Arrow S05E09 “What We Leave Behind” REVIEW
Essential plot points:
- Evelyn meets with Prometheus and gives him the addresses of the rest of the team. She wants to be there when he kills Oliver, but Prometheus warns her he isn’t going to kill the Green Arrow… but to make him wish he were dead instead.
- Oliver is hosting the Mayor’s Christmas party, where Susan shows up as his date, much to Thea’s annoyance.
- Elsewhere, Felicity introduces new boyfriend Billy to Oliver, and to Curtis and Paul – and accidentally lets slip they’ve both not been working, making Paul more suspicious about where Curtis has been at nights.
- Back at the Lair, Diggle is having Christmas dinner with John Jr, Rory and Rene. Evelyn shows up with stockings for them all as gifts, each with their code names on.
- Curtis chases after Paul as he storms out the Mayor’s party, thinking Curtis has been having an affair. They’re attacked by Prometheus, who hospitalises Curtis.
- It turns out Prometheus injected Curtis with a drug, Dycloresol, which was produced by someone killed by Oliver nearly five years earlier – Justin Claybourne, who was responsible for a weaponised TB outbreak in the city to test his treatment.
- The team discovers Claybourne’s old plant has come back into operation recently, and head there — where Prometheus is waiting for them. Evelyn sides with him against the rest of the team as the pair escape.
- Realising they’ve been compromised, Team Arrow starts arranging for loved ones to be kept safe, including Thea moving into the lair.
- Billy works down similar leads to the team and heads to Claybourne’s old factory — where he discovers a baby picture in a drawer. He sends a photo of it to Felicity… before Prometheus appears behind him.
- With Billy missing, and at Adrian Chase’s urging, Mayor Oliver orders a shoot-to-kill policy on Prometheus.
- Curtis tells Paul he’s been working with the Green Arrow, but Paul is unhappy at his husband’s risk-taking and gives him an ultimatum – either be a vigilante or stay married.
- The team discovers DNA in ashes found at Claybourne’s base is Claybourne’s – and that he is dead and cremated. Facial recognition on the photo Billy sent reveals it to be Claybourne’s child, and Oliver recognises Prometheus’s moves as being similar to ones he was trained in in Russia.
- Oliver heads to where he confronted Claybourne last time, and discovers Prometheus has laid out guards exactly as they were when Oliver killed them five years previously.
- After a fight and chase through the building, he shoots Prometheus through the heart — but then notices his sword has been gaffer-taped to his hands. Removing his mask, he discovers it’s Billy, gagged, and with a speaker on his chest which Prometheus has been speaking through.
- He returns to the lair and breaks the news to a devastated Felicity, telling the team to get away from him in case he causes their death too. But they tell him they’re standing by him.
- Curtis returns home, where Paul has packed and is leaving him, telling him he hadn’t seen his husband happier than when he was being beaten up and a vigilante.
- Diggle gets a call from the safe house where Lyla and John Jr are being held: someone’s trying to get in and attack them. Diggle heads there – but it’s a trap…
- After spending the night at Susan’s, Oliver returns to the lair, where, waiting for him, is a surprisingly alive-looking Laurel. “Hi Olly…”
This season of Arrow has been about addressing ramifications of what Oliver’s done in the past – literally coming face-to-face with his legacy in the form of Prometheus.
And after last week’s dream state version of the Arrowverse, in which Oliver everyone got a glimpse of how happy they’d be if only none of them had put on the suit (apart from Diggle, because it’s his lot in life to suffer, apparently), we’re now being presented with a stark reflection of how Oliver’s impact is as destructive as it is heroic.
The most obvious way this is depicted is in the killing of Billy. Only the second time Oliver comes face-to-face with the man who replaced him in Felicity’s affections, he breaks both their hearts — metaphorically in his ex’s case, and literally in Billy’s. Well, we say break. Skewer is slightly more accurate.
But there’s an interesting nod and wink in the way Billy is killed too, to the show’s origins. Having him in a Prometheus suit, with mouth taped up and weapon fastened to his hand, he bears an uncanny resemblance to the Joker putting the hospital staff in clown gear and taping guns to their hands in The Dark Knight – although then Batman, of course, susses out what he’s up to.
Given how much of an influence the Nolan Batman films were on the earliest days of Arrow, to take that particular reference feels not only blatant, but deliberate, with a villain who owes his history to Arrow’s earliest days and flashbacks to scenes that supposedly took place in the first season, that feels like a definite chapeau.
With last week’s adventures out the way (and disposed of with barely an eyebrow raised), we’re back to the crux of Arrow season five, and a show that – after a decidedly slow start this term – feels like it’s finally starting to shift through the gears.
For the first time this season, this is an episode of Arrow that’s not only consequential, but meaty. We actually have some sense of who Prometheus is and what they want — although it feels like there’s so much information being given out here that at least some of it has to be red herrings.
The identity of Prometheus, trained in Russia, is being layered like a Whodunnit. Is it the son of the man Oliver killed in his early days of crusading? Is it the surrogate father figure in his life? Is it his new girlfriend, who apparently likes a good Russian vodka? It’s nice, for once, for Arrow’s big bad to be a bit more of a mystery than we’ve previously had.
And then we’ve got that ending. Boy, what an ending. Topping last year’s Christmas cliffhanger was always going to be tough, but having Laurel return, seemingly from the dead, especially after her appearance last week in the dream world, is a huge curveball.
When it was announced Katie Cassidy had “done a Barrowman” (ie, signed a pan-Arrowverse contract to appear on all the shows as a guest star) her return in various guises — flashbacks, time travel, parallel universes — all seemed obvious fits. But this is far more intriguing. Is she a clone? A side-effect of Flashpoint or the Legends meddling in time? A parallel universe Laurel?
With Laurel back, and Thea back in the red, we’ve also got the intriguing prospect of the original Team Arrow being brought back together — just as Prometheus vows to turn the rest of Oliver’s recruits against him. Are we lining up for the new team v the old team as this year’s big season-ending battle? Or is that just too obvious?
For the second week running, too, we’ve no flashbacks to Russia and the ongoing arc with the Bratva – a situation which logically should lead back to Oliver being dumped back on Lian Yu as the show gets close to lapping its own mythos. And for the second week running, they’re not really missed, even if Dolph Lundgren’s presence is fun when he has been here. For what’s going on in the here and now is not only more interesting, but also significantly more relevant.
In many ways it’s almost a shame Arrow’s taking its winter vacation now, just as — invasion week aside (which wan’t bad, just a detour – the last few episodes have felt like the show’s starting to get it together again. Still, if absence makes the heart grow fonder, then the wait until February should help rekindle that love a wee bit more.
- The flashbacks, set during the earliest days of Arrow’s first season, with the original lair, Oliver’s original outfit (sans mask) and Diggle as bodyguard and reluctant counsel. The intercutting between the past and present as Oliver storms the old office block, making nice use of colour grading on the shots, is perfectly done. There’s even a nod to Big Belly Burger, which got mentioned so often during those early years it’s a wonder the producers didn’t make a real one, like Glasgow’s late lamented Buck Rogers Burger Station.
- Blake Neely goes to town with his score for the episode, as we get a good listen to Prometheus’s theme – a discordant, electronic sting that’s so far removed from the faux orchestral music that usually underpins the show.
- Antonio Negret’s direction deserves a big round of applause, with a couple of particular standout moments: the slow-motion explosion shot of Oliver in particular seems destined for the opening titles. As we mentioned in “A Matter of Trust”, Arrow doesn’t do slo-mo very often, but when it does, it does so effectively.
- It’s brutally unsubtle foreshadowing and on-the-nose meta commentary, but we still laughed out loud at Felicity’s, “In our town people who are dead turn out to be secretly alive almost every Wednesday.”
- Also, big love for seeing Emily Bett Rickards resurrecting series one scatty and tongue-tied Felicity for her flashback sequence.
- The rush to put people into witness protection that Prometheus might target seems to exclude poor old Quentin, who’s in rehab, remember, but still in the city. Unless Prometheus is a big supporter of the privacy of AA.
- Yes he’s the star of the show, and yes this was Prometheus attacking the team, but you’d expect everyone to be a bit less “We’re with you Oliver!” after he just fatally fired a clutch of arrows into Felicity’s boyfriend. Especially Felicity.
- Curtis’s break-up with Paul. We’ve been predicting bad news for Curtis for a while now, although we were expecting something more terminal to be honest (give it time). However, after the lovely relationship we’ve glimpsed between the pair when we’ve been privy in the past, this is an unwelcome development and feels very rushed (and out of character for Curtis).
- It’s a big hello and welcome back to Star City’s one and only hospital room. Apparently Starling General only has one room for treating patients — or perhaps the Green Arrow has it permanently booked…
And the Random:
- Oliver’s favourite Christmas film turns out to be Die Hard. And as Stephen Amell revealed on Twitter, there’s a reason for that…
- So who is Prometheus? Or more specifically, who is voicing Prometheus? Because he sounds SUSPICIOUSLY like Michael Dorn. Listen especially to when he’s on the rooftop next to the pool asking if “he was just another name on the list”. If that’s not the former Lt Cmdr Worf, he’s got a remarkable soundalike.