If you read comics, you’re probably familiar with a “filler issue.”

For those who might not be, filler issues often serve as a break between story arcs. Sometimes they occur mid-storyline (which is weird), or they serve to “introduce” a new creative team. Either way, the stories usually have nothing to do with what’s currently going on—it’s usually just a simple/traditional or fun plot that lives outside of a major arc.

Tonight’s Arrow had a little bit of filler issue vibe to it for me.

I say “little bit” because it still draws on past events and the current storyline, and also served to setup what looks to be the big arc of this season…  

Cayden James.

I’ll be honest…I’m not sure how I feel about it. If you have read some of the past columns, I’ve discussed on a few occasions that sometimes the less-is-more approach to storytelling for these shows can be more effective. In my mind, tonight was a good example of how things can become too muddled if you overcomplicate them—at least that’s how I felt.

Call me old fashioned, but I enjoy the straight up good guy versus bad guy storyline with the focus being on characters’ moral makeups. It’s tough when the differing mindsets and motives of the hero and villain are a backdrop to other storylines like love and complicated relationships.  

Of course there has to be some layers there and I understand that. In order to make a show last, the characters have to have depth and storylines that make the viewer care and want to see what’s going to happen next. I know that every episode can’t be a standalone. Mixing in more contained stories would be cool, but probably not feasible for the overall aim of the show. I just tend to struggle when the villain’s plot goes beyond that of the city the story is set in.

Take tonight for instance…

I guess we always knew Cayden would come back, but we weren’t sure in what capacity. Then he resurfaced tonight and we learned his plan was to take down the Internet…that’s right…take down the Internet…

Then at the end, it was revealed that his goal wasn’t to take down the Internet, but gain access to something else so he could do possibly more sinister work than that.

Okay, that’s one thing. Now add some of the outside factors into it:

  • Helix ties
  • Felicity’s involvement with Alena and how they helped free Cayden, who apparently was good, but is now evil (no repercussions for Felicity for helping free this guy?)
  • Evil Laurel working with Cayden for some unknown reason
  • Systematic killing agents in order to get their fingerprints
  • The complicated networks that make up the Internet

By the way, those murders had me asking a couple questions…

I get that the agents portrayed “normal” jobs and lives in order to fly under-the-radar and not draw attention to themselves, so their murders wouldn’t raise any eyebrows from local law enforcement. But wouldn’t the secret organization they worked for put the pieces together that their agents were being picked off and it could be connected? Also, going back to evil Laurel choosing to kill them in the first place...wouldn’t it have made sense to get the fingerprints through non-lethal means? Had she done that, Ollie’s team would have never gotten involved, since the murders tipped them off to what was going on. Seems like a misstep by her and Cayden.

But the episode had a positive to it.

The actor who plays Cayden does a good job of making you not like him—at least he did for me. The way they left it with him last season, I was expecting him to look like a Grade A tough guy. Then you see him and he looks like a grown up Milhouse Van Houten. Cayden looks like he could be the HR guy at your work rather than some evil genius. Maybe that’s the angle, though. Sometimes the unexpected villains make the scariest baddies. 

That’s not it, though…

He crushes the “I’m above you” mentality. He speaks in that slow, pretentious manner that is basically the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard! If this is the guy we have to deal with the rest of the season, then he’s doing a good job because he’s the ideal guy you love to hate.

Hoping for a bit of a bounce back next week…let’s see what they do!

Until next time,

Matt Ross covers Arrow as a part of the #DCTV Couch Club. Catch new episodes of Arrow Thursdays at 9 p.m. (8 p.m. CST) on The CW.