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“You can’t stop the past from haunting you. The only thing you have control over is what you do going forward.”

As the collateral damage from his family’s past resurfaces, Oliver must come to terms with the sins of his father while Laurel has her own reminder that some things in our lives are a burden to bear alone.

It takes Oliver’s full confession of his father’s sins, but Emiko accepts that he’s not like Robert Queen.

When dealing with genre shows highlighted by metahumans and vigilantes, there’s a level of suspension of disbelief required to enjoy this fun forays into other worlds. Even still, based on the rules created for that world, there are events that sheer even that fabric and can have viewers shaking their heads. Therefore it’s quite ironic that the biggest two offenders of this particular storyline are presented side-by-side.

Oliver Queen, despite years of killing (criminals yes, but still killing) and prison time is now a ‘trusted’ member of the SCPD? Equally bad and sitting beside him is Laurel Lance, Star City’s DA… only the one small fact is that this Laurel never practiced law, but was cagey enough to study law books on the side. Their ridiculous stories of the current season aside, “Past Sins” keeps the pair at the narrative forefront, with both admitting painful truths they’ve kept buried for so many years.

For Oliver, it once again starts with his father. After meeting Emiko at the graveyard, his half-sister’s rebuff of his attempts to make amends fresh, Oliver must track down Sam Hackett, the son of Dave Hackett, Robert Queen’s bodyguard and the man he murdered in part to save Oliver. Of course, Sam blames Oliver and everything Queen for his father’s death and his ultimate goal is to see Oliver pay for the sins of his father. Even if this had been handled with a bit more care and not rushed through, it’s something we’ve seen before and broke no new ground. Yes, Oliver shares the truth with Star City but would that truth really matter after the years of masquerading as a vigilante? Even his promise to be transparent, to be honest, doesn’t mean much in the light of his past actions. But it does mean something to Emiko and, while sloppy in its arrival to the point, “Past Sins” does open the door for the half-siblings to formulate some sort of relationship as the season moves forward.

Laurel’s burgeoning relationship with Felicity helps pull her from that abyss of guilt.

One of the more interesting characters this season—despite the laughable events that led to her current position—has been Laurel Lance. As the former Black Siren and a handful of bad news, her story arc over the past few seasons has allowed her to organically trade in her black hat for one the good guys wear. Better yet is that she’s still not rid of her past ways, falling into the badass persona when she thinks the drunk driver who killed her father on Earth-2 made his way to Earth-Prime.  When she discovers that it’s not him, Laurel’s unresolved issues regarding her Quentin’s death in on full display. She blames herself for Quentin being on the road, throwing a 13 year-old girl tantrum during her birthday party and, despite the drunk driver being the one who ultimately killed her father, Laurel sees herself as the catalyst for him being out on the road in the first place. It’s a burden that had weighed on her for so many years that, even as Felicity offers her a shoulder to cry on and sage words, there will be echoes of that guilt remaining, even if she logically accepts the truth of his death.

The newest members of the Ghost Initiative, a new take on the Suicide Squad.

When taking into account the length of a typical season, there’s no helping the truth that duds will happen and, while “Past Sins” isn’t a failure, it doesn’t take the necessary care in crafting a compelling narrative arc for Oliver and, for this round, is carried by the emotional awakening of Laurel Lance. In the long run, that may not be a bad thing as Katie Cassidy’s character has been underused for much of the season. Here’s hoping to see a more nuanced and expanded role for her going forward. As for Oliver, there is a lot of material to work with as he and Emiko try to find their bearings as half-siblings, one that may be complicated at his newfound honesty with the city and Emiko’s own turn as the vigilante.

­Nota Bene

  • After last week’s introduction, the Ghost Initiative is given its own B-plotline. In addition to Diaz, the new team is comprised of China White, Cupid, and Kane Wolfman. Curtis’s has a mildly interesting arc (if you can get past his whining and tired and unfunny act). Though his virtual prison for the quartet helps gain information on the mysterious Dante, Diggle refuses to kill the program. Refusing to participate in something he deems immoral, Curtis walks away from A.R.G.U.S. It’s rather commendable that he stays true to himself but begs the question of why Diggle (and Lyla) would not compartmentalize more, shielding him from these types of decisions.
  • So, it turns out there’s someone stalking the Canaries. Both Laurel and Dinah receive chilling notes letting them know that they are in someone’s crosshairs. Whether this has anything to do with Dante or a completely separate baddie remains to be seen.