin and Barrowman, but he can definitely hold a tune (his preference seems to be Disney tunes because of his daughter!)

I gasped out loud when Merlyn told Darkh about William. That's definitely a bell you can't unring. I think Neal McDonough is doing an amazing job. I've loved him since he appeared as Quarles on Justified. I hear he plays a pretty good hero, but I've only ever seen him as a villain.

I can't wait to see how next week plays out!

Sol said...

I was a bit disappointed about the fight on the roof. It was over in like 5 seconds and Oliver won too easy. At first I was sure it is a play, until he cut Merlin's hand.

I think Felicity's father was not the one to put that device in her lab. He is too smart for that and he was genuinely surprised.

Marianna said...

It bothered me that out of Nyssa, Merlyn, and Oliver, Oliver was deemed the best swordsman. Nyssa is the only one who has been doing nothing but training her entire life. And how often does Oliver even use a sword? It reminds me of this: http://www.douxreviews.com/2002/01/firefly-shindig.html. Plus the previous episode Nyssa and Tatsu, whose hero name is Katana for crying out loud, were equally matched, meaning Tatsu isn't as good as Merlyn or Oliver. It seems wrong, possibly even sexist.