Arrow finds its footing once again as Oliver and Laurel face past demons.
Past Sins was fun, captivating and all around significantly more enjoyable than the previous instalment. While not being without a few flaws, they were either buried deep or extremely short. This episode focused more on the elements I particularly wanted to see more of, like the unmasked Oliver Queen. We’ve already had, seven season’s worth of vigilantism, so now is the time for something different; that was offered when Oliver went to prison and was subsequent release, with this being the first episode that takes that story to another level.
The theme this week was facing past demons, with both Oliver and Earth-2 Laurel. Quickly this turned to a villain of the week story-arc, but this time with a twist. The villain, Sam Hackett, the son of the man Oliver’s father murdered, actually had depth and most of all, legitimate motivation. Though he wasn’t the most ominous of villains, it was a refreshing change of pace, to have someone that actually played nicely into Oliver’s ongoing promise to be more transparent and honest. Additionally it explored the tension between him and lack of trust within the SCPD.
Laurel’s problem was underdeveloped in comparison, serving to once again attempt to make her character more relevant, humanising her further in the process with her own sob story. While this arc felt a little unnecessary, it’s difficult to not be intrigued at the possibility that Earth-1 Laurel left her own undiscovered demons behind, that Earth-2 Laurel will now have to face. Admittedly, if it developed into nothing I wouldn’t be overly disappointed, but the seeds have been planted nevertheless.
Easily the strongest part of this episode took place at ARGUS, centring on the idea for the return of the Suicide Squad. The inclusion of Curtis, who up until this point has been virtually redundant, raised something I never thought was needed; a voice of logic that the reincarnation, albeit under a new name (The Ghost Initiative), is stupid and unfounded. The focus on Curtis’ understandable apprehension in letting Diaz loose, was a different approach in questioning this storyline direction.
The idea of Curtis using virtual reality as a form of information extraction was genius but, more importantly, surprising. More often than not, you can see story conclusions a mile away, with the obviousness taking away from the shock and surprise. The VR twist not only allowed for that eye-popping moment, but also managed to incorporate fluent action sequences that have also been lacking as of late. The only negative I find is the continuing decline of Diaz, the once ominous villain turned prisoner/secondary character, just feels wasteful and without purpose. He’s nothing more than a grunting machine now; either get rid of him or use him more effectively.
As far as the Oliver and Emiko dynamic is concerned, the two shared very little screen time which, while I appreciate may come as a disappointment to most, I felt was for the best. Their brief encounter teased at the end of last episode was addressed, as was another meeting at the end of this one, bringing them closer together. The dialogue leaves much to be desired and feels very reminiscent of past trust/forgive me story lines. It’ll be interesting to see how this develops but currently I am not as invested as I feel I should be.
Past times was gripping and all around entertaining. It was refreshing to finally see something different come from the Oliver working at the SCPD arc as well as showing some creativity with the Ghost Initiative. The pacing and tone were excellent and the lack of flash-forward scenes were not missed. A episode that – compared to last week – definitely felt back on form.
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