NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Arrow” are present in this review
Arrow made the bold and shocking choice to kill off this season’s first major villain, Tobias Church quite early on in the previous episode. This has the stage firmly set for the succession of Prometheus, who seems fully ready to adopt the role of Season Five’s big bad. “So It Begins” was all about kicking off Prometheus’ grand scheme for Oliver Queen and Star City. Appropriately, the flashbacks this week also gave us our first look at Dolph Lundgren’s Konstantin Kovar, who proved to be another major draw in an entertaining episode with plenty of villain appeal to go around.
Since the glory days of Deathstroke and Sebastian Blood in Season Two, Arrow has struggled to replicate some equally appealing seasonal antagonists. Malcolm Merlyn has of course remained a great character, but in recent episodes especially, he’s become more of an anti-hero than a true menace, especially after being outed as Thea’s father. Fortunately, Prometheus’ early promise does suggest that he could be this show’s next Deathstroke-level baddie, as he immediately begins toying with Oliver directly, and begins murdering innocent, unconnected victims with names that turn out to play into anagrams of names on Oliver’s list from Season One. Oh yeah, remember the list?
Something that’s immediately fantastic about Prometheus is how well his presence calls back to Oliver’s personal development since Season One. When this show started, Oliver was a killer, and was more criminal than hero, solely pursuing his identity as ‘The Hood’ to quiet his personal demons, rather than save then-Starling City. Over the past five seasons, we’ve seen Oliver go from uncompromising murderer to legitimate, inspiring hero, one that is now much more in line with the Green Arrow’s optimistic portrayal in DC Comics lore, despite still having a darker streak in this universe. Prometheus dredging up Oliver’s early actions, and seemingly making him answer for them, is a superb way to have Arrow feel like it’s coming full circle this season.
Also effective is how Oliver’s new team responds to the revelation of what our beloved Green Arrow was truly like back in Season One, even buying into the public narrative that the Green Arrow is an entirely different person than The Hood or The Arrow that Oliver operated as before. While Oliver’s new recruits are taken aback and initially disturbed by how Oliver’s crusade began, Diggle and Felicity take a softer approach, instead highlighting how far Oliver has come over the past five years. Stephen Amell gave another especially standout performance in this episode too, as a tormented Oliver starts asking the question of whether he has truly improved as a person, especially now that he’s resorted to using lethal force on certain criminals again. Diggle puts it best however when he says that ‘The Hood’ never would have bothered to ask that question, already highlighting how much Oliver has matured in recent years.
The flashbacks did a great job of highlighting this confrontation of Oliver’s past as well, as Oliver narrowly survives a drive-by shooting with other Bratva executives, ordered by Kovar as he begins to expand his territory in preparation of a new casino. Oliver pushes to get his shot, and makes use of his then-billionaire playboy status to pose as an investor, originally appearing as though he’ll be able to successfully bomb the casino and destroy it. Unfortunately though, Oliver ends up captured and forced into an audience with Kovar, as action legend, Dolph Lundgren appears in the role at last, recounting a parable about a massive turnip that required a whole town to uproot, symbolizing both unity, and a desire for a guiding hand. This great first impression immediately has Kovar standing head-and-shoulders over the past few batches of flashback antagonists, while showing how Oliver’s more violent approach may have been both exacerbated, and rendered ineffectual. Since we know these are the final batch of flashbacks, and they will end almost immediately before Oliver is rescued from Lian Yu and taken back to Star(ling) City to become The Hood, perhaps the battle against Kovar won’t have a very pleasant conclusion?
Where this episode falters a tad is in how the rest of the city is affected by Prometheus at this point. Prometheus is a standout villain for Oliver specifically so far, but his so-called ‘throwing star killings’ sending the city into a blind panic, made worse by Susan Williams somehow getting ahold of the scoop, feels contrived and rather forced, even for Star City. One of this episode’s major scenes has Oliver and his team trying to quell panicked people at a false sighting of Prometheus, but rather than be dramatic, it just comes off as absurd, since these idiots are just firing their guns in the air and not even really pointing or looking at anything. You’d think Count Vertigo and his Scarecrow knock-off drugs had just run through the place. Hell, that actually would have been a much more interesting and logical scenario! Lastly, even if it’s a nitpick, why in the world would Oliver send Ragman to help quell panic?! If anyone is going to be mistaken for Prometheus, it’s him!
Another slight sour note this week is in how the show seems to be re-positioning Artemis as Team Arrow’s new loose cannon. Now that he’s been tortured and humbled, Wild Dog is a lot more considerate and obedient, and this means that Artemis is picking up the baton as the new biggest pain in Oliver’s ass. Her crowning moment of stupidity comes when she tries to pick a fight with Prometheus by herself within a speeding train, forcing Oliver to abandon the civilian he was trying to protect to go bail her out! Yes, Artemis eventually admits that she was being stupid, but she’s supposed to be an intelligent character. Even if she’s upset at the idea of Oliver’s origins as The Hood, why is she suddenly becoming reckless and acting like she has something to prove? That just doesn’t go together.
Still, Arrow is continuing to operate pretty well as its fifth season goes on. As bold as it was to get rid of Tobias Church so early on, Prometheus seems to be deftly succeeding him as a compelling new seasonal villain, smartly tapping into how Oliver started out, versus who Oliver is now. There’s a couple of other subplots that end up somewhat lost in the shuffle, namely Thea’s, as she discovers that Lance never stopped drinking, and tries to put together an art show to raise city morale, and Felicity’s, who tells her detective boyfriend that she works for the Green Arrow. Nonetheless, the ending of the episode is certainly memorable. Things wrap up with Lance waking up from a drunken stupor and discovering a cut on his arm identical to the one that Artemis inflicted on Prometheus, while also realizing that he has one of the clean, pristine throwing stars on his coffee table! Could Lance be Prometheus?! That feels a bit too easy, and is probably a red herring, but either way, I’m already heavily invested in how the Prometheus mystery pans out, and that’s a very promising sign!
- Prometheus highlighting Oliver's darker origins
- Kovar's equally memorable and brilliant introduction
- Tease with Lance at the end
- Panicked citizen behaviour is very forced
- Artemis unrealistically acting like a loose cannon