[Arrow] Recap • 509 What You Leave Behind

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By Sara Netzley for Entertainment Weekly

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Billie dies! Laurel lives! The audience gasps! Arrow’s midseason finale was twisty and surprising and sad. Let’s recap.

We open on Evelyn happily handing Prometheus all the intel on Team Arrow’s identities. Prometheus reminds her he’s not going to kill Oliver, he’s going to make Oliver wish he were dead. But isn’t that how Oliver spends a quarter of his time anyway?

At City Hall’s swank Christmas party, Felicity finally introduces Billy to her friends, although she stops short of dropping the l-word to him. She also blows Curtis’ cover to Paul, who now wonders what his husband’s been up to late at night if he’s not working on a startup with Ms. Smoak. Also, Oliver didn’t warn Thea he’s dating the snaky reporter who used, humiliated, and lied to her, which isn’t very brotherly.

A less-fancy holiday gathering is going down in the Arrow Cave, where John’s still boggled he had a daughter pre-Flashpoint, Rene’s cut off before he can state whether he has a child of his own (but it sure sounds like that answer’s going to be a complicated yes), and Evelyn gives them all stockings with their superhero names on them, which is adorable, even coming from a duplicitous betrayer.

Back at the fancy party, Oliver addresses the crowd, telling them he re-watched It’s a Wonderful Life last week, and it reminded him he needs to recommit himself to Star City. Ha! Fab callout to last week’s heart-tugging crossover dream sequence.

After he’s done talking, Felicity and Susan both approach him to say in unison, “Nice speech.” The awkward moment is made worse when Felicity suggests a double date, one that clearly will not and never should happen.

Outside City Hall, Paul and Curtis’ incipient argument is interrupted when Prometheus shows up. Curtis does a creditable job of fighting back, but he still ends up hospitalized with a knife to the shoulder. In the hospital, Paul’s horrified to learn Curtis is working with the Green Arrow. It’s not just the lying, though. Paul doesn’t want to spend his nights worrying about his husband’s safety.

“You can be a vigilante, or you can be married to me. But you can’t do both. I can’t do both,” he says. Poor tall Curtis is stuck in a too-small hospital bed, unable to keep Paul from leaving.

Our flashbacks tonight skip away from Russia when the team learns Prometheus drugged Curtis with dycloseral, a medicine pharmaceutical baron Justin Claybourne jacked the price on four years ago, keeping it out of the hands of the needy public during a TB outbreak.

Four-years-ago Oliver had Claybourne on his dad’s list, and so he killed him and Claybourne’s company folded. Now, though, everybody assumes Prometheus is Claybourne, although in my mind, Claybourne seems kind of, erm, old and soft to be as murderously vigorous as Prometheus is. (Sorry to be so ageist.)

Also, there’s the little matter of Oliver, you know, killing him four years ago, except that as Felicity points out, “In our town, people who were dead end up being secretly alive almost every Wednesday.” Ha! Again! Great self-referential jokes tonight, writers.

Team Arrow heads to the old pharmacy lab, where there’s still electricity and a ringing phone, and it’s all clearly a trap. Prometheus shows up, and he and Oliver accuse each other of failing the city. Then Oliver shoots an arrow that, in slow motion, is cleaved in twain by a Prometheus throwing star, which is hella cool.

Fight, fight, fight. Rene’s there and Artemis shows up, but zoinks! She’s on Prometheus’ side! “This city needs to be saved from you,” she spits at Oliver. Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal, woman!

Also, can I just say how much I adore the spooky, ripply Prometheus theme music? So much, you guys.

Since Prometheus knows their real identities, Team Arrow’s loved ones are all sent to various safe houses. But Billy refuses to hide, pointing out he’s a cop and it’s his job to take Prometheus down. So, Billy wants to protect Felicity, and Felicity want to protect Billy, and if one of them sells their hair, it’s basically The Gift of the Magi.

Analysis of remains found at the lab (gross) confirm Claybourne is dead, and as the team deals with that, Billy’s investigating the lab himself. He finds a photo of a baby in a locked drawer and texts it to Felicity just before he turns around and is captured by Prometheus. Not to blame the victim here, but why did he not take any backup? And why did he keep his back to the door as he investigated?

In the Arrow Cave, Felicity’s baffled by the baby-pic text with no explanation, worried Billy hasn’t texted her back, and angry he went off to investigate on his own. I’m Team Billy on this. He’s a cop. This is his job, woman!

More flashbacks: Oliver gave Claybourne a day to stop price fixing (with a warning arrow to the leg). But when he learns Claybourne’s affiliated with AK Desmond Group, black marketers that weaponized the TB in the first place to create a marketplace for the drug, Oliver’s feeling murdery. John warns him that someday, Oliver’s actions might have unintended consequences. Oh, so this is one of those flashbacks that’s a little too on the nose. Got it.

Meet your unintended consequences, Oliver: Felicity’s computer wizardry reveals the baby in the photo is Claybourne’s illegitimate son, name unknown, who’d be about 30 today — old enough to want revenge on the man who murdered his father.

Oliver suits back up and is joined by Thea. Yes! I love Thea taking ownership of her skills and choosing when she wants to involve herself. Unfortunately, her involvement today is limited to assuring Oliver his parents wouldn’t be upset he created Prometheus and telling him he needs to stop focusing only on the bad parts of his legacy.

Flashback to four years ago, when Oliver asks Felicity to track down the AK Desmond address for him. (His insane cover story is about wanting to send a singing telegram to a “friend.”) Felicity refers to her magic fingers, then babbles she doesn’t believe in magic of the fingers or any other variety, for that matter. Aww, I miss nervous, stammering Felicity!

Oliver’s calm and cool, and when she gives him an address and knocks a red pen off her desk, he kneels to pick it up and hand it to her in perfect “marry me” form. “Felicity, I do believe in magic,” he smolders. This…feels like it’s taunting shippers.

Anyway, somehow, Oliver remembers the AK Desmond address from four years ago (I can barely remember what I changed my email password to last month), and he takes off alone to finish things. Which seems like a mistake.

At the old AK Desmond location, Oliver finds bodies with arrows in them positioned in exactly the locations of his victims from four years ago. Again, this is crazy good recall, both on the part of Prometheus and Oliver. Maybe both weirdos spent hours studying the crime scene photos?

Yeah, so Oliver killed a bunch of dudes four years ago, including half a dozen in a fantastic parallel up-and-down escalator fight. Despite Claybourne’s orders that his people “kill the Robin Hood son of a b-tch” (ha!), Oliver gets the upper hand and shoots Claybourne dead on the roof, despite Claybourne saying he was just trying to make the city great again. (Ha! Again!)

In the present, Oliver’s back on the rooftop, facing down Prometheus, who asks him if he hesitated at all before killing Claybourne four years ago. Then Prometheus knocks them both off the roof and rappels them into the building.

Prometheus is talking the whole time, taunting Oliver that he knows whom Oliver loves, trusts, and hurts — which is everybody he’s close to. “You’re not a hero. You’re a killer, and I’m going to show them that.”

There’s debris and so many flickering lights, and when Prometheus comes into view around one of the ruined columns, Oliver pumps his chest full of arrows.

But when he approaches the body, he sees the weapon’s been duct-taped to his hand, and there’s a speaker on his chest, projecting a recording. Prometheus left a double in his place, and when Oliver pulls off the mask, he reveals Billy. WOOF.

A destroyed Oliver returns to the Arrow Cave to tell Felicity he killed her boyfriend. “I couldn’t have known it was him. I couldn’t have known,” he insists.

Felicity, who knew the news was bad the moment Oliver walked in, fights her tears and immediately assigns the blame to Prometheus.

Then Oliver tells his team to get as far away from him as they can.

“We are exactly where we’re supposed to be,” John says as the team surrounds him, including Felicity, who apparently has a heart that forgives more quickly than mine would under those circumstances.

In the last minutes of the episode, Curtis arrives home to see Paul’s moving out. He acknowledges that fighting crime makes Curtis happy, and he doesn’t want to take him away from that, but he loves Curtis too much to watch him get hurt over and over. (It’s Monica and Pete all over again!)

At the same time, John gets a frantic call from Lyla, begging him to come to the safe house because something is wrong with their son. Meanwhile, Oliver shows up at Susan’s house, where she’s hanging out in lingerie, as you do when you’re alone at home. He says he didn’t have anywhere else to go, so she gets him a drink and lets him talk. As he tells her he’s a life-ruiner, we see Curtis crying, Felicity crying, and John walking into a safe house full of men with guns pointed at him, presumably from the fugitive apprehension division.

Like Thea, Susan tells Oliver not to focus on the bad things in his life and urges him not to shut people out. Then she kisses him, which is the worst part of the episode for me. Still not a Susan fan over here.

The final scene before the winter hiatus shows Oliver walking into the Arrow Cave to see a blond standing in front of the costume display. She turns around and it’s Laurel!

“Hi, Ollie,” she says.

Holy cliffhangers, DC Comics vigilantes! Laurel’s back. Is it an alternate-Earth Laurel? Did Susan drug Oliver’s drink with hallucinogens? Is the Lazarus Pit up and running again?

And what of Prometheus himself? During their fight, Oliver noticed Prometheus used a specific fighting move Oliver learned from a woman in Russia, leading them to conclude Prometheus spent four years training the way Oliver did. So, does this mean Prometheus really is the son of Justin Claybourne, a man whose existence we didn’t know of until tonight (beyond a list entry in the pilot)? Or is this another misdirect from a villain who’s left no stone unturned to taunt Oliver Queen?

I’m hoping for the latter; a villain who’s connected to a person or situation we’ve known about for seasons would be far more satisfying than a “here’s the story you’re just hearing tonight, and that’s your supervillain of the year.” But hey, I trust the Arrow writers to make it good, whatever route they take.

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