NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Arrow” are present in this review
Arrow has been drifting dangerously far from the clear and present Prometheus danger since the start of its run in 2017, with the high-profile death of Detective Billy Malone in last year’s midseason finale being the last big move by this season’s arch-villain. Disappointingly, this week’s episode, “The Sin-Eater” represented the most frustrating drifting from the series’ core conflict to date, as a trio of returning villains are ultimately under-utilized in a throwaway plot that does very little for the season’s overall canon.
The episode at least begins with a small step forward in regards to the Prometheus plot, at least at first, as Oliver and Diggle take a trip to Opal City to inquire about the villain’s identity with his alleged mother. Naturally though, this is another dead end, as the alleged mother tells Oliver nothing, and almost immediately throws him out of her house. This leads to a completely wasted intro, and yet another brick wall in the Prometheus mystery. As much as Season Five has done a solid job of improving Arrow considerably compared to its past couple of seasons, the show is officially dragging its feet at this point, and it needs to kick up the Prometheus agenda, urgently.
So, with Prometheus once again pushed aside, we instead get to deal with a prison break, specifically after China White, Cupid and Liza Warner kill some guards and break themselves and several inmates out of a prison bus. This is kind of a cool idea in concept, especially since it brings together a trio of fan-favourite female villains, namely China White, who hasn’t been on the show for quite a while at this point. The three ladies also contribute no shortage of quality action, with Arrow at least still not disappointing in the fisticuffs department this week.
Despite the initially promising prison break idea though, it’s not long before China, Cupid and Warner are saddled with a really disappointing, highly disposable agenda that makes their prison break frustratingly lack any sense of real fanfare. Apparently, Tobias Church had a huge stack of money, and the three women are after that money, to fund some nebulous agenda to take Star City back from… Someone. Like I said, it feels like a very nebulous, half-baked concept that started and ended with the pitch of teaming up the show’s most high-profile female villains, which could have been done at some point when Prometheus is not such a pressing issue.
Thus, despite a good chunk of quality action scenes, the big female villain team-up is kind of a bust from a story standpoint. The show tries to crowbar in Lance taking it hard that Warner is out of prison, tapping into the personal history between the two, but this really never goes anywhere. Likewise, the show also tries to blend this idea with Dinah being sworn in as an SCPD officer around the start of this episode, but we only ever see her adopting her Black Canary identity, so this is also pointless. It might have been a lot more interesting to have Dinah be called in to duty as a cop in response to the prison break, and be unable to assist as Black Canary. In fact, why in the world did the SCPD not summon Dinah during this mess, especially given her credentials out of Central City?!
Among the litany of half-baked subplot ideas this week is also some evidence getting into the hands of the SCPD higher-ups, which appears to expose the cover-up behind Billy’s death at the mayor’s office. This also has the police targeting the Green Arrow, again, and honestly, the show just needs to stop it with sending the cops after Oliver for the umpteenth time. It’s been done. The police are officially out of reasons to chase down the Green Arrow by the fifth season of this show, and the fact that the police would trust the word of some unknown person that’s obviously trying to frame the Green Arrow really makes the SCPD’s superiors look incompetent and stupid. Sure, Oliver actually did fire the arrow that killed Billy by mistake, but there’s no way that the SCPD can realistically tie the Green Arrow to the crime, beyond his arrows, which would be more than likely considered to be stolen and/or falsely fired by forensics. Moreover, why in the world would the Green Arrow kill an ACU officer? No respectable police force, even in the DC Universe, would be well-served by rushing off half-cocked with very circumstantial evidence like this!
Anyway, beyond that rant, the whole police issue sort of ties in with Susan confronting Oliver about being the Green Arrow, which he obviously denies, seemingly putting the issue to bed, though Felicity and Thea then decide they’d better take an extra measure. They plant evidence of plagiarism on Susan’s computer, and this gets her fired and discredited, essentially destroying her professional prospects. This controversial decision actually is a decent source of drama between Oliver and Thea, after Oliver is angered by the actions taken to guard his identity as the Green Arrow, but eventually, he’s forced to concede that Thea made a choice, not a mistake. Oliver pointing out that Thea is not so different from her mother in doing that was also quite interesting, and a nice callback to the more morally ambiguous Queen family drama from Arrow’s earlier seasons. It looks like some of that drama may be coming back next week too, as the cover-up goes public at the end of the episode, possibly because of Susan going rogue, which could see Oliver impeached from the mayor’s office very soon!
This just leaves the flashbacks, and like the main story, they were largely strung together by action scenes, with very little story depth. That’s fine, I suppose, since Oliver obviously couldn’t hang out in the hospital with Anatoli forever, but much like how the present-day events are drifting too far away from Prometheus, it also feels like the flashbacks are moving too far away from Kovar at this point. Instead, Oliver and Anatoli have to flee their turncoat Bratva cohort, eventually managing to get away, and not much else happens. It’s a series of filler flashbacks this week, though at least they’re pretty thrilling to watch.
It’s been a while since Arrow noticeably misfired, and this is probably the first time it’s done so in 2017, which is quite frustrating. I guess it’s bound to happen every so often, even when the show is on an uptick, but regardless, “The Sin-Eater”, for all of its excitement and promising villain team-up prospects, ultimately felt like a filler episode. We did get a heavy dose of fun action, and the subplot drama with Thea was also executed pretty well, but it just felt like most of the season’s story arcs didn’t move forward at all this week. Sure, the issues at the mayor’s office eventually led to an actual impeachment threat for Oliver, but we won’t get to see where this goes until next week. It’s most unfortunate that such a promising villain team-up idea had to be stashed in the middle of the show spinning its wheels with Prometheus though. Hopefully next time we see China White, Cupid and/or Liza Warner, they’re given something better to do beyond chase a pay day.
- Plenty of exciting action in the past and present
- Fun team-up concept with the female villains
- Solid slander drama with Thea
- Female villain team-up is wasted with a lacklustre objective
- More dead ends with Prometheus
- The police chasing the Green Arrow again is infuriating