SPOILER WARNING: This story contains major spoilers for tonight’s episode of Arrow, “Reversal,” which as of publication has not yet aired on the west coast.
During the latest episode of Arrow, “Reversal,” Michael Emerson’s long-teased mystery character was finally revealed. There is now a face to associate with Helix leader Cayden James. The Person of Interest alum’s casting was announced late in the summer, alongside news that his role would be a recurring one. Barring vague hints in regards to nuance and Emerson’s involvement in helping shape the character, details of how he would fit into Arrow’s Season 6 narrative remained scarce.
The secrecy was evidently warranted, too; Cayden James himself acted as an ominous figure as Arrow’s fifth season wound to a close. James’ first mention came as the hunt for Adrian Chase began last season in “Dangerous Liaisons.” In exchange for help tracking the whereabouts of Prometheus, the hacker group Helix brought Felicity aboard to aid in breaking James out of an A.R.G.U.S. black site. Detained without due process, Cayden James was described by A.R.G.U.S. director Lyla Michaels as more of a threat than Edward Snowden. Considering his hacking abilities, which granted him access to a transponder belonging to A.R.G.U.S., her assessment certainly seems accurate.
Interestingly, James' prowess as an effective villain shone in “Reversal” even prior to his official unveiling. Helix hacktivist Alena pays a surprise visit to Felicity, bruised cheek and all, warning of James’ unknown yet nefarious plan -- a plan that could result in the deaths of 300 million people.
Felicity and Alena's race to discover James' intentions additionally revealed a connection between Helix and Black Siren's dealings in Star City. Evil Laurel, as Team Arrow dubs her, spent the first half of "Reversal" eliminating three individuals who were apparently of no significance. However, their true identities proved exponentially useful as they provided access to all the knowledge of the world -- the internet.
Eventually, Felicity and the team were successful in thwarting James' calculated destruction of the internet. Yet, the day isn't saved. According to another of his meetings with Black Siren, Felicity's interference attached her digital footprint to the cyber-attack. Meanwhile, James was given the express opportunity to upload a "critical piece of code" to something called Arclight. Thus, Cayden James' objective is still very much a mystery.
Also worthy of note is the manner in which Michael Emerson portrayed the character. He's reserved, wildly intelligent and every word he utters sounds as though it was planned minutes in advance. Such a character isn't particularly unique to the Arrowverse (i.e., Eobard Thawne's masquerading as Harrison Wells), but it appears to be a first for Arrow. With just one episode under his belt, Cayden James seems as though he'll be quite the formidable foe as the season progresses.
Airing Thursday nights on The CW at 9 p.m. PT, Arrow was developed by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg and stars Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, Colin Donnell, David Ramsey, Willa Holland, Susanna Thompson, Paul Blackthorne, Emily Bett Rickards, Colton Haynes and Manu Bennett.