Arrow: ‘What We Leave Behind’ Mid-Season Finale Review
WARNING: This is a review for the season five mid-season finale of Arrow. You know there’s gonna be some SPOILERS up in here.
Tonight’s season five mid-finale was a total rush of intense action, emotions and high powered drama. This first half of the season had a slow, clunky start with its few beginning episodes, but reinventing a show takes a few tries. What’s been great with all the changes that have been going on with the first part of the season is they’ve always honored the past. What has made the better part of this season so good is the reflection and parallels with the first season, and how Oliver’s past keeps catching up to him, even when he’s trying to do so much good.
The Prometheus conflict is moving along at a dangerous but exciting pace. I didn’t expect Evelyn to reveal herself as the traitor to the team so quickly, but she did it. I do wish they had elaborated on her betrayal more, but the question of who Prometheus is was the more pressing matter. I knew it was all going to come down to that book of names. The team is assuming Prometheus is the son of a greedy pharmaceutical manufacturer, Justin Clayeborne, a man killed by Oliver back when revenge was the only thing on Oliver’s mind. Prometheus neither confirmed nor denied that assumption. So his true identity is still a mystery. However, he did admit that revenge is the least of what he has planned for Oliver. Prometheus is such an interesting villain because killing Oliver would be the easy thing to do, but he’s determined to make Oliver pay for his early day mistakes by dismantling everything he’s built. One things for sure, Billy, Felicity’s cop boyfriend, is not Prometheus. What a dirty trick for Prometheus to put Billy in another Prometheus suit, causing Oliver to shoot three arrows into his chest. Prometheus probably counted on Oliver attempting to kill him because that has become Oliver’s final solution with deadly foes.
The flashbacks were excellent this week, ditching the Bratva storyline for a bit in favor of running parallels with our main story. It was cool to see old school Arrow aka The Hood make an appearance again, as well as see the humble beginnings of the Arrow bunker. These flashbacks also displayed just how vicious a killer Oliver was. I’m crazy, but I personally liked that about Oliver in the past. One of the coolest scenes was seeing Oliver walking the same direction he did back when he killed Clayeborne to get to Prometheus. The cutting to the past and present was brilliantly done. Showing that Diggle has always been the voice of reason, he warned Oliver that his killing was going to catch up to him. I can’t forget the adorable past encounter between Oliver and Felicity with her red pen. Priceless flashback.
Oliver’s accidental killing of Billy was a crushing blow to him and obviously devastating to Felicity. Unfortunately, it did nothing for me. No disrespect to Tyler Ritter, he did a fine job with his acting, but there was never a connection with this guy that the audience could have. He was barely a presence on the show. We just knew him as Felicity’s boyfriend. What does work about Billy’s death is the effect it’s having on Oliver. He feels he’s a danger to his team and wants them to part ways with him. Thankfully, this conflict is actually bringing them all closer to each other, including Thea who’s willing to don her Speedy outfit again in support of her brother. I was a bit worried Felicity was going to blame Oliver for killing Billy, but I love that she instantly blamed Prometheus. Not going to lie, when the team gathered closer towards Ollie while Diggle hugged him, I got a little choked up.
One melodramatic subplot I did not need was Curtis having relationship problems. Curtis keeping secrets of his heroism from his husband finally caught up with him, and I could care less. Curtis has grown to be a better character, and I dig that, but that doesn’t mean I need to see his husband accuse him of cheating and whining before Curtis inevitably admits to being Mr. Terrific. It’s such a tired cliché to see a hero reveal his or her secret identity to a friend or loved one only to see the person getting the news have a rejecting attitude. Just once, I’d like to see a positive and supportive reaction. Me, personally, I’d be thrilled and give them my undying gratitude for fighting for what’s right. I mean, I get it, Curtis’ husband leaving him goes in line with Oliver destroying everyone he gets close to, but I had nothing but contempt for this subplot. I will at least give Echo Kellum props for delivering his most dramatic work to date.
Okay, let’s talk about that insane reveal in the final scene. What the hell is Laurel Lance doing there, alive and looking beautiful? I mean, I never grow tired of seeing the beautiful Katie Cassidy, and her turnaround made my heart skip a beat, but come on, Arrow, what are you doing to us? These mid-finales just love for us to ponder their twists throughout the Christmas season, don’t they? Ugh. Okay, there are obviously a lot of questions, but I have some concerns as well. First, the questions. Is this a result of Flashpoint? I don’t see how because after Barry screwed up the timeline, Laurel was still dead. If her death was a fake out since season four, what good what that have done? Does this involve those damn aliens, the Dominators? I doubt it. The only conclusion I can make right now is this is a Laurel Lance from another earth. Hopefully, not the one Flash fought in Central City. Then again, why not her? That would make things interesting. I just don’t want this to be some kind of fake out. If she’s going to be a part of the show again, let it be her, not some kind of mind trick of something like that. One of my concerns is, will she be a better character? I liked Laurel but she wasn’t always the most capable crime fighter, and she had a lot of annoying baggage. Well, all we can do is speculate for now until January when the show returns.
Despite the lack of emotion with Billy’s death and Curtis’ marriage falling apart, this was one hell of a dramatic way to end Arrow’s 2016 run. As far as mid-finales go, this was probably Arrow’s best. Stephen Amell once again brought it with his performance. I enjoyed Felicity’s awkwardness throughout the run time. Prometheus once again proved to be as smart as he is deadly. He is truly one of the show’s best villains so far. Please, producers, don’t fudge this up. The action was damn good. The first fight between Arrow and Prometheus, man, that was sick! The season’s tone has been treading towards dark territory, and this mid-finale got us there, without question. There won’t be too many rainbows in Team Arrow’s forecast anytime soon. Not with the way things played out here.