Review: How is [Spoiler] Back on Arrow?!

Wednesday, 07 December 2016 - 10:12PM
DC Comics
Arrow
Wednesday, 07 December 2016 - 10:12PM
Review: How is [Spoiler] Back on Arrow?!
This week marks the midseason finale for Arrow, and the cast and crew definitely deserve recognition for turning things around so efficiently in the first half of season five after the mediocrity of its two most recent seasons. Arrow has gotten back to its roots by focusing on character development, bringing back a grittier and more grounded feel, and upping the action over the relationship drama. Last week was the show's 100th episode, and the writers definitely capitalized for the milestone, delivering a thrilling, Alan Moore-inspired story featuring all of Arrow's major characters from the past five years. Yet somehow, this week's episode, "What We Leave Behind," may manage to top it with some heartbreaking and mind-twisting revelations.  

In "What We Leave Behind," Team Arrow tracks Prometheus to an old pharmaceutical building using a drug that the villain poisoned Curtis with at the beginning of the episode. When the team finally catches up with Prometheus, Evelyn steps in to save the killer at the last moment, revealing her true allegiance. Later, when Felicity's boyfriend, Billie Malone, does some crime scene investigating at the building, Prometheus returns and kidnaps him, putting the SCPD on high alert. The DA advises Ollie to give everyone the order: if you see Prometheus, shoot to kill.

Using several clues and memories, Ollie is able to deduce the location of Prometheus' newest hideout, and assumes that the villain is the son of a drug manufacturer he killed in the first season. When he arrives at the new spot, the entire building is staged to look exactly like it did the night Ollie killed the man, and when it comes time, Ollie fires three arrows into the chest of his hooded enemy. To his disgust, he finds that the person he shot was Billie Malone, disguised so Ollie would be the one to kill him.  

As the episode winds down, John is called to Lylah's, where a group of soldiers is waiting to apprehend him. Likewise, Paul, Curtis' boyfriend, leaves Mr. Terrific to go stay at his brother's house, as he's unable to trust Curtis after learning his secret. Finally, as Ollie walks back into the Team Arrow HQ, a familiar face turns to meet him: Laurel Lance.  

With so many huge twists and revelations, it's safe to say that Arrow's fifth midseason finale went out with a bang. Of course, seeing Laurel back on the show without any explanation as to why is enough to get any Arrow fan excitedly curious, but what really made "What We Leave Behind" an awesome episode is the way it connects to one of the overarching themes of the show: can a hero be a killer? Prometheus hopes to teach Ollie a lesson by disguising Malone, and it's a lesson that Ollie's been struggling with ever since season one, when his best friend Tommy Merlyn first made him regret taking a life. As Ollie's done quite a bit of flip-flopping on the issue over the years, killing or not killing depending on what serves the plot, making the issue such a huge part of season five's theme is the perfect way of addressing it. If some fans' predictions are correct and Tommy Merlyn really does end up being Prometheus, it would align perfectly with the ideas and aesthetic that Arrow is aiming for in season five, and as Laurel has seemingly come back from the dead, it wouldn't be too far-fetched to think Tommy has, too.  

There are also some other miscellaneous things that really make "What We Leave Behind" stand out. The flashbacks to season one aren't just bits and pieces of well-placed nostalgia and fan service, but actually serve the purpose of the plot. Likewise, having Diggle get apprehended out of nowhere at the end of the episode is a great way to create suspense and to heap more onto the pile of Team Arrow's problems. Just as well, the choreography and special effects are, for the most part, very convincing and entertaining.

Overall, Arrow has had a great start to its fifth season. Things haven't been this good since season two, and if the cast and crew play their cards right, season five could even end up topping the Arrow's critically acclaimed sophomore season. And with Black Canary seemingly risen from the grave, DC fans can't wait to see what's coming next.  

Arrow will return on January 25th, 2017 at 8 p.m. ET on the CW.
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