Arrow, ‘The Devil’s Greatest Trick’: Cayden James Saga Comes to an Abrupt End

Arrow, Season 6, Episode 13, “The Devil’s Greatest Trick ”

It turns out Cayden James was a garbage dad and his guilt over it nearly turned Star City into a smoking crater. For a series known for milking its major villains for as many episodes as possible, the transition from James as the big bad to Diaz was enough to give you whiplash. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest episode of Arrow:

What’s the scoop:  Cayden James’s pre-villain life played out like a millennial update of Harry Chapin’s’ “Cat’s in the Cradle“:

Missed my son’s ballgame just the other day

He’s a baller and can really play

But there were computers to hack and men to make pay

Then my boy was killed by an arrow now EVERYTHING MUST BUUUURRRRRNNNN!!!

So, to prove to the world how much he really loved his son, James has extorted tens of millions from Star City, and now he’s ready to detonate his bomb now that its bank account is dry. Before the deadline hits, Ollie and Diggle find James, and show him the unaltered video of his son’s death. While it establishes that Ollie didn’t kill James’ son, James checks the metadata of the video (a seemingly basic step Felicity, Helix hacker, Alena or Curtis failed to do) and determines that one of his three cohorts -– Black Siren, Anatoly or Diaz –- is responsible. James tells Ollie to round up the suspects for a grand reveal by midnight, or the city will burn.

Meanwhile in B-plot land: And in the redemption arc no one wanted, we get more of Quentin trying to save his daughter from another dimension. Quentin is hanging on to any thread as confirmation that some sliver of his daughter exists, and ignoring Laurel saying things like “I’m not your daughter” or “I enjoy killing people.” The situation is complicated by Dinah’s Revenge Tour 2018, which means about every two minutes, Temporary Canary shows up to try to whoop some Laurel ass. When James’ morality play falls apart, Dinah is there to stop Laurel from escaping; there’s a scuffle, and Dinah disarms Quentin and gut-shoots Laurel. Black Siren manages to survive, but she’s probably going to wish she didn’t because Quentin has patched her up, and is going to try to cure his pseudo-daughter of her wickedness. Don’t be surprised if the next time we see Laurel she’s in her underwear, chained to a radiator like something out of Black Snake Moan.

Sex and the Olicity: It was a “No time for love, Dr. Jones” kind of night. Too much stuff going on for exposition breaks, makeouts, or tie straightening.

What about the action:  After several episodes where the action sequences were scant, the triple bad-guy round-up is fertile ground for fight scenes with Dinah squaring off against Laurel (only to be broken up by Ollie’s trick arrows), Oliver and Diggle pursuing Anatoly, and Curtis and Rene going after Diaz. Complicating matters is Oliver’s own stupidity — and William. Ollie pulls his son out of the safe bunker he’s been hiding in the last couple of episodes to bring the boy to a room with the worst security this side of STAR Labs, plus no adult supervision. William forgets what he said about Felicity a few weeks back, and dredges up his fear of being an orphan as reason to show up at James’ big reveal in the abandoned theater. There is come chaos when Laurel’s power dampening collar shorts out, but the bomb doesn’t go off, James is captured and the other baddies get way. Team Arrow knows they should be satisfied because they saved the city again, but this victory feels hollow for everybody.

What’s next:  The episode ends with James making some form of restitution to Oliver and the city, but after Ollie leaves, Diaz shows up to take his place. He gives James some kind of speech about how dumb it is to try and destroy a city, when controlling it is much more fun and profitable. Diaz slips a dagger into James’ neck to close things out and confesses to being the one who hired the hitman to kill James’ son, no doubt over a $50 million hack James made in a flashback.

Last impressions:  On one hand, the Cayden James-bomb drama was starting to overstay its welcome, so some credit is due for wrapping up that piece of the piece of the story. However, what we’re left with (Laurel redemption, Team Arrow vs. Team Dinah’s Revenge, Diaz as Star City crime lord) doesn’t feel like it’s going to be strong or compelling enough to carry the story through the end of the season, once Arrow returns from its Olympics break. So, overall, this episode wound up being a mixed-bag. The action sequences were good, and the looming threat of incineration gave the episode some stakes. But, the character flip-flops (looking at you William), Dinah being so mad she keeps forgetting she has powers, and the continuing tension between Ollie and his onetime trainees really dragged the whole episode down.

Craig Wack

Craig Wack

For a weekly discussion of comic book TV shows please join Craig Wack and Tatiana Torres for the Agents of GEEK podcast updated every Friday and now on iTunes

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