Warning: This contains spoilers. For how to watch Arrow, click here.
Welcome back, Arrow fans! In case you’d forgotten, Episode 9 (“Irreconcilable Differences”) ended with the reveal that season Big Bad Cayden James had assembled a team of minor-league supervillains we’re calling the Legion of Hmmm. Said Legion includes Black Siren (which we knew already), Vigilante (gasp, etc), Ricardo “Dragon” Diaz (the guy Diggle was getting his drugs from), James’ main henchman, whose name is apparently Scheck and, er, Anatoly, who apparently has nothing better to do than join a lame league of second stringers. Doesn’t he have a Russian mob to run?
Anyway, the second part of the cliffhanger is that, as indicated by the titles of Episodes 9 and 10, Team Arrow have split into two factions: the original Team Arrow (i.e. Oliver, Diggle and Felicity), which we’ll call Team Arrow S1 (for Season 1), and the newer members of Team Arrow (i.e. Curtis, Rene and Dinah), which we’ll call Team Arrow 2.0. Not only that, but – gasp! – it turns out that splitting up Team Arrow was Cayden James’ plan all along, and, he says, it’s only the beginning.
Given the nature of superhero shows, not to mention the progress Arrow has made with Oliver’s emotional maturity over the course of six seasons, you could be forgiven for thinking that the team split would be something of a fake-out and that everyone would be back together again by the end of the episode, after a few thoughtful words from Oliver, perhaps with a nudge from Felicity and Diggle. But that’s not what happens here. Even when the two teams agree to come together for a common cause (i.e. taking out Cayden James), their differences remain irreconcilable and they once again go their separate ways at the end of the episode, with Curtis even fashioning them a new HQ from Helix’s old headquarters.
What’s that, you say? You’ve forgotten why they’re all upset with each other in the first place? Well, among other things, Oliver and Felicity put Team Arrow 2.0 under surveillance, Rene dobbed Oliver in to the D.A., after which he was arrested in front of his son (and then lied about it), and Dinah hung out with a murderous vigilante (Vigilante) without telling anyone. As Oliver rightly points out, there’s fault on both sides. And that’s what makes this whole thing interesting – the audience can see both points of view, even though the show is usually weighted towards favouring Oliver’s side of things, even when he’s demonstrably in the wrong. The question is: do the audience even want Team Arrow back together? Let’s face it, it was getting a little crowded in the Arrow Cave and it’s kind of nice to have Original Team Arrow back again. At any rate, assuming the set-up lasts for more than a token couple of episodes, it makes for a potentially interesting back-end to the season.
As for the actual plot of the episode, it’s pretty much business as usual. Cayden, Black Siren and Diaz threaten Star City gangster Jerry Bertinelli (Louis Ferreira) and demand control of the port, for some reason. (This is a nice callback to Helena Bertinelli, aka. The Huntress, from Season 1, as it turns out Jerry is her cousin). Black Siren (who’s wearing a black wig now, for some reason, and actually looks pretty good) does a cool sonic kiss thing and slams Bertinelli against the wall, so he’s suitably panicked.
Bertinelli manages to lure Oliver into a meeting (securing the line of the episode in the process – see Slings and Arrows below) and Oliver reluctantly agrees to team up against their common enemy. In return, Bertinelli gives Oliver security footage, which allows them to track Cayden James’ car. However, when Oliver arrives to confront Cayden, it turns out it’s a trap, at which point Cayden reveals the other members of the Legion of Hmmm. Oliver: little bit annoyed. The villains have Oliver right where they want him and could kill him there and then, but in typical superhero show fashion, they let him escape. At least the script has the self-awareness for Black Siren to comment on it. “I am so sick of everyone not killing him when they get the chance,” she remarks. “There’s a time and a place for Oliver Queen’s demise,” replies Cayden. “Now is not it.” Yeah, that’s right, Cayden, it’s all part of your master plan. Suuuuure, it is.
Still, it’s not all doom and gloom for Team Arrow. While working on Diggle’s arm implant (remember Diggle’s arm implant), Felicity discovers the bug that Black Siren planted in the Arrow Cave, which explains how he’s been one step ahead of them the whole time. Unfortunately, as Felicity points out, it also means their secret identities are now blown.
With the Legion of Hmmm revealed, Oliver realises that he’s going to need the rest of Team Arrow 2.0 if they’re going to take down Cayden James. Unfortunately, the reconciliation meeting doesn’t go so well, especially when Dinah finds out Vigilante (aka. Vincent Sobel, her ex-boyfriend) is working for Cayden. They agree to share information, but as for getting back together, not a chance.
So, Oliver persuades Bertinelli to arrange to meet Cayden and co. in one of those abandoned warehouses that Star City has lying around and there’s a big fight sequence, with Oliver and Bertinelli’s men taking on Diaz’ armed goons. It’s not a bad fight sequence, courtesy of regular director James Bamford, but it’s not one of the best – the camerawork is ambitious, but the actual fight moves aren’t all that impressive. The best bit about it is Diggle helping out via some remote-controlled T-Spheres – Felicity: “How does that compare to Halo?” Diggle: “So. Much. Better.” – but then Anatoly just shoots one and Diggle throws down the controller like a petulant teenager who’s just lost at World of Tanks. In the end, Oliver is nearly killed (again), but gets away and Cayden (or rather, Diaz) kills Bertinelli for the set-up, which is a shame, as Ferreira was very entertaining in his few scenes. Oliver doesn’t seem all that guilty that he basically got Bertinelli killed, which isn’t a particularly good look. But there you go.
That’s pretty much it for the main plot, other than the fact that Team Arrow 2.0 reaffirm the fact that they’re not coming back to Team Arrow anytime soon. Oh, and Curtis gives Diggle the revamped chip for his arm as a parting gift. The episode ends with Diggle delightedly catching a gun and quickly cocking it and aiming it, so it looks like Spartan is back in action from now on. Cheers, Curtis.
This being an episode of Arrow, there are, of course, multiple subplots in the air too. The first involves Rene persuading Curtis to help him destroy the digital evidence of him outing Oliver as the Green Arrow. Curtis reluctantly agrees (out of a distaste for criminality rather than a lack of concern for Oliver), but they apparently have hard copies. It seems like this will be Important For Later.
The second subplot involves Dinah rekindling her relationship with Vincent, who, lest we forget, she’s only just discovered is still alive, even if he is Vigilante. Juliana Harkavy has played Dinah as a fairly angry, frowny presence up to now, so it comes as quite a surprise to see her suddenly start smiling and laughing in Vincent’s presence. Amusingly, Vincent woos her in the first place by getting criminals to hand themselves in at the police station, as Vigilante. Anyway, there’s genuine chemistry between Harkavy and Johann Urb and this sets up a heart-breaking conflict for Dinah, after she realises Vincent is Team Cayden. Might there be a redemption arc in the offing? Cayden certainly seems to doubt Vincent’s loyalties, judging by their final scene in the episode.
The final subplot involves the glorious return of Thea Queen to the Mayor’s office. Since Rene has quit (or been fired, not sure which), she’s quickly promoted from Assistant to the Deputy Mayor to Chief of Staff, which means – joy of joys – that all her scenes will be with Quentin for the foreseeable future. Sure enough, a very promising storyline is set in motion, as Quentin confesses that he believes he sees something good in Black Siren and is determined to get through to her. Thea can relate, because she saw goodness in Malcolm Merlyn at the end, when he sacrificed himself so that she (and others) would survive the Season 5 finale. So she agrees to help. The chemistry between Paul Blackthorne and Willa Holland has always been off the scale, so it’s great that they’ll be having their own subplot for a bit.
All in all, this is a solid and entertaining mid-season return that sticks to its guns in terms of the team-splitting cliffhanger and promises some interesting developments for the rest of the season. Tune in next time for more of Cayden’s masterplan!
Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune
– Line of the episode goes to Bertinelli. “You ever consider a spotlight? Big light in the sky in the shape of an arrow?”
– Trick Arrow Watch: Aside from the retractable line arrow we’ve seen before (the Quick Getaway Arrow), Oliver also hits Black Siren with a Choker Arrow that knocks out her sonic scream. That seems like it might come in handy.
– Michael Emerson continues to be enormous fun as Cayden James. Let’s be honest – he’s playing him exactly the way he played Ben Linus in Lost, and for Lost fans, that’s a reason to watch the show on its own. His best line-reading this week? The delivery of “Someone… important”, when Bertinelli asks who he is.
– Speaking of Bertinelli, is an appearance from The Huntress too much to hope for this season? According to Cayden, she’s in prison, but since when has that stopped anyone showing up on Arrow?
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Photo: 2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.