In an episode with a title like “Sins of the Father,” you knew the daddy issues were coming to light as Felicity dealt with her father’s reemergence in her life and as Thea’s life hung in the balance of her father Malcolm’s hands.
Unfortunately for both Felicity and Thea their fathers both came off looking incredibly selfish and horrid. How is it possible that two disgusting excuses for fathers could a) get lucky with such incredible daughters and b) hurt them the way they do? They don’t deserve them.
Here’s the rundown…
Felicity and Papa Smoak
When we last left Felicity Smoak her father had just reintroduced himself into her life by stopping by her Palmer Technologies presentation. The shock of his reemergence was evident, as was what we all assumed would be Felicity’s quick dismissal of him from her life. Or would it be?
This episode was all about Papa Smoak convincing his daughter to give him a second chance — and that they’re both more alike than she thought.
We pick up with Felicity and her father Noah having coffee, where he proceeds to express his interest in being a part of her life. But she wants to know: why now? Noah proceeds to inform her of his little encounter with an expert hacker like himself that gave him a run for his money…and tells her that he knows about her extracurricular hacker activities, Overwatch. And that’s when it hits Felicity that she had battled her father. But this is also why her father says that he wanted back in her life — because he believes that they’re so much alike.
Later at the Arrow lair, Felicity reveals this powerful revelation to Oliver, Diggle, and Laurel that her father has not only reentered her life but is none other than the criminal mastermind, The Calculator, that they faced earlier. He claims that they’re both “vigilantes” and wants to be a part of her life. And the sick part is Felicity wants to believe him. She wonders why there can’t be a test to see if he is who he says he is?
Felicity eventually reveals the news to her mother, who in an instant turns from adorable cutie pie to protective mama bear when she fears her daughter’s well-being is in jeopardy because of this coward of a man. Felicity wonders if maybe he’s changed, but Donna shuts that down immediately claiming he’ll tell you what you want to hear right before he lets you down. “People don’t change even if you want them to,” she tells her daughter, speaking from experience. And you can practically hear the message in her voice: I’ll be damned if I let that man hurt you again.
Despite her mother’s warning, Felicity decides to give her father the benefit of the doubt and allow him the chance to earn her trust. Felicity takes her father on a tour of Palmer Tech — the floor on which all of the brilliant action happens, Curtis’ RND lab — and shows him around all of the world-changing tech. While Felicity gives Curtis all of the credit for the tech, Noah tells Felicity that she’s the brilliant mastermind — the Steve Jobs — of this operation.
But just when you thought things were looking up for Felicity and her relationship with her father, we learned that Felicity was actually testing him. And he failed miserably. Felicity confides in Oliver that she found some incredibly advanced device that sucks the data out of any room in Curtis’ lab, which Noah had planted there. “He flunked with flying colors,” Felicity tells Oliver.
While Felicity knew that she shouldn’t be surprised there’s still a part of her that is. Oliver tells her it’s because she wanted to believe that he was the parent that she always wanted him to be; the parent that she always deserved. Felicity says that her mother was the smart one in all of this — she knew that her father would disappoint her; Donna warned Felicity that “people don’t change no matter how much you want them to.” But Oliver counters with “some people don’t…I’d like to think there’s hope for the rest of us.” Well, then, Oliver why don’t you finally come clean to your fiancee about your son? Stop the lying and prove to her that someone who has been known to be a professional liar in the past can change.
At the end of the episode, Felicity calls her father into her office to say “goodbye.” He’s confused because he thought that they were beginning to reconnect. But Felicity already knows everything she needs to know about him. She tells him that she felt like was broken and that no one could ever love her — because that’s what happens when a child’s father abandons them. Through the years all Felicity has just wanted to know what was wrong with her that he just left her and her mother. Noah says it wasn’t them — it was the trouble that he got himself into and how he didn’t owe her or her mother a life on the run. “I have waited my entire life for that explanation, and I don’t know if I even believe it.” In a way it feels like Noah wanted to believe that story that he spewed, but the truth is that what was right for Felicity and Donna was never a concern for him. Or else he would’ve done things differently.
But the one thing that Felicity does know to be true about her father is that he is wanted by the police. And on cue, Quentin Lance and co. walk in to arrest the son of a bitch that made Felicity Smoak feel broken. And I have never wanted to punch someone more in my life. As Noah begs for his daughter to reconsider, Felicity gets the final word: “I just needed you to know one thing: you were wrong. I am nothing like you.”
Back at hers and Oliver’s loft, Felicity finds a source of comfort in her loving fiance as she reveals that she feels remorse for turning her father into the police, which only causes more remorse because he isn’t even worth that remorse in the first place. But Oliver says that just proves that she is a completely different person than him. But he also warns her that this thing with her dad is not over — which all but confirms that Noah will return, right? — and that closure does not come easy.
But now that everything with Malcolm has been wrapped up — or so Oliver thinks — Oliver asks Felicity, again, “Will you marry me?” As in, let’s do this thing right now. What are they waiting for? Their window is open and couldn’t come at a better time. They could have a small ceremony with their closest friends and all of the things that aren’t involved with a big wedding, which her mother would hate but Felicity doesn’t seem to mind. Because this isn’t about the wedding, it’s about marrying the man she loves and spending the rest of her life with him. With an adorable wink that makes my heart go “boom,” Felicity says, “I’m in.”
Malcolm and Thea
Malcolm Merlyn has proven time and time again how much of a despicable human being he is, but his actions in this episode really showed his selfishness and just how much he could care less about Thea so long as he remains in power.
There was a theme interwoven through this episode about how people cannot change unless they actually want to change. We’ve seen Oliver embrace the change — and work toward it — but Malcolm (along with Felicity’s father) have never showed any signs of wanting to change. Even for Thea, who he claims to love more than anything in this world. Sure, more than any person maybe, but definitely not more than power.
In the beginning of this episode it looked like Malcolm might’ve changed — that he might’ve chosen to embrace it like Oliver had — when it looked like he was going to give up his title as Ra’s al Ghul in order to acquire the cure to save Thea’s life. Only he showed his true colors again when he used the entire circumstance to manipulate the situation. He had no intention of ever giving up his power as Ra’s al Ghul to save his daughter’s life.
This entire thing came to a head in an intense argument at a comatose Thea’s bedside as Oliver cannot understand how it’s possible for Malcolm to just stand by and watch his daughter die all while knowing he can something to stop that from happening. But, no. Nothing is more important to Malcolm than power as we’ve witnessed over these past four seasons. While Malcolm might claim his intentions different — and while he might actually love Thea, I believe that — he’s proven that when given the choice of saving someone he loves dearly and power, he will choose power every time.
Oliver’s Malcolm Dilemma
In this episode we saw Oliver confronted with quite a situation: kill Malcolm Merlyn in order to save his sister. The choice should be a no-brainer, right? Kill the vindictive murderer and save the heroic victim. Only for Oliver this was a choice that proved to be much more difficult than for people like us.
Throughout this episode we saw Oliver sort of defending why he shouldn’t — or anyone — should kill Malcolm, and it all stemmed back to: “He’s Thea’s father.” Never mind all of the horrific things that Malcolm has done in his life, all of the good people that he’s murdered, and how his first instinct has always been to protect himself and his power.
No matter that everyone — including your angel of a fiancee who is your voice of reason — is telling you to end Malcolm Merlyn because he’s the cause of all of this. Felicity reminded Oliver that Malcolm and Thea aren’t the typical father-daughter relationship seeing as Malcolm brainwashed Thea into killing her friend and ultimately was the cause of Thea being nearly killed by Ra’s al Ghul and then brought back from the brink of death only to continue to suffer.
But Oliver knows all of this. He’s still holding out hope that with time and with how much Malcolm says her loves Thea that there might be some hope for a normal relationship, a luxury that was denied Oliver and his father. It’s something that Oliver doesn’t want to take away from Thea. It wasn’t about the kind of person Malcolm was, it was always about who Malcolm was, and who Malcolm is is Thea’s father.
Through all of this Oliver cannot imagine how Malcolm can just stand by and watch Thea die just so that he might retain his power. But Malcolm insists that it’s not just Thea’s life that hangs in the balance — this is the League of Assassins, after all, and Malcolm will not put that kind of power into Nyssa’s hands. So Malcolm presents an interesting scenario: If Damien Darhk came to Oliver and asked him to lay down his bow and let him carry out his horrific plan if it meant saving William’s life? OH DAMN MALCOLM KNOWS ALL. Malcolm tells Oliver that the fact of the matter is he would not sacrifice his city in order to save his son, and that’s what he’s doing with this situation.
Eventually Oliver realizes the risk at hand with Malcolm. So he devises a plan that is incredibly cunning in that he convinces Malcolm to challenge Nyssa to a trial by combat and then he himself — as being considered Nyssa’s husband by their stupid ceremonial thing last season — steps in her place to battle Malcolm. He will see justice done. “Three years. Let’s finish this,” Oliver tells him.
The pair battle, and Oliver easily overcomes him. As Malcolm is knelt on the ground — refusing to kneel before him, which is funny because he actually is technically kneeling — he tells Oliver that this only ends one way: He has to kill him. “Just do it.” So Oliver looks over to his guiding light, Felicity, who gives a nod of approval. But instead of killing him, Oliver merely slices off Malcolm’s left hand, on which the demon’s head ring rests. He gives the ring to Nyssa, and she is now Ra’s al Ghul. Oliver couldn’t kill Malcolm — like he had said — but he was able to give Nyssa what she wanted in exchange for the Lotus that would cure Thea.
Oliver gives Thea the Lotus, and she wakes up cured of the blood-lust. Everything is right as rain. Or so we thought.
Malcolm promises that he owes Oliver a debt that is less merciful than death, which we start to see the beginnings of when Malcolm meets with Damien Darhk — because of course two big bads are more chilling than one — and reveals that he knows the person that Oliver cares about. Damien brushes that off as he already “had done a number” on Felicity Smoak. But Malcolm tells him it’s not Felicity. It’s Oliver’s son, William. Uh oh. Baby Mama drama forthcoming (I want off this baby mama train).
Nyssa al Ghul Gets Her Revenge
When we last left Nyssa al Ghul, she had left Oliver Queen with quite the offer: a chance to save his sister with a magical Lotus if only he kill Malcolm Merlyn. But things didn’t go as smoothly as Nyssa might’ve liked.
One of the my favorite relationships that I never expected to respond to has been that between Laurel and Nyssa. They both found each other in their love for Sara, and they’ve both helped each other in their evolution.
So it’s only right when it’s Laurel tasked with having a heart-to-heart with Nyssa about the entire situation. While she could never get Nyssa to agree to not want Malcolm dead, she did get her to agree to an alternative measure where Nyssa would become Ra’s al Ghul.
But after Nyssa comes under attack — and betrayal by Malcolm, who she believed was coming to relinquish his Ra’s al Ghul title — she flees with her group of assassins and it’s absolute bedlam in the streets of Star City…again. Always bedlam in Star City.
After Laurel, along with Oliver and Diggle, help Nyssa escape — after her team flees — they drug her and bring her back to the cage she once called home last season. It’s here where Laurel tries to get through to Nyssa about her intentions. Laurel tells Nyssa that this isn’t who she is. Her father is dead, and she is finally free of this life. So why is she insisting on this?
Later, Nyssa is challenged to a trial by combat by Malcolm — who was convinced by Oliver — and is prepared to fight Malcolm to the death until Oliver intervenes on her behalf. He asks her if she wants to be Ra’s al Ghul or dead? They all know the only one to ever defeat Malcolm Merlyn was Oliver Queen, so this is one battle that Nyssa needs to let someone else fight on her behalf. And Oliver not only fights, he wins. He decapitates Malcolm’s hand, the one with the Demon’s Head ring, and Oliver gives it to Nyssa. Nyssa who is now Ra’s al Ghul.
At episode’s end, Nyssa calls upon Oliver and Laurel as she means to thank them for helping her, including Laurel for helping her see the light. But she also calls upon Malcolm Merlyn, who literally has no choice but to show up because she demands it. “You’re Ra’s. I had no choice,” Malcolm says. Oh but he couldn’t be more wrong, Nyssa tells him as she takes off the demon’s head ring and tosses it into the flames melting it into oblivion. Nyssa reveals that earlier in the day she disbanded the League of Assassins. She released her forces much as her father had released Malcolm long ago. “No one will be held prisoner by my father any longer,” Nyssa says as she looks at Laurel, who inspired that within her.
While we don’t know what lies ahead in Nyssa’s future, we do know that this was a life-changing event that will affect her moving forward. Perhaps we’ll see Nyssa join our band of heroes on occasion? Or perhaps we’ll see her drop by Legends of Tomorrow? But trust, we haven’t seen the last of Nyssa al Ghul, the woman that was strong enough to give up the power she had worked all of her life for in order to do what was right.
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.