As Malcolm Merlyn, Felicity's father, and other patriarchs cause trouble, the dads of Star City could learn a lesson or two from those in Central City.

By Jonathon Dornbush
February 11, 2016 at 04:16 AM EST
Credit: Dean Buscher/The CW
S4 E13
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  • The CW

When life offers a choice, do you simply accept the options presented to you, or do you, as Oliver attempts to throughout “Sins of the Father,” discover an alternative that might actually be the best choice to make?

On Arrow this week, nearly every major decision either implicitly or explicitly involved fathers. From Malcolm Merlyn to Felicity’s returning father to Nyssa’s dead dad to Oliver himself, fatherhood looms large over the characters’ choices in this episode (which, if the utterance of that word approximately 72 times within the first 15 minutes didn’t tip you off, was most certainly the theme of the week).

That doesn’t stop a little brotherly love from entering the picture, though. With Nyssa’s offer from last week hanging over him, Oliver wants to figure out a way to save Thea while not killing her father, Malcolm. Oliver doesn’t want to excuse Merlyn from every horrible misdeed in his ledger, but he also doesn’t want to rob Thea of a father when he wishes every day he could have his own father back.

So “Sins of the Father” becomes a back-and-forth of bargaining, lies, and murder until someone figures out how to put an end to it. At first, the team thinks Ollie should kill Merlyn, but instead he wants to broker peace. He attempts to persuade Malcolm to give up the ring of Ra’s al Ghul to Nyssa in return for Thea’s salvation. But the deal is almost botched from the start.

Malcolm doesn’t trust a word of Nyssa’s promises, and Nyssa, while speaking with Laurel, is so wary of Malcolm she threatens that the streets of Star City will run with the blood of his assassins should Malcolm cross her.

Nyssa is willing to prove Malcolm can trust her, though, and so she gives Oliver a sample of the Lotus serum, which they use in front of Malcolm to prove she means business. He immediately agrees to meet with her, but what should be the end of this battle only marks the beginning of all-out war. Nyssa, flanked by a few of her comrades, waits for Malcolm to accept the bargain, only for Merlyn to call in his assassins and demand the ring from Nyssa.

The two sides begin to battle it out until Nyssa regroups through retreat, with Oliver, Diggle, and Laurel standing in Malcolm’s way. But the bloodshed has begun, filling the streets of Star with the bodies of out-of-place assassins. Again, Oliver’s teammates, this time Diggle, want him to kill Malcolm. As much as they’ve tried to steer him away from his old, murderous ways, the current situation, if it means saving Thea, may mean he has to channel his anger and end Merlyn’s life.

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Still, Oliver looks for another way, even as the team helps save Nyssa and her group from Merlyn’s league. But they have an ulterior motive to aiding Nyssa, as they knock her out and bring her back to base, where Laurel pleads with her to not live up to the person her father wanted her to be. She should be free of him and not hold the threat of Thea’s death as a means of attaining what she desires.

Surprisingly, Malcolm is also at base, returning to Thea’s bedside to be with her in her final hours. She is to die by sunrise, but Malcolm refuses to abdicate his plans for her, despite how much he loves her. He knows Oliver would make the same decision with William, his son, to try to make the brother of his daughter see eye-to-eye with Merlyn.

Again, Oliver says he wouldn’t just accept this choice as an either/or, the kingdom or the family. He would look for a third option, and he does so in a trial by combat. Nyssa and Malcolm are to fight to the death, allowing whoever wins to be the rightful Ra’s and hopefully secure the Lotus in the process.

Oliver’s crazy scheming doesn’t stop there, though. As annoyed as Felicity presumably must have been to hear Nyssa repeatedly refer to Oliver as her husband by the league’s laws, that lingering idea of marriage gives Ollie his last surprise pivot in the hunt for another choice. As her husband, he can step into the trial, fighting in her stead. Although she is initially reticent, Nyssa begrudgingly agrees, and unlike Oliver’s last combat trial, he has no problem overcoming his opponent. Malcolm might as well be the second understudy of a baddie of the week with how swiftly Oliver secures the upper hand.

NEXT: Can Felicity trust her father?

He demands Malcolm give up the Ra’s name, but he will only do so if Oliver kills him. Everyone agrees: Oliver must do it. But the resourceful Mr. Queen has another choice in mind, and it doesn’t require him to take Malcolm’s life, just his hand. Oliver chops Merlyn’s hand with the Ra’s ring off, knocking his foe out and then bringing the ring to Nyssa, who is named the rightful new Ra’s al Ghul.

And what does she do with that power, other than handing over the Lotus and saving Thea’s life, of course? She disbands the League of Assassins and melts the ring, in front of Oliver, Laurel, and Malcolm, no less. She wants no one to remain a prisoner of her father’s bidding, and to keep the league alive would be to retain his horrible rule.

Malcolm is, of course, bitter over the loss of his power and to have been spared by Oliver, and with everything seemingly lost (except for, you know, the life of his daughter), Malcolm decides to stir the pot some more. In a meeting with Damien Darhk, he offers a little bit of intel to give the new Big Bad a target other than Felicity so he can truly strike at Oliver’s core. Even more so than Felicity, there’s one person Malcolm believes Ollie would do anything to protect, and that person is his son, William. And based on his prior behavior, Darhk is certainly not above threatening the life of a child to make his father, Darhk’s current nemesis, pay.

But the Queens aren’t the only ones embroiled in daddy issues. Felicity is contending with the arrival of her father, who quickly cuts to the chase. He reveals to her that he was in fact the Calculator, and after some digging he discovered who he had just engaged with in a battle of wits.

Felicity attempts to leave, but he promises he’s there to make good. He wants to be the father he never was, asking for some semblance of a chance to work his way back into her good graces. She wants to give him the chance, desperately so, even though her mother warns Felicity that people don’t change and her father will always be the deceitful, abandoning criminal he once was.

Felicity decides to test him after verifying he is the man he claims to be. She does so by giving him access to all of Palmer Tech, which he takes advantage of with abandon. Understandably shaken, Felicity is unsure of how to proceed with the notion that her father may still be lying to her about his true intentions. He may still be the terrible man her mother warned her about.

Even if she believes that he left not because of any flaw she had but because his criminal past would have endangered her, Felicity’s trust in him has gone out the window, and she doesn’t want to fall too deep down this rabbit hole only to be devastated. So she calls the cops in on her father, a choice that clearly tested Felicity. Her mother says people don’t change; Oliver hopes that, other than a select few, there’s a chance for everyone to change; but the uncertainty of the situation forces Felicity’s hand. However, this surely is not the end of her renewed relationship with Papa Smoak. Hopefully, however it plays out, their reconciliation or complete split involves much less bloodshed than the fathers tied up in the League of Assassins business.

On the Island

The slow crawl of Oliver’s time on the island continues, as Taiana must deal with the revelation that Oliver killed her brother while also being forced to keep him alive at Baron Reiter’s demands. Also having handed over the stone Oliver received last week, she’s given Reiter the last piece in the puzzle to find his treasure.

But Taiana can tell that Oliver, in his shattered state, truly wants to move on from the sins of his past, to live for the loved ones who have died in his wake. To do so, she believes they must build him back up and begins to plan with him on how they can fight their way out of Reiter’s oppressive rule.

The Baron has other plans in mind, though. Specifically, he plans to dig for the heaven that he believes awaits him.

Episode Recaps


Billionaire Oliver Queen — under the vigilante persona of Arrow — tries to right the wrongs of his family and fight the ills of society.
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  • Marc Guggenheim
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