Review: ‘Arrow’s Daddy Issues Come Full Circle in ‘Honor Thy Fathers’
Warning – FULL SPOILERS for Tonight’s “Honor Thy Fathers”:
Is it me, or has the air completely left Arrow Season 5’s final hours? Perhaps Chase and Prometheus were never so interesting as one omnipotent killer than they were as two distinct characters, or maybe the already-sparse flashbacks have monotonously run down a checklist of items that need to sync up with 2012’s pilot. Last week’s “Underneath” at least had the central conceit of sorting through Oliver and Felicity’s history against the backdrop of a ticking clock, but “Honor Thy Fathers” slid right back into the formula of foiling Chase’s absurdly-elaborate plans, and questioning Oliver’s faith in the process.
The tittle itself is both callback to the series’ second episode, and reference to the fact that both Oliver and Chase’s fathers now loom over the entire series, despite minimal screen-time. In Oliver’s case, that specter becomes a liability when Chase uncovers evidence that Robert Queen actually stooped so low as to cover up an accidental death he had a hand in. Understandably, that’s a lot to process for Oliver and Thea (who herself makes a first appearance in some time), but not exactly a major shock, or even an overly articulate point of Chase’s 800-page assault on Oliver’s legacy. We’ve long known Season 5 is building to the point Oliver can finally let go of these past darknesses; seen tonight with his willingness to finally re-adopt the Green Arrow costume.
Even then – Robert Queen straight-up murdered another dude in the pilot, and both Moira, and Thea’s biological father Malcolm Merlyn have commit equal, if not worse atrocities. Arrow’s stock “sins of the parent” theme runs amok in “Honor Thy Fathers”; whether Chase learning that the very father he fights to avenge wanted nothing to do with him, or Rene’s worry that a custody hearing would dredge up his daughter’s painful memories of their home life. As Anatoly* puts it, Oliver chooses to pay for his fathers sins, but someone will inevitably pay for his. Probably not a great sign, then, that we didn’t hear from Oliver’s son William this week, after Chase confronted him in the prior episode’s stinger.
*Bringing Anatoly to the island actually leads to one of the more egregious attempts at bridging continuity; offering Oliver a wig and beard so people would more easily buy that he’d been on the island for years. Granted, Stephen Amell’s current flashback hair is nowhere near the pilot mane, they should theoretically have from May 2012 (when these events would be taking place) to October (when the pilot aired).
Arrow’s daddy-issues are pretty well-worn at this point, and certainly not enough to carry an episode this close to Season 5’s climax. I don’t know why WWE wrestler Cody Rhodes’ Derek Sampson merits any kind of noteworthy return at this point either, since “Honor Thy Fathers” had nothing for him to do beyond a few warehouse confrontations. In fact, it barely tracks that he and Chase would suddenly have a mutual plan to poison the city, considering the personal narrative of Chase’s vendetta to date. At best, Chase faking that Oliver could crush his quest for paternal vengeance, and getting caught are just one more step in this maddeningly labyrinthine plot.
I’ll be honest; Arrow has perhaps the best opportunity to reinvent itself next season of all the CW-DC dramas, and I’m curious how they move on from the five-year structure. It’s more than overall fatigue with Team Arrow fighting one set of warehouse baddies after another, as “Honor Thy Fathers” seemed especially uninterested in a meaningful reason to rehash Oliver’s familial angst. And given the army of shiny guest stars lined up for the final two weeks, I’m not convinced Season 5 has any target but nostalgia in this stumble down memory lane.
AND ANOTHER THING …
- So … the bunker’s fine, now? Methane-free?
- Correct me if I’m wrong, but Oliver telling Anatoly how he learned to fly was meant to call back to Felicity’s question about that in Season 2. If his father taught him before the island, why not just say that?
- We never saw Rene or anyone else after Diggle suggested they go for drinks, so I’ll presume that was his reason for missing the custody hearing. Waste of a weeks-long plotline, otherwise.
- The “Applied Sciences” building still visibly has a Palmer Tech logo, and I wonder why Season 5 never circled back to any of the Queen businesses from early seasons.
- Thea’s a total goner, right?
Arrow Season 5 will return on May 17 with “Missing,” airing at 8:00 P.M. on The CW.
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