A theme across the Arrowverse this week, outside DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, is slow running ambling plot series to quickly move their plots forward ahead of the four-show crossover next week & mid-season finales the week after. Arrow was no different, as the simmering FBI investigation plot took a huge leap forward and the series tried to continue to make hacker Cayden James into a credible big bad for the team. After weeks of telegraphing what was going to happen, it seems that the writers and producers finally decided to just make it happen.
One of the biggest flaws this season has been centered around Oliver & Diggle and the decision for one to give up the hood and the other to pick it up. From the start, we were stuck with knowing that Diggle was not doing well but was lying to everyone about it. Finally, recently he came clean and the team tried to help him so he would stop using drugs. At the same time the point of Diggle taking over was for Oliver to be able to really spend time being Mayor and a father, yet for the last few week, he hasn’t done much of either. There was so much fertile ground that could have been explored with him trying to do both well yet still being tied to the world he left because of his friendships, but instead he was there to help them against Cayden James a few weeks ago and was running all over the place with Deathstroke for the past two weeks. Of course, there was a ticking clock for the producers because of the fact that Oliver was going to have to be suited up for the upcoming crossover since people would want to see the actual Green Arrow for such an event.
While this FBI/Green Arrow hunt thing has been slightly interesting, rather than the one-off suspicion that Oliver has faced in the past, honestly it might have been better suited as a second-half plotline. That way Oliver could have been suited up for the crossover then maybe in the mid-seasn finale the image of him is revealed and the FBI comes for him and he turns the hood over to Diggle, boom cliffhanger. Instead, they’ve rushed through a plotline that could be very interesting. Seeing Oliver take back the hood, as he did in this episode, should have been something epic and cheer-worthy. Not this thing where Diggle’s body is failing him and some hacker is threatening a Billy Joel stadium. Especially since this episode just made it where the FBI claims to have definitive proof that Oliver has always been the hooded vigilante and he’s set to go on trial. Yet the talk of Diggle in the hood and the trial are plot points it seems are not close to over yet.
Cayden James. The hacker that keeps coming back and pushing a bunch of buttons to try and put through supposed plans to kill tons of people to achieve some plan to make the world better or something. The man is no Prometheus, that is for sure. After the stellar villain plotline of the fifth season, it was going to be hard for Arrow to repeat that in a way but so far they are not even close. The scattered villains that are James, Black Siren, Vigilante and Richard Dragon are not living up to what came before. Honestly, they are not even fully living up to even the lesser season villains like Ras al Ghul or Damian Darhk. While we get some of James motivation this week, I have to ask why the hell is everything that this hacker needs from a mythical internet hub to all these weapon parts and such all in Star City? I know the city is a big hub of things but sometimes it’s utterly ridiculous how much is just in that city when writers decide that something has to be there for plot reasons.
Unfortunately, from the bits we get in this episode, James reason for coming to Star City and attacking the team over and over is the same as Prometheus but flipped around. Instead of it being James father that Oliver did something to, the man claims that Oliver lost him his son. While this is clearly a thematic choice for the season since Oliver is now raising a son and dealing with that, it feels hollow and too similar to the last season. Prometheus was much more brutal and calculating about his revenge. So far James has just been a bit of a hacking nuisance. He did help sway the anti-vigilante referendum into passing by tricking the team and getting them to beat up fake police. This is bound to be an issue going forward and seems to be leading the series towards the dark 2040’s future seen recently in Legends of Tomorrow where vigilantes and metahumans are outlawed and rounded up by ARGUS. Tying James to this and maybe doing more with him later could actually make him an interesting villain, only time will tell. Either way, Arrow needs to find someone to focus on villain wise going forward. The series needs it.
After two episodes of a far more interesting Deathstroke story, Arrow returned to its other stories & it was mostly okay. The character moments between Oliver & Diggle, Felicity & Curtis, and Dinah & Quentin saved this episode. It showed these people coming together and dealing with things that were bothering them and talking it out. Something that isn’t done enough at times in these shows, mostly for the sake of forced drama much like Diggle’s lying for so long to everyone. Cayden James is just okay as a villain, though Michael Emerson’s performance is pretty good as the menacing figure something he’s perfected for years. Hopefully, the new year gives the character more to do if he’s not in the mid-season finale. While I found the FBI plot interesting at first because it was a longer form of the Oliver gets discovered trope, now it’s just dragging on too long. Thank goodness for the crossover next week.
Score: 7 out of 10