The concept of legacy is one of, if not the, most significant through lines in Arrow's overarching narrative. While it has worked as an underlying facet of Oliver Queen's journey from spoiled billionaire playboy to hooded vigilante killer to the hero known as the Green Arrow, it has been made an explicit part of the series' text in season 5. Under this increased spotlight, the idea of Oliver's heroic legacy has been called into question, with former teammate Artemis turning on him and the rest of Team Arrow because she, like the season's Big Bad Prometheus, sees the events of the last few years differently. Instead of someone leading the charge to turn Star City around, Oliver Queen and his hooded alter ego have failed the city.
That has lead to the series' protagonist doing a lot of questioning about his role as a hero and about his methods. Some of this soul searching has led to positive outcomes while others have been less successful – like last week's very special 'Spectre of the Gun.' Still, despite the typical ups and downs of a network television season, Arrow has managed to make the central question of season 5 one that's engaging enough to be explored over the course of 22 episodes, while also providing a viable enough reason for a character like Prometheus to want to exact some vengeance on the Green Arrow and to give him a taste of his own medicine.
With the notion of legacy hanging in the air, then, it makes sense that Arrow would bring back some of the Green Arrow's past foes, as a way to examine his escapades over the years. In order to do that, the episode sees Cupid, China White, and Liza Warner escape from prison, forming a collective set to do Star City's heroes harm. While two of the escaped prisoners are relatively new to the Arrow rouge's gallery, China White is one of the first villains the would-be hero faced, giving this encounter an aspect that goes beyond recycling bad guys for the sake of something to do. As is usually the case, however, the idea of legacy extends to more than just Oliver, as Quentin Lance soon finds out.
Sadly, Arrow doesn't put the three villains to much use outside of orchestrating the general movements of Oliver and the rest of Team Arrow. The idea of the women's shared history with the Green Arrow (in all his iterations) is acknowledged, but the hour is more invested in exploring Warner's relationship with Lance, while Oliver is busy dealing with the fallout from Thea and Felicity's successful attempt to discredit Susan Williams after discovering she had enough evidence to connect Mayor Queen to the city's resident Emerald Archer. On top of the personal drama, and Thea's misguided attempt to protect her big brother, the Green Arrow once again becomes public enemy number one after Prometheus (presumably) informs the head of the ACU that the vigilante is responsible for the death of Billy Malone.
With so many unpleasant actions having been committed by members of Team Arrow, 'The Sin-Eater' makes good on its title by making past sins part of the season's ongoing exploration of the Green Arrow's legacy. While that doesn't necessarily make for a thrilling hour that succeeds in pushing the plot forward after weeks of dancing around the threat of Prometheus while going off in search of the next legacy character to take on the mantle of the Black Canary, there is enough to suggest forward momentum is right around the corner, as the Queen administration is rocked with a major scandal after it leaks that the mayor covered up Malone's murder.
The revelation means more for the weeks ahead than it does for the hour at hand, which is to be expected at this point during the season. The show has a number of dangling threads, and while the hour hinted at some of them being cut, you have to question whether or not it required a full episode in order to get them in line. At least now it seems that Arrow will finally be able to tackle the Vigilante subplot, which has been the season's most half-hearted effort when it comes to just how infrequently the character is touched upon. His brief appearance last week did little to suggest there was any real urgency in discovering who the gun-toting killer is and how best to put a stop to his brand of justice.
The disinclination to tackle Vigilante head-on leads one to wonder whether or not the writers are entirely sure what they want to do with the character, much less the manner in which his actions are intended to be portrayed. That's made increasingly tricky (along with everything else on the show) in the wake of last week's 'Spectre of the Gun', which despite its best intentions only seemed to emphasize the show's level of violence.
Still, it seems the scandal-plagued Queen administration is set to address Vigilante and some of its other dangling plot threads now that Dinah is an established member of the team and the narrative table has been set for the time being. The next question is whether or not Arrow can tie Vigilante into the Prometheus storyline in a satisfactory fashion, or if the character will wind up being just another mini-arc before the hero faces down the Big Bad.
Arrow continues next Wednesday with 'Fighting Fire with Fire' @8pm on The CW.