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REVIEW: Arrow 5×09 “What We Leave Behind”

Full disclosure: I haven’t watched an episode of Arrow since last season’s midseason finale.

Too bummed with the direction the show was headed last year, I decided to cut Arrow out of my viewing schedule permanently.

But, after all of the hype that came with DC crossover week (and the unanimously surprised exclamation that, “Arrow might have actually been the best episode of the four!”) I decided to see if I’d made a mistake last year in cutting the show loose.

But I’m a tease so… before we get to that, here’s a recap of, “What We Leave Behind.”

This episode of Arrow revolved around the concept of making choices and following your gut… as is repeatedly bashed into our heads with, “I have to be true to who I am,” being said by more than one character.

We begin with young Artemis paying Prometheus a visit and bringing a few gifts with her. The gifts being the addresses of much of Oliver’s known associates. She of course does this because she wants to see Oliver killed, but Prometheus reveals that he has other plans for the Green Arrow that involve making him wish he were dead.

Ominous.

Which means… perfect time for an enormous Queen Christmas party!

This sequence is largely irrelevant until, whilst heading out of the party, Curtis and Paul come face to… mask… with Prometheus. Despite a valiant attempt at fighting, Curtis gets positively pummeled and winds up in the hospital with some major wounds that include having been drugged by a pharmaceutical produced by one Justin Claybourne… a man on Oliver’s list that had been crossed off four years ago!

In a surprise turn of events, the flashbacks were actually my favorite part of the episode. That is something that I truly never thought I would say about Arrow. But all of the boringness of the Island flashbacks, and ridiculousness of the magic ones, was nowhere to be seen this week. This is mostly because this week, the trips down memory lane led us to Oliver’s earlier days as the Arrow rather than Nanda Parbat. We see his warnings to Claybourne and eventually watch as Oliver puts an arrow in the shady man.

Of course, this is Arrow and most “dead” people wind up being very much alive (as pointed out by Felicity) which makes Oliver certain that Claybourne is Prometheus.

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The hunch leads Team Arrow to the old Claybourne pharmaceutical warehouse where Oliver comes across Prometheus and the gang finally discovers that Evelyn is very much not a team player. At least not a team Arrow player.

While all this is going down, Felicity is telling Billy not to get involved in the investigation while Paul is giving Curis the classic, “It’s them or me,” ultimatum. Of course, neither of the men really listen to their significant others, both saying, “I have to be true to who I am,” which respectively leads to death and potential divorce.

Yes. Poor Billy got the axe this week and, GASP, it was Oliver who killed him.

After learning that Prometheus is actually Claybourne’s son Oliver remembers an address linked to the family and has a gut feeling that’s where, “The Throwing Star Killer,” can be found. And it seems like he was right! We see Prometheus, we hear Prometheus, and we watch Oliver kill Prometheus.

Only, we don’t.

What we actually see is a decoy, what we actually hear is a pre-recorded message emanating through speakers, and what we actually witness is Oliver killing Billy who was duct-taped and shoved into Prometheus’ attire. It was very reminiscent of that sequence with the Joker from the Dark Knight.

Anywho… Oliver is naturally a bit torn up by his mistake and is stuck with the not-so-fun task of telling his ex-fiance that he just murdered her current-beau.

Though… honestly everyone on the team, including Felicity, seemed pretty chill about the whole thing. Sure, some tears were shed, but the majority of them were Oliver’s as he suggested that everyone get as far away from him as possible since everyone he loves dies.

Which… is actually true. The only shocking thing about this statement is that it’s taken Oliver five years to figure it out.

But the loyal members of Team Arrow have is back and blame only Prometheus for Billy’s death.

Oliver accepts the hugs but still feels kinda bummed about his mess-up so he goes to have a quickie with his current flame before returning back to the lair to discover that someone is already there.

Who’s that someone?

LAUREL. EFFING. LANCE.

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Dun dun dun.

And that’s the midseason finale.

At the end of the day, rather, the end of the hour, I remembered why I parted ways with Arrow. All of the things that were great about the first and second seasons still seem to be entirely lost, despite the fact that all S5 interviews I’ve read have talked about the attempt to bring the show back to its origins. While all comic shows are ridiculous (I say this as an enormous fan of the genre by the way) Arrow feels as though it’s taken the campiness to a new level with contrived plots that were original the first time they were introduced X years ago but now feel entirely repetitive.

And ridiculous.

Arrow’s soapiness used to be tampered by a genuine grittiness that has fallen to the wayside, meaning that the campiness takes center stage.

Really? Oliver put a bunch of arrows in Felicity’s boyfriend because the dude had some speakers duct-taped to him? Really? I get that this season is about Oliver finding a balance between his humanity and his role as Star City’s self-appointed savior, but this entire set-up felt entirely ludicrous. Particularly because (from what I’ve gathered) nobody’s going to be all that devastated by Billy’s death other than Felicity.

Which is why this whole sequence was even weirder to me because… why was everyone focused on consoling Oliver rather than acknowledging Felicity in any capacity? Even Felicity herself makes certain to tell Oliver that it wasn’t his fault and winds up crying alone in her apartment (which… wait what? How did Felicity get Oliver’s apartment after the break-up?) while the rest of her team is off doing who knows what (In Oliver’s case… having sex with his still alive SO).

Arrow is no stranger to killing off characters but very few onscreen deaths have actually carried much weight, largely because the writing rarely makes the audience care about the characters before they get axed.

Which brings me to…

Laurel!

It seems fitting that the Black Canary should make a return just as her pseudo-successor is revealed as a Prometheus ally. I’ve been wondering how the CW was going to make good on that show-spanning contract signed by Katie Cassidy and am admittedly intrigued by this turn of events. We all know the backlash that came with Laurel’s death last year, so I’m sure a great many people are psyched to see her once again in the Arrow lair.

The final sequence was the best of the episode and actually looks like its setting up some interesting plotlines for the back half of the season.

We shall see…

Episode Grade: B- (While was unimpressed as a returning viewer, I realize that avid viewers likely saw this as a pretty intense and twisty finale. Also… Laurel alone rose the grade from the C’s)

Episode Highs:

  • The return of Laurel Lance
  • Surprisingly, the flashbacks.

Episode Lows:

  • More cheese than a pot of Kraft macaroni and _ _ _ _ _ _

Additional Thoughts:

  • What’s the deal with Laurel? Is this a result of that time-meddling Barry? Is she of this universe or another?!

What did you think of the latest episode of Arrow? Sound off on Twitter or in the comments below!

 

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Silje Falck-Pedersen

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