Warning: This contains spoilers. For how to watch Arrow, click here.
If you’ve never seen Lost (okay, or Person of Interest), then it’s entirely possible that the name Michael Emerson won’t mean much to you at all. However, if you’ve had a Ben Linus-shaped hole in your life since Lost ended then this episode of Arrow has your name written all over it. Never mind anything else that happens: Michael freaking Emerson is playing a bad guy on Arrow and all is right with the world.
The episode kicks off with the reappearance of Helix hactivist Alena (Kacey Wohl), who warns Felicity that Cayden James – the super-genius hacker dude they helped spring from jail last season – is actually a Grade A supervillain intent on taking down the Internet, potentially causing the loss of millions of lives. Felicity: “Noooooooo!” Literally everyone else: “Told you so”. (Cayden James is, of course, played by Michael Emerson, in case that wasn’t clear.)
It turns out that “the Internet” is located in a strong room in Star City, so Felicity and Team Arrow plan to break in to foil Cayden’s evil plan. They then discover that – ruh, roh! – Cayden James is working with Black Siren (aka. Evil Laurel), who has been busy killing seemingly random people, who turn out to be not seemingly random at all, but fingerprint-key-holders to the Giant Internet Room, or something.
Anyway, there’s a pretty decent fight scene in what used to be Helix Headquarters, which appears to take place in a single take (it doesn’t, but it’s cleverly done, although it’s slightly too dark to tell who’s hitting who at times). When they get to the Giant Internet Room, there’s a lot of fun with countdowns and firewalls and furious keyboard tapping, until Felicity saves the day, except Cayden James isn’t known as a super-genius for nothing and it turns out his plan all along was for Felicity to disable a particular firewall, so he could upload some code that will no doubt be Important For Later. Especially since Felicity’s digital finger-prints are all over the servers, or something. The point is that Cayden James and Black Siren achieve their goal and escape, so the Season 6 Big Bad is officially in play.
On the strength of his 10 or so minutes of screen-time, Emerson is already shaping up to be an all-time great Arrow Big Bad. He brings the same measured delivery and always-in-control weirdness that he brought to Ben Linus in Lost and it looks like he’ll be a lot of fun to have around. Hell, we were excited when Neal McDonough was cast as Damien Darhk, but this is something else. Excellent work, Arrow casting directors!
There’s actually a lot more going on in this episode, though, than just the Cayden-plans-to-destroy-the-Internet stuff. The episode’s title refers to the enjoyable role reversal between Oliver and Felicity, something that both characters acknowledge with knowing exchanges. (“This is how it felt to be you, isn’t it?” asks Oliver, when Felicity has to leave their romantic restaurant date in order to go and fight crime.)
That scene on its own would be good enough to make the point, but the episode doubles down on the idea, having Oliver show up to the Arrow Cave and take over as Overwatch, while Felicity and Curtis are out in the field. The sight of Oliver behind the computer, not quite knowing how everything works (or even his left from his right) is a nice twist on the way the show usually works and the sort of thing you can only really get away with after several seasons of the same set-up. It’s a lot of fun seeing the writers find inventive ways to mix things up this season and hopefully there will be a lot more of it before we’re done.
The only issue with the main story-line is that there’s no room at all for anything on Diggle’s Drug Shame, not even a covert tremor or two to remind us of what’s going on with him. In fact, he takes something of a back seat, which is a bit odd, considering he’s the actual Green Arrow now.
The season’s other current subplot – FBI Agent Samandra Watson attempting to prove Oliver is the Green Arrow – is also nowhere to be seen. On the plus side, that leaves more room for scenes between Felicity and Alena, who looks like she’ll be sticking around this season, as it seems like Felicity just brought her on board the start-up she’s working on with Curtis. They’ve even named it Helix Dynamics. What could possibly go wrong?
Tune in next time for the return of Slade Wilson!
Slings and Arrows of Outrageous Fortune
– No flashbacks again this episode. Have we seen the last of them? Probably not, but it’s refreshing that the series doesn’t feel tied to them anymore.
– Still no sign of Thea, even though Willa Holland continues to be listed in the main cast credits. Hashtag TheaWatch, etc.
– There’s a brief mention of the fact that 70% of Star City are opposed to the anti-vigilante legislation. That’s… good, right? Interesting to see where they’re going with this idea. Is it too much to hope that Star City will effectively allow the Green Arrow to be their Mayor, once Oliver’s secret identity is made public?
– Line of the episode goes to Rene: “Thank god we saved the internet. My fantasy football team is killing it this year.”
Arrow Season 6 is available on Sky 1 every Thursday, within a week of its US broadcast. Don’t have Sky? You can stream it live or catch up on-demand through NOW TV, as part of a £7.99 monthly subscription, no contract. A 14-day free trial is available for new subscribers.
Photo: 2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.