This season’s Big Bad has made for a different flavor of villain, and that techno-evil took shape this week with pretty much all of Star City going down as hacker Cayden James takes over everything from airplanes to elevators.
Spoilers ahead for “We Fall,” the latest episode of The CW’s Arrow, which aired Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018!
“You’ve promised before.” - William
Oliver has spent six years learning that he can’t win every battle, and that lesson most certainly comes in handy when it comes to parenting. Star City being turned into Gotham circa Dark Knight Returns might’ve been the A-story, but the real emotional meat of “We Fall” came via Oliver’s relationship with his son, William. Oliver made a promise that he would stop being the Green Arrow and passed the bow to Diggle, who led the new team for a while as Oliver focused on fatherhood and his daytime gig as mayor. But when all hell broke loose and Diggle was sidelined with an injury, Oliver took the mantle back up — and didn’t bother to tell William about it. For months.
William learns the truth when Oliver suits up to rescue him from a field trip gone awry, and finally comes clean that he’s been moonlighting as a vigilante for the past several weeks (though you have to wonder how William didn’t notice the odd schedule all this time). The obvious story here would’ve been to have this revelation lead to weeks and weeks of additional angst and handwringing, but the writers thankfully took it in a different direction — though one that was admittedly a bit corny and too easily resolved.
Felicity delivers a speech to William during Oliver’s latest mission to tell him how important it is that his dad remain a hero, and William is finally sold on the idea while watching a body cam (T-Sphere?) feed of Oliver absolutely destroying a gang of thugs. William sees how good Oliver is at this, and decides he’s cool with it. Essentially. The story does get a bit more resolution from William as he explains he’s not as worried now that he has Felicity as a stepmom, but still. It all happens in the span of a couple hours. For an arc that’s been brewing for the entire season, it’s wrapped up a bit too neatly with a bow.
It also effectively wraps the short-lived Diggle era as Green Arrow, now that Oliver has the all-clear from William. That’s a shame, because having Diggle under the hood was a fun story — and as he made clear tonight, he’s not too keen to slide back into his old role providing support. Yes, Oliver will obviously remain the Green Arrow on this series, but the Diggle arc was fresh. If anything, this simply seems like a move to reset the status quo in the regard.
As for the A-story: Cayden James has hacked everything but the kitchen toasters in Star City, and Oliver caves to his ransom demands after failing to figure out a way to stop him. The big revelation in this story came with some additional context regarding James’ mission: He wants revenge on Oliver/Green Arrow/Star City for the death of his son, which he believes occurred at Oliver’s hand via an errant arrow. But Oliver wasn’t even in town the night James’ son was killed, so there seems to be a conspiracy afoot. Who set up Oliver and sent the doctored intel to James? Could there be an even bigger baddie behind the scenes pulling these strings? It certainly seems possible. This arc also looks to continue on for at least another week, and at this point you have to wonder why anyone would choose to actually live in Star City.
*This week’s opening presented a surprising death of a longtime character in Frank Pike, the Star City police chief (and formerly detective) who has been around for several seasons. Killing him off was a shocking move (no pun intended), but certainly adds some stakes to the siege.
*The New Team Arrow (minus Green Arrow) seems to be doing well on its own, though you have to wonder if this uneasy alliance with Vigilante might come back to bite them all by the time it's over. Splitting these teams still holds some good storytelling potential, though it will be hard to balance the animosity and cooperation long-term. If nothing else it’s a chance for character growth as these young heroes go solo.
*It was obviously done to build some dramatic tension, but why not just arrest James when he was in the mayor’s office? Yes, he still has the bomb and his team would know … but isn’t he planning to use it, anyway? At least this way they’d have him in custody, right? That just seemed like an odd move.
*Geeky comic reference alert: Curtis recommends calling their new team the Outsiders, which should be familiar for comic readers. The Outsiders is the name of a lower-tier super team that has been around the past few decades in different incarnations, and it's frequently portrayed with connections to Green Arrow and Batman. Time will tell if the name will stick, but if nothing else, another clever nod to the comics.
Next week: The bomb threat rears its head as Cayden James’ siege of Star City continues.