‘Arrow’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 5 Episode 6: ‘So It Begins’
It’s time for another installment of Pointed Commentary, the feature where returning Arrow watcher Chris Haley and newcomer Emma Lawson dig into the details of Team Arrow cleaning up the filthy, crime-ridden streets of Star City.
On this week’s episode, “So It Begins,” Prometheus launches his ridiculously complicated plot to destroy the Green Arrow, while the Arrow Babies discover one of the dark secrets from Oliver’s past. Also, Dolph Lundgren arrives! John Behring directed the episode from a script by Wendy Mericle and Brian Ford Sullivan.
Chris: Well, Emma, I suppose it was bound to happen sooner or later, but even with the appearance of Dolph Lundgren, this episode was a huge drop in the quality I’ve been surprised to enjoy from Season 5, and real mess of a disappointment. Or, at least it was to me. What’d you think?
Emma: It may have been my post-election depression, but I didn’t love this episode. It felt like everyone was stuck in a holding pattern. Not much really changed: we rehashed Oliver’s trust issues yet again, some people got beat up, Oliver did very little as mayor. Even the two big reveals --- Team Arrow discovering how Prometheus is choosing his targets, and Billy Malone learning about Felicity’s involvement with the Green Arrow --- felt really lackluster.
Chris: I think I said to you that it just felt like one of the “treading water” episodes that all of these shows suffer from, having to fill up a twenty-something episode order per season… or rather, that we have to suffer though. The Arrow Babies were mad for no reason that really makes sense in the context of the world they’re dealing with, and then weren’t mad just as quickly and without good reason.
It was a good thing Felicity came clean about working for the Green Arrow, because she is the absolute worst at lying to get information from her detective boyfriend. And holy cow, do I not trust Billy Malone.
Emma: I don’t trust him either, but that’s probably just because he’s a Ritter and I don’t trust their faces. He was remarkably calm when Felicity told him about her work in the Arrow Cave, like, “Phew, at least you’re not a serial killer!” Come on, dude, if you thought there was a remote possibility she was a serial killer, you should have dumped her immediately (and, you know, done your job as a cop).
Why don’t you trust Billy? Anything in particular, or just a feeling?
Chris: Just a feeling, I guess. I love the Ritters and their kind faces (you monster) in general, but his reaction was too… something. Maybe they want us to think he’s got something devious going on and it’ll turn out he really is just a big fanboy for vigilantes, but I think he knows exactly what’s going on and is using her to get at Green Arrow. I’ll be happy to be proven wrong, though. Maybe he just knows what’s going on, but he doesn’t have nefarious motives. Look, someone has to be Prometheus, okay?
Emma: Very true! The show hinted at who Prometheus might be at the end of this episode, after he went a-murdering, killing two seemingly normal folk. Using Curtis’s big brain and victimology algorithm, the team figured out that Prometheus is attacking folks whose names are anagrams for names on Oliver’s original List. This led to a whole fight between Oliver and his recruits who were really upset that a) Oliver was keeping things from them again (fair) and b) that he had a To Kill list.
I really don’t understand why that upset them so much. The recruits are vigilantes, and the guys on the List were big time bad guys. Maybe they didn’t have leather villain outfits, but they still hurt a ton of people.
Chris: Exactly. A lawyer can still be a really bad guy without coming up with a whole elaborate costume/theme for their badness. I mean, we’ve talked before about not being into the whole “killing” thing, but this out of character pseudo-dilemma just completely feels like something to keep the plates spinning for another week.
Also, why would he tell them about that? It was four years ago, and he’s clearly realized it wasn’t the way to do things and has tried to adopt new strategies based on what he’s learned in the intervening years. Also, he just met most of these people within the last few months. When would, “Oh hey, I used to have a list of people I wanted to kill, but I realized that was a bad idea, anyway, what do you want from Starbucks?” come up in the course of him trying to train them not to get themselves killed while they’re playing dress-up?
Emma: He definitely should have looped them in about Prometheus’s killing spree earlier than he did, but yeah, I don’t know how the list would have come up in conversation. First let’s help them learn how to not die, then we’ll work on the moral and ethical aspects of vigilantism.
I did like that the focus was on Evelyn this week, but it seemed like the writers were just going through a list to pick which recruit would get some airtime. “Okay, we’ve already had Rene questioning Oliver’s leadership, and Rory had his thing with Felicity, so how about Evelyn this time?”
Chris: I started to say that I’m honestly tired of moral/ethical quandaries being such a big part of these superhero shows, but then I thought, “Well, they have to do something to fill the time because they can’t afford for it all to be action/superhero-ing.” But then I thought, “Maybe they could afford to have more superhero stuff if the cast wasn’t so big.” Like, do we really need Thea and Quentin around to mostly do nothing except talk to Oliver in the office set for a few lines worth of dialogue each week?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I want anyone on the show to go, but you brought in this whole new crew of characters to replace the old ones, so maybe let them replace the old ones?
Emma: Especially when the Thea and Quentin stuff is so boring. And Dig did essentially nothing this episode.
Ugh, okay, we’re getting too grumbly.
Chris: We’re grumbly, but I think those are still fair points we’re making.
Emma: One thing I loved this episode: David Nykl as Anatoly saying “School of Hard Knock.” It was pure and precious and something I needed after a rough couple of days. The Russia flashbacks were probably my favorite parts of the episode. Dolph Lundgren was an absolute highlight, even though he was only on screen for about five minutes.
Chris: If I’m ever not excited to see Dolph Lundgren, please check my pulse, because I am almost certainly dead. I hope that the news of the number of episodes he’s going to be on this season being expanded is because they actually increased his role in the story, and not that they’re just spreading the little bit he shot into more episode, because it was great to see someone that feels like a real threat to Oliver. Even if we know that things obviously worked out.
Emma: He is one of those villains who actually feels terrifying even to us viewers. This is a man who could do real damage. It's probably mostly Dolph Lundgren’s physical presence that makes him so menacing, but I am on board. I want many more episodes of Dolph.
Emma: Oh, he would make a good Cable.
Chris: I mean, can you even imagine how great that would be?
Emma: My little heart is giving out just thinking about it!
Chris: What else was good this week? Anything? Let’s try to be positive for something about Dolph Lundgren for a minute.
Emma: I enjoyed that Felicity made fun of Dig’s suggestion to steal evidence from her boyfriend’s desk, and then did just that! But I know you hate Felicity, so here’s another one: the recruits hanging out at Rory’s art studio, drinking the traditional Regan Family Schnapps. (Which, Arrow writers, you now need to share with the world.)
Chris: I have definitely been in the mood for something to drink that is strong, but a little sweet, all week, so I will gladly sign the petition to get that recipe released.
Emma: Okay, so there was some story this episode, mainly surrounding Prometheus. After figuring out potential victims based on his anagram murder plan, Ollie and the Arrow Babies head out to keep an eye on those potential victims. Evelyn ends up catching the newest victim and gets a sweet fight with Prometheus in a subway car. She held up remarkably well, even slashing Prometheus in the arm. What did you think of their fight?
Chris: All I could think about was, “Please notice that you cut him so someone can analyze it!”
Emma: Somebody better do that next episode or I’m going to be angry!
At the very end of the episode, Quentin wakes up out of a drunken stupor with a bloody arm and a throwing star on his coffee table. He looks very confused, like maybe he’s been killing people during alcohol-related blackouts. But I don’t buy it at all, and if he's secretly Prometheus, I’m going to be even more angry.
Chris: Yeah, I’m not buying that… although… it would maybe explain why they’re still bothering to spend so much time focusing on what’s going on with him. But yeah, I imagine that’s a red herring too.
Emma: It must be. Quentin is usually pretty explicit about his anger (remember season 1 Detective Lance?), so I don’t believe he’d be sneaking around in a leather suit and mask. And if we’re supposed to believe he’s doing this killing during drunk blackouts, well, he’s not going to be that coordinated, is he? He can’t even get out of bed on time. Ugh, it made me so mad!
Chris: Yeah, I mean, you don’t generally learn incredible archery and throwing star skills when you’re drunk. Though, if you did, a lot of Saturday nights would suddenly be a lot more interesting around here.
Emma: Maybe we just need the Regan Family Schnapps! They were a family of superheroes.
One more thing about the Prometheus fight in the subway: it’s not actually a subway! Or at least not entirely. When we see it blow up from the bomb Prometheus planted, it’s an elevated train. One that I ride on a regular basis, actually, since I live in Vancouver, where they film. Not fun watching that blow up!
Chris: Oh yikes! Yeah, that doesn’t sound fun.
Emma: More fun is watching them party at the stadium for Thea’s concert thing. They play Canadian football there! But really, can we just get an episode of the Arrow Babies hanging out, making weird art, going to shows, and becoming friends? I would rather have that if we’re going to have an episode that feels like a placeholder. Give me the Arrow version of “Lower Decks.”
Chris: Yeah, I’d be into that. It certainly wouldn’t be any worse. If you’ve got to tread water for an episode, at least do something interesting with the characters for it, instead of just doing a low rent version of what normally happens on your show.
Emma: I’m also fine with genre shows pulling a Teen Wolf and splitting up super long seasons into two distinct half-seasons, each with its own big bad. I just want quality content, and spectacular fights.
Okay, what do we think about journalist Susan Williams? Is she worse than Prometheus? Should Oliver go on a date with her just to see if she’s like that all the time?
Chris: She certainly seems to be sinister in her own way. Is “sinister” the word I’m looking for? She seems like she’s up to something at the very least. Everyone is up to something on this show!
Emma: Sinister works! She’s definitely harmful, but it’s that kind of harm where she’s not actively trying to hurt anyone, she just doesn’t care if she does. Malevolence through self absorption. She’s ruining Oliver’s reputation in the media, but she also wants him to take her to dinner.
Chris: I was hoping his impassioned speech (or the Human Target’s speech as Oliver) would convince her he was trying to do some good and give him a chance to do so, but I’m guessing that’s not how it’s going to play out.
Emma: Never, Chris! That would be too easy.
Is there anything we missed?
Chris: Not that I can think of, but I’m sure our dear readers will let us know in the comments. I still want to know who that bad guy with the mask from last week was, and the best the comments could come up with was that it might have been KGBeast.
Emma: Who knows? Maybe they’ll give him a name if he shows up again. Fingers crossed!