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Arrow - The Devil's Greatest Trick - Review

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Arrow “The Devil’s Greatest Trick” was written by the team of Sarah Tarkoff and Emilio Ortega Aldrich and was directed by JJ Makaro. This episode saw the end of Michael Emerson’s arc as Cayden James. It appears that Kirk Acevedo’s character Diaz will now take over as the big bad for the rest of the season. So we’ve moved from the tired, “you killed my family member” plot back to the “I’m taking over your city” plot. Really show? Are you only capable of two basic storylines? Using them both in one season does not make it an exciting new concept….

As the episode begins, Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Diggle (David Ramsey) arrive at James’ abandoned lair. He’s expected them. They ask for more time to come up with the proof that Oliver didn’t kill James’ son Owen (Jesse Irving). James isn’t buying it and tells them that he’s detonating the bomb at midnight.

Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and Alena (Kacey Rohl) continue to work on decrypting the video. I’m still suspicious of Alena. We get some nice flashbacks of Alena’s first few days working with James when he was clearly still hacking for good. She’s all nervous fangirl. Meanwhile, we see that James is so busy saving the world that his family has fallen apart – his wife is with someone else and Owen is clearly used to his father letting him down. It’s interesting that Alena is the one to warn James about ARGUS. I thought she might have been the one behind the video, but now I wonder if she is working for Diaz…

James is determined to carry out his threat and thanks and dismisses his henchmen. Anatoly (David Nykl) wants to know how they are supposed to get out of the city. James assures him that he’s got an airlift coming for them and he’s wired their payment for them to collect. After the airlift doesn’t arrive, first Diaz and then Laurel (Katie Cassidy) decide to take their escape into their own hands.

The rookies continue to get worse. Truly, Juliana Harkavy (Dinah) is simply awful in this episode. Dinah is determined to kill Black Siren for revenge and is beating up one of James’ henchmen when Curtis (Echo Kellum) and Rene (Rick Gonzalez) arrive to tell her that the city only has four hours before James is going to drop the bomb. She is too self-absorbed to help…

Felicity and Alena finally decrypt the video and discover the archer is an assassin – Karl Iscove (Justin Stone). He was instructed to use a bow and arrow and was killed shortly after he killed Owen. Oliver enlists the Flash to get Diggle and himself to James who is almost out of the city. James is sure that the person behind it all had to be one of his henchmen and demands that Oliver bring Diaz, Anatoly and Laurel to him or he’ll continue with his plan.

Thea (Willa Holland) and Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) are trying to help organize the city – and then both end up helping at the lair – so who is really looking after the rest of the population is a bit of a mystery… Thea ends up bringing William (Jack Moore) to the lair to be safe. We get a nice scene with Felicity trying to reassure William, but he really just wants to stick to Oliver like glue when Oliver goes out for the rest of the team.

Rene and Curtis go after Laurel because they’re worried that Dinah will get there first and kill her, thus dooming the city. Dinah does find Laurel first and they are fighting when Quentin shows up. Just before Dinah shows up, we see Laurel looking at a picture of “our” Laurel with Quentin – another chink in her armor… However, once she’s attacked, she’s ready to fight. Laurel screams both Quentin and Dinah over a car, but Oliver shows up and ties up both Laurel and Dinah. Dinah is furious and wants to know what he’s doing. He calmly tells her, saving the city. At this point everyone is trying to impress upon Dinah that they don’t simply execute people – and Dinah petulantly says they just let them die. UGH! Please, can we just kill her off????

Rene and Curtis go after Diaz, Quentin and Dinah watch Laurel, and Diggle and Oliver go after Anatoly. When Oliver captures Anatoly, he accuses him of being the one to doctor the tape, but Anatoly denies it. James sets up the meet at an abandoned theater. William overhears – and naturally, sneaks out and ends up in the theater.

This was probably Emerson’s best episode. I really liked the different sides of James that we get to see. He’s very different before the death of his son, and clearly, as Diaz points out, losing it now. When James sees William, he thinks it’s a beautiful symmetry that it all started with his son and will now end with Oliver’s. James tells Oliver that William is just like him – brave and foolish.

Meanwhile, Laurel tells Quentin that she’ll never by his Laurel. Quentin agrees that she’ll always be herself, but she can be better. Laurel tells him that she likes who she is – and she liked killing Sobel. She cruelly tells him that his Laurel was soft and na├»ve and that’s why she died.

James insists that he trusts data – not people. He’s not taking any of them at their word. Laurel suddenly says she’s had enough and that she’s the one who did it. James tells her that she’s lying. He points out that she’s not nearly as callous as she lets on. He saw her hesitate when he ordered her to kill Sobel – so did I!!! Laurel is wearing one of the scream dampening collars and when James gets close to it with the detonator, it starts shorting out the detonator. Finally, the collar shorts out and Laurel takes it off and screams everyone silly. Then everyone scrambles to get out.

Anatoly gets a gun off of Rene and Curtis – who are jokes. Laurel and Dinah fight again – and I was struck by how bad a body double Katie Cassidy’s stunt double is! It’s a decent fight scene, ending in Dinah getting Quentin’s gun and shooting Laurel. Diggle and Diaz fight – and Acevedo’s stunt double is at least half a foot taller than he is…

Meanwhile, William and James both get their hands on the detonator. Oliver pulls William aside and tells him to just look at him. He tells him not to be afraid, he’s with him. Meanwhile, James has finally shifted the blame for Owen’s death onto himself. Before he can detonate the bomb, Oliver shoots him in the arm and James drops the detonator – problem solved.

Back at the lair, William and Oliver share a moment. Oliver tells him that he promises not to let anything happen to William or himself – and what William did was dangerous. William apologizes but doesn’t believe Oliver can keep his promise. Oliver – finally!! – tells William that he’s been doing this a long time and knows what he’s been doing. William agrees to trust Oliver.

Dinah is fixated on Laurel’s confession – everyone else knows that Laurel didn’t do it, but Dinah is determined to maintain her stupid hunt. Rene and Curtis tell Oliver that nothing has changed – and continue to be dicks – especially Rene. Oliver asks them to keep Dinah in line – and good luck with that – they can barely tie their own shoelaces… They don’t have to die, but they do need to go away…

Oliver goes to see James in the interrogation room. James points out that it was expected – yep. All the plots on this show have become utterly predictable… Oliver wants to know that James’ surrender isn’t a ploy. James assures him that it’s genuine and seems glad that Oliver stopped him from doing the unspeakable. James is sure his son would have been ashamed of him. He gives back all the money he took from the city.

Diaz also pays James a visit. It seems that he’s the one behind everything. James quickly realizes it’s not a rescue. Diaz points out that Oliver is still under indictment and the team is fractured – thanks in large part to James. The city is ripe for takeover – and that’s what he plans to do. Diaz already has a bunch of city officials in his pocket including police Captain Hill (Tina Huang). Diaz kills James.

Finally, Quentin has patched up Laurel and has her handcuffed in the backseat of his car. He’s determined to rescue her. He tells her that he heard what James said about her hesitating to kill Sobel – James sees that she’s not as callous as she pretends too. Quentin is determined to nurture that tiny bit of humanity inside her.

Some good fights in this episode and good performances from Michael Emerson and Katie Cassidy in particular. The storyline continues to be derivative, obvious, and not terribly compelling. I’m happy to see Kirk Acevedo and Katie Cassidy get more to do coming up. The less we have to endure of the “rookies,” especially Harkavy, the happier I’ll be! What did you think of the episode? Are you ready to be done with the Junior team? Are you sad to see Michael Emerson’s arc wrap up? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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