This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Arrow: Season 6 Episode 11
Cayden James puts one of his many plans into motion and a number of secrets come out into the open while the city comes under siege. It takes a bit, but Oliver eventually realized that with technology on the fritz, the city needed to go full Adama: analog everything. And on the dueling Arrow teams front, Curtis et al get good at defining boundaries and working out their problems, putting their team’s ethos into practice among each other and with their former colleagues, working with the A Team when necessary but firewalling them the rest of the time.
Police Captain Frank Pike died in the cold open, which is either tragic or confusing, depending on how good your memory of early Arrow seasons is. Just like that, Quentin is back leading the police again. Thea is also back to her former glory, although I’m still dubious about the concept that Lance was ever Deputy Mayor to begin with (his track record was sketchy at best and Thea has been so effective.) But if Quentin’s move back toward the SCPD is permanent, Thea will resume her old role and will hopefully rehire Rene because she was right – retaliation is a bad look. Plus, the guy was quite good at this job.
The subway mishap was another great throwback to early seasons of Arrow, when old subway tunnels regularly factored into the show. Plus, Dinah stopping an entire train with her canary cry was rad as hell. More of this, please.
The B Squad realizes it’s not as easy as they thought to run a team based in transparency. It’s an obvious place for the story to go, particularly on a show that feels the need to rebalance the scales every time someone disagrees with Oliver. I expected their new team to crumble, or at least learn a heavy-handed lesson about Oliver being more reasonable than they thought, but luckily that wasn’t the case. I love that this was only a momentary setback. Watching the three of them, together, walk through the pros and cons of working with Vincent was a reflection of who these characters are, and why they chose to form their own team. In the end all three of them came to the conclusion that was best for the city, because sometimes you just need to talk things out, rather than be left out and then ambushed.
That’s a lesson Oliver is still learning, though his progress with William in this episode was a good start. How many times have we heard Ollie say “I’m sorry” this season? It must be some kind of record, though he still needs to say it sincerely to the B Squad. Oliver could only keep the secret of being the Green Arrow again for so long, and perhaps learning to be more open and honest with William will carry over into other parts of his life. Ahem. Hearing Felicity describe her relationship with and trust in Oliver over the fight scene was actually pretty moving, and a good reminder of how very long the original team has been at it. Felicity predicting Oliver’s moves was an impressive touch, too.
Vincent threw a monkey wrench into the newly formed team, as well as Dinah’s thought process, even if only for a moment. While I’d like for Dinah’s sake to believe Vincent is telling the truth about his double-agent status, we just watched him promise Cayden James to do whatever it takes to get back on her good side, so I’m suspicious at best. I buy that his affection for Dinah remains, but he has spent a lot of time seeming very committed to murder and taking down Oliver, so I don’t think those feelings will readily extend to the rest of either Arrow team.
After several weeks of detached chess moves, we finally learned something about Cayden James and why he has focused his genius on taking down Oliver. He showed up at city hall calling himself Ben (remember Lost?) Gayle and demanding a nightly $10 million, something he knows Oliver can’t afford to do for long. But the key piece of information is that exactly a year ago, Oliver killed his son by accident with a missed arrow. Suddenly, Oliver’s soda cans with the Nerf arrow feels rather prescient. It seems the show will be letting Ollie off easy, though, as he was apparently
It would be interesting to force current-morals Oliver to contend head-on with his former sins, righteous though he thought they were at the time. We have been down that road before though, so maybe there’s still some other twist to this Cayden James business. Felicity finds out there’s a Corto Maltese connection, bringing that locale back into play for the first time in a while. That fictional country calls to mind Malcolm Merlyn and Deadshot, two dead baddies who spent some time there, or perhaps even Thea…
Another secret finally came out into the open: Felicity found out how Cayden James played her to make his citywide hack possible. She seems upset, but honestly not much came of this revelation. Even though several secrets surface in this episode, they all had low emotional payoffs, and the moments when the audience learned about the existence of each secret generally felt like they had higher stakes than the reveals themselves.
One bit of tension that won’t be dissipated so quickly is the way it hurt Diggle to remain demoted from his role as the Green Arrow after Curtis’s fix works out. Even William calls Oliver on this bit of BS, though it never occurs to Oliver to check in with Diggle about it. I don’t think anyone thought that Oliver would really move on from being the Green Arrow – even if it wasn’t his show, it’s not his personality. But Diggle is a good leader and keeps showing signs of being better able to navigate the feelings of the B Squad than Oliver has ever been. How long will it take Oliver to figure that out?
Another complication that I hope to hear about again is the cost of Oliver revealing Cayden James’s identity. How long will it be before the public realizes that the Green Arrow played a role in Cayden’s release from ARGUS? So far Oliver has continually played into Cayden’s hand, so perhaps he was banking on this information getting out and wreaking further havoc on the Arrow’s credibility. Oliver’s decision to wire the payment, at least for the first night, could look even worse when it’s inevitably revealed if it appears that the mayor/vigilante is in cahoots with James.