Saturday, February 25, 2017

Arrow 5x14 Review: "The Sin-Eater" (Absolution, or Absolutely Not) [Contributor: Jenn]

"The Sin-Eater"
Original Airdate: February 22, 2017

"I'm a sin-eater. I absorb the misdeeds of others, darkening my soul to keep theirs pure." — Raymond Reddington, The Blacklist

The concept of a sin-eater isn't really new to me as a viewer going into this week's Arrow. As someone who is a Christian (and also someone who watched The Blacklist and Sleepy Hollow ages ago), the idea of someone absorbing the payment that another person deserved is pretty commonplace for me. Raymond Reddington's quote from The Blacklist is probably the most concise explanation of what a sin-eater actually is: a person who does horrible things and absorbs the horrible things of others in order to save them. On The Blacklist, Red absorbed a lot to keep Elizabeth Keen safe. In Arrow, we often see Oliver as a kind of sin-eater  willing to take on darkness so that other can keep their souls pure.

The allusion is really loose in "The Sin-Eater," however, which is pretty disappointing. Instead of focusing on the fact that Oliver does dark things in order to protect the people he loves from being darkened, there are heavy-handed allusions and direct references to sin and the sin-eater in the flashbacks and a literal "sin" drop from Thea to Quentin and then from Quentin back to Oliver. (Both scenes in which, for the record, I literally groaned at.) Subtlety has never been within this show's wheelhouse, but I was hoping for something a little more nuanced and a lot less blatant in "The Sin-Eater," especially because without those random title and thematic drops, this episode is kind of all over the place.


Liza Warner, China White, and Carrie Cutter (also known as Cupid) escape from a really, really low-security transportation bus. Like, really low security. Y'all, these people ARE BAD. WHY ARE THEY IN A SCHOOL-BUS TRANSPORT VEHICLE? That tiny bit of logic aside, the women decide that they want to do a jailbreak and head back to Star(ling) City in order to get their hands on the money Tobias Church left behind. Seems pretty logical, I suppose, though I definitely wish we would have spent more time on these female villains.

Villains aren't exactly new within Arrow, but to have three female villains in one episode is. These are complex women and are basically used in "The Sin-Eater" as a B-plot which  by the way  is not really connected to the theme of the episode at all. I wish that we would have dropped the whole Susan Wells/Oliver part of this episode and made the flashbacks more concise so we could have spent some time focusing on the trio of baddies. As it was, however, these women basically just drop bodies in the episode to get their hands on money. They get caught (kinda), escape, and then finally get caught by the SCPD. Or the ACU. I'm really not sure which, but the worst part is that it kind of doesn't matter anyway.

The only significance in the B-plot is that Liza Warner tries to compare herself to Quentin Lance. (Quick aside, the actress who played Liza made me sigh in frustration. All she did was dramatically scene-chew and raise her voice. Cool.) This is where Quentin picks up the idea that what he did (team up with Darhk) and what Liza did (kill people) is not the same thing. He tells her that the difference is that he's owned up for his sins and isn't using them to justify more wrongdoing.


That was about it for our ladies in the episode. Although...


I really don't know why Annoying Reporter Chick is still here, nor why she's the apple of Oliver Queen's eye. I'm not even the biggest fan of Oliver/Felicity anymore (the show hasn't done a great job proving to me that they deserve to be back together), but I can't stand her. She tried to destroy Oliver's career, backstabbed Thea, and wouldn't bat an eye if publishing a story about Oliver Queen being the Green Arrow would give her more notoriety and prowess. At least, that's how I see her.

Susan (ugh, fine, I'll use her name) has proven that she's more dedicated to her craft than she is to the people she's doing stories about. And as you'll recall, Thea threatened the woman before. She warned Susan that if she messed with her or her brother, she would be taken down. Thea made good on her promise in the episode after Oliver confided that Susan asked if he was Green Arrow. Because Oliver is apparently blinded by... something for Susan, he doesn't handle her question well at all.

Since Arrow finally decided that its two longest-standing female characters should share a scene again, Thea approached Felicity about Susan's question. The two women panicked, and Felicity easily hacked into Susan's laptop. What they discovered was worse than they feared: Susan has hard evidence that Oliver wasn't on the island the entire five years; she's got photos of him in Bratva. So Thea hatches a plan: she tells Felicity to plant a few documents on Susan's laptop and then calls in an anonymous tip that Susan's been plagiarizing her pieces for years.

When Oliver confronts Thea later in the episode about this, he says it's something Moira Queen would have done. Honestly? That sounds like a praise to me. Yes, Moira was morally ambiguous. She was ruthless and she was intense. But she protected her family above everything else, and genuinely did what she thought was right (whether or not it was, notwithstanding). But I don't understand why Oliver is upset with Thea, and I'm really frustrated that Arrow made a woman apologize to a man for doing what she felt was right. It makes Thea look weak, and what she pulled was anything but that.

Thea was able to see something in Susan that Oliver cannot  namely, her ability to destroy him on every level and her willingness to do so. If Susan wasn't thinking of still using that evidence against Oliver, it would've been deleted from her laptop the moment they first got together, romantically. And if Oliver was smart, he would have realized that and thanked Thea for saving him instead of blaming her for ruining Susan's career. I'm not afraid of love interests in Arrow, but it seems wildly contradictory and self-righteous of Oliver to tell Thea that there's something wrong with her and he's worried about her because she chose to destroy someone's career  someone who would have easily done that to Oliver, given the chance.

And Susan kind of DOES admit to that in the episode, subtly. She has a sneaking suspicion that Oliver, or someone close to him, outed her. Because now if she tells the world that Oliver is the Green Arrow, no one will believe her. She's a discredited journalist. So, Susan, what you're saying is that you now can't do something you probably would have done if you weren't discredited? Cool. You're the worst.

I really hate Susan as a character because she adds no value to this show. We're supposed to readily believe that Oliver would side with Susan over Thea and Felicity  the literal two most important women in his life? (No, literally, they are.) So I'm disappointed in Arrow for undermining Thea's act of strength and ruthlessness by having her profusely apologize. The scene should have been: "No, Oliver, I'm not sorry. I won't apologize for taking down someone who would have easily, without a second thought, taken you down instead. It's my job as your sister and as a member of your staff to protect you. You didn't ask me to do this, but that is why I did  because you are too wrapped up in your own world to see the dangers right in front of you. And saying it's something mom would do? That's a compliment. She might have been wrong sometimes, but she would sacrifice everything for us. You should consider doing the same."


I'll now be accepting offers to write on staff, Arrow.


This episode ends with Prometheus expertly playing Oliver (you have to give him props for the lengths he's willing to go to in order to slowly pick apart Oliver's life; he's not doing anything by random choice) for Billy Malone's death. When Oliver tells the SCPD that Green Arrow killed Billy Malone by accident because Prometheus set him up, the police chief (I think? Or is he head of the ACU? I don't actually care, but I'm curious) seems grateful that this confession is brought to light. Why, you ask? Because shortly before Oliver delivered this news, Prometheus delivered the SCPD some missing evidence  namely, the evidence that was covered up by Adrian Chase.

Green Arrow almost gets caught by the ACU, but evades them (natch with a trick arrow). And when Oliver makes his confession as mayor, all seems to be okay. ... Except for the fact that he confessed to the cover-up of a police murder. The news travels and suddenly, Mayor Handsome is facing impeachment for the cover-up of circumstances involving Billy Malone's death. Is it wrong that I'm hoping Oliver will be impeached? Can Thea become mayor instead? I've been wanting this to happen since the beginning of the season. Alas, I doubt that will be the case. But you have to give Prometheus props for slowly discrediting and dismantling Oliver's life. He knew that Green Arrow killing Billy Malone would lead to this, and I'm really impressed by his meticulousness at this point.

Overall, "The Sin-Eater" was pretty disappointing. The flashbacks left a lot to be desired (as they tend to be doing this year), Oliver's care for Susan over his sister was baffling, and the heavy-handed dialogue left me rolling my eyes. Better luck next week, Arrow.

Other bits and pieces:
  • Oliver saying, "You know he's become something else... someone else"? I wanted to bang my head against something.
  • It was weird to see Stephen Amell smiling in this episode. It was even weirder that it was when Oliver was having a conversation with Susan. Ugh.
  • Seriously, Arrow, why don't we have more scenes with Thea and Felicity? WHY?
  • "We all do whatever it takes to survive."
  • Annoying Reporter Chick is also annoying in Suits. I'm sensing a pattern.
  • "Just busy taking out the trash..." BOW DOWN TO THE QUEEN.
What did you all think of this week's episode? Sound off in the comments below!


  1. I didn't even watch it. But from what I read online, Oliver is being a dick. He n snaps people necks to keep from people knowing his secret. But when Thea causes a corrupt reporter to lose her job, he gets stupid. Also, some people think that when Oliver confronted Felicity, it was an Olicity moment. I don't see it. It looks like he was trying to bully her. I thought this is supposedly a woman he still loves. I'm pulling for Olicity so hard. But I can't see any evidence of it. How about you?

    1. I didn't see that scene as an Olicity scene either. It was Oliver being mean. Actually both Oliver & Felicity have been mean to each other this season (sure Arrow, they totally worked out their issues over the summer). This was the episode that made me decide I don't want Oliver & Felicity to get back together anymore! Oliver is a self-important jerky asshole now and Felicity is just self-important. Most of all, though, Felicity deserves so much better than anything the show has given her... Billylicity made me like Raylicity! I mean, yuck! eww! barf!

    2. Also not anymore on Oliver and Felicity ship. He is insufferable, and the way SA is playing him is weird, cant put it in the word, like something is missing. Right now, I want Felicity as far as possible from Oliver. Fix Oliver, writers! It is hard watching the show when you cant stand the main guy, uggghhh

    3. I'm still on the ship, but with eyes wide open. This is not the Oliver I want Felicity with. My girl is too good for him. He needs to get an effing clue STAT. That being said, that scene wasn't necessarily posed as an Olicity scene - for some unknown reason we're supposed to sympathize with Susan, if not root for her relationship with Oliver.
      Because of this I interpreted that scene as Stephen and Emily demonstrating once again what insane chemistry they have. I see a rebuild, but I don't see it happening until season 6. I don't want it to happen until season 6.
      Felicity deserves time alone to deal with her trauma, and I'd rather have her build a relationship with Dinah or rebuild her relationship with Diggle--Oliver's a lost cause at the moment, and I expect Thea to be MIA again pretty soon.

  2. your micdrop was just perfect, but that´s not real life... sometimes people get obsessed with their new boyfriend/girlfriend and forget friends and family... :(