ScreenSpy - big news from the small screen
Don't Miss

ARROW “The Devil’s Greatest Trick” Review

By on February 9, 2018

Arrow — “The Devil’s Greatest Trick” – Pictured (L-R): Jack Moore as William Clayton and Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow — Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW






Over the last half season of Arrow, Michael Emerson has been putting in strong work as the season’s big bad, Cayden James. Sure, he’s doing exactly the same thing he did on Lost, portraying a calculating, cold tactician, but it’s what he’s best at, and “Devil’s Greatest Trick” asks a lot of him. With flashbacks detailing the frayed relationship between him and his son before the latter’s death, Emerson has to work overtime to sell James’ grief in both the past and present. The most human moment he gets comes not when he’s vamping in a theater about his son’s murder being akin to a phantom limb, but when he’s watching his son’s basketball game from outside the school and asks the FBI agents arresting him if he could just watch his kid play before being carted off to jail for 18 months.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Continuing from last week, Cayden’s decided to make good on his threat of detonating the thermobaric bomb housed in Star City, and all hands are understandably on deck. Having extended the mystery of who killed his son just long enough, the show reveals that the video footage Cayden received was doctored, and instead of Oliver doing the deed, it was a hired gun. With the show having revealed this information in the first 15 minutes, Cayden learns of and takes this information in pretty quickly.

Of course, Cayden can’t just do the rational thing and shut off the bomb to avoid dooming a city to a death it doesn’t deserve, because that would mean 45 minutes of doing nothing. Instead, he demands that Team Arrow track down Black Siren, Ricardo Diaz, and Anatoly, the three of them having since bailed once they deduced that Cayden would leave them to burn along with the rest of the city — which would be relatively easily, if it weren’t for the part where Dinah’s on the warpath for Siren and looking to kill her to get vengeance for her boyfriend.

The team nailing Anatoly and Diaz is so perfunctory and relatively easy that they aren’t all that worth talking about, since the showdown between the Canary and Siren is what we’re told to anticipate. However, the direction that the show is heading in regards to Dinah feels a tad off. It isn’t that she’s so much wrong about wanting vengeance so much as it is she’s incredibly selective about all the things her boyfriend did before his passing. Sure, she may not have been around for most of last season, but she had to have heard about the guy was up to back in 2016. Siren may be responsible for the deaths of many, but she didn’t blow up a motel with a rocket launcher, after all.

It’s a good thing, then, that Paul Blackthorne and Katie Cassidy are there to elevate that plot of the episode. I’ve said this before, but it’s very clear Cassidy is having more fun being a villain who is equally tortured and sadistic than she ever did as regular Laurel. Siren just comes in with the attitude and snark of a season one villain from Supergirl, constantly goading anyone she makes eye contact with, and it’s delightful. Having to keep Siren and Dinah from killing each other has to be the most dad-like thing that Lance has done in years, and Blackthorne perfectly sells both the desperation he has to find some glimmer of good in his not daughter and complete frustration at seeing her refuse the light inside her.

Like any father, he’s always going to be there for his children, and I get that. I’m just not sure I get the future subplot that’s teased at the end of the episode where he’s going out of his way to convince her that there really is good inside her. She may have hesitated before killing Vincent and puts on a tough front, but forcing that goodness to shine through is probably not going to go the way he expects, and there has to be some other way to get her to come to grips with herself. You can’t always force your kid to do something they don’t want to do, after all.

Speaking of kids, I cannot for the life of me understand what the logic in William going to sneak off and watch Oliver confront Cayden. It’s one of those decisions that’s very much not running on the logic of a genuine person, and just serves as a silly way to ramp up the tension now that Cayden has seen Oliver’s son with his own eyes. Fear makes us all do stupid things, sure, but even kids in actual horror movies don’t make a move as boneheaded as he did.

I’m really curious who everyone else thought would be the one to have kickstarted Cayden’s whole war on Oliver. My initial suspect was Anatoly — he’s had legitimate beef with Oliver in the past, and doing so had the potential for the show to try its hand at another Slade/Oliver-type relationship of brotherhood and heartbreak. Not once did it occur to me that Diaz would be making the long con with manipulating Cayden’s anger to help him bring the city’s to his knees. It’s not an unwelcome reveal, but so much time has been placed on just having seem to be a guy with connections — quite intentionally, as it turns out — that the remainder of episodes will have to work to make him a legitimate threat instead of someone taking advantage of a vacancy at his workplace.

Kirk Acevado has big shoes to fill now that Diaz has killed Cayden, and time will tell if he can fill them. There’s a hint of his potential in the final scene where he waxes poetic about how he’s in a position to take down Team Arrow, so maybe it’s not as big a deal as I’m making it out to be. Arrow has worked at its best when some overambitious guy has made aims to bring Star City to its knees, so it’s perhaps fitting that it tries its hand another time. But we won’t know how that all shakes out until March.

Additional Notes

  • Always glad to see Barry pop in for a quick assist to get the others where they need to go, surprised Diggle didn’t vomit like he has the last three times he’s been Flash’d away somewhere.
  • Some of the fight scenes looked off this week, right? There were moments where it was clear hits weren’t landing like they should’ve, most notably when Oliver does a knockout punch on Anatoly.
  • I understand the purpose of this, but it’s still incredibly funny to me that Cayden would take time from his quest for answers to tell a 10-year-old how he got arrested during his son’s basketball game.
  • See you all in March, where it’s Team Arrow Classic vs. Team Arrow New!

Hottest Stories from Around the Web