“If I abandon her now, I’m no better than my father.”
One decision. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to tear down a solidly crafted narrative, causing it to crumble into a disappointing pile of incredulity. While “Inheritance” doesn’t quite go that far, it narrowly misses from puncturing the once-captivating arc of Emiko Queen, replacing it with an eye-rolling and cringe-inducing twist that, for the moment, lessens much of what has come before it.
As one could surmise from the episode title, “Inheritance” touches on those all-too familiar bonds of family, particularly those of the Queens. For the first time, Emiko’s past plays out in flashbacks and what we learn is a damning indictment on Robert Queen. Leaving Emiko and her mother to fend for themselves was callous, cruel, and beyond the realms of selfish. It’s not that he leaves the 11-year-old Emiko high and dry with scarcely an effort to explain himself was bad enough, even worse is the fact that, nearly a decade later, Emiko returns to impress him with a business plan that even Robert loves, only to dismiss her on the account of not wanting his ‘real’ family to discover the truth of his infidelities. Seeing all this play out through Emiko’s eyes strengthens her initial reaction to Oliver reaching out to her; she has no reason to trust anything coming from the Queen family and the fact that, over several episodes, Oliver’s able to create a tenuous bond with his half-sister becomes an even more welcome payoff…
If only they had left well enough alone.
When we discovered Emiko’s involvement with Dante, it was a surprising twist, but not disappointing. Sure, her involvement with the mysterious bad-ass suggested an even deeper backstory for Emiko’s character, “Inheritance” put some of the reasoning behind her relationship with Dante in focus. Taking Emiko under his wing, it appeared as if Dante was the man who trained her, taught her to protect herself. And now, in the present, he was that invisible threat, a man whose abilities were only superseded by his cunning and underworld connections. Built up by whispers and then his first onscreen appearance to be a most formidable foe, my anticipation to learn more of Dante was not dissimilar to that of the Mandarin’s role in Iron Man 3. It’s unfortunate that like that ‘Mandarin’, Dante is nothing more than a foot soldier, a pawn for the true villain…Arrow’s own Aldrich Killian…Emiko Queen.
Not only do we learn that Dante is a part of this Ninth Circle secret society—one whose aims are quite similar to the League of Assassins (or Shadows as so named in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy) but that centuries-old organization is run by none other than Emiko Queen. Oh, and that’s not to mention the little retcon nugget that Emiko was the one behind the Queen’s Gambit accident. So, not only did she kill her father, she’s the indirect cause behind Oliver become the man who he is today.
While, if things had progressed differently, that could have been quite a nice reveal but, as the season has played out, this “twist” comes off as nothing more as gotcha swerve, both unbelievable and unnecessary. Yes, there are still a handful of episodes left that could possibly redeem what, in my opinion, is a very unwise decision and could right the ship, so to speak, but as it stands now, the sympathetic character they had created earlier on with Emiko Queen has been wiped from the board. At this moment, she’s nothing more than an antagonist whose motives are no different than a hundred other baddies that have graced the small screen.
And that, my friends, is a shame.
- Despite the Emiko reveal being an utter disappointment, “Inheritance” had some very good moments. From Dinah’s festering distrust in Laurel to the latter’s own fight to stay on the right side of the law (and Felicity defending her to the team), redemption plays a large part into the events that play out. Even knowing Emiko’s duplicity, Oliver wants to save his sister. Diggle understands this, having found himself in the same situation with his brother Andy years ago. Thoughts on who can be redeemed and how far we should go—how much we should sacrifice—in order to allow someone to find their way back a strong narrative throughline. Each situation is different but, like Oliver, we have to ask the hard question: what are we willing to sacrifice and, in the end, is it worth it if others around us pay the price?
- For some reason, Felicity’s work on Archer in the last few episodes prove to me even more that the flash forwards in time (despite the last few being quite entertaining) were unnecessary. Instead, I would have loved if they had used Emiko as the de facto flashback character; not only would this have given us more of her, but it also would have given more umph to her betrayal. We may see more of her past (especially as to how it relates to the Ninth Circle) in upcoming episodes but those will be hard pressed to offer enough substance to clean up the mess they’ve made with her character.
- Back to Dante; the fact that they make him nothing more than a lackey to Emiko is such a disservice to what they had built up. Again, the Mandarin comparisons are apt in my book and though Dante wasn’t totally neutered the way Shane Black did the Mandarin, it’s nonetheless disappointing. It could be my own expectations getting in the way, true, but to create this mysterious character only to have someone half his age, someone he trained, be the firing pin behind this newly minted secret society is a curious (and, at this time, bad) decision.