Arrow: Past Sins

“You can’t stop the past from haunting you.”

Three cases of Daddy Issues and one huge dollop of moral ambiguity. One of these things is not like the other.

Family relationships, particularly parental relationships, have been a recurring theme for this show. So revisiting Oliver and now Emiko’s complicated relationship with their father should come as no surprise. I’m all for it. Robert Queen’s love for Oliver and Thea was obvious despite his other failings. His feelings towards Emiko were more convoluted. His obligations towards Emiko are undisputed regardless of his actions. However, this did not stop him from abandoning her or her mother in the face of what we assume were Moira’s demands. The fallout from Robert’s decision and its effect on both Oliver and Emiko certainly warrants a deeper dive.

I am less impressed with the execution. Robert Queen’s legacy has seesawed between hero and villain throughout the years due to either the poor memory or deliberate retconning of the writers. In the first season, we learned Robert accidentally killed a councilman. His guilt over that death was the domino that allowed Malcolm to rope first Robert and then Moira into the Undertaking. In season five Adrian Chase delivers the councilman’s cement encased body to Oliver. He is reluctant to believe Robert is capable of such a thing, conveniently forgetting he watched his father shoot Dave Hackett in cold blood. After recovering footage of the councilman’s death, Oliver called a press conference and publicly admitted it. So explain to me why the journalist referred to Robert Queen as a hero? And why would Oliver not at least acknowledge what he announced two years before?

Emiko’s conflicting opinions regarding both her father and her half-brother are understandable though no less problematic. Emiko’s claim that the Queen family destroys everything it touches is borne out by fact. The series is littered with victims of the Queen family’s love, from those that survived such as McKenna Hall, Roy, Slade, and even William, to those that didn’t like Tommy, Shado, Laurel, Billy Malone, and Samantha Clayton. Yet if Emiko resents her father so much why return to his gravestone time and time again? And if she believes Oliver is a spoiled Trust Fund Brat why go through so much trouble to emulate him? We still have no answers but since Emiko’s agreed to talk to Oliver, we may get some soon.

Laurel’s Daddy issues are two-fold. First, we see how the guilt over her real father’s death led to her descent into villainy, discovering that the drunk driver who killed Earth-2’s Quentin was Black Siren’s first victim. Finding him walking and talking on Earth-1 dredges up her anger for the man who stole her father away and the guilt she feels for sending her Dad out to meet his fate. On the other hand, the desire to live up to the Earth-1 version of her father gave her the aspiration to be better. She may still lean toward the more expedient methods instead of the legal ones but at least she’s trying. It also doesn’t hurt that Felicity has her back.

Laurel and Felicity’s relationship is becoming one of my favorites. What started as a matter of convenience has developed into a legitimate friendship in spite of either Felicity’s or Laurel’s intentions. It’s as if Laurel’s road to redemption has met up with Felicity’s path to pragmatism. I won’t go fully out on a limb and say Felicity is no longer a hero but the version of her presented in the flash forwards no longer seems quite so farfetched. Regardless, at the moment it is the most nuanced relationship on the show and I’m loving it.

Like Laurel, the death of Sam Hackett’s father has left him in a dark place. It appears Sam spent years refusing to accept his father’s death. It’s not an outrageous belief considering both Oliver and Sara made it off the boat alive. Why not hold out hope? Then he hacked Oliver’s Slabside transcripts and discovered his father’s murder and Oliver covered it up. Sam’s reaction, indefensible though it may be, gives even more credence to Emiko’s belief in the destructiveness of the Queen family. It never occurred to Oliver that Sam might need closure let alone that he had an obligation to provide it. It is a failing that Oliver never thinks of the consequences until they land forcibly on his doorstep.

Speaking of consequences, is there any way that the story of Diaz and Dante ends well? I thought not. The fact Curtis is preaching the moral gospel to Diggle is the first clue. And for all Lyla’s bluster last week, she fell in line pretty quickly. I must admit this version of the Suicide Squad, I’m sorry, Ghost Initiative is far more intimidating than the previous incarnation. It’s one reason I fell for Curtis’ untimely demise. All things considered, I should not have been fooled, especially after Diaz’s dig about Curtis being some kind of genius. Unfortunately, the inconsistency with which they’ve written Curtis over the last two years gave them enough wiggle room that the virtual version of events seemed plausible. I was still happy to be wrong and I look forward to learning what Curtis “calling his own shots” means.

This episode focused far more on character than plot. The means to catch Dante and the introduction of a new and mysterious threat being the only forward progression. Normally the focus on character would thrill me. However, the inconsistencies gave me pause.

2.5 out 5 virtual realities

Parting Thoughts:

This episode marks David Ramsey’s directorial debut. Congrats!

The journalist was on the phone when he was attacked and he never made it to dinner with his wife yet didn’t look for him till the next morning?

Glad to see Nick back on his feet again. I bet Curtis is too.

Will Felicity’s security system lead to something specific in the present or is just the first step towards future Felicity’s Smoak Enterprises?

If Oliver is really on the side of the law, he should stop entering through windows and destroying private property.

There’s also something called warrants he, and Dinah for that matter, need to become acquainted with.

Quotes:

Felicity: “You were amazing. You were genuine and heartfelt and amazing, and for a second there, I almost believed that you liked Laurel."
Oliver: “I almost do.”

Lyla: “Tell us about a challenge that you’ve worked to overcome.”
Cupid: “Well, the love of my life rejected me... For a blonde."

Curtis: “What the hell is going on? China White, Spawn of Slade, and now Cupid? It’s like the Ghost of Villains Past in here.”

Laurel: “Oh, please. I don’t have a problem with alcohol, maybe the first thing I managed to one-up your Laurel on.”

Curtis: “There has to be a better way.”
Diggle: “I wish there was.”

Laurel: “Hypothetically-"
Felicity: “Ok. Let me stop you right there because we both know that ‘hypothetically’ means this is definitely happening.”

Diaz: “Mr. Terrific. It’s been a while, my friend. You look a little nervous. Is that because the last time we met I had my knife in your gut?”

Felicity: “You should be flattered. I only stop people that I like.”

Cupid: “I love it when a plan comes together.” (She is way too young for the A-Team)

Curtis: “A.R.G.U.S thanks you for your cooperation.”

Dinah: “You think you’re gonna do one interview and all of the sudden, your problems go away overnight?”

Curtis: “Well, I’m happy to make Diaz’s life miserable anytime anywhere.”

Dinah: “A stalker from a different Earth. Of course. Why wouldn't there be?”

Shari loves sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and anything with a cape.

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