It’s a new year and The CW heroes are coming back, along with a new addition in the form of Black Lightning, so I figured why not shake things up and do these reviews a bit differently to avoid them being the really really long sort of disconnected at times breakdowns of 2017.
While The Flash & Supergirl have revitalized themselves this season and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow continued the revitalization it found the season before, this season of Arrow has been weighed & measured and found wanting. Season five of the series with Prometheus as the villain brought new life after down third and fourth seasons, but so far season six has not been able to live up to that prior season. Unfortunately, with its mid-season return, it’s still not found footing to compare to the other shows or even to its own previous self.
A Makeshift Family Stands Divided
So as the title of the episode states, after the mid-season finale saw the old school team Arrow members & the new team Arrow members go their separate ways they are no closer to a reconciliation as the season catches back up. In fact, they are now even further divided & are doing their own way as the villains that have been working against them have secretly come together to form some cabal. Unfortunately, the reasons for the teams splitting were utterly silly when they first came up at during the mid-season finale and they are still just as ridiculous now. After everything they’ve been through, and after things that they have done against each other before, this whole thing of the spying and Rene’s going against orders and being willing to turn in Oliver to save his ability to see his child being what divides them is just ridiculous. It’s even more ridiculous because the cabal of villains that take credit for it are not that imposing of villains. If this had been a Prometheus plot last season it would have worked so much better. Adrian Chase knew how to really get into their heads. These villains are just sort of lame when compared to Prometheus or even Reign or The Thinker in Supergirl or The Flash.
That being said, I respect the fact that the writers didn’t decide to just blow through this divide and have it ended by episode’s end. Even weeks later in-universe, there was just too much baggage that came up in the mid-season finale that the two teams cannot reunite even against the massive force of villains they now face. Rene understandably chooses his family, Curtis can’t trust the bosses that spied on them and Dinah has her whole back from the dead boyfriend that is the metahuman Vigilante who is working alongside Cayden James. Though I have to say Curtis and Rene so quickly being willing to commit a crime to erase the files on Rene that the FBI has gathered after all that has happened was a bit silly. Then again I guess it’s true of real life where people have morals about somethings but are willing to sacrifice those things for other reasons. Also, the new team using Cayden James old hacking group’s headquarters as their base seems a questionable choice when he’s the big villain of the season.
Legion of Not So Much Doom
The climactic moments of the mid-season finale were meant to lead to viewers likely gasping or being surprised to find out that all the random new and recurring figures that had tasked the team through the first nine episodes of the season were a secret evil group. Instead, honestly, it came off as more of an “oh…okay sure,” type moment. Mostly because unlike the Legion of Doom that appeared in season two of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, this cabal of villains is not really menacing. They have not been built up to be bigger villains that the heroes should fear. Even the uber-hacker Cayden James is not really all that threatening with his lackluster supposed city destroying plots. Their cold open threatening the last remnants of the Bertinelli family for some dock stuff was only okay. With the aforementioned Legion, you truly believed that the members had plots that could destroy all of time and space because they had already proven that they thought big and had the capacity to do big things. This was a group that easily got swatted down by Team Arrow in the beginning episodes of the season.
Then the middle of the episode showed some of how this group can be dangerous. They have the numbers, that makes them a threat to the divided teams because on Team Arrow side the only operative they have is Oliver at this point with Diggle still sidelined (though that seems to be ending soon as Curtis does get the implant working to help him by the end). Despite Oliver’s team finding out they were under surveillance after Laurel broke in at season’s start to plant a bug, James and company continue to get the drop on them and Oliver only survives because James lets him go much to the anger of his co-workers. Though that’s more of the typical villains letting a hero go because it’s too early to kill them of course. Can’t off the main character in the mid-season premiere. While most of the other villains are cardboard, outside of David Nykl’s Anatoly & Katie Cassidy’s Black Siren who have had time to be developed, Michael Emerson does his usual great job at playing these types of calculating and eccentric characters with Cayden James.
Not Everything Is Bad
All of that stuff above taken into consideration, not all things with the series have gone down recently. There are still great character interactions including between the younger/new team members as they put their lives back together away from Team Arrow. A really great thing is that Willa Holland is finally fully back as Thea after she came out of her coma during the Thanksgiving episode. Her moments with Quentin Lance are great as they have a really great relationship, though man she sure got a pretty fast promotion. Thea being there to help Quinton deal with his daughter issues was a nice touch, after how close they’ve grown. You really start to feel for Lance as he’s arguably the person that has lost the most when it comes to this world of heroes/vigilantes. Oliver runs an administration that constantly employs all his friends and family, I wonder how Star City voters feel about that. The fight scenes have been a highlight this season and that hasn’t changed with this episode.
I still don’t buy that the city hasn’t noticed that there were two different men, with two different skin tones running around as Green Arrow recently. That’s a bit beyond the suspension of disbelief level. Seeing Oliver back as the hero is great, but what started out as an interesting side plot about him trying to be a better dad and not leaving his child possibly orphaned has been not only sidelined but all but basically forgotten. When told he should go home to his kid, he waves it off like it’s no big deal that he’s barely spent time with his son in the weeks they’ve been looking for Cayden and company. Smooth move there Oliver. Also, why is this FBI investigation seemingly taking forever if they have all this evidence? Maybe it’s because Cayden has some hand in that but it’s far from clear. Though the less that plotline comes up at this point the better.
Arrow continues to sort of be the weak-link in the CW DC shows, but still shines when it comes to character moments & fight choreography. The other series beefed up their villains this season while this series is still trying to make theirs a threat, but they did a better job this week than in past weeks. So there is hope that things can turn around for a better second half of the season compared to the first.
Score: 7 out of 10