Arrow recap: The past haunts Oliver and Laurel
At the beginning of Arrow’s seventh season, the powers that be stated that this season’s theme was redemption. We saw that idea explored in the first half of the season through Oliver’s prison stay, Laurel trying her best to do good, and Rene figuring out what to do with his life without being a vigilante. But just because Oliver is out of prison doesn’t mean the show’s done with that topic. In fact, tonight’s episode “Past Sins,” which was directed by David Ramsey, returned to that idea with a vengeance as both Oliver and Laurel were forced to confront old choices.
We begin with Oliver and Laurel giving an interview about their vigilante pasts and vowing to always be on the side of the law. As the interview unfolds, the action flashes back to Oliver’s conversation with Emiko from the end of last week’s episode. Needless to say, it didn’t go as planned and Emiko rejects Oliver no matter how much he begs her to give him a chance to prove that he’s nothing like his father. While it makes sense from a character perspective that she wouldn’t want anything to do with him, Oliver didn’t know she existed, so he can’t really be blamed for not reaching out until now. On the other hand, it’s easy to understand why she passed her anger toward Robert Queen onto his son, because that’s just a natural thing to do, especially for someone who’s been traumatized like she has. Back in the present, Oliver promises that he’ll no longer hide in the shadows because he believes transparency will help create trust.
That promise of transparency is immediately tested when someone kidnaps the reporter who interviewed Oliver and threatens to hurt people if Oliver doesn’t quit SCPD. Thankfully, the kidnapper is an amateur and it doesn’t take too long for Green Arrow and the SCPD to catch him. Unfortunately, the kidnapper pulls the old “distract the hero with someone in peril so I can escape” card, and it works. But before he leaves, the hooded kidnapper says that Oliver needs to learn that people without the last name Queen are human, too.
That last part sits with Oliver and it doesn’t take long for him to realize that’s what Dr. Parker, a.k.a. Wannabe Hugo Strange, told him after Oliver revealed that his father murdered his bodyguard before committing suicide to ensure Oliver’s safety. From there, it doesn’t take them too long to realize that the man behind the kidnapping and threats is none other than the bodyguard’s son Samuel Hackett, who somehow managed to hack the SCPD to read Parker’s unredacted leaked files. Oliver and Dinah realize the extent of Samuel’s anger, however, when they search his home and realize that he never gave up hope that his father was alive because Oliver lived.
Of course, Oliver feels loads of guilt after this discovery. Yes, he wasn’t the one who pulled the trigger; however, by not telling Samuel what actually happened to his father, he prevented him from getting closure. Oliver does bare some of the responsibility in this instance, and he acknowledges that. And I definitely understand why the writers wanted to go down this route given the season’s theme and I applaud them for still finding unexplored nuggets from the pilot so many years later. That being said, I think this storyline would’ve carried a bit more weight had it occurred earlier in the show’s run. Like, we’re so far removed from what was depicted in the pilot that relitigating this tiny detail feels insignificant compared to the Emiko Queen of it all.
NEXT: Curtis vs. the Ghost Initiative
Anyway, Samuel eventually ups his game and takes the SCPD station hostage by strapping shock vests to three officers and charging every item in the building with static electricity (or something). Once he has everyone’s attention, he gives them an ultimatum: kill Oliver Queen, or they all die. Oliver tells Dinah to run outside and destroy the circuit box that Samuel hijacked to weaponize the building while he stalls. He steps out to confront Samuel and apologizes for his part in his pain for the past few years. Although that’s not enough to calm to Samuel down, it doesn’t matter because Dinah succeeds, and Oliver disarms him and keeps his promise that no one was going to die that night.
With the day saved, Oliver does another televised interview in which he reveals to the entire world what actually happened on the raft as part of his transparency pledge. That big move is enough to convince Emiko to at least consider giving him a chance to talk, which is honestly all Oliver can ask for.
While all of this was going on, Laurel was dealing with problems of her own. See, when Laurel got her powers back on Earth-2, the first person she used them on was Brett Collins, the drunk driver that killed her father when she was 13. Now, all of these years later on Earth-1, she runs into him in a bar, and at the same time, she starts to receive threatening stalker notes. Naturally, Laurel assumes that Earth-2 Brett Collins somehow jumped over to this Earth and is terrorizing her. She ends up opening up to Felicity about what happened with Brett and admits that she blames herself for her father’s death. In the end, though, it turns out that this Brett is actually from Earth-1 and just hates vigilantes. So the SCPD locks him up and that’s that…or is it? When Dinah gets in her car, she discovers a threatening note, which means whoever was actually stalking Laurel is still out there and wasn’t Brett Collins.
Curtis also receives a blast from the past in this episode courtesy of the Suicide Squad Ghost Initiative, which consists of Diaz, Cupid, China White, and Lil Slade. Our favorite techy that isn’t Felicity is far from happy when he finds out that Diggle and Lyla revived the program to find Dante and need his help to make it work. Diggle maintains that this is what they have to do in order to take down Dante, but Curtis hates the idea of compromising like this. So, he finds another way around it and creates this virtual simulation that he uses on Diaz in order to trick him into giving them Dante’s location. And it works. Unfortunately, the success of the virtual simulation only convinces Diggle that they need this program more, which is fairly disappointing. Honestly, I’m not sure if it’s intentional, but I do appreciate the fact that Arrow makes a pretty good case that security organizations like A.R.G.U.S. are morally bankrupt and the worst.
What I found most interesting about this perfectly fine episode, though, is how it fits into the season. Let’s be honest, season 7 is a pretty odd one. Usually, at this point in a season of Arrow, we know who the big bad is and have at least a tiny inkling of where the season is heading. That’s not the case this time around. We’re on episode 11 and I have no idea what this season is building to in the present or future storylines, which is an unusual place to be. At this point, I’m not sure how I feel about this no man’s land, but I’m not mad at it.