From the plot synopsis of last night’s Arrow, you’d never guess it was a key episode for the season’s ongoing storyline. Nevertheless “Reversal,” promoted as a showdown between John Diggle (David Ramsey) and Black Siren (Katie Cassidy) was very slight on that front. Instead, viewers received a Felicity-focused episode paying off the Helix thread from last year. It also gave a us a glimpse at Black Siren’s mysterious benefactor: Cayden James.
And to be honest, from the way his face was hidden last season, I was expecting James to be a cover identity for Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards) presumed-dead ex-boyfriend Cooper Sheldon. He was the sort of person A.R.G.U.S. would take an interest in and there’s always a way to cheat death on Arrow. Instead, the reveal was more interesting and fascinating: James is the mystery character played by Michael Emerson.
The reveal has a some interesting metatextual implications. In his performance, he echos Ben Linus from Lost. I mean, that’s part of his overall persona, so you cast him for that quiet menace. But in playing the world’s greatest technoterrorist, he also becomes a mirror version of his Person of Interest character Harold Finch. Those allusions are not an accident as James appears to be a wholly new character devised for the series and not based on an existing DC Comics character. Of course, there’s always room for a subsequent reveal about his true identity. But as the season promises to give each member of Team Arrow their own bad guy, James makes a compelling mastermind and foe for Felicity.
Now that I think about it, I wonder who Curtis’s (Echo Kellum) nemesis will be?
Meanwhile, I’m sort of on board for Ollie (Stephen Amell) and Felicity’s renewed relationship. I was happy that it was over in the previous season because it seemed the show was trying to tell a story about to people who are great friends and discover that they make a terrible couple. But Ollie, as he himself says, appears to be truly ready this time to be part of that coupling.
Of course, there is the danger that it could effect the writing of Felicity adversely. The relationship neutered her last time around as Berlantiverse love interests tend to lose some of their initiative. Hopefully, it will continue to be portrayed as it was in this episode, with the pair communicating and Oliver listening to her.
Although, it seems the relationship will be on hold if this preview of next week’s episode is any indication. Slade Wilson’s (Manu Bennett) is back and he needs Ollie’s help. I wonder how he’s going to evade the FBI and still assist Slade in finding his son? Perhaps, as the preview indicates, he’ll simply stand there while Slade hits people.
Arrow airs Thursdays on The CW.