Spoilers ahead for “Sins of the Fathers,” the latest episode of The CW’s Arrow!
It’s been a while since the League of Assassins was a major factor in the world of Arrow, but all of that changed Wednesday night. To hit the high points: Oliver chops off Malcolm Merlyn’s hand, Nyssa al Ghul disbands the League of Assassins, Thea is cured, Felicity has her evil hacker father arrested, and Malcolm goes pure-evil, giving up Oliver’s son’s identity to Damien Darhk. Yeah, it’s a lot to unpack.
The League of Assassins is no more?!
This was easily the biggest, and weirdest, twist of the episode. We’ve spent years hearing about how the League is this huge, far-reaching organization that has been shaping the world for centuries (Malcolm even repeats that line again in this episode) — and Nyssa takes about two minutes flat to shut it all down and wipe it off the board. Huh?
Now, this is a strange direction to take the story, and the way it was told felt incredibly rushed. Not “Constantine finds Sara’s soul, something we’re told is impossibly hard, in five minutes” rushed, but still rushed. We got an all-out war for the control of the League (which spilled into ninja battles in the streets of Star City!), more than a few betrayals and the end of an organization that has been a major component of the series for years on end. All in one episode. If anything, there was enough content crammed in here to at least play out over a two-parter, to give these huge narrative twists a little room to breathe.
So, what’s next? With the League disbanded, that apparently leaves hundreds of well-trained ninjas out roaming the world. Team Arrow is pretty busy with Damien Darhk at the moment, but that’s definitely a story that will have to come into play later on, right?
Malcolm Merlyn is back to being oh-so bad
For a moment there, it seemed like Malcolm’s love for Thea would lead him to willingly give up control of the League. But he uses the olive branch Oliver brokered to stage the weakest ambush ever in an effort to stop Nyssa. It fails (miserably) and starts up the aforementioned ninja war.
In a nice throwback to last season, it seems Nyssa still fully respects her brief “marriage” to Oliver when he was going undercover in the League, and refers to him as her husband throughout the entire episode. It’s kind of sweet, actually. Look out, Felicity — you might have some competition. He uses that connection to set up a battle to the death between Nyssa and Malcolm, then, in a surprise twist, takes her place in the battle (his husbandly right, apparently).
After that, Oliver takes out Malcolm in 20 seconds flat, in a fight that is ridiculous to the point of insanity. Merely has always been set-up as one of the baddest bad guys on the roster, but now Oliver can beat him up without breaking a sweat? Again, this is one of those elements that seemed waaaay too rushed. The fight ends with Oliver sparing Malcolm (big mistake, bro) by chopping off his hand to remove the League leader ring.
The final moment showed Malcolm has gone all the way to the dark side — and a step beyond the line. Malcolm reveals the secret of Oliver’s secret son to Damien Darhk. Yeah, this is not going to end well.
The story of Felciity’s dad took an interesting turn
Along with all the League of Assassins insanity, the episode’s B-plot was a fairly heavy story about Felicity reconnecting with her father — who just so happens to be last week’s “Baddie of the Week” The Calculator. Turns out, he knows Felicity works with the Arrow, and comes clean about his real identity within the first five minutes. Honestly, that was a nice surprise, and it was refreshing to see the writers not string that reveal out for weeks on end.
Felicity’s daddy issues have surfaced off and on for years, and she really wants to see the best in him. But, she’s smarter than that, so she gives him a chance to earn her trust — by setting a trap of sorts by taking him on a tour of Palmer Technologies. He fails, and Felicity makes the gutsy call to turn him in to the cops for all his past crimes. After the set up, it was an interesting twist to have this story (seemingly) resolved so quickly. That’s not to say the Calculator won’t hack his way out of prison later, but it seemed strange to take him off the board so quickly.
But Thea is (apparently) OK!
After spending much of the episode in a coma, Thea got a chance to finally get out of the hospital bed, after Oliver finally gets the Lazarus Pit cure from Nyssa. The cure felt like a McGuffin too-far, coming up just in the nick of time in an episode already crammed-pack with story. But hey, it’ll be nice to have Thea back in the action.
Themes of the night: Daddy issues, and can people really change?
Everybody was dealing with their daddy issues in this one. Oliver doesn’t want to kill Malcolm, because it would deprive Thea of the fatherly relationship he doesn't have (which really is a legit, sweet sentiment); Felicity comes face to face with the father she’s been missing for decades, only to have him let her down once again; and Nyssa is grappling with escaping the shadow of the al Ghul legacy.
“Sins of the Fathers” also grapples with the question of whether or not people can really change, and it seems the answer is somewhere in the middle. This season has dealt a lot with how much Oliver and Felicity have changed, while it seems people like Malcolm and Felicity’s father can’t seem to move beyond the mistakes they’ve been making for decades.
Line of the night: “I’ve been holding off telling you this for years, Oliver. You're very handsome, not especially bright.” -Malcolm Merlyn.
Latest odds on the mystery grave: This one just got a big kick in the pants. Oliver’s secret son Williams was always a contender for the mystery grave, and considering Darhk is now aware of his existence, it seems the chance the poor kid doesn’t survive the season just increased quite a bit. Of course, that would be a bold move for a CW series, but it certainly seems they’re at least wanting us to think that’s who it could be.
Beyond that, anyone is game. It seems less likely they’d kill Thea fresh off her brush with death, though everyone from Felicity’s mother, to Diggle, and Capt. Lance seem to still be on the table.
Digging a bit deeper, it also looks like the mystery man Oliver vows to kill in the flash forward might not even be Dhark. After Wedneday’s twist, it seems he could be vowing vengeance against Malcolm. It makes sense, considering Oliver could’ve ended Malcolm tonight, but decided to hold out hope Malcolm could change. That mercy could come back to bite him in a very big way.