While other shows in the Arrowverse, such as The Flash & DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, started on bumpy paths but then quickly found themselves again and the path they wanted to take, Arrow seems to be unsure of a lot of things. A major thing is that the show is unsure of what to do with Oliver now that he’s stepped away from being the title hero to just be a father and Mayor of the city. When William is in the episode or they have a Mayor thing for him to handle it works out, but when they don’t have room for that in an episode, like this one, he just sticks out and keeps trying to get into the middle of the stuff going on but it just leads to issues with Felicity or others. At this rate they are going to have to get him back into costume sooner rather than later otherwise it could really continue to drag out like this and become a bit annoying. Your main character can only play the supporting role for so long.
All that being said, this was an overall good episode because at last it started to move somethings forward, answers some questions and actually introduce some of the big bads of the season. Michael Emerson finally made his debut on the show playing the part of Cayden James, a mystery super hacker that Felicity actually helped free from ARGUS last season during her time in Helix. In typical superhero trope bite you in the ass later style James was the one that arrived on the island after it blew up last season to save the evil Laurel/Black Siren who is working as hired muscle for him in his plot to take down the entire internet. While the plan is so hokey and super villain like, it’s actually something that isn’t that crazy that someone would try to do it to send the world into chaos. What Felicity said in episode is true about how the internet and its systems basically control everything at this point. What didn’t make sense is how these hidden managers with the ways to access the hub of the internet all were hiding in freaking Star City, where also the hub seems to actually be. I can suspend my disbelief with guys who run fast, metahumans, people that fly through the skies and such but this plot convenience is just ridiculous.
One thing that the series really has found its way quickly with is the choreography during the fight scenes which has been pretty stellar in many of the episodes so far this season. Much like the kitchen fight scene in episode two, the fight through the Helix warehouse was pretty fantastic the way the camera just seemed to easily flow around the room to catch the various angles of the fight, Felicity and her fellow hacker dipping and dodging around to try and get out of the way. Even the fight in the Internet hub was well done, though the amount of bad guys pulling a Stormtrooper and shooting open air more than their targets was a bit laughable.
While Oliver is stuck in a limbo of what his real role is, the returned relationship between him and Felicity is actually a bright spot in the episode. A lot of drama and other issues tended to get in the way the first time they got together, which tends to be the route taken with most shows, but this time while there is the distractions of the team and startups and other things the characters seem more mature. More put together after all these seasons. Their role reversals in the episodes were the nicest part because it was the one way that Oliver’s being on the side lines actually felt okay. Having the master of guilt himself helping Felicity get over her guilt over Helix and Cayden and then being there in her ear as Overwatch really helped with things. It’s a role that won’t be repeated most likely as even that little bit led to him almost trying to take charge in the end, something he’s bound to fully do again soon enough I’m sure.
So far there is no real direction for the season, unlike the last one, with threats coming from all sides and none of them really feeling anywhere as ominous as Prometheus. That is the unfortunate side effect of having such a dynamic villain like that, it’s hard to replicate afterwards. The team taking on various threats rather than one central big bad is a nice touch though. It proves that there are many problems out there that they need to handle in so many different ways. The FBI agent investigating Oliver (man those agents are doing a terrible job), Black Siren running around, this Cayden James who might be a really threatening villain in the long run but only time will tell, and now the return of Slade Wilson needing Oliver’s help. Hopefully some sort of direction begins to form cause while the multiple threats is interesting the bouncing around episode to episode is going to lose steam at a certain point with the midseason finale not that far away.
Just like last week it’s glaringly obvious that the series is stuck in a holding pattern right now as it tries to find it’s feet and a direction after season five. Growing pains are natural for a show but Arrow has had those growing pains through multiple seasons so it starts to become a bit much to be going through them again and again. That being said, it makes sense it’s happening. Season five not only wrapped up the Prometheus thing it also put a bow on the form of the show that we used to know as the flashbacks and the island and all that was blown up and left behind. This being the third episode that didn’t feature flashbacks was wonderful, as actually getting a full episode each week of the present day team without some flashback dominating time is a welcome change. How long that lasts we shall see, I reckon there will be some flashbacks for the Slade Wislson story next week with his child and his backstory. Right now the show is remaining entertaining enough that it can try and find it’s footing, but it needs to start happening sooner rather than later.
Score: 7 out of 10