Prometheus is a Jerk and Other Truths - Arrow

To be frank, I'm still reeling a bit from "Checkmate," episode 16 of Arrow's season 5. And, I've sat on my reviews of the previous two episodes as well, because I wasn't really certain where the narrative arc would lead, and I wanted a clearer picture before I started opining about it.

Well, Prometheus has been fully revealed and he is gloriously terrifying, and quite easily the best supervillain on the CW superhero brigade to date. A few weeks ago I never would have thought I would be saying that, but here we are. Actually, I would say that Prometheus and Legend of Tomorrow's Legion of Doom are both amazing, but where the LoD is kind of hilariously entertaining (yet effective) in their evilness, Prometheus is frightening to a degree I never thought the CW shows were capable of writing.

Read on to find out why!

(spoilers ahead)

As a very quick recap of the main storyline, in Ep. 14, "The Sin-Eater," Susan Williams confronts Oliver and asks if he's the Green Arrow, and he lies about it, of course. But when Thea hears how close Susan is getting to the truth, she hatches a plan and has Felicity help her with hacking Susan's computer. They plant a bunch of nasty stuff on her laptop, which ultimately gets Susan fired from her reporter job and pretty much ensures that she will never work in media again. This leads Oliver to telling Thea she is a lot like their mother--which is not what Thea wanted to hear. Meanwhile, Prometheus leaks the truth to Police Chief Pike about the Green Arrow killing Billy, which leads to Oliver asking Pike to back off from the investigation for a bit. Not suspicious at all or anything, Mr. Mayor.

And in Ep 15, "Fighting Fire with Fire," it's revealed that Prometheus is actually Adrian Chase, the DA that Oliver has trusted all this time. For a while the presence of Vigilante threw everyone off this particular scent, since in the comic books, Vigilante's identity is Adrian Chase. In this episode, Oliver is facing impeachment over the cover-up of Billy's death by Green Arrow, and ultimately, instead of throwing anyone else under the bus, Mayor Queen decides to throw the Green Arrow under instead, announcing that he is a cop-killer and making him public enemy no 1. Apparently this is enough to stop the impeachment somehow. I didn't quite follow that line of thinking but ok. Thea exits the show because she's afraid of becoming her parents. And Susan gets her job back and she and Oliver are a thing again. Except that Adrian nabs her at the end of this episode, so she's probably in for a rough ride.

Okay then, so Ep 16 is "Checkmate" and it's a doozy! The team ends up learning through Felicity's Helix involvement that Adrian Chase is Prometheus, and she also ends up finding out where he's keeping Susan (who is being tortured/terrified). But the quiet downward spiral of Felicity is probably the real story here. In order to obtain all this information from her hacker buddies at Helix, she needs to start doing something for them, and "doing something" means hacking a DHS drone program, which I probably don't have to tell you is highly illegal. Not to mention that when Felicity gets a tour of the Helix compound, we find out that Helix has surveillance of like EVERYONE going on. To hell with your right to privacy, folks, but no worries, Helix is just protecting you from the big bad government! Red alert, Felicity... red alert.

LOL I am so going to federal prison for the rest of my life at the end of this season...
Much relieved to no longer have to hide his identity, Adrian Chase is now glad that Oliver knows who he is, because now he can openly be a giant dick. Like he seriously swaggers around that mayoral office like he owns the place, because he totally does, while you can practically hear Oliver grinding his teeth. But Oliver can't really do much, because after denouncing the Green Arrow as a cop killer a few episodes back, it would kind of be really bad if Adrian revealed to the world that Oliver is the Green Arrow. Also, Adrian still has Susan in his clutches, so anything Oliver does endangers her.

When Oliver quietly tries to get Pike to investigate Adrian's real identity, Pike immediately gets stabbed. And when Oliver tries to one-up Prometheus by bringing Adrian's wife to the scene of the crime and revealing the truth to her, Adrian seems annoyed AF but he still stabs her. I mean, I don't know why Oliver expected this psychopath to stop everything because of his wife, but I personally wouldn't be surprised if Adrian stabbed his own mother. He may yet get a chance to, since that's like the only piece on the board Team Arrow hasn't obtained.

Ultimately, Oliver finds out the his old mentor Talia also trained Prometheus, and when he demands to find out why, Talia reveals that she's mad that Ollie killed her father too. I don't know how Oliver never put together the pieces of Talia's training of him being so similar to Nyssa and the Assassins, but as much as I love our intrepid hero, he has always been kind of really freaking clueless. This is consistent with the character, and if he didn't always have people around to think for him, he'd never get very far. I accept that Oliver never connected Talia to R'as al Ghul because Ollie is kind of a loveable dumbass.

My name is Talia al Ghul. You killed my father. Prepare to die. 

And now that the full storyline has been revealed, and Prometheus has stated his ultimate endgame, I now also accept what this entire story arc is about. It's been hinted at several times this season, particularly in "The Sin-Eater" where the episode seemed preoccupied with the whole "paying for your sins" idea. Oliver has spent his life, even his misspent youth, never appreciating how his actions now may impact not just the future, but specifically, the people around him. He was a dumbass kid who didn't care whose bed he flitted from, and ultimately he ended up putting the Lance family through some serious crap. In following his jackass father's kill-book, he ultimately created Prometheus. In killing R'as al Ghul and taking part in the League of Assassin shenanigans, Oliver turned Talia against him. And now Prometheus is making everyone around Oliver pay the price.

Actions have consequences. This is not exactly a new idea, and certainly not a new idea in the comic book/superhero genre. But I will say that Arrow has done a phenomenal job in writing Oliver and Prometheus' arcs this season. And Stephen Amell and the smug-faced Josh Segarra have sold it every step of the way.

This is my "I own you, Oliver" face. 

Ultimately, Prometheus wants to mold Oliver into a killer just like him. To do so, he is going to dismantle every piece of Oliver's life, right in front of him. By the end of this episode, it's becoming clear that Team Arrow is in over its head, and frankly has been all season. And even worse, Prometheus ends up abducting Oliver. Chained up in some dark, dank place, Oliver is going to have to trust that the family he built around himself, his team and friends and allies, are going to pull through for him (and themselves) in time. If Oliver has made a great deal of bad choices that lead up to this point, then ultimately, because he is our hero, there must also be a good pay-off; he's made good choices too, in the form of the people whose trust and love he's earned.

Adrian keeps trying to paint Oliver to be a bad guy, and he wants to make Oliver a bad guy. But we are all of us human, and we all of us make bad choices at some point in our lives. Yes, those actions have consequences, but we weather those storms best when we have the support of our family and friends.

Like a typical supervillain, Adrian thinks that Oliver's "family" are his weakness. But in another superhero theme that's been used over and over again (but still works), Oliver has to believe that his family is his real strength.

We'll see if said family can pull through for him, and if they all survive it. I predict they won't be able to do it without calling in the big guns.

Heeeyyyyy, don't forget about me, guys!

By which I mean, of course, Vigilante. Because there has to be a reason why this justice-by-the-force-of-my-guns character has been hovering around the outer edges of season five. He's in the story for a reason, one hopes. And the showrunners suggested in an interview a couple months back that Evelyn Sharp's part in the story wasn't done, although to be honest, the writers messed that whole thing up, because I don't care if she ever shows up again.

I also predict Felicity is heading for a world of hurt with her Helix pals.

On the subject of female characters (because this is Critical Writ, after all), where most of season five has been very strong in terms of story arc and acting, I am somewhat disgruntled by the sidelining of female characters. Evelyn was a worthless character who never had a chance to shine before she went traitor, and there was that whole confusing decision to bring Black Siren into the picture for one whole episode and talk about redeeming her but then shoving her into an ARGUS jail and forgetting about her. Dinah Drake, the new Black Canary, started out strong, but has since faded into the background over the past few episodes. I want to love her, but they really need to do more with her. Thea, again, started the season out strong but her morally repugnant actions against Susan Williams has caused her to exit off the show. Susan has certainly been an interesting mayoral-antagonist-turned-lover, but I'm not a huge fan of turning her into hero bait in this last episode. And Felicity has a thing going on, but the season has been very slow to develop that thing, until we hit full throttle in "Checkmate" and suddenly she's hacking the damn DHS and diving off the deep end into a story arc that simply cannot end well.

As usual, Team Arrow, you can do better for the compelling female characters you have. But overall, keep up the good work. This has been an excellent season.

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

Ivonne Martin is a writer, gamer, and avid consumer of all things geek—and is probably entirely too verbose for her own good.