Arrow "Heir to the Demon" Review: Lies My Family Told Me, Lies I Told Myself

By Noel Kirkpatrick

Feb 06, 2014

Arrow S02E13: "Heir to the Demon"

So what did Arrow teach us this week, class? That's right: The truth is a terrible thing and should never ever be revealed to anyone. Bury your secrets very deep, buy off your OB, and join an association of ruthless assassins, because the truth will only make people hate you.

Unless you're Felicity. In that case, the truth will strengthen the bond with that guy you're head over heels for... except he just kissed another woman. Okay, yeah. The truth sucks.

All kidding aside, "Heir to the Demon" paid off a lot of the table-setting Arrow's been doing since it returned from the winter break, particularly with regard to Laurel's fall from her already shaky place in the world. The truth of Sara's existence only made things go from bad to worse for everyone's favorite punching bag.

Of course, we don't know the whole truth yet, and neither does Laurel. This makes all the difference. Before everyone kicks up the "Good grief, Laurel, get over yourself and your it's-all-about-me attitude!" reprise, let's take a deep breath and realize that Laurel's angry speech to Sara was pretty damn justified. Sara was gone for five years, and spent some of that time on the freighter and the island, and then some more of it with the League. When Nyssa found her, she was starving and nearly dead. But Sara didn't think to maybe try and make her way to an American consulate or embassy? Pick up a phone? There's still story to be told here, for both the audience and the show's characters, but without it, Laurel's got a pretty solid case for being angry.

Even without all the facts of the situation, Laurel's anger has been simmering since the Queen's Gambit sank. She never dealt with that pain. She plastered over it with her on-again-off-again relationship with Tommy, helped Quentin get into recovery, and worked at a legal aid office. Tommy's death only added to her strife. It became a hunt for the vigilante and then it became booze and pills. Nothing worked. Nothing made the pain go away. And, really, until Tommy's death, Laurel probably didn't even realize she still had any pain.

So to have Sara just return, happy as ever, to smiles and hugs from Quentin and Dinah—what's a little abduction when your dead daughter turns out to be alive?—only revealed how little Laurel's been able to move on. Oliver at least got to work through some of his issues by shooting half of Starling City's criminal element with arrows. Diggle had his Deadshot crusade. There's a sense of purpose in such actions—a goal that, once completed, allows a person to say, "I'm better now." Laurel tried all sorts of things to get to that "I'm better now" place, but all of them were taken away. Or, in the case of the drugs, her support system wants to take them away.

Yes, it's self-destructive and self-centered, but anger can be like that. Anger at yourself, anger at others, it warps everything around you, and sometimes you simply drown in it, even if you know you're behaving irrationally. It's shameful and horrible, and saying you were wrong, that you need help, just isn't easy. That's the situation Laurel has found herself in, while we get to sit and judge her for being a horrible (fictional) human being. 

But Sara's not immune to these issues, either. We don't have a full sense of her first year dealing with Ivo, or her suffering before Nyssa found her. After joining the League, who knows what all she had to do. We do know that it involved murder—she was an assassin—and that it was scraping away at her soul, likely in the same way that made Diggle worry about Oliver's soul back in Season 1. There's shame and trauma at play here, piled onto her regret over joining Oliver on the boat in the first place. And it all probably built up in her mind until it became something along the lines of "They will not accept me. I've changed too much." 

So while Sara's motivations for avoiding her family may have been "I'm staying away from Starling City to protect my family from the League...," they were also "...and to protect myself from them." It's similar to the emotional distance that Oliver struggled to put between himself and his old life in Season 1; Sara simply added a geographical layer as well. Hell, you don't get much more serious in your attempt to avoid dealing with your trauma than pretending to be dead. 

Neither Lance sister is wrong in their feelings, but neither is right, either. That's the tricky thing about these emotional cocktails Arrow is mixing, cocktails that are right at home with the show's bigger concerns about coping and trauma. Some aspects are far more exciting—assassins! Crime-fighting!—than others, but just because some of them don't involve fight choreography and stunt work doesn't mean they're less important. Laurel's arc hasn't been the best managed, but it is starting to come together in ways that, frankly, I wouldn't have expected, ways that I attribute largely to the decision to have Sara not be dead (something I was rolling my eyes about before the season started). Without Sara as a catalyst, who knows where Laurel would've gotten to, if anywhere?

The Lances weren't the only ones dealing with truths and lies this week as Felicity discovered the identity of Thea's father after Moira and her new campaign shifted some funds from Tempest to buy the silence of Moira's doctor. This in turn led to Felicity confronting Moira, Moira attempting to manipulate Felicity into not telling Oliver, Felicity telling Oliver anyway, and everything blowing up in Moira's face.

And now I feel like I need to revisit large swatches of Season 1, probably post-Walter's kidnapping, to re-examine Moira's behavior. She was looking pure soap-opera-villain smug as she preyed on Felicity's emotions to keep Felicity silent, but I don't know that Moira has earned that smugness on her own. Certainly Oliver's "You're a lying liar who lies!" was attached to a bunch of stuff from Season 1, but a lot of it had was attached to Malcolm's influence and Moira keeping her head above water any way that she could. Moira's actions weren't the machinations of a master—or even willing—plotter. Perhaps I'm off base, and you can all refresh me on this matter in the comments. At the very least, Moira keeping this secret was still an effort to protect herself and her family, and that's all she's ever really been concerned with. 


– I never watched Spartacus, so I had zero exposure to Katrina Law prior to this episode. I thought she was pretty good, and if you enjoyed her, you'll be glad to know that she's slated to return before the season is through.

– The Arrow Cave is now super-crowded with Sara (probably) joining. Diggle's going to end up working as a bouncer at Verdant. Or becoming drinking buddies with Laurel. I would watch those webisodes.

– Diggle's head tilt as he watched Sara use the salmon ladder? Priceless.

– "I wasn't trying to be a bitch." "Title of your autobiography."

– A non-DC Comics note for you all that's also a rare comic book recommendation. Marvel released the first issue of the rebooted Ms. Marvel title today, and it features the new character Kamala Kahn, a Pakistani-American 16-year-old who assumes the Ms. Marvel mantle. It's a super-charming Issue No. 1, and is easily accessible even if you're not familiar with the ins and outs of the Marvel Comics Universe, so I encourage you to pick it up.

– Like many U.S. broadcast shows and a few cable shows, too—I WILL MISS YOU, ARCHER!—Arrow (heh, Archer/Arrow) will enter a Winter Olympics hibernation to avoid getting its ratings teeth kicked in by figuring skating, hockey, skiing, and curling. We'll reconvene on February 26 to discuss "Time of Death." See you all then!

What did you think of "Heir to the Demon"?

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  • flintslady Mar 02, 2014

    Sara's wig is painfully awful. Like the worst.

    But the best part of this episode for me was Nyssa properly pronouncing Ra's a Ghul's name!! Such a small thing, but man did it make me happy.

    Also pretty awesome to see 3 people from Spartacus show up on arrow. If Liam shows up next season I just might lose my shit.

  • Lauren_Shole Feb 17, 2014

    Even though I didn't like Oliver's reaction to the truth about Thea's parentage, and no matter how incredulous Moira running for Mayor is, I like this new stuff with her. Blood asked a really good question. Who is the real Moira Queen? I know that after Robert died, Moira had a change of heart about the Undertaking, but was under the threat of Merlin. But what about way back when all this stuff first started. Once upon a time, she and Robert were proactive members of this Undertaking business. What was she like then? I look forward to the dark side of Moira. She's more capable than we've been led to believe. Actually, then again, the show has always played her quite middle of the road. In any case, her running for mayor is not as crazy as you think. People DO like redemption stories. But Moira has to play it right so that the public doesn't start asking questions like Blood. Anywho, I REALLY like Laurel's character this episode. Her freakout at Sara was so justified. My sister and I have had some major spats, and they weren't about anything as big as faking your death and sleeping with your boyfriend. so yeah. I hope the writers continue to improve her story. I did not like the Nyssa x Sara stuff. It was definitely a shock, but the kind that feels out of left field. Some backstory there would have been interesting. Also, I really hate how these characters just constantly hook up with each other. They aren't just two-timers, but ten-timers. But I must say that song at the end with the make out scene just pulled you in.

  • CynthiaBell1 Feb 15, 2014

    this was such a good episode. i found myself watching the time and saying don't end.
    one note though...I totally saw olivercand sara hooking up, but i can't help but be pissed at Oliver for being a hypicrite. earlier this season he told Felicity that he couldn't be with someone he really could care about because of the life he lives. If that's the case then why does he get to be with Sara. Are we supposed to believe that he doesn't care about her? I don't think so. The writers have given us too much of them together to believe otherwise.

  • katikool Feb 12, 2014

    So, Oliver found out about Thea's parentage. I loved when Felicity was telling her life story and was like " I don't want to lose someone I loved as much as my dad ever again!" and Oliver immediately assumed she was talking about him. Gawd, how full of yourself are you, bro??? It didn't help he was right, either.

    And jeez, that Moira. I'm still not loving this (annoyingly similar to real life) politics plotline. She dresses like Hillary Clinton but acts like an evil snakey Dick Cheney. Don't make me vote for noted arch-villain Sebastian Blood!

    I do understand why Laurel is reasonably angry with Sara and why Sara couldn't bring herself to face her family, but let's just say I was very disappointed when all the Lances weren't killed in a convenient warehouse fire. And I'll continue to be disappointed with each episode that fails to do so.

  • poetgirl925 Feb 13, 2014

    Aww, I kind of love Quentin! He annoyed me in season 1, but he's grown on me a lot since then.

  • Ca3naki Feb 10, 2014

    I thought Oliver's reaction to his mother's truth was not proportionate. She is not the first or the last woman to do that. Of course that does not make this right, but as you said she was trying to protect her family and it's probably things pilling up from Season 1. And Laurel's reaction was quite understandable. I really liked the flashbacks. They showed a normal time when no-one had any problems. It is nice to be reminded of that. But I think that they have to finally reach a point with Laurel.

  • eiram99 Feb 18, 2014

    He did just learn about it - it's possible that his anger will fade in time. Or not, this is TV. :)

  • nunopires100 Feb 10, 2014

    In this episode we saw a different oliver, a different arrow, he trying to make sarah stay and nyssa coming for her, we see a oliver with his head in the world, and thinking a bit better and clever. He now knows his enemies and will see even more of them, but everything at his time we expect.... Oliver's mother has always kept that secret but now she is seeing that's hard to keep secrets, since she doesn0t even know oliver is the arrow and we hope she'll know later to see her expectations..

  • Ridnarhtim Feb 09, 2014


    So much screaming and over the top drama. No island? Why can Oliver win in combat against Nyssa, who has probably spent her entire life training to be an assassin? And I don't like the way the assassins storyline wrapped up so neatly. Now Sara is free to just hang around. And speaking of a crowded Arrow cave, what happened to Roy? Are we really going to have Roy and Sara hanging around now? Can't say I'm very excited by that.

    However, Slade is getting directly involved. Very much yes.

  • Lionors Feb 09, 2014

    Agreed about the assassin storyline, too. All these eps where she claimed she would never be able to be free, and then all of a sudden, poof? How con-veeeeee-nient.

  • Ridnarhtim Feb 09, 2014

    Oh yes, and Oliver's reaction to his mum ... what the hell? He's one to talk about lying to people. I'm sure Moira didn't exactly find it easy to keep that secret, but she knew she had to for Thea's sake. And he blames her for having to keep the secret himself, when it's Felicity who told him (and yes, she should've kept it to herself - there was literally no good that could come of telling him).

    Or is he pissed that she cheated on her husband (who was cheating on her)? I think there was something about him taking his girlfriend's sister on a boat with him?

  • Lionors Feb 09, 2014

    While I agree Oliver's reaction was, in some ways, over the top (especially given his background), my guess is he was angry because Moira had claimed she'd come clean. Both he and Thea accepted the affair without any blame, and even the news that Robert had cheated on Moira.

    Up to this point, though, Oliver's always defended his mother, even when Digg warned him she was manipulative. I think at this point, he realizes Digg's right.

    I personally think they're both wrong not to tell Thea. Not only might there be medical issues, but the Queens are prime blackmail bait. Just because she paid off the doctor doesn't mean the secret's gone forever. Not telling Thea means she could be vulnerable later down the line, and the news would be a -lot- more traumatic then. Besides, *Moira* knows Malcolm's still running around. What sense does it make to leave that kind of weapon out for him to use against Thea?

    As far as Oliver not being told...I don't think that was a winnable situation. I don't think Felicity wanted to tell him, but I also don't think either she or Digg will ever lie to Oliver. They're probably the only two people Oliver knows who -won't-, which is why he can trust them. Too, if she didn't tell Oliver, it gave Moira something to use against her, and she doesn't trust Moira (and rightfully so.) Coming clean's the only alternative. Maybe the news will hurt, but at least he'd know he hadn't been betrayed by his true friends.

  • Ridnarhtim Feb 11, 2014

    You make some highly convincing points.

  • Lionors Feb 09, 2014

    IMO: No, I didn't like this episode. Not much decent plot and we're back to a lot more of Pauline Perils of the Lance Sisters, which I never find interesting.

    First: I don't like Sara. At all. She comes across as having zero honor and being entirely self-serving. She is willing to torture people for Ivo. I don't care what your motivations are; no heroine would help Dr. Mengele to save her own skin. She swears an oath to the League of Assassins to save her own life and has a long term relationship with Nyssa, who clearly did love her, even if she was a stalkeresque nutcase. Then, when it was 'inconvenient' or, excuse me, 'my soul's being too eaten away by all the killing', she wants to break her oath and come home.

    Probably the one good thing about Sara's involvement was that it was the first time I didn't want to bitchslap Laurel and tell her to grow some ovaries. (Seriously: Am so very tired of Laurel's emotional temperature being taken six times an episode.) Finally, Laurel had an issue that I could understand. Unfortunately, it proves more of what I don't like about Sara. What kind of person sleeps with the man she *knows* her sister loves? It's clear she had an opportunity to break it off, and she didn't just to spite Laurel. She had to know her parents and family would be grieving, and yet she chose to let them suffer until *she* decided *she* couldn't be an assassin any more. She didn't seek her release from her vow for her family; she did it for herself. Again, self-centered. Let's face it: she's a user and a somewhat despicable one at that.

    I don't like anti-heroes or anti-heroines, and Sara's shaping up to be one. Given the fact that she was willing to help Ivo attack and kill the two people who DID help him, I can't even see why Oliver would EVER be able to trust her. Certainly I'd have some thoughts about whether or not she deserved forgiveness.

    Besides, her continued involvement doesn't promise much in the way of entertainment. One angsty hero who's doing what he does to expiate his sins is okay. Two of them is going to be too much.

    And by the way, IIRC, *Sara* Lance was NOT the Black Canary. Certainly her powers aren't the same. So how canonical is she, really?

    To preface what I'm about to say next, I didn't go into this show with the intention of shipping *anyone*. My choices rarely agree with the writers and fanbois, and I didn't want my viewing experience ruined with the constant ship-sniping.

    That said, I'm not happy with how the Felicity situation is being handled for a number of reasons. The reason I like Felicity's involvement is that she's usually some relief from the angst and drama. In fact, while watching the first season, I was starting to wonder if the whole show was going to be nothing more than a mashup of Lost and Hamlet until she came in to talk to Walter. She was funny, when nobody else had been. The scenes in which she's with Oliver and Digg are pretty much the only ones where you see any decent banter and humor -- or at least, they used to be. And you NEED humor in a superhero show. A little bit of laughter or at least lightness gives more contrast to the more hazardous situations. I also think her involvement is why the Digg/Oliver relationship ended up solidifying into the duo they are now. Without her involvement, I think the two of them would have ended up chest-bumping for far longer than they did.

    I'm also annoyed that after creating a decent geek girl character who actually *adds* to the show, this episode is giving us some pretty good indication that the writers are apparently going to do to her what happens to EVERY geek girl character in EVERY series. It's an axiom. First, she gets shunted to the friend/baby sister zone by her crush. Then, if the writers are feeling merciful (or rather, if they don't want to risk losing viewers by shortchanging the heroine), they'll throw her a bone in the form of some suitably geeky romantic interest as a consolation prize. Sometimes (as in the case with Chloe on Smallville), they'll give her someone *almost* as good as the hero, but only after he's been rejected by someone else (i.e., Lois dumping Oliver for Clark) and she's supposed to be grateful for leftovers.

    If male geek heroes were treated this way, I'd shrug and go on. If there was even some variety, I wouldn't care. I just get tired of seeing it over and over. Yes, I'm glad we're finally seeing female geeks on television instead of the endless June Cleavers, Marcia Bradys and spunky career girls we used to see, but what's the point if they're never treated as an actual viable character?

    For the record, I would have been absolutely fine with Barry if there'd never been any indication that Felicity wasn't interested in Oliver. As it stands, though, Barry's going to be the guy she settles for, which really isn't fair to either character, since I like Barry, too.

    Personally, I think they wanted to drive up just enough interest in Felicity that they can shunt her off to the Flash series and hopefully tentpeg the new show. It's not going to work in my case, but hey, they apparently think it'll work for a lot of others.

  • Arwen Feb 09, 2014

    Does anyone remember Smallville. Oliver & Felicity's relationship reminds me of Clark's and Chloe. Felicity will find her happy ending...but not with Arrow...with Flash/Barry probably!
    I still don't like Laurel! I didn't like her sober, I despise her drunk! Even flashback Laurel seemed an unsympathetic character.
    Did anyone think that Nyssa let go of Sarah too easily. I mean one minute I am killing you and your family if you don't come with me, next minute Sarah's 'no more killing' is enough to make her leave???!
    I am really interested in what Slade is planning next! Any guesses?

  • kennfree Feb 14, 2014

    I think it was rather the fact that Sarah was willing and ready to die rather than go back with Nyssa that finally convinced her to let her go.

  • madison188 Feb 08, 2014

    I guess I don't understand why people are so upset/disgusted with Oliver/Sara. I want Olicity wholeheartedly but at the end of the day they are not together. In fact, they have a ways to go before i see them finally getting together. Was Oliver and Sara turning to each other the wisest decision, probably not as it opens a crap ton can of worms. Which will make for some interesting drama within team arrow. But, like Felicity and Oliver, Sara and Oliver have a connection based mainly on their experiences on the Island. I don't think we can devalue their relationship anymore than we can devalue his relationship with Felicity. I will say this though, give Felicity a freaking love interest or bring someone from her past (not parents) because I find it slightly ridiculous that everyone else can get some and all she gets is some barely there flirtation with Barry(while sweet) is currently in a coma.

  • flintslady Mar 02, 2014

    I'm upset because in mind it takes away from everything he supposedly felt for Laurel all last season. Yes Laurel has been crazy annoying this season, but that is still IMO his OTP (as much as I love the idea of him and Felicity). Sara was a childish mistake, a way to drive away the woman he didn't think he deserved. That they've written in this "connection" between them, feels forced and convenient. It's a 180 degree turn and it annoys me.

  • madison188 Mar 02, 2014

    Honestly, i feel like the only one who has a real right to feel pissed is Laurel. But beyond that she does need to take responsibility for her actions, there is a point where you can no longer blame everyone else for your problems. Granted, Oliver and Sara spent x amount of years together on the island so no matter what I do believe they have a strong connection that ties them together. I just never bought the whole Laurel/Oliver relationship mainly because of how Pre-island Oliver treated her. That's not love no matter how many ways you spin it. They don't work before and after the island. But the build up between Sara and Oliver in 2x13 wasn't there (for me at least) and the way they conducted themselves in 2x14 was selfish and idiotic in terms of showing up to the lance family dinner and then feeling offended/surprised by Laurel's reaction. And that scene where L apologized to S felt rushed and not entirely deserved. I feel like the writers are hastily trying to solve their Laurel "problem". Had they left her a lawyer who was fighting for those who needed help without the unnecessary substance abuses and Moira's trial , we wouldn't have this issue. It's shoddy writing, IMO.

  • flintslady Mar 02, 2014

    LOL, right there in your post you outlined why this Ollie/Sara thing feels awful. But I think I can understand a bit what you mean about Laurel/Ollie thing last season, for the most part they didn't have the greatest chemistry. There were a few moments though when I honestly believed that he loved her, and that he regretted his immaturity in sleeping with her sister and wished he had just been honest with her.

    If we look at Ollie in the past, he clearly was someone who didn't feel his own worth. His immature acting out, excessive partying and bad behaviour was a way to hide the truth about his family life and his own self doubts. Let's throw a party seems to be the family crisis motto. I assumed that he never really saw a future with Laurel because eventually she would see in him what he saw in himself. So why not spare himself some long term pain, by getting with her sister and blowing the relationship to kingdom come.

    Last season Oliver said (paraphrasing) that while he was on the island he realized how much loved Laurel, and what he would give to see her again. He was so sure of this love that he torpedoed her relationship with Tommy by seducing her, hours after telling Tommy to do what takes to get her back.

    Fine, their situation has it's problems (lot's of problems), but they succeeded in getting me to accept that deep down inside they do really love each other. And that even though this relationship isn't going to work out anytime soon, at least they're on the same page about how they ultimately feel. Now they can both move on and date other people right?

    Nope. Suddenly season 2 we find out Sara wasn't just a breakup f*ck. They actually had "feelings" for each other. BARF!

    And now that she's "alive" again they can just pick up where they left off and to hell with Laurel.

    So instead of us moving on from the Laurel/Oliver show at least temporarily, we're right back in it with all kinds of annoying selfish and incredulous behaviour.

    Shoddy writing is right.


    Oliver's hypocritical tear down of everyone he thinks has let him down is ridiculous. Where is Diggle to call him on his sh*t. He want's Laurel to take responsibility for her actions? Well maybe don't seduce your best friends girlfriend, or throw a party for the women you cheated on your girlfriend with, or show up as her date to the first family dinner they've had since she returned and admit that you're sleeping with her again.

    He knows his father constantly cheated on his mother, but he's angry because she had one indiscretion? Or because when she found out the father of her child was a lunatic psychopath she thought maybe she should keep that information to herself?

    Give me a break Ollie. Self righteousness is not a virtue.

  • madison188 Mar 02, 2014

    Wow, lol. But yea I though his rip at Laurel was the push she needed. Everyone else was enabling her (even him in the beginning). Tip toeing around an addict and allowing her to partake in her damaging behavior helps no one.

    But yea he is a hypocrite, but I think that's an innate quality in people. I guess I wasn't upset with Oliver/Sara because I don't honestly believe it will last in the long run. But for right now, whatever. I just want more screen time for Diggle and Felicity, preferably with them having their own storylines/subplots. That's what I think is Arrow's biggest flaw. There's only so much of the Lances I can take, and it isn't much, lol.

    This is only season 2, and Arrow has been picked for a third season. I'm hoping for the writers to expand more on characters personal lives to further round the characters out.

    What annoys me is how some people are pushing for Oliver and Felicity now. Or claiming Felicity loves Oliver. I think fanfic blurs the line between reality and fiction, lol. They have a long way to go before I can see them getting together. Oliver is selfish and incredibly self-involved. Until he learns to start thinking of others, any relationship he has has little chance to actually succeeding. I think to some degree Sara is similar(though she does care about Sin). Props to the writers to slowly developing their relationship, it's nice to see the steady transition from acquaintances to friends to partners. But yea as things currently are, there's no way I want Oliver/Felicity to get together. I can wait.

  • Lionors Feb 09, 2014

    Agreed. As I said in my post, though, I wish Barry weren't going to be a consolation prize. I *like* Barry, but at this point, I'd think there's always going to be the nagging realization that Oliver's the guy she can never have. That just stinks on ice, because that's not what I call a happy ending for either one.

    I think Oliver and Sara do have the shared experience on the island in common. What they both need, though, is a bridge *off* the island so they can go on instead of just being figuratively trapped there for the rest of their life. I'm not sure they can do that for each other. I do think Felicity and Digg are Oliver's 'bridge', though.

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