It may be the holiday season, but Oliver Queen and company do not have much time to celebrate during the ninth episode of Arrow's fifth season, titled "What We Leave Behind." Only moments into the Mayor's Christmas party, Prometheus attacks a member of Team Arrow, revealing he knows the vigilantes' civilian identities.
(Editor's note: Spoilers ahead for season five, episode nine of Arrow.)
After taking a break to defend the entire planet from invading aliens, the Green Arrow turns his attention back to Prometheus in the midseason finale. But it is Prometheus who draws first blood.
We learned towards the latter moments of episode seven that Evelyn Sharp, aka Artemis, was in league with Prometheus. And it appears she is willing to take the whole team down to get to Oliver, as she delivers all of her friends' identities to Prometheus.
After learning the identities of Oliver's recruits, Prometheus attacks Curtis, aka Mister Terrific, outside of the Mayor's Christmas party, and in doing so, sends Oliver a breadcrumb from his past.
Upon impact, Prometheus' throwing star injects Curtis with a drug intended to treat Tuberculosis, the same drug that was manufactured by a man Oliver crossed off his list four years prior. Through Arrow's use of flashbacks we learn how Prometheus may be connected to Oliver Queen.
Do we learn Prometheus' identity?
While flashbacks have been a trademark of Arrow since the series' premier, the narrative device is often distracting and seems to take away from the plot of any given episode. In "What We Leave Behind," Arrow abandons the flashbacks to Russia and instead explores Oliver going after Justin Claybourne, the manufacturer of the tuberculosis drug.
These flashbacks feel intimately relevant to the current threat posed by Prometheus, because, well, they are. Prometheus has been toying with Oliver since he first appeared. His initial kills were just code to reference Oliver's list, and dosing Curtis with the tuberculosis drug is meant to alert Oliver to his past dealings with Claybourne.
While it turns out that Prometheus and Justin Claybourne are not one in the same (Claybourne's ashes are identified), it does appear that he (or she?) very well could be Claybourne's illegitimate child.
Why did Artemis betray the team?
It is not entirely clear when Artemis decided to join Prometheus' ranks, but it appears that she was not always in league with the villain. After she disarms Wild Dog during their confrontation with Prometheus, revealing her betrayal to the team, it is hinted that Rene believes Artemis' confidence in Oliver wavered after learning of his murderous past.
Still, joining forces with a villain who has been knocking off police officers does not seem like the right way to boycott Oliver's past. It is possible that this is just a small plot hole, and that Evelyn feels Prometheus is doing what is necessary to punish Oliver, but it could be we have not learned everything about her betrayal quite yet.
What we do know is that Artemis clearly wants to see Oliver suffer. Early in the episode she requests to be present when Prometheus finally kills the Green Arrow. However, we learn Prometheus is not planning on letting Oliver off the hook so easily, stating to Artemis, "I'm not going to kill him, I'm going to make him wish he was dead." Yea, he's one of those villains.
Prometheus follows through on his promise to make Oliver suffer. In this one episode alone, Oliver's entire team has been thrown into shambles. Not only is the team shaken from Artemis' role as a double agent, but Prometheus is able to significantly rip apart the team in other ways.
Curtis' confrontation with Prometheus alerts the former's husband, Paul, of his night job as Mister Terrific. This leads Paul to leave Curtis at the end of the episode. Diggle looks to be heading back to military prison after being lured to his safe house, only to find it occupied by heavily armed cops. But that's not the worst thing to happen to the team.
Oliver's spirit is absolutely destroyed after Prometheus tricks him into killing Felicity's new boyfriend, Detective Malone. Malone is kidnapped by Prometheus while investigating the Claybourne connection, and subsequently is dressed like the villain in a sequence very similar to one in The Dark Knight when the Joker tapes guns to the hostages' hands.
So, with tape over his mouth, Prometheus' outfit on, and a voice box attached to his chest, Detective Malone is powerless as Oliver sends several arrows into his chest, killing him. Telling Felicity came next, and the extent to which this divides her and Oliver may not be fully apparent until after the winter hiatus. Though it appears for now she is not blaming Oliver for Prometheus' deception. We'll see how that holds.
Ultimately, "What We Leave Behind" is a strong installment in Arrow's fifth season. As previously mentioned, the flashbacks are completely relevant to the episode's plot, a refreshing change from the norm.
Further, the action choreography is top notch, as it often is. The brief battle between Prometheus and the Green Arrow is stellar, and hopefully we will get to see further extended sequences between the two.
Prometheus' identity still remains a mystery, though several suspects have been eliminated. Much fan speculation has looked to former characters like Tommy Merlyn and Slade Wilson, while newcomer Detective Malone was also frequently mentioned. With Malone dead, and both Merlyn and Wilson having zero connection to Claybourne, it appears unlikely that any of them will end up being Prometheus. Possible surprise pick? Oliver's new reporter girlfriend. Just saying.
The biggest surprise of the episode comes at the end. As Oliver walks into the cave, a familiar face is waiting for him: Laurel Lance. It is way too early to figure out how she is alive or if she is alive, but it is unlikely that Flashpoint would have played a role in her current status, as we would have seen her already. It is also unlikely she is Laurel's evil doppelganger from Earth-2 (currently locked up in S.T.A.R. Labs).
Is that really Laurel Lance? Who is Prometheus? We'll have to wait until the new year to find out. Arrow season five returns after its winter hiatus.