Arrow 5×14 Review: 'The Sin-Eater'

Well, that was surprisingly not terrible. Especially given what it looked like Arrow was setting up. But that doesn’t mean it was good either. When a show that has generally been known for its smarts – at least in the previous seasons – suddenly loses that intelligence it’s not only baffling it’s embarrassing.

For instance, this whole making Susan Williams – a woman who slept with Oliver Queen to get information – a victim in this episode was downright ridiculous. I think the idea was to make Susan out to be the victim. But I don’t feel sorry for her in the slightest. Does anyone?

Then you have this whole thing where Oliver has become seemingly less intelligent this season in terms of his reactions and lack of concern when it comes to people knowing his identity as the Green Arrow. You’re trying to tell me that after Susan asked Oliver if he was the Green Arrow that there wasn’t any red flags for him?

That’s my problem with Arrow this season. It’s lost all sense. Sure, it manages to weave together episodes, but the content within in terms of the characters’ reactions and behaviors makes no sense. Oliver not being on guard. Oliver blindly trusting this Susan woman that he barely knows. Felicity being silenced during important issues. And so much more.




I’ve always admired Arrow because it was one of the more intelligent comic book shows I’d come across. It was quick-witted, smart, believable in its own way, and there was sense in a world of superheroes that shouldn’t make sense. But Arrow has lost that this season. It feels like a parody sometimes.

At this point, I’m trying to remain as hopeful as possible for the potential of redemption for this fifth season from hell. Whether that comes near the end of the season when they’re setting up which (prays, hopefully) is an improvement from this season. Or whether Arrow surprises me down this final stretch. But given what we’ve been dealt this season, I try to keep my expectations at a minimum and let them surprise me – good or bad.

Let’s break this down:

Felicity and Thea Team Up to Take Out the Trash

There are a lot of things that I’ve been waiting for with Arrow in the now five seasons it’s been in existence. Felicity Smoak and Thea Queen being friends and teaming up against backstabbing women is one of them. Arrow, you’re all about change in season 5, right? Well, there’s plenty of change you can start with that doesn’t involve reinventing the wheel. Like Felicity and Thea.

The two remaining central females on Arrow have known each other for years. Yet we’ve hardly gotten to see them interact with each other or, you know, develop a friendship. Because in the DC Comics universe they’re not big on female friendships for whatever stupid reason.

But you’ve got to give it up for the two most important people in Oliver Queen’s life. When his life was at stake – when they learned that Susan Williams had asked Oliver if he was the Green Arrow – the two women jumped to action. Well, actually Thea found out first and went to Felicity for help.

I loved how Thea went to Felicity for help with this situation. Sure, Felicity is the hacker that can work wonders with a keyboard. But it was also about the personal relationships they both have with Oliver. Deep down Thea knows – like we do – that Oliver and Felicity still love each other. Thea knows that if she went to Felicity for help that Felicity would gladly help if it meant Oliver’s well-being was at stake. See, it wasn’t just about getting technical help. It was about going to someone who has a reason to care.

So Felicity hacked Susan’s computer and helped Thea get everything she needed to destroy that backstabbing journalist’s life and reputation. She planted evidence that condemned Susan as a plagiarist, got her fired, and secured her journalism-less future. And I couldn’t be more proud. You know what they say, what goes around comes around. And if anyone had it coming it was Susan.

Surely Arrow had to find a way to ruin this entire thing by having Oliver go off on Felicity and Thea about getting his current girlfriend fired. I’m sorry Oliver, but Felicity and Thea have both forgiven you for a hell of a lot of things and have always stuck by you. What the hell has this Susan woman ever done for you except sleep with you and investigate who you are?

I mean Arrow nearly distracted me from Oliver’s going off at Felicity with a reminder that these two have no sense of personal space, but I saw it. Then you had Oliver going off at Thea worst of all. Not only that, he was essentially defending Susan and making Thea out to be the villain. Aw, poor Susan was fired. Aw, you ruined my gf’s life. Aw, I’m not going to get any action in the foreseeable future. It was sickening. It was as if Oliver was choosing Susan over Thea.

But perhaps the one redeeming thing about this entire mess of a storyline was when we learned why Oliver was so mad at Thea for doing what she did to Susan. It wasn’t about how Thea’s choice would affect his relationship with Susan. It was about his concern for what Thea’s choice would do to Thea. So he says. So I wish to believe.

Oliver saw their mother in Thea. How she was quick to jump to action. How she was willing to do anything it took to protect Oliver. But he also saw what those decisions ended up costing Moira. Oliver’s concern rests in ensuring Thea’s well-being. He doesn’t want her to get lost in that darkness. It’s also something that has me worried about Thea’s future on the show. Will they use this as an excuse to send her away?

There are two women in Oliver’s life that he would kill for; die for; risk everything for: Felicity Smoak and Thea Queen. So in a season where things don’t feel like they’re Arrow – especially character dynamics – it was nice to get that affirmation that Oliver’s love for those two women still trumps all.

SUSAN WILLIAMS IS NOT THE VICTIM

Sometimes I feel like Arrow is insulting my intelligence when they try to present the villain as the victim. Case in point: Susan Williams, who has gotten close to Oliver as a means to unmask the story of a lifetime. And you have to give it to her, she uncovered it. She learned that Oliver was potentially the Green Arrow. And even though he denied it and she’s not certain, you know that she knows that she’s certain. Call it a reporter’s intuition.

Anyway, Arrow actually had the audacity to try to showcase Susan as the victim of tonight’s episode. This, the woman who has betrayed Oliver and Thea for stories; this, the woman who has been sleeping with Oliver as a means to get information; this, the woman who would stop at nothing to advance her career.

And you actually expect me to consider her the victim?

If this had been any other person – someone who hadn’t had this coming – I might’ve felt sorry for them. But in all fairness, Thea did warn Susan what would happen if she screwed with her again.

   

Thea was just making good on her promise.

But Arrow perpetuated this insane idea that we should feel sorry for Susan. I knew that Arrow wanted me to feel that way, but I’m too damn smart to fall for that. Sure, bad things happened to her like losing her job and credibility (and hopefully put a nail in the coffin that is her ridiculous relationship with Oliver), but who’s to say she didn’t have it coming? Because she did. We do know what karma is, after all.

Oliver Has Lost His Smarts

There are multiple kinds of intelligence whether it’s book smarts or street smarts. And something that I’ve grown accustomed to on Arrow is Oliver Queen’s unique smarts. He’s not the brightest crayon in the box when it comes to book smarts, but he’s always had an incredible brilliance when it comes to survival – whether that’s physical or involving his personal life.

So color me shocked (well, not entirely as this mess of a season rolls on) that Oliver has become seemingly less Oliver-like. The man that preaches getting a good look at your surroundings before running into a situation failed to follow his own rules. When it came to Susan Williams, he ran in without hesitation for whatever reason – which appears to be forcing himself to move on since Felicity had.

From the beginning there’s been this question when it’s come to Oliver and Susan’s relationship. He had been uncharacteristically trusting when it came to this stranger – a stranger who, it turns out, was a threat when it comes to the media. Oliver knows the media. He’s spent years staying out of it as the Green Arrow. And yet there were never any red flags when it came to this relationship.

But let’s just focus on “The Sin-Eater,” shall we? When Susan flat out asked Oliver if he was the Green Arrow, he did nothing. Sure, he denied it. But he wasn’t his usual self that would act on that pretense. That situation would send red flags up everywhere. And yet, Oliver didn’t feel threatened by it.

This is a woman – one who has proven she can’t be trusted given her media past – that had discovered Oliver’s secret – the biggest secret he’s ever had. And given that she’s a journalist, her first instinct should be to run with it. And yet Oliver wasn’t concerned in the slightest. I’m sorry, I’m not buying that bull.

There’s only one explanation (and it’s not really an explanation so much as a revelation): Arrow has dumbed down Oliver. He’s unrecognizable in some regards. I understand that he’s changed, but there’s a difference between change and complete reinvention. And I don’t care what happens to Oliver, he’ll always have that overwhelming need to remain in control of a situation. Including a situation where a reporter has the ammunition to out his identity to half a million people and more.

The fact that this is the most I’ve disliked Oliver Queen in five years is worrisome — especially considering all of the terrible shit he’s done. Arrow, what have you done to your hero?

Dinah’s Hesitance

While I’m still not pleased with this recycling of the Black Canary continuously, I have to admit that Dinah Drake has really surprised me. Perhaps that’s because I came into this expecting the worst. But of all of the characters – especially the new ones – she’s been one of the better written characters. I find myself interested in her story. I find myself wanting her to forge friendships. I find myself wanting her to find redemption.

Dinah was brought on to Team Arrow to continue the Black Canary mantle. She knows that. She also knows what pressure comes with that. She knows about Laurel Lance. She knows about Quentin Lance. She knows that there’s so much that falls on her stepping into this new role. It’s overwhelming, and we saw her struggle with that a little.

There were some great moments with Dinah and Felicity & Dinah and Quentin where she voiced her concern. She didn’t feel ready to step into Laurel’s shoes just yet. But she was reminded that it’s not about replacing Laurel, it’s about doing proud by the legacy she’s created with Black Canary. And you see that realization sink in.

I love Dinah because in a world of costumes, Dinah wants to be as genuine as possible. That means jeans, jacket, and a mask for good measure. It’s comfortable, lowkey, and it works. She’s got the physical combat experience, she’s trained, and she has a killer cry. It’s funny because Dinah doesn’t want to stand out with the costume of it all, but she has a freaking superpower. I love it.

Oliver Faces Impeachment

Is it wrong that my initial reaction to this final scene of the hour was to fist pump ala Felicity Smoak?

Like this comic book storyline was cute and all, but it’s seriously wearing out its novelty and effectiveness. Basically, it’s getting old.

Obviously the implications of Oliver/Green Arrow killing Detective Malone extend far beyond his relationship with Felicity. We’re starting to see how Prometheus is using this as a catalyst to try to weaken Oliver. First, he tried to turn Felicity against Oliver. Didn’t work. (Never will, just saying.) Now, we have Prometheus sicking the ASU squad on the Green Arrow. While things looked damaging, Oliver found a way out of that one, as well.

But now, Oliver is facing impeachment after someone leaked the story about Mayor Oliver Queen attempting to cover up details about the death of Detective Malone. Two guesses as to who could be responsible. Actually, two is all you need because it’s definitely Prometheus or Susan Williams. Both of them have the motive. Both of them have the resources. Both of them despise Oliver/Green Arrow right now.

I’m having trouble actually believing that Arrow is wrapping up this mayoral storyline for good. It’s one of those things they’re hyping for the drama but ultimately will find a way to preserve Oliver’s job. It’s just this mayoral storyline is getting to the point where it’s boring me.

Can’t Oliver just be a stay-at-home dad by day and masked hero by night? (Seriously, I’m ready for Oliver and Felicity to settle down, y’all.)

I want Oliver to have a life in the daytime so he doesn’t get lost in the darkness of his night job. But this mayoral storyline is wearing off its novelty. I preferred Oliver the CEO, where there was a personal connection to him manning up and carrying on the family business. It was part of the recipe of success that carried Arrow in season 2.

What I want is a return to Arrow’s roots where Oliver fought for his company. Somehow. I don’t know if that’s possible at all – or if it’s going to take Felicity creating Smoak Technologies – but I miss business-minded Oliver. There was a sense of genuineness to it – even though it seemed utterly ridiculous at times that a playboy, college dropout could be CEO of a multi-million-dollar company. I just have a hard time believing that this college dropout with no political experience is fit to run a city.

The writers can cross this storyline off their bucket list. Perhaps we’ll see something different come season 6. Or at least less focus on it.

Five Things…

1. Arrow has made Oliver Queen really stupid. Like he was never the brightest crayon in the box when it comes to intelligence, but he wasn’t stupid. He was smart in his own way. He had a good understanding of when people were lying to him. He also had a good bullshit detector. Well, apparently entering season five has erased all of that and made Oliver not even care about someone asking him if he’s the Green Arrow. Huh.

2. I don’t feel sorry for Susan Williams even a tiny bit. This show seemed to do everything it could to make us feel sorry for her – to imply that she was the victim. But given what she’s done, including sleeping with Oliver to get information, how is she the victim? I’m sorry, but there’s a thing called karma. And Ms. Williams just met her.

3. Why does it feel like Arrow is setting up Thea’s departure from the show? Ever since we learned that Willa Holland’s appearance this season was cut to less than a season, I’ve been worried they’re slowly pushing Thea out. And this episode didn’t help ease that worry. In fact, it made me worry even more.

4. Oliver and Felicity still don’t understand the concept of personal space. Nothing is forgiven just because you give me a tension-filled moment where Oliver and Felicity are an inch from each other and exposing that glorious height difference. But I’ll admit, that scene made me feel things. It reminded me of the magic that Arrow has, and the magic that these producers are wasting.

5. I’m going to need more of Felicity and Thea taking out the trash. “I was busy taking out the trash.” Thea with the line of the night as she perfectly encompassed how we all, including Thea and Felicity, feel about Susan Williams. But I’m going to need more of Felicity and Thea working together. Especially if Williams rears her ugly head and threatens retaliation. Take her down, ladies!

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


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