Season six of Arrow continues to roll out a string of reused items from season’s past, alongside it’s very dull drawn out villain plots. Oliver’s son is finally remembered this week as a number of revelations are thrown into the mix just to further complicate an already stuffed full season.
A Somewhat Hollow Vengeance Plan
While villains on the other CW shows have some clear goals and methods to their madness, the cabal of Cayden James hasn’t been all that clear on their motives this season. So much so that even Felicity even comments that they have no clue what James and company are doing with their latest tech attack that kills people in cars and elevators and elsewhere. As noted in a review from the first half, Cayden James claim that he’s out for vengeance because Oliver took his son from him seems very hollow compared to the very well thought out and acted vengeance plan of Adrian Chase/Prometheus last season. Hollow because they are following a well done season of vengeance with a lackluster season of the same thing. We finally learn more about how Oliver took that son away, someone that James claims that Oliver shot with an arrow a year ago in Star City even though Oliver later reveals that was when he was in Hub City with Dinah, and he, of course, tries to blackmail Oliver into paying him to stop killing people.
It’s hard to believe but the series is just wasting Michael Emerson and his ability, on a lame revenge plot that is being dragged out over months with no clear ending point other than the season finale of course. Honestly, if Arrow returns next season it’s time to just stop these season-long big bads. Other than Prometheus and some early ones the series has had a hard time really making these threats credible for a full season. Maybe it’s time for half season threats, to mix it up and not cause this lame drag out. This vengeance plot begs the question that Scott Evil asked his father in Austin Powers films about why don’t you just kill the hero and be done with it? Instead, James toys with his prey and tries a cliche terrorist money plot along the way. That James has the ability to be a super Hollywood style hacker breaking into everything and anything digital should be terrifying but instead, it comes off less so because everything is so focused on Oliver and his son and family in the crosshairs. Seeing the citizens dealing with this would be a better tactic, but we never fully get that. Because at day’s end, everything always comes back to Oliver.
Maybe the revelation that there is seemingly some mystery person that gave James this false information will reveal a better more coherent villain pulling all the strings, that might help salvage this season. There is also the possible revelation that Vigilante is a double agent working against James from the inside, but really again would not the best way to stop him not involve actually you know stopping him before he keeps killing tons of people? Put a bullet in his head or something. The Vigilante is a seemingly unkillable healing meta-human after all. Just go Wolverine on him and get out of there. Threat over. Cayden James cabal is a little light this week with Black Siren, Anatoly and Diaz are nowhere to be seen and now that other guy Sheck (I had to google cause guy is not all that memorable name wise) is dead secretly by Vigilante’s hand.
A Lie Is A Lie Even From A Hero
After quite a few weeks of the plotline of Oliver being a father seemingly vanishing as he runs around as a hero again, it’s back at the forefront and the writing is clearly on the wall: bad things are on the way. Somehow he’s been able to keep it from William that he’s been running around as the Green Arrow again (just like the whole city seemingly can’t tell that the hero went from white to black to white again), and he kicks off this episode by lying to his son. Great parenting right there, especially when your kid lost their other parent because of your hero life and you promised you were done with that life. Of course, that lie ends real fast as Cayden James puts William in danger and dad rushes in to save him and reveals that he’s been lying all along.
At the start of the season I really thought the Oliver as a father arc had some potential but now it’s been bogged down by the Cayden James plans and other issues. The same thing has happened to the whole Oliver outed as Green Arrow thing, the FBI seemingly has stopped caring for the moment and has for weeks (since there was like a five-week gap between the mid-season finale and mid-season return). A big issue of this season is that the writers are throwing all these plotlines around and trying to juggle them all but they are clearly not that good at juggling because they are dropping the balls left and right. Oliver’s duplicity about his double live driving someone away is becoming a tired trope at this point and is just another recycled element in this mish-mash of a season. Thank goodness for Felicity though, as she stepped up to have the talk with William that his father should have had with him. Though Oliver does finally actually do what’s right and talk to his son. So he gets some points there, though it took a bit too long really.
While I’m tired of the whole cracks in the team drama that drives people apart that they recycle seemingly every season, having the younger heroes off on their own does have some perks. Their bit saving the trains was nice and they are seemingly becoming better heroes when not under the shadow of the original Team Arrow members. They do still have some issues as they are succumbing to some of the same drama that was in the bigger team like breaking laws to do their own thing (the tech stuff last week) and keeping secrets at first but they are working well mostly. This Civil War though needs to end at some point as it’s a bit tiresome as a whole. Seeing Team Arrow being a smooth unit one of these seasons with drama coming from other outlets would be nice.
Interpersonal character moments continue to be a strength of the series this season, but the lackluster villain plots continue to bog things down. Damian Darhk might have previously been seen as one of the worst Arrow villains, but Cayden James has definitely taken that crown as he’s just so bland. At least Darhk got some room to grow with DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Honestly, if the show took a break from James hackney plots for an episode or two and focused on the family/team dynamics it might at least make the show a bit better for awhile. Sadly, that’s not happening.
Score: 6 out of 10