Warning – FULL SPOILERS for Tonight’s Midseason Premiere “Who Are You?”:

As effective as I found the Arrow winter finale, “What We Leave Behind” never felt certain how to interact with its core mystery, let alone toss in another. We didn’t really learn anything about Prometheus (at least that would justify such a guarded identity), and the return of Laurel was tossed into the closing moments with such an afterthought that promos for “Who Are You?” didn’t bother to avoid spoiling her real identity. Granted, Laurel’s return only had so many possible answers, and “Who Are You?” was smart enough to uncover that ruse reasonably early into the hour; it just seemed like tonight’s premiere was equally uncertain what to do with it.

After all, for an otherwise emotionally-satisfying hour, there are a heap of new questions to address here. For one, this is taking place days – if not hours – after Billy’s death, right? Yet three days prior, Prometheus was in Central City breaking out* Earth-2 Laurel (of whom he’s somehow aware), and prepping her for an elaborate infiltration? For that matter, what exactly was the plan, here? I know Prometheus has an odd brand of theatrics, but what was Laurel’s actual task here, and did she, or did she not succeed?

*For the love of Grodd, The Flash has had three years to make sense of incarcerating metahumans in a rational way. Not only did the increasingly-magic Prometheus somehow get in and out of S.T.A.R. Labs unnoticed, but Laurel was apparently gone for THREE DAYS without anyone checking on her. Not to mention, they can very easily return her to authorities in her own universe!

“In earnest, it’s not really a nose-piercing kind of Earth.”

It’s a long list of nitpicks, I know, but that’s the price when Laurel’s return serves primarily to exacerbate the emotional divide between Oliver and Felicity. In that regard, “Who Are You?” gave a strong showing for Emily Bett Rickards to take Felicity a little bit darker and more driven, especially in light of the fact that Oliver clearly prioritized a fake Laurel’s redemption over avenging Billy. There’s a powerlessness threaded there that pushes Felicity to take out her aggression physically, and it’s hard to deny the cheerworthy result of both she and Curtis getting to take down Laurel with their own contributions.

It’s a slight (if murky) victory for Oliver as well, in that he ultimately chooses Felicity over another bout with Prometheus, but still gets his chance to reach out to Laurel.

“As long as we don’t immediately table this next week to investigate another Canary, it’s fine.”

Felicity wasn’t the only one to lose someone in the finale, either, so I appreciate that “Who Are You?” took the time to observe Curtis’ loss, and how it compounds his struggle measuring up to the physical fighters on the team. The hour didn’t seem to have any other ideas how to play that card beyond but “Rene enters, prods Curtis and imparts sardonic wisdom,” but embracing Mr. Terrific’ tech capabilities was the best possible direction for the character regardless.

Obviously, a fair number of pieces wound up shifting around, like the flashbacks pivoting to introduce “Talia,” or Chase partnering up with Diggle to beat his corrupt charges; my only hope there being that Season 5 finds a more meaningful outcome than sidelining Diggle for half the season. If Laurel’s return sidestepping Quentin or Thea’s involvement tonight was any indicator, “Who Are You?” mostly wanted to shake off cobwebs for the back half of Season 5.

AND ANOTHER THING …

  • As I realized in late December, Oliver Queen is a wealthy, inexperienced politician with secret ties to Russia. Happy escapism, everybody!
  • Was the flashback basement … the original foundry set?
  • Okay, Prometheus has to be a Metahuman or magic, right? Black Siren completely owned everyone in her path, Oliver included, so it’s definitely suspect that she’d be afraid of someone with roughly equal skill.
  • “Don’t you say her name!” It’s her name too, dingus.
  • Arrow is not ready to have conversations about Felicity ordering Laurel shot for pulling something out of her pocket too quickly.
  • Cool, so Curtis will send his portable dampener to Cisco, and The Flash will never have to fight another Metahuman again, right? That’s how this works?
  • Hey, there’s another Black Canary. Sure.

Arrow Season 5 will return next Wednesday with “Second Chances,” airing at 8:00 P.M. on The CW.

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