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ARROW: At Least One Person Stepped Out From the Shadow of Their Father in “Sins of the Father”

By on February 11, 2016

Pictured: Katrina Law as Nyssa al Ghul -- Photo: Dean Buscher/ The CW

By Justin Carter

Last week, I pointed out that Arrow was maybe trying a bit too hard to justify why Nyssa al Ghul needed Oliver’s help in taking down Malcolm Merlyn, and the title character itself seemed to agree. He rightfully calls her out for getting him and the comatose Thea in between their pissing contest, but Nyssa’s request for help is one of desperation. He’s the only one to actually beat Malcolm, so she figures that this ends up working out for both of them. It’s solid logic, even if at this point, Malcolm isn’t as 100% deadly as he was when the show first began.

Oliver, continuing to be an optimist, tries to find an admittedly clever workaround to make sure no one gets hurt, which is to just have Merlyn give Nyssa the ring. As far as plans go, it’s probably the most simple one he’s come up with in quite some time. I found myself ashamed that I didn’t even realize that could be a thing. But of course, Malcolm is Malcolm and summons his League members once he and Nyssa meet up, so Oliver has to spill some blood anyway and slices off Malcolm’s hand. It’s actually a pretty clever gambit on Oliver’s part, and shows that his stepfather has no more control over him. And what better way to do that than by beating him and combat and literally disarming him?

I’ve got a bit of a feeling that “Sins of the Father” was, at one point, intended to be an episode for season three, given its focus on the League of Assassins. Last year, that particular story arc didn’t hit every mark it shot at thanks to its over complicated nature and not entirely good use of Matt Nable as Ra’s al Ghul. It’s been proven before that Ra’s is a great villain when handed the right material–Liam Neeson’s performance in Batman Begins was excellent, and for how out of place it felt, Batman: Arkham City put him to good use. All this talk of manipulating the world in secret that Ra’s and Malcolm have talked about feel less like grave intonations about a secret order that would feel right at home in Assassin’s Creed and more like a teenager insisting that his new club was more important than it actually was.

Thankfully, this season has John Barrowman and Katrina Law doing all the talking, and both of them manage to sell the thing a lot better than last year’s villain. The power struggle between the two may not be all that surprising in the beats they go through, but the animosity between them both feels real and consistent, and the fights between their two factions are consistently entertaining. The lack of real surprise may be intentional, given how the episode makes a point to mention how people don’t really change at their core, but if that’s the case, I can’t knock it for that when it’s got ninjas shooting arrows at each other in the middle of a crowded street. Even if it flies in the face of what it wants to do with Oliver’s growth over the course of almost ten in-show years, it does make some sense when you consider folks like Malcolm and Felicity’s dad.

If folks like Malcolm and Mr. Smoak can’t change and are doomed to repeat the same cycle of awfulness they’re used to, at least Nyssa is willing to make an effort to change who she is. Dissolving the League and escaping her father’s shadow feels appropriate after all that’s happened to her, and I’m interested to see what happens with her next. Law’s too much fun as Nyssa for the show to truly be done with her, and she’s more than proven herself as a useful ally to Team Arrow at this point. Now that Malcolm’s gone and revealed Oliver’s son William (hey, remember him?) to Damien Darhk, keeping friends around is a smart move.

Additional Notes

  • I would love to know how Laurel explained Sara’s whole time traveling thing to Nyssa. That must’ve required a drink or two.
  • Last night on Flash, Cisco asked if he was being “Cloud City Vader’d” by his Earth-2 doppelganger, tonight, Malcolm loses a hand. Are we about to learn on Legends of Tomorrow that someone is someone else’s father?
  • “I’ve been holding off telling you this for years, Oliver. You’re handsome, not especially bright.”
  • Now that Malcolm’s revealed Oliver’s son, that means the kid or his mother could be the one in the grave. Darhk wouldn’t kill a little boy…would he?

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