Arrow Season 5 Episode 20 Review: Underneath

Arrow slowed things down a little too much this week, but it paid off in the end.

This Arrow review contains spoilers.

Arrow Season 5 Episode 20

I had a complaint in last week’s episode of Arrow that it was completely devoid of the story’s main villain and lacked the trademark action that keeps fans tuning in every week. It turns out that I should have saved that complaint for “Underneath,” which featured even fewer of those key elements.

Of course, it’s worth mentioning that the episode was as close to a bottle episode as Arrow gets. Picking up right where last week’s left off, Oliver Queen and Felicity find themselves trapped deep down in the Arrow bunker (the Arrowcave?). The nefarious villain, who was completely absent from this episode except for the cliffhanger (which we’ll get into), had set off an EMP frying every electronic item inside the Cisco-designed lair and trapping the duo underground. Among the items that no longer work, Felicity’s legs, which need electronics to work after Curtis designed her that complicated implant last year. The point is, it’s a race against time for the former lovers and the only thing that can stop them from succumbing to asphyxia is learning to put aside their differences and love again (queue triumphant music).

As one may have guessed, the groundwork was laid for a lot of character development and a lot less shooting arrows into bad guys… Zero by my count. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with shaking up the format, especially since this season has felt a bit aimless to date. “Underneath” allowed our heroes to reground themselves and gave them a prize to keep their eye on as the fight for Prometheus progresses.

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A lot of characters were covered, so let’s briefly mention, and then abruptly set aside, the drama between the Diggles and their views on morality in their respective workplace and focus on the bigger reveal of the night — the ongoing relationship that “Olicity” fans have been hoping for. It’s been more than a solid year since Green Arrow and his trusty hacker lady, Overwatch, were a romantic item (or so we thought). She dumped him like a sack of potatoes once it was revealed he was hiding a secret child from her. Obviously Felicity would have been OK being a de facto stepmom, it was the lack of trust Oliver showed by not telling her that drove her away. If only Oliver could finally open his heart to someone. Why, oh why Mayor Queen?

As it turns out, the answer has a lot to do with Prometheus who, despite not being present in the episode, really loomed large. When our hero was captured and tortured for a week, Prometheus got him to admit that the reason he puts on the hood every night is not to make the city a better place, it’s to satiate his need to kill people. While it’s a bit of a stretch for the audience to suddenly think of the hero of Star City as a Dexter-like figure, it seemed to be getting to him.

Battered after tripping the two most obvious booby traps that Prometheus set for him, a delirious Oliver told Felicity everything. Suddenly, she started to understand what’s been keeping him from trusting people.The likelihood of a reunion between the two became more serious once it was revealed that, between Season 4 and 5, they had an impromptu date night that resulted in a little bit of good old fashioned bunker sex. So, here we are — is it possible for Oliver and Felicity to get back together? It all comes down to the big secret that Oliver hid.

Speaking of which…

The episode ended on a big cliffhanger. Prometheus has been systematically targeting all of the people in Oliver’s life to get revenge on him for killing his dad at the onset of his crusade. The one person that he hasn’t been able to track down is his long-lost son, William. Sadly, that’s all over as a murdery-looking Chase greeted young Matthew (really William) at the bus stop. Is he simply onto the boy’s identity, or is it safe to assume that Prometheus now has Green Arrow’s biggest weakness in captivity.

Normally, this is the part where I’d go off on the episode for being nothing but a talky talk CW show that abandoned its action element in favor of beautiful people making googly eyes at each other. However, the reveal at the end simply positions Prometheus to be one of the best villains in the show’s history. Season 4 hung a big hat on the William storyline without giving it a real payoff and it looks like that situation will be rectified in the Season 5 finale.

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I don’t want to speak for the fandom at large, but I care about William. The now preteen grounds Oliver Queen in a very human way. He’s the consequences of his previous lifestyle in human form. Saving William metaphorically means saving his own identity. Is Oliver a dark figure or a beacon of light? Frankly, it depends on how the next few episodes play out for Green Arrow.


2.5 out of 5