Now that OTA and NTA have split up, Arrow’s “We Fall” was our first chance at seeing them work side-by-side, but not together. It worked out pretty well. The hour, which was mostly a building-block to move forward the Cayden James story, also provided a nice mix of action and emotional beats. Oliver got to be the Green Arrow, a dad, and the mayor in this episode, and did a great job in all three realms. When that balance is achieved, it’s a good thing. Still, a superhero is only as good as his villain, and there were some cracks there.
In “We Fall,” Cayden James reveals to Oliver that he’s motivated by vengeance because Oliver killed his son with a stray arrow. Sigh. Ok. We’ve been here before. We spent an entire season with Prometheus making Oliver pay for not just killing his father, but really understanding how many lives he has so casually taken. I think we can all agree that Arrow is better when Oliver is killing in the name of vigilantism — it works for him and for the show. Supergirl, The Flash, the Legends, even Black Lightning (so far) hold back when it comes to death blows, but not Oliver Queen. Arrow is a darker show. Yes, he stopped, for awhile, and it didn’t really work. Prometheus “helping” Oliver work through that and take responsibility made for great drama, but we’ve been there. Plus, with the revelation that Oliver didn’t actually kill Cayden’s son, well, it feels like a weak motivation for a pretty gnarly villain whose killing an entire city of innocents to get back at one guy. What’s the point of it all?
“We Fall” also proved that Cayden’s mini Legion of Doom doesn’t really mean much. Most of them just stand around while he electrocutes people around the city. He’s a very effective villain on his own — the opening sequence with the hacking of the councilman’s car as well as an electrified elevator (RIP Frank Pike) was very good supervillain work. The way the series counted down, essentially to Doomsday 7 a.m. was a smart way to shake things up. But beyond that (and the two teams reacting to the fallout), there wasn’t enough time spent on Cayden’s hacks. A shame, really. It would have been fun to see OTA and NTA have to go analogue for an episode.
The death of poor Frank Pike did get Lance back in the captain’s seat at the police department though, as he and Thea teamed up to create safe zones that Mayor Queen ultimately had to convince the populace to go populate. It was one of many proverbial hats that Oliver wore in the course of the hour, and regardless of the failures he’s recently had with keeping the Newbies as part of Team Arrow, he was otherwise pretty much on fire in this episode. He saved William, spoke to him honestly about his work (aided by a nice montage set to Felicity’s fears and pride about what Oliver does), and even held a Queen Family meeting to make sure William was cool with everything that was happening. Although, as smart and emotional mature as William is, what really sold him on his dad going back to vigilante work was seeing him kick ass and probably kill someone. I mean he is a middle-school boy.
It’s tough to meaningfully incorporate a kid into a TV show that is not for or about kids, but Arrow has done a pretty good job with the William stuff so far. It’s just important for them to remember that they don’t have to overplay their hand. To make sure we “get” that William is a nerd but also a brave kid and a leader in the making, there was that little bus scene with a bully who becomes the scared kid William has to save. Yeah, that could have been an interesting storyline if they had played it out over a few episodes, but instead it was rushed and way too easy to see coming (kinda like how he’s also not that perturbed about Oliver making him an orphan since Felicity is better at helping him with his homework anyway).