‘Arrow’ 4×13 Roundtable: Discussing ‘Sins of the Father’

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Every week, Fangirlish writers will be discussing new episodes of Arrow and sharing their thoughts, feelings, and speculation about the hour’s hot topics in a little something we like to call Fangirlish Roundtables.

Today, we’re breaking down episode 4×13 of Arrow, “Sins of the Father,” where we discuss the father-daughter dynamics between Felicity & Noah and Thea & Malcolm, Nyssa’s return, and if we believe that people can change, as this episode focused on.

What were your overall thoughts on “Sins of the Father?”

ALYSSA

It was a very solid episode, but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. While the League of Assassins storyline had some jaw-dropping moments – like Oliver betraying Malcolm and slicing his hand off !!!! – I was hoping for more on the Felicity front. But with that said I really enjoyed the paralleling father/daughter storylines between Felicity/Noah and Thea/Malcolm, as well as the question raised by Donna: can people change? Despite not as big of a story for Felicity in this episode as I was expecting, it was a very good episode until Malcolm revealed that he knew about Oliver’s son and then went on to tell Damien the news after Oliver betrayed him. All that did was remind me of that horrific baby mama storyline that is coming up in what’s sure to be the most painful and weakest batch of episodes in a season that has been really quite impressive.

LIZZIE

I thought it was okay, not as strong as some of the recent episodes. I expected a little more focus on the Felicity storyline, though I did like what we got of it. And there were some other things that felt a bit like the show was asking me to take a BIG leap of faith and I was standing on the ledge going: Are you seriously asking me to believe this? (Like Oliver seriously going ahead with marrying Felicity without even CONSIDERING telling her about the kid, or Nyssa not being able to defeat Merlyn in combat).

LYRA

The drama between Felicity and her father was the only thing that saved this episode. Everything else was a mess. Nyssa coming in and trying to use the forced marriage that she loathed was an unbelievable move that wasn’t like her at all. I understand that this episode had purpose, setting Malcolm against Oliver and giving Damien the info about William. That doesn’t mean I have to like it. They could’ve taken a different route to bring Oliver’s son into the picture, like Damien following Oliver’s every move and discovering the truth himself.

On a side note, does Felicity know about Oliver’s son? She found out about Barry’s powers because she was listening into Oliver’s conversation with him on that roof top. When Oliver and Felicity saw that Malcolm was downstairs with Thea I think she would have listened. Malcolm is unpredictable and it would’ve been the right thing to keep an eye on that man. If she knows then what sets off the Olicity breakup? What could he do that’s worse than that? Or does her father do something bad to one of her friends? Felicity has pointed out that Oliver always takes the blame for things and broods. What if that happens to Felicity? Her father does something unforgivable, she believes it’s her fault, and decides she’s not ready to marry Oliver. She feels too much guilt. Now that would be a turn of events.

We saw Felicity’s father try to reconnect with her in this episode only to prove to her he’s exactly who she always knew him to be. What did you think of that? Do you believe Noah’s intentions were honorable?

ALYSSA

Felicity Smoak continues to show her strength in even the most adverse of situations as she dealt with those feelings of self-doubt and sadness returning with her father’s reappearance. Of course Felicity’s immediate reaction was doubt. Why should she believe that after all of these years that he decided to find his way back into her life now? Even after he revealed that he knows her extracurricular activities and told her his secret dealings, Felicity felt like she should at least give him a chance to prove to her that she was worth fighting for. She owed that to herself after all of those years and after he made her feel like she was broken and unlovable, which by the way I will forever hate him for because anyone that can cause Felicity that much pain is a disgrace.

Like Felicity, I wanted to believe that her father had changed his colors and was coming from a place of love. But when given the opportunity to take advantage of his daughter – and stealing from Palmer Tech – he proved that despite the façade on the surface, he’s the same criminal that he’s always been. Could Noah’s intentions have been honorable in some way? Sure. But after listening to Donna and knowing how many times she must’ve given him the opportunity to earn back her trust or prove to her that his family was more important than this greed, he failed each time. Donna in that scene – where she went all protective mother bear on Felicity – showed me exactly what I needed to know. No, Noah’s intentions were never honorable. He resurfaced in Felicity’s life after he got wind of her in the news as the CEO of a major company, and he saw a window of opportunity. Maybe after spending some time with his daughter Noah might’ve begun to care, but he proved once again that when given the chance he will put himself first.

LIZZIE

No, I don’t, and I’m glad Felicity didn’t trust him. I don’t think he deserved the benefit of the doubt, and though I like that Felicity can see the good in people (She saw the good in Oliver when there was little good to see), I don’t want that to blind her to the truth, as it sometimes happen to our trusting friend Barry.

LYRA

Noah saw an opportunity to get information and a wide range of technologies from Palmer Tech. That’s it. He doesn’t care for Felicity. If he really did he would’ve visited her sooner. He also would’ve sent Felicity and her mother money throughout the years to support them. That’s what you do when you love someone. Even if you’re not there you provide for them because the thought of leaving them is already painful enough. Felicity’s father did none of these. He’s not worth her time or effort. He doesn’t want to change. That’s the difference between him and someone like Oliver who wants to change.

Malcolm Merlyn showed his true colors once again that the only thing he values most is power. What are your thoughts on Meryln’s greed? And do you believe that he really loves Thea?

ALYSSA

There are no words to express my distaste and hatred for Malcolm Merlyn. While I love John Barrowman, Malcolm is the kind of character that seems to thrive on our hatred of him. But in what might’ve been an opening for redemption – his love for Thea – was prominently squashed as we – shocker – saw that the thing Malcolm cares most about isn’t Thea; it’s power. That sickens me especially when Malcolm has claimed so adamantly that he loves Thea more than anything and we’ve seen him emotionally affected when her life has been at risk. But he had an opportunity to put stock in the claim that she’s the most important thing to him. But he didn’t. We saw him trying to defend his stance that him leading the League of Assassins is more important in the love run; that it’s something Thea would understand. And that was disgusting. But that’s the thing; I truly believe that Malcolm loves Thea. But I know for a fact that he does not love her more than power.

LIZZIE

I think he loves Thea, but I think he loves her in a completely selfish way. He loves her because she’s a reflection of himself, the last human being out there with his blood. In a way, he sees Thea as his legacy, and that’s why he loves her. He doesn’t love the real Thea, good and bad, he loves her only as she relates to him. And that’s where he an Oliver are different. Oliver would give up Thea forever if that meant she was going to be whole and safe – Merlyn wants Thea to owe him, to need him. And that’s not love, not really.

LYRA

Malcolm does love Thea. She’s his daughter and the connection they have goes deeper than anyone would ever expect. But he loves the sense of duty and power that the league gave him more than her. He twisted the person he loved the most for this power (the whole plot where he got Thea to kill Sara. You don’t love someone enough if you do this.) The world believes he’s dead and his influence has diminished. The League gave him purpose and the power he’s been missing out on. When Oliver cut that off and took his hand he disabled Merlyn from getting all of that back. All he’s got left is his daughter, his inability, and a resonating anger that will destroy Oliver.

One of the themes in this episode rested with something Donna said: People never change. And that rang true for Malcolm and Noah in this episode. Do you believe people can change?

ALYSSA

This was something that I really enjoyed about the episode because it raised that question: can people change? It’s something that we’ve questioned previously with Andy Diggle and now with Malcolm and Noah in this episode. The answer is yes – if they want to change. That’s the important component in the whole thing. People can most definitely change if they put forth the effort and want to. Just look at Oliver, who was in a very dark place that seemed nearly impossible to come back from. But he did. Why? Because he wanted to. After Tommy died Oliver decided that he needed to find another way to do what he does. He wanted to; to honor Tommy. And we’ve seen it before every time Oliver feels the need to revert back to his old ways – whether it’s losing his cool after Felicity was critically injured or showing that he wants to be someone that is happy.

Here’s the thing, redemption and change don’t come without effort. You can’t just say you want to be different and expect it to magically happen. Nothing worth having comes easy, as Oliver said. If you want something so bad enough you’re going to need to fight for it. It won’t be handed to you. So if Malcolm and Noah wanted so badly to change they need to show it. Malcolm had a chance to redeem himself and show just how important his daughter’s life is, but instead he chose power. Noah had a chance to prove to Felicity that he really wanted to get to know her, but instead he chose greed. But are they completely beyond change and redemption? I’m not sure, but no one is beyond redemption on this show, as we’ve seen. But the thing is that they need to want it. And prove it.

LIZZIE

Yes, I do. Oliver is a prime example of that, and I think for all that the show sent this message in this episode, they’re not really trying to say that no one can change. I think the message is deeper. The message is: People don’t change for other people. People have to want to change, for themselves. Yes, other people can light the way, and they can help, but they can never be the whole reason. If they are, then that’s not real. Malcolm’s supposed “change,” Noah’s seeming “change of heart,” they weren’t real. Those two didn’t really want to change. They’re not like Oliver Queen, or even Sara Lance. They’re not real heroes.

LYRA

People can definitely change. If they couldn’t imagine the kind of boring world we would live in? There wouldn’t be hope that things could get better. Change happens in small increments and can only work if the person is dedicated enough. They’ve got to put all their effort into letting go of the old and grasping the new. I will say that change isn’t always perfect. There will be hiccups along the way, where the person falters and almost messes everything up. But tomorrow is always a new day. It’s not too late to get back on track and stick with the change you want to see in your life. *whispers* That means you Oliver Queen. It’s not to late to tell Felicity about William. Be the man you’ve always wanted to be.

Despite everything horrific Malcolm had done, Oliver so very much wanted to believe that Malcolm’s intentions were good. Why do you think that was?

ALYSSA

One of the endearing things about Oliver is how he wants and tries to afford happiness for those that he cares about. Even if that happiness includes a man that has wreaked havoc on his own life. That’s where Oliver is when it came to wanting Malcolm’s intentions to be good. This had nothing to do with Malcolm and everything to do with Thea. Thea is the one that has an opportunity to try to repair a relationship with a father, something that was never afforded to Oliver when his father killed himself to save his son’s life. Oliver knew that his father was not a good man, but he regrets not being able to rebuild that relationship, which is a huge reason why Oliver so desperately wanted Thea to have that opportunity with Malcolm. It doesn’t matter what Malcolm has done: he is Thea’s father, and she deserves that chance.

A big reason why I believe subconsciously Oliver really wanted things to end cvilliy with Malcolm is because here was a situation presented before Thea where there was a chance for that relationship between her father and herself to be repaired. Sure, Malcolm is a terrible person, but he is still her father. And Oliver saw that as an opportunity for Malcolm to prove his worthiness and loyalty to Thea. But just as Felicity had presented her own father with a test, Oliver – whether he knew it or not – presented a test for Malcolm. And Malcolm failed miserably. Here Malcolm – who claimed that he loves Thea more than anything in the world – had an opportunity to save his daughter’s life. And the only thing he had to give up was a stupid ring and position of power. But Malcolm showed Oliver his true colors and intentions when he opted to keep that position of power and accept Thea’s death as a sacrifice for the greater good. That was the turning point for Oliver, in my opinion. Of course it was that Oliver was not going to let Thea die, but he could’ve watched Malcolm kill Nyssa and take the Locus for himself. But Oliver looked at this horrific excuse of a man and decided that someone like Nyssa – who has done her share of bad acts – was more worthy of living than Malcolm. Granted Oliver never killed Malcolm, but this was Oliver choosing to defy Malcolm but still affording Thea an opportunity to repair her relationship with her father – and potentially sacrificing Oliver’s own happiness in the process now that he must deal with Malcolm’s wrath.

LIZZIE

Because Oliver has changed. He’s changed so much. He’s become this hopeful person who just wants to believe in the good. Perhaps he was always this person, and that side of Oliver just got lost along the way. Well, he’s found it now, and he’s not about to let go.

I also think a part of Oliver loves Thea so deeply, that he can’t believe that her own father wouldn’t love her the same way. Malcolm has proven to love Thea before, and Oliver doesn’t understand love as something that’s not complete and pure. He just can’t comprehend that Malcolm might love Thea, but he wouldn’t put her above himself. That’s not the way Oliver Queen loves.

LYRA

Is that what he was trying to do? To me he just didn’t want to kill him out of respect to Thea. He kept on mentioning how he didn’t want to mess with his sisters connection with her father. Nothing else.

We saw Nyssa finally break free from her father’s grasp in this episode. What did you think of Nyssa’s journey in this episode?

ALYSSA

Nyssa al Ghul is one of my favorite anti-hero characters in that she has held herself with such confidence and determination and you really see the motive behind her eyes. She’s someone who has exhibited both good and bad in her interactions with Team Arrow and Star City, but she’s never been someone I ever believed to be truly evil, like Malcolm Merlyn or her father. But I both loved and hated her in this episode.

We saw Nyssa embrace both of those sides of the coin in this episode. Nyssa had become so focused on taking her rightful place as Ra’s al Ghul and seeking revenge on Malcolm for killing Sara – and then allowing her to be brought back from the dead – and we saw her make her move on ensuring that promise she dealt Malcolm would come true. We saw the dark and the light in Nyssa. The League of Assassins and the power of being Ra’s al Ghul represented the dark, where Nyssa had her men fighting Malcolm’s men in the streets of Star City where innocent civilians roamed. But after a tender heart-to-heart with Laurel, Nyssa eventually realized that she was still being controlled by her father even after his death. Like Laurel told her, her father is dead; she is free. So why is she holding on to this? Nyssa eventually heeded Laurel’s advice and disbanded the League of Assassins in a move that I thought to be incredibly courageous and inspiring. On the surface at times it might’ve seemed like Nyssa was just like her father. But underneath, Nyssa is nothing like her father. And now she can begin to forge her own path.

LIZZIE

I both liked it and hated it. I wanted to strangle her for half the episode, and, yet, at the end, I was kind of glad she found peace. That doesn’t mean I approve of everything that he did this episode, no. But Nyssa’s a complicated character, and it just makes sense that my feelings for her would be exactly that – complicated.

LYRA

It was absolute train wreck and I hated it. Nyssa has always been such a strong and driven character who didn’t stray from what she believed in. They threw that away in this episode. All of a sudden she’s using the marriage she hated to try and pressure Oliver. It seemed absolutely out of character for her to do that. Then at the end she told Oliver that she doesn’t let anyone fight her battles for her when he offers to take her place. Ummm were we watching the same episode? She spent the entire episode trying to push Oliver into killing Malcolm for her! She dangled the cure to Theas condition over his head because she was too weak to do it herself. All of this doesn’t seem like Nyssa at all. If Sara were there she’d be ashamed at the lengths she went to blackmail her friends. I’d like to erase this entire series of events with Nyssa from my memory.

After Oliver betrayed Malcolm, Malcolm promised that he would ruin his life. And he went to Damien Darhk with news about a person that’s not Felicity that Oliver cares about: Oliver’s son. What do you think will happen next?

ALYSSA

Well we all know what’s coming next: baby mama drama (eye roll). While I absolutely hate Malcolm Merlyn for being a disgusting human being, I hate him even more for being the one to drag this whole thing out into the open. Not that it wouldn’t eventually get out, but Malcolm being involved just makes me sick. Now that Darhk knows about William you best believe that he’s going to use that information to his advantage. This isn’t going to a quick strike; he’s going to drag it out. Considering his wife is running for mayor against Oliver it’s almost guaranteed that this information will be used against Oliver in public domain, which is probably what leads to the forthcoming rift between Oliver and Felicity. But then there’s also another thing to consider: Darhk could kidnap William and use that as a means to coerce Oliver to a) drop out and b) stop opposing him. But we know that Oliver will not sacrifice his city for his son no matter how much he loves him. He’ll always search for another way, which is what makes Oliver and Malcolm vastly different. That and Oliver is honorable.

From a story standpoint I love how Malcolm has now moved back into a more prominent role of villain. So essentially now Oliver faces not one, but two big bads, both of which have their resources and advantages over Oliver. Something in me tells me that there might be a kind of partnership forthcoming between these two, which both terrifies and intrigues me.

LIZZIE

It’s all going to go to hell, pretty much. Darhk will go after William, Felicity will find out, she’ll hopefully throw Oliver’s ring back in his face, and we’ll all cry because, PAIN. I also think that Oliver might prevail in the fight against Damien Darhk much sooner than we anticipate, leaving Malcolm Merlyn, and maybe Mrs. Darhk to contend with at the end of the season. Now, that would be a twist.

LYRA

I think Damien will keep the peace for a little longer. He’ll let Oliver think he’s happy and safe. He’ll let him plan his wedding with Felicity and continue living under the delusion that he can hide his son from her. And just when he’s reaching that comfort zone he’ll strike! He’ll expose Oliver’s son to some form of danger. Felicity will find out and be angry that he hid it from her. And Baby Mama will tell Oliver that it’s too dangerous for Willam to see him. I don’t think Damien will kill Oliver’s son. He’ll go for the kind of pain that lingers and destroys one from the inside. Now that’s a villain.

What are your thoughts on “Sins of the Father?” Sound off in the comments to keep the discussion going!

Join us for another Arrow roundtable next Tuesday!

Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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