Arrow: 6.12 All for Nothing
It wasn't until this week that I realised what Arrow was missing this season - some decent character drama and development. The whole team Arrow divide had felt largely superficial, and Cayden James game plan aside, the threats lacklustre. But All For Nothing was different; it had emotional stakes at play, finally adding some real depth to Vicent Sobel and delivering a storyline where the consequences were dire.
So of course this was the end of Vigilante. I can't say I am too disappointed; the whole doing what it took to fight crime was covered last season and the retrofit reveal that it was Dinah's dead lover felt flat, but last week gave some measure of realism to his actions. Vicent Sobel was playing double agent, just as he had going undercover with Dinah five years earlier and getting caught out at the moment of the Star Labs explosion that gave Dinah her metahuman scream and Vicent his super healing abilities.
Not that the flashbacks were particularly riveting this week; yes we got to see more of their relationship but it offered nothing really new that we didn't already know. It was certainly a problem Lost suffered with occasionally, the ultimate precursor to Arrow's two time frame format it has employed since the pilot episode but more sporadically this season. In fact, given that none of the flashbacks have offered much this year, perhaps it is time the show was done with them for good.
I'm kind of glad this storyline wasn't dragged out for too long, particularly the new team's decision to keep their shady alliance with Vigilante secret from Oliver and co; characters keeping secrets from each other has been the bane of this season. Though I wasn't expecting Vigilante's discovery and death to come so soon. Black Canary killing Vincent with his sonic scream through his ear was a particularly nasty end and a twisted repeat of his original death where a trapped Dinah looked on in horror.
Not that this psychopathic alternate Earth Metahuman seemed quite so willing to fulfil Cayden James' demands. This episode continued to explore her strange relationship with Quentin Lance, following her father figure from a distance. The whole art gallery set up he arranged for her seemed a little contrived, but it was a nice moment that suggested that perhaps her redemption could be achieved.
I've wondered just what purpose Quentin continues to serve on the show (as great as Paul Blackthorne is in the role), but this an interesting evolution of his grief for his dead daughter. I am also liking that the whole possible redemption arc hasn't been rushed - Black Siren has been part of Arrow since mid season five and we're only now getting proper glimmers of hope. Now that the path has been set, I hope the writers don't rush this to its conclusion.
All For Nothing was an episode of emotional stakes, something that hasn't really been felt for a while. The drama of a city held hostage by Cayden James' demands was keenly felt and moments like the brutal massacre of the ARGUS black ops team demonstrated just how much control he has. But it was the development of Black Siren and Vigilante that worked the best - it's just a shame the latter only really fulfilled his purpose in his final appearance.