Review: ‘Arrow’ Sets Prometheus Theories Ablaze With ‘What We Leave Behind’
Warning – FULL SPOILERS for Tonight’s Midseason Finale “What We Leave Behind”:
Right off the bat – there isn’t anything to discuss with Laurel’s apparent resurrection, and Arrow likely knows that. It’s been reasonably clear since Season 4 that Katie Cassidy hasn’t taken on additional work -- to say nothing of her overall contract and 100th episode appearance – and “What We Leave Behind” doesn’t present the final moments with any real connection to the hour before. Personally, I’d love to believe that Laurel was somehow Prometheus (it’s Billy, 1000% still Billy), but instead the twist ends up feeling like the question mark punctuating a sentence no one asked.
I’m also not particularly surprised that Arrow would hold onto Prometheus’ identity* until 2017, considering last year’s midwinter finale ended with Felicity’s paralysis (god, remember that?), rather than answer the whole “who’s in the grave?” thing. Nonetheless, it’s of increasing concern for Season 5 how “What We Leave Behind” frames Prometheus as an consequence of the series’ early missteps. On the one hand, the stronger moments of tonight’s outing gave us a chance to look back at Oliver’s scarier vigilante days (basically Season 1 on a Season 5 budget), and I appreciate that Season 5 formed so much of its spine around Arrow’s morally questionable beginnings. On the other, there’s no real weight to Prometheus’ identity as the son of some corrupt pharmaceutical CEO, nor any more specific lesson for Oliver to learn than the one we’ve reflected on all season.
*Call me crazy, but Prometheus seems like a fun guy. No, really! He hangs out all day in head-to-toe costume, makes dramatic gestures and cryptic remarks at all his friends, then spends his time setting up elaborate, theatrical crime scenes and clues! Come on, that guy would definitely go to Hamilton with you.
On the plus side, it was smart of “What We Leave Behind” not to linger on Oliver’s accidental killing of Billy as a dividing point for the team, but one that everyone – Felicity included – immediately recognizes as Prometheus’ fault. It’s a wonderfully subdued confession from Stephen Amell, and a great rallying moment for the team in general, even if we come back from hiatus to find Felicity less understanding. Certainly Curtis suffers* from proximity to Oliver as well, and even Diggle to an unclear extent, and I like the symmetry of Billy and Curtis both sharing similar platitudes to Felicity of remaining true to one’s convictions. It’s no small irony that Curtis faces the consequence of embracing his true identity, while Billy dies for wearing someone else’s.
*I love that we get to see a married interracial gay couple in conflict over one being a superhero, but those two or three scenes might have landed better if we’d ever gotten to know Paul, or if he’d appeared once in the entire season Curtis trained to become said hero.
If we’re looking to for things to chew on until 2017, at least, “What We Leave Behind” lived up to the name. Billy’s still the most practical candidate to end up under the Prometheus mask, even if the hour did go out of its way to remind us of Adrian Chase’s more violent impulses. We also know Prometheus shares a connection with an as-yet-unnamed woman from Oliver’s flashbacks, and it’s no accident that the camera lingered on Russian vodka in Susan’s apartment. I still have trouble accepting Prometheus as a human villain anyway, given the absurd precision of bisecting an arrow with a throwing star, or his apparent ability to materialize within the flicker of lights.
And while Arrow seems to have followed Flash’s lead in sweeping “Invasion!” under the rug, I appreciated the hour making time for Oliver and Thea’s experiences, ruminating on parents and legacy in way the 100th episode didn’t necessarily have time for. We’re miles ahead of where Season 4 rated at this point – and there’s plenty of time to wobble apart – but as closers go, it’s hard to fault “What We Leave Behind” for hitting a certain mark.
AND ANOTHER THING …
- Christmas/Hanukkah in the bunker seems nice! Incidentally, Evelyn completely disappeared after the betrayal scene, so no real followup/regret there.
- Diggle and Oliver arrow zip-lined into that warehouse when the stairs were very clearly behind them.
- What would have happened if Oliver picked up the ringing phone?
- How is it that Oliver and co. didn’t find that lock-box in the desk? Or was it planted there just for Billy? Keep in mind, we also didn’t really ever see Billy and Prometheus together, just a quick silhouette appearing behind him.
- They did a really great job of making those flashbacks feel, and look like Season 1.
- Lyla’s call seemed obviously fake, but Diggle did go to the right safehouse. Was Lyla moved from there, so that tac-team could ambush Diggle anyway?
Arrow Season 5 will return in 2017, airing Wednesdays at 8:00 P.M. on The CW.
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