Arrow’s 7th season continues with “Past Sins,” an episode I really didn’t care for at all. The various plots seemed very disconnected, and a lot of the narrative details didn’t work for me. I have a few other issues with some of these story ideas, but I’ll get to those towards the end. It almost felt like a filler episode, but then again, they don’t really have a big bad haunting them for the first time in quite a while and they don’t seem to know what to do with themselves. I generally applaud cast members spreading their wings and trying new things, but this episode was directed by David Ramsey, who plays John Diggle on the show, and it just didn’t work. That was probably the writing. I hope for Ramsey’s sake it was.
The episode starts with Oliver Queen and Laurel Lance going on tv to talk about their lives as former vigilantes turned public servants. There is talk about legacies from both Robert Queen and Quentin Lance, and this triggers some flashbacks for Oliver about his first and very unsuccessful meeting with Emiko Queen, the half-sister he didn’t know he had until recently, and the new Green Arrow. In the interview, Oliver talks about trying to build transparency and trust, and be willing to work at it. After the interview, Felicity tells Oliver he did great, and sympathizes with both him and Emiko. Felicity’s heart is almost as big as her brain, most of the time.
At ARGUS, bad ideas still reign supreme as Lyla and Diggle interview their new “Ghost Initiative” candidates. Besides Diaz, and making any deal with him is foolish at best, there’s China White, Kane Wolfman (Deathstroke’s son, who is the hero Jericho in the comics), and Carrie Cutter, AKA Cupid AKA Oliver’s stalker. Cupid is one of the few survivors of the earlier Arrow incarnation of the Suicide Squad. Despite the fact that the higher-ups at DC keep claiming the tv shows and movies are wholly separate, it becomes clear from dialogue that gets interrupted over and over that they are not actually allowed to say, “Suicide Squad” on the show at this point. Curtis comes in in the midst of the interviews, making a joke about ghosts of villains past and furious they are offering deals, especially to Diaz. Lyla and Diggle tell him again how important this mysterious Dante, the terrorist financier who’s so big and important that we never heard of him until this season, is. Curtis is not happy about the deals or the idea of putting bombs in the villain’s heads. His objections are overruled and he gets ordered to do it.
Meanwhile, in another subplot, Felicity and Laurel go out for drinks. Laurel is convinced Felicity needs something, and is clearly thrown off when Felicity says they’re just there to celebrate the earlier interview. Laurel sees someone who seems to be from her past, which puzzles her as the man is supposed to be A) dead and B) back on Earth 2. The man berates her, and she flees with Felicity, confused. Rich Kannon, the earlier interviewer, leaves work and gets a very unpleasant surprise in the parking lot.
Oliver, Dinah, and Nick (Curtis’ love interest and SCPD Officer) go over what they have on Kannon’s disappearance. They make broad, bland statements which are clearly just killing time until a pirate program takes over the tv’s, showing Kannon, looking like he got the hell beat out of him, reading a statement accusing Oliver of being a fake and that people will suffer if Oliver doesn’t quit the SCPD. See, this is why heroes wear masks and protect their secret identities. Old school rules don’t need to get tossed because they are old. Laurel goes to her office and finds some far-from-fan mail on her desk.
Diggle and Curtis argue about what Curtis has been asked to do, and Curtis is still pissed off (I’m with him). Diggle insists that they have to do this to capture Dante. Here’s a quick test: if you’re keeping something secret from the man you’ve called both your best friend and your brother, you’re probably not doing the right thing. Laurel goes to see Felicity, inadvertently tests out her new security system, and asks for help determining if someone from Earth 2 is running around Star City. Felicity tells Laurel that Laurel can trust her, and hopes she’ll figure that out someday.
Oliver, Dinah, and Nick work the missing reporter case. Oliver calls the kidnapper an amateur for his video work, and then proves it by using a subtle piece of the background to figure out where Kannon is being held. They go raid the place, saving the reporter but losing the bad guy, who yells a troubling phrase at Oliver on the way out. Back at home, Oliver and Felicity work out that the bad guy here is Sam Hackett, son of David Hackett, the bodyguard suddenly ret-conned onto the Queen family life raft earlier this season. They clearly showed the raft many times in earlier episodes, and this bodyguard is a rewrite to add drama flakes, and I think a really bad choice. Oliver gets dramatic about his family being cursed, and Felicity runs off after getting a text.
Diaz mocks Curtis when the young genius shows up to monitor some technical details of the program. Things go spectacularly badly. Laurel gets another mystery note and goes to confront her stalker. He asks a very telling question she misses because she’s too busy being pissed off, and Felicity stops her from doing something she might regret. Oliver and Dinah go to the Glades, getting in to Sam’s apartment. They find the requisite crazy wall and some ominous machine bits, but not the man himself. Diaz frees the other criminals to mount his escape, and we see that Mr. Terrific really lived up to his name this time around.
The news says that now 77% of the people in Star City support firing Oliver from the Police Department. The crowd is easily swayed in Star. Oliver makes a suggestion about how to handle things and Dinah overrules him. Laurel does a big, teary, reveal of who this guy is causing her so many problems. Felicity listens and tries to absolve her of some guilt she’s carrying that she really shouldn’t be. Dinah and Oliver go talk to one of the police techs who, I’m almost positive, was exceptionally displeased about Oliver working with them a few episodes ago but now seems fine with it. Sam unveils his master plan, which really seems unlikely at best. And yes, I’m saying about a superhero show. Eventually, Oliver confronts Sam while Dinah gets outside in a way that’s equally unlikely to the plot in the first place, and then shoots the device to bits. As far as I can tell, she’s forgotten she has the Canary Cry. Sam tries to make the cops do his will, but they resist and then Dinah’s sabotage ends Sam’s upper hand. Oliver saves Sam from the righteously angry officers he was just holding hostage.
Oliver goes back to Mr. Kannon and publically admits his father shot the previously non-existent bodyguard. He’s trying to be as honest as possible with the people of Star City. Felicity tells him he did well, and Emiko even shows up, warming just the slightest bit to Oliver. Curtis finds out that all his amazing work still won’t derail the Suicide SquadGhost Initiative. Curtis and Diggle have some words, and Curtis storms off.
The episode ends with a scene that really makes me wonder what was going on here. Felicity convinces Laurel to go to Dinah for help. They find out that Laurel’s stalker is already in jail on other charges (when did this happen?) and that Dinah will make sure he stays there. Felicity gets a text from Cisco saying that the Earth 2 version of the man died a while back in his home… so Laurel’s entire story from earlier and weird subplot seem kind of pointless. Also, Cisco has been very anti-meta over on Flash this season (which I still say makes no sense), but he’s apparently willing to use the abilities he now claims to wish he didn’t have to go Earth-hopping to do background research? Dinah goes out to her car and gets a surprise, but not as bad a one as Kannon got earlier.
What I liked: It frequently seems like they don’t quite know what to do with Curtis Holt. He really shone this episode, and I admire him standing up to Diggle, as well as being the genius he usually is. I like the slowly growing friendship between Felicity and Laurel. I can understand Emiko being conflicted about Oliver at this point. Much as I’m enjoying Roy’s return, I’m just as glad they skipped the time-hopping this episode.
What I didn’t: A lot of this episode didn’t make sense to me. Laurel’s subplot ended up being confusing and the ending they gave it had me going, “Ok… so what?” Dinah’s apparently not remembering she has powers was weird, and reminded me of some of the ongoing plotholes in many episodes of Legends of Tomorrow. The evidence tech seems to have warmed to Oliver ridiculously quickly. Sam’s big end plan didn’t make a lot of sense. The teasing about not actually saying Suicide Squad is ridiculous. I don’t like where Diggle and Lyla seem to be heading. Where the heck was Rene in all this?
I’m giving this one a low 2.5 out of 5. I’m really not sure about a lot of this season, and I’m hoping they get it together soon.