Now that most of The CW series have wrapped up for the season, I’m going to go through and analyze the shows for various things like best individual issue, comparing big bads, main character arcs, etc. Kicking it off with best new character, moving on to Arrow.
This is a tough one in that there weren’t that many new characters introduced in this season of Arrow. They brought back a lot of them taking time with Earth-2 Laurel Lance, Anatoly Knyazev, and giving all of the team their moment to shine. The two new characters to the series were Cayden James, played by Michael Emerson, and Ricardo “the Dragon” Diaz, played by Kirk Acevedo. And while Diaz pulled James’s strings, they each had their time as the big bad and each had strong character moments.
Diaz is scary and lethal, like a force of nature that is going to devastate anything in his path. He tore apart Oliver Queen’s life and took over Star City. But I never connected with the character. The best villains are the ones who are the hero of their own story. I think Diaz likes and wants to be the villain. And for that I found him lacking when compared to James.
James was essentially a good man who did bad things to try to help people. His motivation was revenge on the man who killed his son. You can disagree with his actions and the extent to which he was willing to go, but you can relate to the pain he was going through. You can empathize with him, just as Oliver did in the end once it was clear that Oliver didn’t kill James’s son. Emerson is such a good actor that he could sit there holding the trigger to a bomb that would wipe out the city, and you still felt for him and his loss. That’s a difficult thing to pull off.
But I think that James’s character was also helped quite a bit by the betrayal and murder perpetrated by Diaz. It moves James toward being an even more sympathetic character when you see how Diaz manipulated him. Diaz is an excellent big bad for the series, but I think Cayden James was the best new character of the season.