TV Recap: Arrow Mid-Season Finale “What We Leave Behind”

Well Arrow fans, it finally happened: Oliver (Stephen Amell) had sex with the journalist. Christ, I’ve never been so annoyed to be right. Listen, I get it, Oliver needs some comfort in his awful life and Susan (the ever-appealing Carly Pope) seems to have quit her job so she can spend all her time making him feel better. I’ve spent weeks talking about why this storyline annoys me so much, but this episode added a whole new reason to complain.

At least once every season, Oliver pulls away from his friends and family because he believes he’s hurting them. This year, he’s doing it because Prometheus reminded him what a crappy hero he was in season one—which is frankly one of the better justifications for this tired old storyline. So, it was somewhat preposterous that Oliver would go from telling his Arrow family to abandon him one minute to falling into bed with Susan the next. I suppose you could say that Oliver always seeks comfort for his wrongs in the arms of a woman, but in this case, it speaks to the storyline’s larger problem: that the show just doesn’t care about this relationship.

There’s been so little build up between these characters and certainly none of the “magic” Oliver shared with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) in that flashback scene. I mean, the whole season has been building up to their first kiss and yet it’s cut short for a twist that had so little foreshadowing it’s hard to see it as anything but blatant fan service? How do they expect the audience to invest in those two when we won’t even get a morning after? Hell, Susan and Oliver seem genuinely surprised to see each other in the same room, not to mention the members of Team Arrow basically treat Susan like Ann from Arrested Development. (Her?) It all just feels so compulsory.

Listen, I know I spend almost too much time talking about this, but let’s get real here, the show isn’t giving me a reason to care about everything else that’s going on. Look at the final few minutes of the episode. Huge things happened to all of our characters, but all of it transpired during a god damn montage just before the credits rolled. Curtis’s (Echo Kellum) fantastic, devastating break-up storyline was the only one that got the proper amount of attention. For goodness’ sake, Felicity’s ex-fiancé literally killed her current boyfriend and all we got was a brief crying scene. If that doesn’t deserve a little bit of screentime, then what does? Oh, right, the reveal that Laurel is alive.

You know, that out-of-nowhere reveal would usually make me unspeakably angry, but I’m just so tired, you guys. For years, I’ve said that Arrow‘s worst period was its first 13 episodes, but watching those apocryphal season 1 flashbacks last night, I felt genuine affection and longing for the simple kill of the week format and I suddenly realized something: Season 5 is the worst this show has ever been.

For 5 years (well, maybe 4 and a half), Arrow has been my weekly escape. And while it was depressing more often than it was happy, the show’s ability to course correct, to take chances in its writing made it a thrill to watch every single week. There is still a lot of time left in this season–certainly more than enough to fix the current bevy of problems–but I don’t think I’m willing to stick around until then.

Watching that montage of depression at the end of the episode, it’s hard to argue with Oliver when he declares that simply knowing him ruins people’s lives. And, obviously, I’m not trying to say this show is ruining my life, but after this dumpster fire of a year, watching something that doesn’t bring me joy seems ridiculous. If Curtis’s storyline proved anything last night, it’s that people make their own choices and they have to deal with the consequences. Given that, it’s almost impossible for me to justify watching this show. So, this will very likely be my last Arrow recap. Maybe I’ll come back to it later in the season, but right now, I think I’ve got to leave it behind.

Rating: 5/10

By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to.