‘Arrow’ Post-Show Analysis: Season 5 Episode 9: ‘What We Leave Behind’
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, it’s Christmas time in Star City, and Prometheus is cooking up some evil deeds! “What We Leave Behind” was directed by Antonio Negret from a script by Wendy Mericle and Beth Schwartz.
Chris: After the crossover calamity last week, things attempt to get back to the unusual usual in Star City, but here at Pointed Commentary we’re not done with the crossovers just yet, as my old O.G. Pointed Commentary All-Star partner, Matt Wilson, is back filling in for Emma!
How the hell are you, Matt? Was the monkey's paw wish you made to not have to watch Arrow anymore worth it for everything that has gone wrong in the world since season 4 ended?
Matt: Listen, you can’t blame me for all of that. You can maybe blame me for, at most, half of it. But I’ll tell you, life without Arrow has been great. I exclaimed to my wife about 35 minutes into this, “This show is still bad!”
Chris: I know you’re not going to believe this considering how much last season made me want to die, but for the most part, I’ve actually enjoyed this season. Dolph Lundgren is in it!
Matt: So I’ve heard.
Chris: And we don’t have to see that stupid island anymore!
Matt: OK, I have a question about that, but in due time.
Chris: I thought you might.
Matt: I’m more than willing to admit that my attitude about this show may have been what made last season so bad for you (though that season was Very Bad). But here’s what confirmed its still badness for me: This episode ends with our hero murdering an innocent cop in cold blood, Dig getting sent to an ambush, and the end of a marriage.
Merry holidays, everyone!
Chris: It wasn’t you, man, because I came into this season with hate in my heart, and it turned a lot of things around for me. Some of the things we saw them get right last season that we would comment on carried over, and some of the things that we complained about got adjusted if not outright corrected. There are still things to get bothered by for sure, but I’ve tried to cover all the improvements they’ve made where I’ve noticed them in the previous eight recaps, and I think if you had been watching the entire season, this episode might have felt different to you.
Now, before we get started, I have a question for you. Are you aware that readers have theorized that you are this season’s mysterious big bad, Prometheus?
Matt: That’s hilarious, because here is one of my notes, verbatim: “My Prometheus theory is that it is season one Arrow recapper, Matt D. Wilson.”
Chris: This episode may have finally disproved that theory, but up until now, you were one of my prime suspects.
Matt: There was a lot I didn’t like about this episode --- it was just as much of a downer as Arrow has always been --- but the Prometheus storyline is very intriguing. The idea of Oliver Queen’s murder chickens coming home to roost is pretty clever, given that the producers of this show didn’t even seem to think him constantly murdering everyone in season one was that big of a deal.
Chris: Well, at that point I imagine all they were worried about was getting through season one and praying for a season two. Were you able to surmise that this Prometheus has nothing to do with that other DC Prometheus?
Matt: Yeah. I was also trying to figure out the Arrow Babies. Wild Dog is pretty much Wild Dog, which is great. Ragman is sort of identifiable. Artemis... doesn’t really work as any other DC Artemis though. She’s more like Tigress, whose first name is Artemis, not Evelyn. But she’s kind of a holdover from last season, so.
Chris: Yup. Any other burning questions to get you grounded, or do you feel like you’ve got the hang of all the changes?
Matt: A couple big questions. I noticed right up front that Captain Lance was X’ed out on Prometheus’ board. Did he die? They made such a big deal of him pulling through but losing his job at the end of last season.
Chris: No, he’s still around, but he’s struggling with his alcoholism and Thea made him Deputy Mayor, but at one point Prometheus was trying to make him think that he might be Prometheus somehow. Which, I guess is technically still a possibility. I don’t trust much on this show, even when they seem to clearly lay out who some bad guy is. I won’t believe it until I see him with the mask off.
Matt: Good instincts. I trained you well. But that makes the X even more confusing!
Chris: My guess is that’s him saying, “Ok, I’ve got him out of the picture.” I think he’s off in rehab right now, which is why he wasn’t in this episode. There are a lot of moving parts to keep straight on all these shows we watch.
Matt: OK. X for rehab. My other big question is, have they been doing flashbacks to season one all season? Because that’s bananas to me.
Chris: No, this was the first one where that happened. All the other flashbacks this season have been Ollie with long hair in Russia. The highlight of that (besides Dolph Lundgren) for me has been the fact that Russia Ollie looks exactly like my oldest friend in the world, Corey. The hair, the clothes, everything. It’s bonkers.
Matt: Was Corey trained by Russian mobsters? Is he in the Bratva?
Chris: I… don’t think so?
Matt: That’s what he’d want you to think.
So I guess here’s my opportunity as a season one viewer to make some stuff clear: The flashback story in this one isn’t from an actual first-season episode. It’s a sort of “lost” episode. Occasionally Ollie or Dig would make some offhanded comment about people whose names got crossed off Papa Queen’s list off-screen. This was apparently one of those, which means nothing connected to this pharmaceutical company dude can really be Prometheus. “Who is Prometheus? This guy we just introduced or maybe his son!” is no revelation.
Chris: I was going to say, the way it was all shot looked too “new” to have been actual repurposed scenes. So, even with the way they set it all up, you don’t buy that it’s that guy’s kid either?
Matt: Nah. I think it’s pretty clearly a red herring. Like, if the kid can put on a hood and start ninja-starring people at 30, why couldn’t he do it at 26? Or 28? Ollie reacts to him being 30 now like this is the only possible time he could have tried to get revenge. He had plenty of chances.
I think Prometheus is someone who got mentioned in this episode, though.
Chris: You think it’s Tommy, don’t you?
Matt: Yeah. The big reveal at the end of the episode --- Laurel just showing up alive out of nowhere --- tips it, I think. But you’ve seen a lot more of the season than me.
Chris: So, Flashpoint?
Matt: It could have brought Laurel and Tommy back to life, sure. But heck, Prometheus could be Moira Queen for all we know. That little wrench in the gears could make anything possible. It facilitated the incomparably cruel move of taking Dig’s daughter away, after all.
Chris: But now he has a son. John Jr. Basically balances out? To me the “clues” that jumped out at me were they mention Flashpoint several times, you know, so viewers who don’t watch Flash remember it is a thing that could change things, they mentioned Tommy, and then, after making such a big deal of Laurel’s death earlier in the season, she shows back up.
Matt: There’s also that thing where Felicity said someone who is dead shows back up basically “every Wednesday” (har har).
Chris: I like to imagine that this show is literally just happening on Wednesdays in their world too. Like, we’re just dropping in, and Wednesdays are just oddly eventful. People in the CW-verse just accept weird stuff is going to happen on Wednesdays. Garfield in the CW-verse hates Wednesdays instead.
Matt: This is good headcanon. But yeah, it has to be intentional that characters who have died in previous seasons --- Tommy, Moira, Laurel --- either returned or were mentioned. It’s pointing to something. Tommy is the obvious suspects, but come to think of it, maybe Laurel? I guess there are some other possibilities.
Chris: You know, I will say this about those season one flashbacks, I’ve made no secret that Felicity is my least favorite person on the show, but that scene of early Ollie and Felicity interaction gave me a little glimpse into why the people who are long time fans of this show think the two of them are so cute together.
Matt: That scene was very representative of what their first-season scenes were like. Just awkward flirting and terrible lying and TV writers trying to come up with what someone who is tech savvy would say about the internet.
But now Ollie has murdered Felicity’s cop boyfriend, which I think would be a strain.
Chris: To the show and Felicity’s credit, I absolutely loved that, for once, when the bad guy does something to make the hero’s friends turn on him, the friends all basically, unilaterally said, “Even though we’re upset, this isn’t your fault. Prometheus is the bad guy here, and we’ve got your back.” That is the kind of super-friends I like to see.
Matt: I understand that, but I absolutely think it’s Ollie’s fault in this case, because he could have just... not shot the guy in the Prometheus costume --- which has a mask --- with a bunch of arrows before confirming who he really was. Is that so hard? He quite literally shot first and asked questions later.
Chris: He’s dealing with a guy who has just been a relentless killer all season and hurt all these people Ollie knows and who has made it clear he wants to destroy everything Ollie holds dear, and they’re in the middle of a fight. I mean, I take your point, but I also imagine if Ollie thinks he’s got a shot at this guy, and in his mind he’s only got a split second to react, he’s going to shoot the bejeezus out of him.
Matt: Yeah. Just, he’s learned this lesson before. “Take away everything Ollie holds dear,” or as Prometheus actually puts it at the beginning, making him “wish he was dead,” was exactly and entirely Deathstroke’s deal in season two, too. He killed Ollie’s mother! And he made the conscious choice not to kill him, to show there’s a better way.
This is why I had to stop watching the show. I’ve seen too much. These eyes, Chris.
Chris: Maybe the weight of all that’s happened between then and now made Ollie rethink that strategy? I dunno. Did Deathstroke trick Ollie into killing someone accidentally too?
Matt: He made him choose (or was party to a choice of) who lived and who died in a couple of cases, then made him feel guilt for those deaths, so sorta? Anyway, it felt a lot like a regression to me and I’m way on the record for hating Green Arrow killing. I think we can move on.
That Curtis story was sad, huh?
Chris: Yeah, but I don’t think we’ve seen the end of it by any means. Let me ask you a question about that. Try to consider it as seriously as possible. If you suddenly discovered that your spouse secretly had very accomplished fighting skills and the support of advanced technology and fellow superhero types, would you be mad if you found out she was out fighting crime at night?
Matt: I don’t really think Paul was in the wrong, with his stated reason of not wanting every time he sees Curtis to potentially be the last. I mean, I’d be of two minds about it. I’ve read comics my whole life, so I’d very much think it was cool as hell, but I’d also be very worried about her safety, as Paul was about Curtis.
Chris: Yeah, I asked my wife the same question, and she said she’d be worried about my safety, but would get over the upset of that pretty quickly and think it was awesome. Though I imagine the first time she got kidnapped by a supervillain her opinion would change. My point is I don’t think we’ve seen the actual end of their relationship. But I also hope they don’t kill either one of them. I want people to be happy, Matt.
Matt: Chris, I have some bad news for you about this show you have to watch and write about here on ComicsAlliance dot com. It is a trudging parade of misery.
Chris: Oh noooooooo… good thing I also get to watch Supergirl to balance things out.
Matt: Likewise, Legends of Tomorrow moves through its wild nonsense so quickly it can’t ever get too sad. So what else is there to cover? That ninja star cutting through that arrow? “The Hood” looking pretty cool in front of that burst of fire? Artemis’ betrayal?
Chris: Yeah, but we already knew about that. Seems a little weird she’d just show up with presents in the midst of turning on those same friends, but… I guess that’s how these things go. The ninja star through the arrow, though unbelievably impossible, was pretty darn cool.
Matt: Artemis is that fake Black Canary from last season, right?
Matt: With her whole deal being revenge-murder, maybe someone could have seen this coming. I forget who said they didn’t do a good enough job of “vetting” her, but “is an attempted revenge murderer” could have sewn that up.
Chris: Felicity said that, but her being the one that turns on them was super-upsetting, because she’s been wonderful this season. I mean, you could make a reason for any of the Arrow Babies to turn, but I think it being her was one of the most painful choices they could have made.
Matt: Well, I guess we’ll just have to see how it plays out. No promo for the next episode, so that Laurel cliffhanger will just have to... hang. Guess I’ll never know what happens!
I’m definitely not Prometheus, so I couldn’t know!
Chris: Alright, Arrow-heads, let us know your thoughts and theories in the comments and we'll see you back here when the season resumes on January 25th!