Arrow 5×06 Roundtable: 'So It Begins'

A new season of Arrow means a new season of roundtables where Fangirlish writers Alyssa, Lizzie, Nora and Sarah discuss the hot topics from every Arrow episode.

In Arrow’s sixth episode of season 5, Prometheus finally made his presence known as he sent a personal message to Oliver regarding his past killer self.

What were your overall thoughts on “So It Begins?”

Alyssa: While it was certainly a step up from “Human Target,” it was still nothing to be too impressed with. Arrow has done very little to impress me this season, and it’s scary how normal that’s becoming. To be honest, everything feels really forced right now. Whether it’s moments between Oliver and Felicity or OTA, nothing is really coming off as genuine. I have to admit that one of the things that wasn’t terribly bad was this focus on Prometheus and the parallel between him and Oliver. Whoever this Prometheus is there’s a personal connection between him and Oliver, and if done right could actually be one of the better things to happen this season. Then you had things like Detective Malone that just felt unimportant. No seriously, what’s his purpose? To piss off the Olicity fandom? At least give the guy another purpose. Because I literally see no reason for his existence. Other than to anger a certain fanbase. Or to be the big bad.

Lizzie:I mean, it was better than “Human Target” – not that I think that’s a crowning achievement or anything. In fact, the bar was set so low after last episode that just about anything would have been better. There was an attempt made to give us what the show perceives the fans want, which is OTA and eh, I guess a tad of Olicity banter or whatever? I mean, I think that’s what they were trying to do, but since I don’t recognize Felicity or Oliver and Diggle only looks like himself if I squint, I have a hard time deciding if they really tried to give us what they think we want or if they just basically threw Oliver, Felicity and Diggle together for the sake of a continuity I’m surprised to hear they’re still pretending they care about.

And hey, they gave Evelyn some lines, so go Evelyn. But, of course, they also did that ….thing they did with Detective Malone and Felicity confessing. And Oliver sorta promising to sleep with the reporter while Thea and Lance looked disapproving. And, of course, that thing where they tried to convince me that Lance, of all people, was Prometheus, which ….how dumb do they think I am?

Wait, don’t answer that.

Nora: I agree, it was better than “Human Target,” but honestly it didn’t impress me at all. It was another filler episode for me. Yes, we got to know more about Prometheus, but there wasn’t much else. Once again, my biggest pet peeve with this episode and “Human Target” is that Arrow is focusing more on plot instead of characters. The characters are all over the place and I’m not a fan. I tune into Arrow to see my favorite characters, not plot. I’m sorry, but it’s true. I could care less about what villain they are fighting each week. I care more about the character arcs of Oliver, Felicity, Diggle and the rest of the gang than I do about the plot. Arrow seems to think a flashy villain and bigger plot lines keep us interested, but honestly if the characters are weak or moving backwards in development, I don’t care about the big plotlines.

Arrow tried to give us some of the show we love when they opened with OTA working on tracking down Prometheus, but even that didn’t elevate the episode the way I hoped it would. Even when Felicity and Oliver were in scenes together I didn’t really care (which is saying something cause I usually hang on their every word). Arrow was a little better with this episode, but the massive back steps for every character detract from episodes time and time again. I still have hope the Arrow I love is hidden somewhere, I’m just having a hard time in finding it.

Sarah: I’m glad I made it through the episode to say, it was better than last week, but I still don’t recognize my characters. It felt I was watching a rehash of a random season one episode between the list being brought back and Felicity making awkward comments about Oliver’s “girlfriend.” The past four years happened right? I know, you know it I just wish the show’s writers still knew it.

Prometheus made things personal as he set out to remind Oliver of his time as the Vigilante and the Hood. But as we’ve seen Oliver has grown since season one in terms of understanding that killing isn’t a first resort. What do you think about this conflict Oliver faced in this episode and how far he’s come in four years?

Alyssa: Look, I’m not going to ignore the fact that Oliver definitely has grown from season one to now, but in the grand scheme of things he’s actually regressed since season four. But I get it. Prometheus made it a point to rehash old wounds and make him think about the killer he used to be. And the fact that Oliver stood silent when the claims were made known told us that he himself doesn’t believe he’s grown. Because, yes, obviously Oliver has grown over four seasons of television. He’s not the man we met in the pilot, we’ve seen that. While his character has actually regressed this season, there’s no denying that he has become a better man than season one. The fact that he gave a damn — cared — when the newbies brought up the fact that he used to basically be a serial killer, tells you all you need to know.

Lizzie:*bangs head against keyboard repeatedly* But, like …has Oliver grown? I want to say he has, he did stop killing people for a while, and even this return to his murderous tendencies would sorta be understandable for me, if the writers had, you know, taken some time to actually explain. One throwaway line about how Laurel would still be alive if he’d killed Darhk isn’t explanation. It’s the definition of telling, not showing. So, it just …bothers me. And I know he’s on a “only as a last resort” kick, and that might be considered some growth, except it’s literally like having an addict who, after 3 years of abstinence suddenly decides he’s fine with just one drink a week, it’s okay, he’s got it under control.

Nora: Alright, I’m running in circles with Oliver’s growth here. Last season, there was so much growth and I loved it. Oliver learned to channel the light to take down Damien Darhk, he grew enough to be in a relationship with Felicity and things were just looking great. Right off the bat this season, we already jumped backwards. He started killing people again and I’m sorry, killing in the name of Laurel (who never wanted Oliver to kill anyway) did not make it any better. Like Lizzie said, it was a throw away line and I would’ve liked some background as to why Oliver came to that decision. So, Oliver’s character development is basically nonexistent for me right now.

The conflict Oliver faced in this episode was an interesting one. This is the first time we really see Oliver’s past actions coming back to haunt him. Up until Prometheus, Oliver’s past decisions to kill hasn’t been a problem. Now it’s directly affecting him. I think this is an interesting route to go and I’m excited we are exploring it. I just wish it came at a time where Oliver’s character growth was bigger. Diggle says, Oliver has come a very long way from season one. He doesn’t use killing as a first resort, he uses it as a last. I would’ve agreed with Diggle is we didn’t see Oliver dropping bodies at the beginning of this season. I think this character arc of Oliver’s would’ve been stronger for me if he wasn’t taking step backwards.

Sarah: Truthfully at this point, his idea of growth is getting one on one man talk time with Diggle and all of a sudden he’s learned his lesson this hour. Up to this season he slowly went from a vigilante to the Green Arrow we all knew he was destined to be and he had worked very hard to get to that point especially with his crime fighting. Then came a full stop rewind mix up and now I feel like he’s back at square one relearning lessons he’s already gone through dressed up differently. Whatever I think of the show’s writing I know for all his brusqueness Oliver means well, he does. I just wish he’d get a chance to have some real growth instead of this rehash business.

Given the depth of Oliver and Felicity’s romantic past, what are your thoughts on how Arrow is handling their reactions to the other’s current and potential significant other?

Alyssa: Well, they’re not happy thoughts, that’s for sure. Given how much time Arrow has taken to develop Oliver and Felicity’s relationship over the past four seasons, this is something that angers me immensely because these writers seemed to have forgotten who these characters are. I have no problem with Oliver and Felicity being broken up right now, but I do have a problem with how the writers are essentially forcing these two to be with other people. To what? Make a point? And what point is that? These two are not ready to jump into other relationships. More than that, they’re far from okay with the other being in a relationship. But it’s like the writers have forgotten that Oliver and Felicity were almost married. Married. I’m sorry, but ex-couples that were nearly married are not supportive of their ex being in another relationship. Especially when they’re still in love with each other. It just feels like the writers feel the need to implement contrived drama to pass the time before they put them back together at the end of the season.

Lizzie: If I had to pick one thing that was like, completely removed from reality, in a show that has Ragman and Prometheus, I’d pick this. I really, really would. I’ve never seen two exes behave the way Oliver and Felicity do. It’s like they had a fling, not an engagement. It’s like they broke up because sex was bad, not because he lied to her about his son. She’s making jokes about him dating Susan Williams, he wants her to give Billy Malone a chance, and there’s no …no undercurrent of anything to these comments. And it doesn’t even have to be resentment or longing, but it has to be something. Because that’s what’s normal. This? This is just weird and creepy and makes them seem like pod-people. Relatable? Let’s go with laughable. They were engaged at this point last season. Engaged. Remember Oliver’s wedding vows? I DO. Am I the only one who does? Sure feels like it.

Nora: I honestly can’t even with this. No couple in the history of TV has acted this way after breaking up. I’m sorry, I don’t understand how they had this universe exploding relationship last season and now they act like that never happened. They are acting like they only went on two dates, realized they worked better as friends, and are now totally fine. Last time I checked, that’s not what happened. Last time I checked, Felicity was the last person Oliver saw before he “died” at the hands of Ra’s al Ghul. If Donna Smoak saw this she would ashamed.

I’m totally fine with them dating other people. I expected that. I still believe them dating other people will help them move on and eventually help them find their way back to each other. What we are getting are two people acting like they never had a long-term relationship and are trying to be cool with their best friends dating new people. The way Felicity and Oliver are reacting to each other’s love interests is the way I would expect Barry or Ray to react. I’m just so lost. Felicity is making jokes about Oliver sleeping with Susan, Oliver is giving Malone a chance, and I’m sitting on my couch screaming and wondering why they are so okay with this.

Sarah:I’m sorry what reaction? Their barely involved attitudes is being written to come off as mature but all I see is writers ignoring FOUR YEARS OF HISTORY for attempted lightheartedness that doesn’t come off well when you’ve watched their story from the beginning. Don’t get me wrong I’m glad they are at an understanding strong enough to let each other date other people in peace, but I assumed it would come at a slower natural pace instead of the pop up detective boyfriend right from the beginning and a snarky reporter that because she’s very attractive must become a love interest for Oliver right away. It truly seems that the Arrow writers are the only ones who forgot they were engaged last season, and I’m left wondering why would they do this to Olicity? More importantly why would they do this to Oliver and Felicity?

In the final moments of the episode, Oliver and Felicity realized that Prometheus is someone working for the SCPD. We cut to a shot of Quentin as he’s waking up with a throwing star and a gash on his arm where Evelyn cut Prometheus earlier. But it’s gotta be a set-up, right? Who do you think Prometheus really is?

Alyssa: There’s no way Prometheus is Quentin Lance. Not only is it way too early on in the season for the reveal, but it makes absolutely no sense. Like I know the Arrow writers aren’t the best at making sense this year, even this is beyond that level of ignorance. While I’d love for Prometheus to be Tommy (God, I miss Tommy, I might actually hate Arrow writers less if they brought Tommy back), let’s be real it’s probably Detective Malone. The fact that he has no significance other than to anger the Olicity fandom, this would be a way to make him somewhat relevant. Malone hardly reacted to Felicity telling him she works for the Green Arrow. Almost like he knew. And it would explain why Malone has to be with Felicity: this Prometheus is probably keeping an eye on people closest to Oliver. But if Malone really is Prometheus this is really going to be a wasted opportunity. If this really is personal between Oliver and Prometheus, Prometheus needs to be a character we’ve already met. We, the audience, also need to feel that.

Lizzie: Not Quentin Lance, that’s for sure. I mean, this is as absurd as it comes. I know he’s fallen off the wagon and all of that, but Quentin Lance isn’t a cold-blooded murderer. And if he is, then please, just tell me now so I can turn off the TV for good, Arrow. Because that would go against four years of character development.

So, I’m going to assume that, despite the fact that this season has presented some weird AU versions of the characters I know, they’re not all so far gone that Quentin Lance would be the bad guy, and go with decoy. While we’re at it, can we also assume it’s not Billy Malone? Not because I care one iota about Billy, but because …no, just no. Drama for the sake of drama was last season. And that’s what making Felicity’s BF Prometheus would be. Drama. For. The. Sake. Of. Drama.

Nora: Prometheus is definitely setting Quentin up to look like him. If Prometheus is as connected to Oliver as we think, he would know that Quentin is close to Oliver and he probably knows Quentin has strayed from his sobriety. There’s no way he’s Prometheus. If he was, I would just forget everything I ever thought about character development and TV in general. I’m going with Quentin being set up as Prometheus until Prometheus is actually unmasked around the mid-season finale.

I’m still riding the train that I hope Tommy is Prometheus and that won’t die until he’s unmasked. With Prometheus using Oliver’s kill list, I had a slight suspicion that it could be Mr. Queen because I just have no idea how much Barry actually screwed up the Arrow timeline. But I’m still hoping it will be Tommy. I swear to god, if it’s Malone I will fling myself out a window. I agree with Lizzie, that would be creating drama for the sake of creating drama. If this happens, you’re telling me they shoved Felicity with Malone who is a literal product of Oliver?! No way. I’m not buying it. Yes, out of that reveal we would get some AMAZING Emily Bett Rickards acting, but I would hate it.

Sarah: Bad cliffhanger aside, no I absolutely refuse to believe Quentin Lance is Prometheus. That man has been through a lot granted, but it goes against everything he’s believed in to dress in a mask and senselessly murder without mercy. This is a set up all the way, but who Prometheus really is I admit my mind drifts to one person if they are within the SCPD: Felicity’s detective boyfriend. This may be too obvious even for the Arrow writers, but given they are going for plot drama over well written character drama this year, it would be exactly the kind of dramatic twist they’d go for. Either way I’m excited when we get to see the person behind the mask.Who want to bet it’s a random person vs someone we’ve already met.

It’s no secret that we’ve all got our issues with Arrow this season. But in the name of optimism, in what way can Arrow manage to salvage this season?

Alyssa: Given this impending alien episode (really, aliens) perhaps the first half of the season could actually be a really bad nightmare that we’re all going to wake up from. Or wishfully speaking, Arrow really needs to find a way to refocus on the elements of the show that made it the success it has become over the past four seasons. And when it comes down to it the reason that Arrow is Arrow is because of the core characters that have breathed life into a show that makes it so much more than just a superhero show. Those dynamics that this episode teased, Olicity, OTA, Thea and Quentin, really focus on those characters and let them drive the plot instead of letting the plot drive them. Because right there is the reason why Arrow has a disconnect this season. These characters are being forced into situations instead of it feeling organic. They feel so unlike themselves. It’s time that Arrow really takes the time to stop and reexamine their characters.

Lizzie: They could tell me that the whole first half of the season has been a hallucination brought on by the aliens we’re gonna see in the crossover? No? Fine, wishful thinking aside, they could take a step back and reevaluate who these characters are. Because right now I’m not sure they know, and I know. That’s the problem. I have an idea in my head of who these people are, after being on a journey with them for four seasons, and the characters I see on the screen every Wednesday look like the ones I know, but don’t behave like I expect them to. And sure, characters can surprise you, but they don’t usually act in a way that’s diametrically opposed to how they behaved for four seasons.

So, how to fix it? Focus on characters again, not on plot. Don’t sacrifice development to further the bad guy’s agenda, or even Oliver’s agenda. Make us connect to these people. Make us care again. You did it before, it shouldn’t be so hard.

Nora: I hope and pray Arrow gets back to the show I love. Like I’ve said, I need to see the characters I love taking precedence over the plot. I feel like we are in limbo. I’m looking at characters I know and love, but I don’t understand what they are doing. I want to see Thea kicking butt in the Mayor’s office. I hope to see Felicity become the leading female character I know her to be and not have to answer to another character. I want to see Oliver achieve the growth I know he can. I just want to see the Arrow characters I love. It’s that simple.

In terms of specific things, I’d like to see Thea and Quentin get actual storylines. Right now they are floating aimlessly in the background. Going into this season, I was so excited to see how the two of them would move forward after last season. I had such high hopes and they were shot down with an arrow. I just think Thea and Quentin had such potential for this season and Arrow is really missing a great opportunity with them. I hope this turns around. In general, I just ope characters take center stage again. I think Arrow episodes are just more memorable when they center on characters instead of plot. My favorite Arrow moments are the quiet ones. The ones were it’s too characters revealing themselves to another or giving each other a motivational talk. Felicity giving her infamous season 2 finale speech to Oliver, Oliver telling Felicity he loves her before going to fight Ra’s al Ghul, Diggle reconnecting with Lyla, all of these moments are why I love Arrow. I hope we can get back to that.

Sarah: A good place to start salvaging this season is for one not to ignore the story and growth of the first four preceding it. The next place (and most important) is to work on your characters. It’s still pretty early, Arrow writers, is it possible to have the true Oliver Queen or Felicity Smoak, or John Diggle back? They’ve tried so hard to make it seem like everything is fine, and any growth is equated to a John Diggle speech once per episode, for everyone from Oliver to the new recruits.My optimism is running thin fast when it come to Arrow, but I won’t lie a part of me still hopes they’ll get it together and my favorite characters will come back on screen again. A girl can hope right? At this point I don’t know it’ll be that simple, but just a little bit of effort would be good enough for me right now. Whether that happens remains to be seen.

Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.

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