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‘Arrow’ Review: “The Sin Eater”

Nora Dominick ‘17/ Emertainment Monthly Executive Stage Editor

This week’s Arrow episode feels like another filler episode, in a season where another filler episode is far from needed. In this episode, Susan Williams (Carly Pope) reveals her investigation into the Green Arrow, a massive prison break leads Green Arrow and Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) face to face with old foes and somehow there still isn’t enough to keep us interested. Arrow’s latest episode entitled “The Sin Eater” back tracks on Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) character development, does something odd with Susan, and makes us love Dinah (Juliana Harkavy) even more.

It’s safe to say that season five of Arrow has been the weakest season to date. It’s a sweeping declaration, but after fourteen episodes we think we can make it. In fact, this episode of Arrow is the lowest rated episode of the show to date, according to Deadline. Although several interesting storylines were presented leading up to season five, Arrow has been unable to keep an audience interested. From Oliver’s mayoral storyline to the flashbacks to the new Team Arrow, all of these storylines were filled with promise, only to be subpar. Even interesting storylines like Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards) Havenrock fallout and Diggle’s (David Ramsey) prison story fell short of expectations. They felt rushed and were seemingly swept under the Arrow rug for flashier plot lines. The bigger the stunts got, the less character development seemingly mattered.

While we can debate what Arrow’s fatal flaw is currently, a lot of it comes down to character development and the loss of our core characters. Oliver, Felicity and Diggle are the core trio of Arrow and somehow they’re all the shells of their former selves. Barely recognizable, they seem to just stumble through plot lines until they end. Felicity and Diggle are at least better than Oliver as of now. More so than any other episode, this episode showcased a side to Oliver we didn’t even know existed. Instead of leading storylines, Oliver is drowning in them. His character development is essentially out the window and it’s blatantly obvious in the latest episode.

Carly Pope in the Arrow episode "The Sin-Eater." Photo Credit: The CW
Carly Pope in the Arrow episode “The Sin-Eater.” Photo Credit: The CW

Since day one, Oliver Queen has preached the importance of keeping his secret just that, a secret. There have been several occasions where Oliver has even gotten mad about others revealing his secret. His animosity towards Felicity bringing Barry (Grant Gustin) into the lair the first time is the biggest example of this. In season five however, Oliver appears to think it’s okay to share his secret and not protect it with his life. We know, we’re just as confused as you are.

Susan Williams finally asks Oliver the question she’s been dying to ask since day one: are you the Green Arrow? While Oliver jokes, he tells Susan he’s not. Now, this leads to one of the most out of character moments Oliver’s had all season. Thea (Willa Holland) and Felicity decide to take measures into their own hands and throw Susan off Oliver’s trail. When he finds out they essentially got Susan fired, Oliver is furious. He’s appalled that Thea would ever do this. Let’s hold right here. Arrow can try to tell us that Oliver’s anger towards Thea is because he’s protecting his little sister, but we aren’t buying it. This just seems like sloppy writing and leads us to one big thing with Oliver this season.

Arrow can’t not have Oliver in a relationship. Yes, we often talk about Arrow’s need to let the women flourish outside of a relationship, but Oliver deserves that same kindness. There was absolutely no need to throw him and Susan together. In fact, Susan sleeping with the person she is investigating made her more unlikable just as a female character. Essentially, we can boil down Oliver protecting Susan to the fact that he’s with her. If they weren’t an item, Oliver would’ve done exactly what Thea and Felicity did to remove her from finding out his secret. In fact, Oliver would’ve put an arrow through Susan’s hand. Amell’s performances aren’t waving, but the characterization of Oliver is what has us confused.

Not only does Susan try to expose Oliver’s secret, but Arrow wants us to feel like she’s the victim in this scenario. When she gets fired, Oliver goes to Thea and says she didn’t deserve this. Again, if Susan wasn’t sleeping with the person she was investigating and abusing her press powers, we might have some sympathy. Then again, Arrow hinges upon Oliver’s secret remaining a secret and we would’ve done what Thea did anyway.

Emily Bett Rickards and Willa Holland in the Arrow episode "The Sin-Eater." Photo Credit: The CW
Emily Bett Rickards and Willa Holland in the Arrow episode “The Sin-Eater.” Photo Credit: The CW

We do get an amazing team up from Felicity and Thea in this episode of Arrow, which is something we’ve been begging for. Although the team up is great, we do wish we got more of it throughout the entire episode. The small scenes between them are great and Rickards and Holland work perfectly together, which is why we need more. Between our excitement, this storyline also made us a little nervous for Thea’s character on Arrow. Holland has been noticeably absent from episodes, but even when she’s here Thea appears to be singing her swan song. Her moments with Amell this week feel like they’re the beginning of a heartbreaking goodbye and we hope this isn’t true. Along with other characters, Thea has been severely under utilized in season five and we hope this isn’t how we leave her character.

Another weakness this week is Cupid (Amy Gumenick), China White (Kelly Hu) and Liza Warner’s (Rutina Wesley) epic team up is severely lacking screen time. An epic trio of Arrow villains and there wasn’t much to their plot line. While Warner and Quentin have their moments, China and Cupid could’ve easily had more to do with this storyline. It seems odd for Arrow to bring back three of its biggest female villains for an episode that essentially could’ve been handed to a one-off villain. We love Gumenick, Hu and Wesley and hope they return as a group in the future. We’ve missed some of the iconic Arrow villains from seasons past and hope they make more appearances in the future.

One of Arrow’s strongest points for the last several episodes has been the inclusion of Dinah to Team Arrow. Harkavy has easily slipped into the lead as the “Best New Addition of Team Arrow.” She’s bringing new life to the Black Canary character and we hope she continues to make it her own. Harkavy has several amazing acting moments this week, but one of the best comes opposite Blackthorne. Dinah begins to wonder if she’ll be able to fill the Black Canary shoes and actually goes to Quentin to ask his opinion.

Harkavy and Blackthorne give an emotional performance as Quentin tells Dinah that Laurel (Katie Cassidy) wanted someone to continue her legacy, not to replace her. Honestly, this is the best part of Arrow this week and we hope Dinah grows even more as season five progresses. Harkavy is a welcomed addition to Arrow and she has been killing it since joining the show. Bravo!

Arrow falls flat this week as characters go against past development. While some storylines are thriving, most of these characters are unrecognizable to die-hard Arrow fans. Next week, Oliver faces impeachment after covering up Detective Malone’s death and we hope this brings some more drama and intrigue to an otherwise boring and chaotic season of Arrow.

Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW

Overall Grade: C+

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One Comment

  1. You are so right that ” The bigger the stunts got, the less character development seemingly mattered.” This episode deserves to be the lowest rated of the series.

    And so much wasted potential, from the underuse of the three women to the dropping of Diggle’s and Felicity’s storylines. About the only good thing in this episode was the use of Dinah’s scream.

    Go away, Susan. Far, far away. Oliver can’t afford to lose any more brain cells.

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