Team Arrow split up at the midseason break, and the fallout continued to be felt in this one, as the season’s big bad Cayden James takes full advantage of that infighting to make a move on a local mob operation run by a very familiar family.
Spoilers ahead for “Divided,” the latest episode of The CW’s Arrow, which aired Thursday, January 18, 2018.
Team Arrow isn’t just fractured anymore — it's split completely in two. After parting ways with Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity because of a breach of trust, Curtis, Rene, and Dinah decide to form their own superhero team to deal with the Cayden James problem themselves. It makes narrative sense why they wouldn’t want to just head back into the Arrow Cave after being secretly surveilled, and it shows their growth in these roles that they’d opt to go it alone to try and save the city on their own. It’s a dynamic we haven’t seen much of to this point, and it could make for a fresh perspective to actually split the focus among the veteran team and the upstarts (who even have their own lair, thanks to Helix’s abandoned bunker).
That said: Arrow sometimes has a habit of twisting itself into contrivances to keep its storylines rolling — and “Divided” found Oliver bending over backward to avoid trying to reunite his wayward team members, right up until it's too late, anyway. We see Oliver dive headfirst back into being the Green Arrow (breaking his promise to his son) with nary a blink and, to make matters worse, decide to take on a team of supervillains with no backup. Admittedly, yes, they’ve all had their problems and breaches of trust. But is taking on an army on your own seriously a better option? Even Diggle points out that pretty much everyone on the team has screwed up and been forgiven along the way — why take such a stand about it now, if not simply to keep that storyline lurching along until the outcasts could form a team?
With all this talk about forgiveness and trust, has Oliver forgotten that Felicity is literally to blame for this season’s big bad in the first place, after helping Helix break him out of an Argus prison last season? He’s forgiven her, so it’s almost silly to keep holding these grudges against Curtis, Rene, and Dinah, right? Again, it sets up what could be a really interesting story for the next arc — but it bent over backwards to get there.
It’s good timing, too, because with everything we saw from Cayden James in this one, it might take two superhero teams to keep him in check. James has assembled a who’s who of baddies, and even added the Vigilante to his roster of Bratva gangsters, Richard Dragon, Black Siren, and an endless supply of red shirts. Team Arrow got lucky this week to finally discover the bug James placed in the Arrow Cave (do they seriously not sweep that place periodically, considering how many baddies have gotten in over the years?), which essentially sets things up with a soft reset moving into the back half of the season.
We have two super-teams, Team Arrow can operate in the Arrow Cave without being spied on, and Cayden James remains a massive threat. Hello, chaos.
*Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe) joins the Arrowverse as one of the sole remaining members of the Bertinelli family. The Bertinellis have been around since Season 1, following the introduction of Helena Bertinelli (aka Huntress) back in Season 1. She gets a name drop here (Helena is apparently underground at the moment) as Oliver tentatively teams up with Ferreira’s Jerry Bertinelli to try and stop Cayden James’ power play. It, of course, goes horribly wrong and Jerry winds up dead. R.I.P. Bertinelli Syndicate.
*The anti-vigilante law that was such a big deal for several episodes gets a quick name drop here, but no real effects from the legislation. At least not yet. It seems the cops aren’t hunting down those vigilantes too hard, because Oliver is still out kicking the crap out of criminals every night.
*Seeing the Vigilante team up with Cayden James is a real head-scratcher. There must be something else to that story yet to come, because if not, it goes against pretty much everything we know about the guy. Vigilante has basically operated as a black hat Green Arrow, killing every criminal he can find. Why on Earth would he team up with criminals at this juncture?
*Fresh out of her coma, Thea is back at city hall working as chief of staff for Oliver’s administration. It’ll be interesting to see if they can come up with a good story to justify having Thea around, because she’s been a narrative weak link for a while (to the point they literally put her on ice for most of this season). Not to mention: It obviously makes for a good way to keep the characters around for day jobs, but Oliver really does have a problem with nepotism, right?
*Everybody seems to be using T-Spheres these days. Which makes sense, because they’re awesome.
*After hiding his injury, and being sidelined the past several episodes, Curtis and Felicity have used their scientific McGuffin skills to come up with a computer chip to fix Diggle’s nerve damage. Just like they did for Felicity’s paralysis. Which, sure, whatever. At least Diggle is off the bench, right?
Next week: Cayden James causes a citywide panic in Star City, and its up to Oliver (and maybe that other super-team?) to fix it.