“What We Leave Behind”
Warning Contains Spoilers
Stephen Amell posted online that he was “awfully proud” of this episode and I think he should be. This episode was, in my opinion, one of the best Arrow had in a long time; the story, the acting, the nostalgia, the stunts, the setup–it all worked so well. I’m actually awfully proud of Arrow right now; I haven’t been so awestruck by an episode of this show since season two. I actually let out an audible gasp at the end. Why was I so surprised? Let’s dive in.
So the episode starts with Evelyn meeting up with Prometheus to hand over the last of the secret identities of Team Arrow; Prometheus now knows who everyone is and that’s pretty dangerous seeing as he kills people with throwing stars. We discover that Prometheus actually doesn’t want to kill Oliver–much to Evelyn’s disappointment–he wants him to wish he was never born. So this whole thing is a revenge plot, which isn’t too surprising.
Next we see two holiday parties: Oliver Queen’s extravagant Mayoral party and the other for the recruits, Diggle, and his son in the layer exchanging gifts like a family. At Oliver’s party, he and Thea talk more about their parents and how what happened to them last week was a gift. Sleazy-Reporter Susan shows up as Oliver’s date which I think makes Thea sick to her stomach because she quickly ran off after making some not so subtle comments about Susan’s first encounter with her; Thea can see right through Susan and knows her brother has a blind spot when it comes to women. I mean she isn’t wrong,:Susan is out to expose him! Oliver gives a speech where he mentions that Die Hard is his favorite Christmas movie and that his second is It’s A Wonderful Life (which are both my favorite Christmas movies so well done writers). He mentions that he rewatched the latter last week–aka he was brainwashed into an alternate reality–and is glad he did because it reminded him of how much work he still has to do. He was talking about the city, but I’m pretty sure on a subconscious level he was talking about himself. Not much happens at the other party other than fake Evelyn giving presents to everyone, Diggle talking about knowing he had a daughter in another timeline and Wild Dog maybe almost revealing he has a child.
Meanwhile, Felicity is nervous about finally introducing Billy Malone to her friends and most importantly, Oliver. Neither introductions go well since Felicity let slip that her and Curtis were not actually working on a start up business. Curtis had been telling his husband Paul to account for his late nights with the team and she introduced Billy as her boyfriend to Oliver–smooth, Felicity, smooth. Curtis and his husband have an argument about all the lies he has been telling and they leave the party only to encounter Prometheus out on the front steps. Once again Curtis is hurt enough to where I think he is going to die. Stop making me think this Arrow! Leave Curtis alone!!! He ends up in the hospital and is totally fine, but the doctors find a drug in his system that reminds Oliver of his young vigilante days of being The Hood and crossing names off of lists.
Let me tell you that the flashbacks in this episode are a how-to on putting flashbacks in episodes; they directly related to what was going on in the present. They didn’t set up something that might happen four episodes from now– they were memories that Oliver was having right then on this episode and the payoff was immediate. Flashbacks on Arrow have only worked when they directly related to the present. Well done Arrow, you are learning and achieving. These memories were from four years ago when Oliver still had his list. A man named Jason Claybourne had weaponized the TB virus so he could make money on a new drug that cured TB. He failed the city and Oliver had to stop him… and by stop him I mean kill him. Throughout the episode, Prometheus leads Oliver down memory lane by literally recreating his memories of the event in the present, and it’s genius.
During one encounter with Prometheus in the old office building of Claybourne, Evelyn reveals herself as working with the enemy. Well,that was fast. I’m okay with it being that quick since we have more pressing matters to attend to, and she already did her damage by revealing secrets to Prometheus. Wild Dog thinks that she turned to the dark side after finding out about Oliver’s serial killer past; which makes sense seeing as she was quite upset about it all and she did kind of forgive him suspiciously quickly now that I think about it. The Team doesn’t know quite how to process this betrayal but they are more scared about what else she may have revealed, so they make sure their loved ones are safe; this puts Thea back in the layer where she belongs!
In the hospital Curtis finally reveals that he works with Green Arrow to Paul, who is very upset. He gives Curtis an ultimatum which he later recants because he doesn’t want to be a guy that gives ultimatums. Curtis has been the happiest he has been a long time, despite the injuries; Paul doesn’t want to take that away but also he doesn’t want the feeling that every goodbye might be the last. He is afraid of last goodbyes yet he’s saying his last goodbye right then! I don’t understand his reasoning there; him leaving Curtis isn’t going to help with him being the happiest he’s ever been. Poor Curtis, you’ll be okay buddy, you deserve better!
Billy Malone is a detective, that’s his job and he wants to do his job, as it’s all he knows. So despite Felicity telling him that Green Arrow is handling this case and he should stop his investigation, he goes on anyway. He ends up finding a baby picture that is discovered to be the son of Jason Claybourne, so the team thinks he is Prometheus; in the midst of finding and texting said photo to Felicity, he gets himself kidnapped. So the Team is on a manhunt and Oliver promises Felicity he will bring Billy back safe. Oh Oliver, haven’t you learned that your promises are basically a death sentence?
Thea feels like it should be all hands on deck so she puts on her Speedy suit and stands on a roof with Oliver. Literally that’s all she does as Speedy this episode. I guess she’s still taking it slow, even though she was all in when it came to Aliens. They discuss their past and their legacy. It’s a nice sibling moment that we haven’t been able to see in a long time. They really needed that alternate reality to show them what they still have: each other. Thea tells Oliver that there are two sides to a legacy, to what we leave behind: the good and the bad; Oliver tends to focus heavily on the bad. This prompts him to recall a memory of Felicity–well a conversation with her from four years ago where he was tricking her into giving him an address. At the end of that memory she drops a pen and he picks it up in a down on one knee sort of way and tells her there is magic. Gross! This memory was needed, though, so he could know where Prometheus was going next; of course he goes alone because like all fights this is his fight.
This brings us to the coolest fright sequence I’ve seen since season two. I know everything goes back to my love of season two– it was really that great ya’ll! I digress, this sequence had us with Oliver has he follows a trail of bodies in the exact positions of where they land with fights in the flashbacks. So unbelievably epic, and flawlessly executed! There was a part where there is a fight on an escalator and guys are falling down said escalator; that part was insane! I give so many props to those stunt guys, seriously they were falling on an escalator and making it look real! I give the rest of the props to the director of this episode, Antonio Negret. Every shot, every detail was an exact mirror of the flashback and the present; it was quite beautiful and awe-inspiring. This led Oliver to a showdown with Prometheus but it was revealed after Oliver hits him with three arrows to the chest that it wasn’t Prometheus; it was Billy Malone and so Oliver accidentally kills him instead. Prometheus had put tape on Billy’s mouth and put him in a costume with a voice box. There was no way Oliver could have known, but this is just evidence for him to believe what Prometheus said that everyone he comes into contact with dies.
He goes back to the layer and tells everyone his mistake, which was a surprise to me since he normally covers them up. He is owning up to this one and Felicity knows this isn’t his fault even though he will most likely blame himself forever. He doesn’t know how to process, so naturally he ends up in the arms or well lips of Susan– that makes sense. Oliver is fine single, he makes better decisions, leave him alone Susan!
It’s hard to tell spans of time on a tv show especially one where so much happens so I’m unsure how long Felicity and Billy were together but her devastation shows that she either was in love or on the way there. My first thought when he died was “man, this means we are closer to an Olicity resurrection”. I really hope they added this in as a way of Oliver facing his humanity and not as a way to bring Oliver and Felicity back together, I really do.
I’m glad everyone is on board that Prometheus is the villain here and not to blame Oliver. Prometheus is a huge threat and he knows Oliver’s past and even Oliver’s special moves he learned from specific trainers. I don’t care what everyone believed or the evidence they showed, Prometheus is not Claybourne’s son; Prometheus knows too much to not be someone we’ve seen before. My money’s on Tommy Merlyn: he would have every right to seek revenge on Oliver! We are also living in the timeline of Flashpoint so it really could be anyone at this point, maybe even say…Laurel? Seeing as Oliver returns to the layer at the end of the episode and she is standing right there in front of him! LAUREL IS BACK! This, my friends, is where my audible gasp was heard all over the land. I don’t care if she is an alien, I don’t care if she’s Black Siren from Earth 2, I don’t care if she’s an hallucination, she is back. I hope she isn’t any of those things and is actually the Laurel we know and love. The episode cuts to black after she turns around and says, “Hi Ollie” so we don’t know what this means exactly yet and won’t until January 25th, but for now this is amazing; She did call him “Ollie” though so there is some familiarity there who knows! This is the land of time travel, superpowers, resurrections, you name it so really anything could happen! Laurel is back ya’ll, in an unknown way, but she’s back. I’m so excited and ready for the second half of the season!
This episode was epic and very well executed. The cast and crew should all be awfully proud of what they accomplished here. January 25th can’t come soon enough! This episode is what they leave behind, a new legacy for Arrow.