Thursday, February 11, 2016

Arrow Episode Guide: Season 4, Episode 13 - Sins Of The Father

For a summary of the episode guide layout & categories, click here.


With Thea's bloodlist having sent her into a coma, Oliver is desperate for anything that might cure her condition. Enter Nyssa Al Ghul with a solution and an offer - kill Malcolm Merlyn and the cure for Thea's condition is yours!. But can Ollie easily sell out Merlyn, who - in spite of everything that has passed between them - has proven to be a reliable ally where Thea is concerned? Meanwhile, Felicity tries to mend the bridge between herself and her estranged father, not knowing that he is the murderous master-hacker known as The Calculator.


Green Arrow: Year One (the flashback sequences on Lian Yu) and Hamlet (Oliver's conflict on whether or not he can justly kill Merlyn mirrors the central conflict of the play.)


Again, we have to wonder why Nyssa hasn't killed Laurel, given her role in resurrecting her beloved as a soulless monster. Logically she should hate Laurel second to no one but Merlyn at this point.

Calculator's arrest at the end of the episode was incredibly anti-climactic.


Katrina Law gives her usual stellar performance as Nyssa.

Charlotte Ross hasn't been given much to do besides play comic relief as Donna Smoak. But she nails the speech where Donna advises Felicity that people don't change. You see that bubbly facade fade away and see the woman who - though she's not too bright - was determined to give it all to provide for her daughter after she was abandoned by the man she loved.

Stephen Amell gives a Shakespearean performance here, really making Oliver's conflict over what he must do in this situation apparent without descending into angst.

While verging into melodrama occasionally, John Barrowman's turn as Malcolm Merlyn in this episode reminds of the vicious insanity of the character, which hasn't been apparent in recent episodes. It isn't subtle but damned if the performance isn't effective.


The fight scene in which Team Arrow finds themselves on the streets of Star City, caught between two groups of assassins with innocent people in the crossfire was amazing.

The script for this episode is very well written, with multiple levels and thematic parallels and a lot of witty dialogue. The key question of this episode - Can People Change? - is repeated throughout both storylines and goes to the very core of what Green Arrow is about. Because what is Oliver Queen's story if not that of a man who tries to change himself for the better?


The episode's title comes from a phrase repeated throughout The Bible (primarily in the books Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Numbers), regarding the mistakes of one generation passing on to the next.

We're told Felicity had a stuffed toy bear called Mr. Square Bear whens he was a girl. Square Bear was also the name of one of the bears on the classic cartoon Help!... It's The Hair Bear Bunch!

Nyssa and her group of assassins are based in an abandoned complex located at 7th and Rucka. This is a nod to writer Greg Rucka, who co-created the character of  Nyssa.

One of the stores we see in the background during the street fight sequence is called Janson's Collectibles. This is a nod to writer/artist/inker Klaus Janson, who co-created the character of Nyssa.


Felicity describes Curtis Holt's T-Sphere as an autonomous communications device, three generations beyond Bluetooth. There are no seams in the casing, as it was built from a single piece of aluminum. The entire surface connects to an induction charger. Calculator inquires as to how they achieved the heat sink but Felicity doesn't answer him.

Calculator tries to leave an IR burst receiver - an incredibly advanced device that can suck the data out of any room you put it into - in the Palmer Technologies R&D lab.

Dialogue Triumphs

If you cared about Thea, then curing her bloodlust wouldn't come with any conditions.
Nyssa: Thea is my sister-in-law. You are my husband.
Oliver: I'm not your husband!
Nyssa: But war does not know family bonds nor friendly sentiments.
Oliver: Who are you at war with?
Nyssa: I just told you I want you to kill Malcolm Merlyn. Try to guess.
Oliver: If you have a problem with Malcolm Merlyn, deal with it yourself! Do not involve me or my sister!
Nyssa: You put the Demon's Head ring on Malcolm's hand! You—
Oliver: You can't defeat him.
Nyssa: But you can. You have!
Oliver: And that was before I knew that he was my sister's father.
Nyssa: So he dies so his child might live. Didn't your father make a similar bargain? I'm sorry, Oliver. I would not resort to this if I had any other choice.
Oliver: Nyssa, my sister is dying because of something that your father did. I think you have every choice.
Nyssa: Thea is dying because of what her father did. I am only following events to their inevitable conclusion.

Calculator: And you know why the police were after me? The type of criminal I was?
Felicity: Mom never went into detail. I assume petty stuff. Anything else requires commitment.

Assassin: We found her (Laurel) at the perimeter. She claims to be a friend.
Nyssa: And she speaks the truth. At least until she defiled my beloved and stood idly by while I was left to rot in a dungeon.

Felicity: Is it possible that he's not the guy we thought he was, that maybe he's better than we thought he was?
Donna Smoak: No. Felicity, I would love to think that your father didn't show up with some ulterior motive in your life right now, but I've been where you are more times than I care to admit, and it always ends the same way. He tells you exactly what you want to hear, and you get sucked in, and the next thing you know, you have no job, no money, and a sweet 7-year-old daughter who needs a new pair of shoes and wants to go to Space Camp. People don't change, even if you want them to.

Nyssa: You come dressed for battle, Al Sa-Her.
Merlyn: Just for the occasion.
(Merlyn slips the Ring of Ra's Al Ghul off his hand and holds it up.) 
Merlyn: In exchange for my daughter's life.
Nyssa: (holding up the bottle of The Lotus) I'm glad you've finally seen reason.
Merlyn: Sadly, the only thing I have seen is your quick and speedy death.
Oliver: Malcolm!
(Merlyn's assassins enter the room.)
I knew you couldn't be trusted!
Merlyn: You knew? And yet you didn't prepare. And here you are out-numbered, out-gunned, out-maneuvered. Per usual.

Oliver: Taiana, I know what you're going through. It's this feeling in the pit of your stomach. It's an emptiness—
Taiana: Don't you dare try to help me mourn my brother that you took from me!
Oliver: Please... just listen...
Taiana: You know nothing about how I feel! A man with a heart as small as yours is incapable of such things!
Oliver: My father sacrificed himself so I could survive. So that I could right his wrongs. He did it by pulling out a gun and shooting himself in the head, not three feet from me. Since that day I have lost four more people that I loved... that I cared so much about. It never gets easier. Ever.
Taiana: I could see it in your eyes. From the moment we first met.
Oliver: That I was good?
Taiana: No. That you were lost, shattered. (Breathes deeply) There is a Russian saying-- "Tot zhe molot chto drobit steklo, kuyet stal." "The same hammer that shatters glass forges steel." If you want to be the man that your father wishes you to be, then this is how you'll get there. You'll save us from Reiter. But you cannot do so shattered.

Oliver: You set a trap for him as a test.
Felicity: Unrestricted access to Palmer Technologies' R&D lab. He flunked with flying colors. I don't even know why I'm surprised.
Oliver: You're surprised because you're hoping that he's the parent you've always wanted him to be... the parent you deserve.
Felicity: In an extremely ironic role reversal, my mother was smarter than me. She said, "People don't change, no matter how much you want them to."
Oliver: Some people don't.
Felicity: Uh-huh.
Oliver: I'd like to think that there's hope for the rest of us. Or I did as far as Malcolm is concerned. John thinks I should kill him.
Felicity: If it'd help save Thea, I agree.
Oliver: Yeah, and I'd agree if he wasn't Thea's father, but he is.
Felicity: We are in this mess because of him on, like, a million different levels. Let's not pretend that this is a typical father-daughter relationship. He brainwashed her into killing a friend!
Oliver: I know all this. I do. And I'm still holding out hope that with--with-- with time and with how much he says that he loves her that maybe they have some chance at some type of normal relationship. If I kill him... my sister never gets that chance.
Felicity: Thea's father is no more likely to change than mine is.

Oliver: Malcolm!
Merlyn: The Lotus effect is wearing off. She will pass by sunrise. I would like to be by her side.
Oliver: This has to end. No more games! You give Nyssa the damn ring!
Merlyn: She was 4 months old when we first met. Your housekeeper... Raisa, I believe, was picking you up from our house with Thea in a stroller. I peeked my head into the bassinette and Thea, all of 16 weeks, she stuck her tongue out at me. I always knew I was connected to her... as if on some primal level I knew I was her father.
Oliver: A real father wouldn't let their child die just to keep his hands on power!
Merlyn: That is not what I am doing. What's unfolding here is larger than I and it is bigger than my daughter. It's not just her life that hangs in the balance, Oliver. For all your dealings with the League, you still remain ignorant to what it is they do for the world.
Oliver:  Enough about the League. You're a group of Assassins!
Merlyn: It is a force of change silently manipulating global events for hundreds of years, and I cannot, I will not put that kind of power into Nyssa Al Ghul's hands! (pauses) Let me ask you something. If Damien Darhk came to you and told you to lay down your bow, let him finish his plan for Star City, would you do it? Even if it meant saving William's life?
(Oliver looks stunned as Merlyn nods in confirmation that he knows.)
Merlyn: I know everything about you, Oliver. I am Ra's Al Ghul. But back to the matter at hand. You will never sacrifice your city to save your son, and believe me when I tell you that I am only making the same choice.
Oliver: I would look for another choice, and I wouldn't stop looking until there was a third option! (pauses) Malcolm, what if... what if you could have the Lotus and keep your ring?
Merlyn: I don't see how. Nyssa's forces are stronger than I care to admit.
Oliver: Not by herself. You challenge her to a trial by combat.
Merlyn: You do realize your plan would end in her death?
Oliver: We're all backed into a corner, Malcolm. Nyssa made her bed.

Merlyn: In deference to good taste, we will forgo the removal of shirts.

Felicity: When I was a girl, I hated myself. I thought I was broken! That no one could or ever would love me! It's the only way a child can grow up when their father abandons them!
Calculator: Felicity...
Felicity: All I ever wanted to know was why. What was so wrong with me that you would leave?
Calculator: There was nothing with you, sweetheart! There was everything wrong with me. The police, the FBI... they were never going to stop looking for me. I realized a life on the run, that wasn't the life that I owed you or your mother. So I disappeared.
Felicity: You thought you were doing the right thing for us.
Calculator: Exactly.
Felicity: I have waited my entire life for that explanation, And the thing is I don't even know if I believe it.
Calculator: It's the truth.
Felicity: There is only one part of your story that I know to be true, and that is that you are wanted by the police.
(Quentin Lance enters the room with a uniformed police officer.)
Calculator: Felicity...
Felicity: I just need you to know one thing. You are wrong. I am nothing like you.
(Felicity turns around and  leaves the office, holding back the tears as Quentin begins to read Calculator his rights.)

I thought of you as a son once, Oliver. I had more in common with you than my own blood. But that's not the reason why I'm not going to kill you. Neither the fact that you are my daughter's brother. The reason you get to live is because death would be a mercy compared to the debt I now owe you!

Darhk: I don't like to be kept waiting.
Merlyn: My apologies. I don't have the resources I once had.
Darhk: Yes. I'm aware of your recent reversal of fortune. I take it that's why you asked for this meeting?
Merlyn: Well, I haven't come empty-handed.
Darhk: So to speak.
Merlyn: I have some information that you might find of particular interest. I know who Oliver Queen cares about more than anyone in the whole world.
Darhk: Yeah, so do I. We did a pretty good number on her over the holidays.
Merlyn: It's not Felicity Smoak.
Darhk: Who?
Merlyn: His son... William.


Nyssa refers to Oliver's defeating Merlyn in 123.

The Calculator abandoned Donna and Felicity 18 years earlier.

Calculator figures out that Felicity is Overwatch and reveals himself to her.

Oliver refers to his father's suicide from 101, as well as Tommy's death due to Merlyn's undertaking (123) and Sara's death (301). These are referred to several times by other characters as well.

In the flashback, Taiana gives the stone Oliver got from Shado after his dream vision to Baron Reiter.

Oliver says he mades arrangements with a family friend named Dr. Lamb to have Thea moved. Dr. Lamb was the Doctor who privately examined Oliver at Moira's request in 101,

Felicity had a stuffed animal named Mr. Square Bear when she was four.

Malcom refers to a queen family housekeeper/nanny named Raisa, who appeared in 101,

Malcolm knows about Oliver's son, William.

Oliver cuts off Merlyn's left hand.

Thea is cured of her bloodlust by The Lotus.

Malcolm tells Damian Darhk about William's existence.

The Fridge Factor

The main conflict of the episode is spurred by the fact that - despite being trained from birth in the League of Assassins - Nyssa cannot beat Merlyn in a straight fight and needs Oliver to kill Merlyn for her.

The Bottom Line

A solid script more notable for what it sets up rather than what it offers directly. Nevertheless, some effective performances sell it and the thematic elements - particularly Oliver's rejection of the idea that people cannot change themselves despite all evidence to the contrary - get to the core of everything this show and the character of Green Arrow is about.

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