‘Arrow’ Post-Show Analysis, Season 5 Episode 14: ‘The Sin-Eater’
It’s time for another installment of Pointed Commentary, the feature where returning Arrow watcher Chris Haley and newcomer Emma Lawson dig into the details of Team Arrow cleaning up the filthy, crime-ridden streets of Star City.
This week, a bunch of villains from Team Arrow’s past bust out of jail, Susan Williams confronts Oliver about being the Green Arrow, and the cops learn who really killed Detective Malone. Oh, and Ollie’s mayoral career goes up in flames. “The Sin-Eater” was directed Mary Lambert from a script by Barbara Bloom and Jenny Lynn.
Emma: Welcome back, Arrow-heads! We’ve got a bevy of butt-kicking babes on this episode: onscreen and off; on the good side and the bad. Arrow’s usually pretty good about making female characters real and complex, but it was refreshing to see just so many women! What did you think of this week’s show, Chris?
Chris: This episode had possibly my all time favorite Arrow moment in all of the episodes I’ve seen, but it was immediately taken away from me, and that is really the story of my relationship with this show.
This whole season we’ve wondered how things would play out with Susan getting closer and closer to learning Ollie’s vigilante secrets, and this week she just flat-out confronted him with the question, “Are you the Green Arrow?” and without missing a beat, Ollie says “Yes,” as plainly and as matter of fact as humanly possible.
This amazed me, because it was so against type for this show, and for a moment I thought, wow, this is such an interesting turn, and it works out so well to show us Ollie’s growth as a person in wanting to trust people and believe in them. It was such a fantastic zag to our expectations that I thought could possibly signal a kind of creative rejuvenation for the show... but, of course, that wasn’t to be.
Emma: I loved that moment, for both Ollie and Susan. Ollie was (potentially, but not really) being open and honest about himself, letting himself be vulnerable, and Susan was for the first time not being selfish and manipulative. She asks a direct question, without any tricks. But I didn’t really expect Oliver to actually tell her the truth.
Chris: I, like a fool, wanted to hope for a kind of wonderful twist in this show’s M.O. that I should know better than to expect.
To answer your initial question, this episode was just kind of middle of the road for me. Some parts that irritated me, some parts that I thought were neat. You know, it was kind of just there. I was excited about the idea of the three lady villains teaming up, but then the episode didn’t really do much with any of them. I think China White only had like two lines, which seems like a horrible waste of Kelly Hu.
Emma: That’s pretty much how I felt about it too. If everything had just been pushed a little bit further, it would have been an excellent episode. Like if we had more time with these awesome villains.
There’s a great moment in which Warner’s yelling at Cupid for taking her arrows back from a dead guy and Cupid says, “These things are expensive!” Loved it. More of that. Or that fight scene in Oak Hill Memorial, there’s like five different fights happening at once and the camera starts to pull back and show it all, but then it cuts to a different shot. An aerial view of everyone battling in a cemetery would have been so cool!
I’d also have preferred if they didn’t refer to “sin” so much in this episode --- I get that the title is “The Sin-Eater,” and I see what you’re trying to do there, but you can be a little bit more subtle in that regard.
Chris: All these CW superhero shows are absolutely awful about having some word they use to death in an episode and then never use again.
Speaking of that cemetery fight, have you noticed how sometimes the SCPD/ACU are really good at their jobs, and then other times they look like completely helpless babies without the Green Arrow’s assistance?
Emma: They seem pretty good in this episode; Captain Pike is in full cop mode when it comes to Detective Malone’s death, not letting anything slide. Just because the mayor says the Green Arrow didn’t kill him doesn’t mean it’s the truth. And the cops follow Team Arrow when they go after Warner, Cutter, and China White, but that’s just taking advantage of the situation.
For sure, though, sometimes it’s like these guys can’t even shoot a gun.
Chris: Like, they seem so inept sometimes, I felt like Ollie should have started laughing when they showed up to try to arrest him the first time.
I also just realized I don’t think I’ve ever seen Ollie laugh on this show. He’ll occasionally do that little “heh” kinda smirk, but I’ve never seen him actually laugh. I mean, I guess his life is mostly awful, but something at some point must have been funny to him, right?
Emma: He probably laughed when he was just a young, rich, pretty boy? But not anymore, no. This must be why Felicity tries so hard with her jokes, but Ollie must have the same sense of humor that you do (read: nonexistent).
Chris: First of all, how dare you. Second, I’m hilarious, and you know this.
Emma: Did you see that Oliver used a trick arrow to escape from the cops when they first try to arrest him? Finally!
Chris: Was it a trick arrow or a trick bow? I thought those flames were coming out of his bow… somehow. I guess an arrow would make more sense, but I didn’t remember seeing him pull an arrow out to do it. Ultimately, I guess it doesn’t matter, but if he’s got stuff like that, why isn’t he using it all the time?!
I’m glad you brought this up, because I wanted to talk about this topic again. You know what would have been a great thing for Ollie to do the first time he and Quentin got the drop on the Ollie’s Devils? Shoot them with some kind of net arrow or bolo arrow or tranquilizer arrow as soon as he sees them and they have no idea he’s there. You know, instead of yelling, “Nobody move or shoot at me or run away and also you have failed this city, but I absolutely will not shoot these arrows at you, so don’t be too concerned!”
Emma: Ollie’s Devils, like the dark Charlie’s Angels? I like it. Although with the redhead in the mix they reminded me more of an evil version of Josie and the Pussycats.
That definitely would have been great, but a) Ollie needs to give his bad guys a fair chance, c’mon, and b) he just really likes to tell people they’ve Failed This City. If he doesn’t do it once per episode he’s in a funk for the whole week.
Right after he busted out his signature line, though, Quentin just tells them they’re all under arrest. But isn’t he not a cop right now? What authority does he have to arrest them?
Chris: Citizen’s arrest? Especially after all that talk last week about how Renee shouldn’t be carrying a gun around in his civilian identity. And when the ACU shows up at the end to get the bad guys, wouldn’t Pike have been like, “Uhh… why are you here Lance?” To say nothing of why was he with the Green Arrow the first time the ACU showed up.
If the writers of this show have real answers to our legitimate questions, I’d love to hear them, but until we do, I’m chalking this up to very sloppy writing.
Emma: Dinah gets a mask this episode; now that she’s a newly minted SCPD officer they can’t just have her running around being a vigilante with her normal face hanging out. But it’s totally fine for Quentin Lance!
Dinah’s new mask is the old Black Canary mask --- what do you think about Dinah taking on the mantle? She seems pretty reluctant herself.
Chris: This is such a non-issue to me, because, look, you’re obviously Black Canary, lady. You have the same powers and name and you already dress like her, so putting on a tiny mask that would not disguise you from your new co-workers at all is not going to make a difference.
But then again, this is a city where no one can tell the super-famous (even before he was the mayor) Oliver Queen is Green Arrow, even if they were just talking to him a few minutes earlier and he says almost the exact same thing both times and the mayor’s made it clear he’s got inside info on what the Green Arrow is thinking and he’s got the same build, eyes, and stubble, so… sigh... I don’t know. The fact that Pike said, “That’s similar to what the mayor said” and not, “This guy is definitely the same guy” is just mentally exhausting.
Emma: I had to believe Pike’s line was hinting at him knowing and choosing to do nothing with that knowledge, because otherwise I would want to shake him.
I can understand Dinah not wanting to be the replacement girl. One dies, another one takes her place, Slayer-style! Women aren’t replaceable, people aren’t replaceable, but superheroes and vigilantes actually kind of are. These names and characters do get passed on from one individual to another and that’s part of their power. Her being the new Black Canary is a good thing.
Chris: Yeah, for me it’s more of an issue (or non-issue) in that way that says, “Please don’t insult our intelligence like this. We all know this is going to happen.”
Emma: It was going to happen --- they were explicitly looking for a new Black Canary --- but they needed Papa Lance’s blessing. Papa Lance is an emotional guy, Chris.
Chris: The one actual actor on the show that can believably portray a range of emotions is, of course, going to be the emotional guy.
Emma: He’s also not quite as buff as everybody else (but still quite handsome in a dad way, no shade on Paul Blackthorne!) so he’s got to do a bit more emotional heavy lifting.
Speaking of parents, Ollie visited Prometheus’s mother this episode at her home in Opal City. He approaches her as himself, not as Green Arrow, asking when she’s last seen her son, because he may be a serial murderer now. She says she hasn’t seen him since his father’s funeral, but she’s sure as hell not going to help Ollie find him. He’s not the one who should be caged up like a monster, the Green Arrow is.
It doesn’t seem like she’s actively helping Prometheus, but it makes sense to me that as a mother, she’s not going to help Ollie take down her son. Were you expecting Ollie’s conversation with her to go anywhere?
Chris: I had completely forgotten that part even happened. It honestly just felt like more time filler/treading water to pad out the season… unless it turns out that she’s in on it. I like to cover my prediction bases. I started to say unless it turns out that she’s actually Prometheus, but that wouldn’t really make any sense. But, of course, “making sense” is not a prerequisite for any plot on this show. What do you think?
Emma: Oh no, I don’t think she’s Prometheus. I think she’s a mom who’s bitter about what happened to her lover and her son. Not that that wouldn’t drive her to murder, but I think in this case it’s more likely to have driven her to alcohol.
I do think that scene probably could have been dropped, but I did like that it was another woman with some agency in this episode. Thea, Susan, Felicity, Ollie’s Devils --- this episode was full of women Getting Stuff Done. Even though I didn’t agree with most of the decisions they made or actions they took, it was really nice to see women Doing rather than Being Done To. And I’m totally on Thea and Felicity’s side about Susan Williams. I don’t think they should have totally destroyed her career, but something needed to happen and Ollie has a huge blind spot for women he’s boning.
Chris: I previously thought of her as a bad guy (and she’s almost certainly going to become one now that her life has been ruined), but Susan seemed to have genuine feelings for Ollie and just came across the Green Arrow thing completely by accident. If she was really evil and just out for a story, she would have run with it as soon as she found out, instead of asking Ollie about it first and giving him a chance to explain.
Maybe this is a little too much real life slipping in, but Thea and Felicity are the bad guys here, because they ruined someone’s life to get rid of a news story they didn’t like even though it was true. Plus, they had no guarantee that she was going to do anything with the information!
Emma: I’m pretty sure she would have done something with that information, especially if Ollie was going to keep lying to her. Probably the only way to keep her quiet would be to bring her into the fold as a member of Team Arrow and actually, having a member of the media on your side would be really helpful to them.
Chris: That’s a great idea! Which they will not do, because it is great.
Emma: I would so like to see Mayor Queen have a press conference announcing that he’s the Green Arrow, though, and finally be honest with the city he loves so much. Maybe when he’s impeached!
Chris: Another possibly exciting turn of events. It never seems like Ollie really has much of a life outside of being Green Arrow anyway, so what’s the difference?
Emma: His personal life is pretty crappy, and he’s… an okay mayor, but not a great one. He really is best when he’s the Green Arrow. I’m all for Ollie being his authentic, leather-wearing arrow-shooting self.
We haven’t talked about the Russia flashbacks in this episode yet. There’s a great picture on social media of Paul Blackthorne wearing Ollie’s Russia wig that made me think of you!
Chris: LOLFRIRL! What a delight! Did you know that on old soap operas sometimes, if something would come up (illness, contract dispute, whatever) they would recast an actor for an episode or two like an understudy in a play? I’d love to have Stephen Amell take an episode off and just have Paul Blackthorne play Oliver.
Emma: That would be amazing. Let’s just do a body swap episode.
Chris: I don’t want them to do a body swap, because I want them to have to have him playing scenes opposite himself as Lance (sans wig) like The Parent Trap.
Also, I now want a wig like that.
Emma: We’ll find you a wig so you can do Ollie-in-Russia cosplay, if I can be your Anatoly.
Chris: This Halloween is already looking up!
Emma: What did you think of Mr. Terrific’s new pants? I could also see you rocking a terrifying T mask on Halloween.
Chris: Haha! The jacket got a little cosmetic tweak too, right? Getting him looking a little more in line with the comic version. I liked it. I want them to take full advantage of that character, even if it is really obvious that it’s not the actor doing those fights.
Emma: I’ll let our readers scour screencaps to confirm if the jacket’s different, I didn’t notice. But yes, more Mr. Terrific, more Terrific and Wild Dog tag-teaming bad guys and whacking them with car doors.
Chris: One can only hope there will be room for that next week as we see the fallout from Ollie and Chase’s cover-up.
Let us know what you thought of this week’s episode down there in the comments, and be back for all the political shenanigans on our next visit to Star City!