Another week, another slog through the long pretty ridiculous machinations of Cayden James and his wannabe Legion of Doom.
A City Held Hostage By A Mediocre Villain
Honestly, I’m almost wishing for the end of this season as Cayden James looms in every episode down with more and more of a ridiculous hold over a city. We open with him able to just kill ARGUS agents through their coms underwater, having starved the city with his tech hold over all things and having been able to extort over $70 million from the city as Oliver keeps having to pay a ransom. It’s becoming really silly that this man is so super awesome smart that he can hold a city hostage and the outside world apparently doesn’t care or can’t do anything. Too many times comic book adaptations use this plot where villains are so great they can easily hold cities hostage and everyone is powerless to do anything.
What also doesn’t work is that there is no real anything being shown to tell us why the hell this motley crew of villains has come together. Anatoly is suddenly all on board with bombs blowing up cities and other megalomaniac style villain plots? And why is drug kingpin Richard Dragon moving on from drugs to holding a city hostage? Laurel is crazy and semi-evil from another universe, so sure I guess she makes some sense. It’s just really lazy storytelling going on this season where things happen because the writers say so with no explanation offered. It’s a symptom that hits a few of the shows this season, but the other shows tend to just have simple things they don’t bother to explain (like Supergirl offering no reasons why Superman isn’t helping his cousin) while Arrow leaves the big things off the table with no reasons given.
Michael Emerson continues to shine as Cayden, even if the series is not really giving him enough to work with and has given him such a lame storyline that drags the season way down. Also what the hell happened to the whole FBI coming after Oliver for being Green Arrow plot? That just vanished after the second to last episode of the first half of the season. Just like the unceremonious end of the Diggle as Arrow storyline and so many other things that have just been quickly forgotten or wrapped up to make James’ team the main focus.
Laurel and Quentin’s back and forth lately is at least somewhat interesting. It’s still a bit foolish that he thinks he can get his daughter back in some way through this Laurel, who has proven to not be at all like the Laurel they lost. Despite her wanting to connect with the man that is her father, there is likely not going to be any sort of heel turn for Laurel anytime soon. Especially after what she does later in the episode with Vigilante.
A Civil War Gone Too Long
At first, the divided Team Arrow had some promise that could have been worked with, but with James & company as the focus every week the teams are basically still one huge team just with tons more ridiculous bickering and two separate hideouts. Once more they are standoffish and the younger heroes keep secrets from the older ones and act like their keeping secrets makes them somehow better than their elders or something. This city is being held hostage and people are dying but the heroes are making sure they still find time to bicker like children and blame one another for whatever the issue that week is. It’s childish and a waste of time. Why do I want to root for any of these petty heroes that can’t put things aside to save the day.
Vigilante/Vince did what needed to be done to try and save the city, risking his life, and instead of being angry at the hacker villain that made this all happen Dinah turns her anger to Oliver, because of course. The series likes to play that it’s being dramatic but the drama it’s trying to sell is landing flat on its face most times. Seriously, the kids just say screw the city so that they can save one man…something they would have ripped Oliver’s head off if it was him doing it. Just because Oliver and team couldn’t get the bomb, at least they tried. They might have had a better chance to actually stop the bomb if it wasn’t just two heroes running around trying to stop a bunch of guys and C4 strapped hostages and even multiple trucks. All these heroes just swim in their hypocrisy and act like they are special. It’s becoming nauseating to watch.
Flashbacks Are Back, Oh Yay
After appearing in just three previous episodes this season, the tool that the series began to lean on too heavily in the past five seasons is back. Just like before, the flashbacks are of course tied to things in the episode but are also giant exposition dumps that too conveniently tied to things happening in the present day. This time it’s to focus on the first meeting of Dinah and Vince back as cops which honestly, was not a story begging to be told. We got all we needed from their prior conversations and the episode that debuted them last season.
Also, these flashbacks are so lazily shot to open or close as the camera just focuses on some object and bam we’re seeing a similar object from the past that is just super different than the one we last saw. Oh look they have tires both now and five years ago that happened to be in both places! It’s also become clear foreshadowing that something is going to happen with or to a character if they suddenly get such a focus. Sometimes it’s that they are getting new storylines or a change is happening, or in this case, it’s that Vigilante/Vince gets some backstory just because they killed him off this episode. Oh Vigilante, we hardly knew you. Truly, we really didn’t.
Flashbacks semi-worked at times in the past with Oliver’s time on the island and some after but they quickly became outrageous as Oliver was running all over the world in the mid-2000s yet no one noticed that the thought dead playboy was not actually dead. Now they just feel outdated and drag things down. Just let them die Arrow, please.
With each passing week, Arrow digs itself deeper and deeper into a plot that has no real core to it. There is nothing that makes these villains work and nothing to really be rooting for as the characters are all tearing themselves and one another apart. This has dragged on way too long, I really hope we finally get some resolution to this plot and can move on soon.
Score: 6 out of 10