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This week’s episode of Arrow was one that wasn’t quite sure it knew what it wanted to be. “The Sin-Eater” had good character moments and interesting plot beats that were scattered about, but it felt like too much was crammed into a single episode to make for a cohesive story. It’s true, we did get some important plot development that moved the overarching story of the season forward, it’s just too bad the episode became disjointed because of it.
Arrow is at its best when an episode focuses on its main plot and integrates smaller stories in smart and meaningful ways. This was not the case this week. We had a nice setup with the return and collaboration of China White, Cupid, and Liza Warner, but the episode spent so much time on other plot points that we really didn’t get to see too much of the trio. Aside from a few lines here and there, both China White and Cupid felt more like side characters as Liza Warner took up the main spotlight. None of these past villains ever stuck out as memorable, so it was a pleasant surprise to see last season’s dud of a criminal Liza get some much needed character development. Her warped way of justifying her actions gave us a look into how she operates, but it also gave Quentin a chance to look back at his own sins from last season.
Ah, and there you have it, “sins” is the theme that ties the many stories that make up this episode together. That said, the episode still felt all over the place. Having Thea use Felicity to hack into Susan’s computer and put false evidence to incriminate her was a nice step for Thea’s character, but it didn’t have to happen this episode. Again, getting the ACU involved in the aftermath of Billy’s death felt earned, but why feature it now? You also had Dinah putting on the Black Canary mask, Oliver searching for leads on Prometheus, and of course, the flashbacks. I was glad to see development in so many areas, but let’s pick a select few and let those stories shine.
Episode structure aside, some great character interaction was featured, specifically when it came to Thea. Her distrust of Susan Williams has been something that’s been building up since the third episode of the season, and it was a relief to see a good payoff for the tension when she wrecked Susan’s reputation and caused her to lose her job. Thea is a character that has grown in so many different ways since her high school days in Season 1. She’s been an addict, she was trained by her assassin of a father, became a member of Team Arrow, and now she is essentially leading the mayor’s office under the guise of Oliver. This kind of malicious attack on Susan not only showcases her power and strength, but it also shows off her smarts. It was either going to be Susan revealing Oliver’s secret or Thea beating her to the punch. This parallels a lot of the decisions that Oliver makes as the Green Arrow, and the well-performed confrontation between the two of them reflects this well.
One thing I love about this season’s overarching plot is its pacing. Last season we were way too familiar with Damien Dhark early on in the season, and the same can be said about Ra’s al Ghul in Season 3. While we did meet Prometheus in the first episode, his plan and motivations have been slowly unveiled over the last fourteen episodes. His presence is always looming, and each episode will usually give us a small nugget of information that keeps us wanting more. This episode saw Oliver visit the supposed mother of Prometheus. Her unwillingness to cooperate continues to add to the mystery, one that will need a big payoff as we continue to head into the latter half of the season. If the improved quality of this season is any indication, I’d say we should expect not be disappointed.
We’re slowly making it into the final stretch of episodes before the season comes to a close. Season 5 has been great so far and corrects so many of the mistakes seen in the past two seasons. “The Sin-Eater” had its moments, but unfortunately takes a small step back.