This Week in the Arrowverse: Midseason Finale Week 2016 (REVIEW)

written by Justin Prince (@prince_justin)

covering The Flash s3e9 "The Present," Arrow s5e9 "What We Leave Behind," and Legends of Tomorrow s2e8

It’s time for the CW to go on break, and with that comes the Arrowverse and their midseason finales. Last week, they kicked off the Invasion crossover with Supergirl’s midseason finale, so this past week we got Barry dealing with a speedster with delusions of godhood, Prometheus brings the fight to Team Arrow, and the Legends face off against a fully formed Legion of Doom in 1920’s Chicago.

Jetting to Central City’s hero, the episode opens with Julian doing his best Indiana Jones impression, searching for the mystical stone that Alchemy wields. Opening an ancient box, the powers contained within seep out to Julian’s surprise. Back on the home front, Christmas has come to STAR Labs with HR leading the charge. This… jubilant version of Harrison Wells has been a delight all season, even more so now with him literally decking the STAR Labs halls with all manner of Christmas cheer. Its here that the team learns that Alchemy’s stone was the fabled Philosopher’s Stone (harhar) and Barry speeds off to Julian to ask him about it when they discover that he wrote a paper about it and has extensive knowledge of it. Personally, I don’t know if they planned this all along, but kudos to the showrunners for throwing yet again another thinly veiled Harry Potter reference into this season.

Barry speaks to Julian but he doesn’t offer much in reply, going so far as to lying that he even found it. After Julian advises Barry not to “waste your time on this,” the ever stubborn speedster jets off to Earth 3 to get some help. Enter Earth 3 Trickster channeling much of the BTAS Joker in another one of his portrayals. While not as sinister as the Earth 1 variant, Jay Garrick’s Trickster still is one for the theatrics. After brandishing a bomb and cuffing good ol Jay Garrick to his person, Barry jumps in to save the day… disarming him much to his chagrin. Here is where we learn more about Savitar. Even on Earth 3 the name rings a bell, Jay goes so far as to mention that Savitar is more a myth on his Earth than the ever present threat Barry faces on Earth 1. As for the people back home, Wally has continued his tutelage under HR, going so far as to being faster than Barry when he was at that point in his speedster career. Personally, I feel that Barry is STILL faster, but good ol Wallace has begun to exhibit the traits that would make for an excellent partner for Barry… now if only Iris and Joe would get off his back and let the boy run… I’ll still waiting for the day Joe goes “run Wally, run.” Cisco begins experiencing some strange visions, feeling like he sees Dante… either these guys are perpetually haunted some something else must be amiss.

Barry eventually learns that Julian is lying, finding out from Iris that he had funded a dig to find the Philosopher’s Stone and everyone from his team, save for himself, died on said dig. After telling Joe that he feels that Julian is lying, Barry and Jay devise a plan to take on both Alchemy and Savitar. The elder Flash zooms headfirst into the speedgod while Barry tackles Alchemy. Jay has his ass literally handed to him and then some, as Barry takes down Alchemy he knocks the Philosopher’s Stone away, sealing it within its box and in effect banishing Savitar to whatever realm he presides over. At this point, Barry learns that Julian has been under Alchemy’s mask the whole time.

Jay is laid up from his run in with Savitar and Julian is thrown into the pipeline. When Barry confronts him (hiding his face of course) Julian claims to not know anything about Alchemy, going so far as to accusing him of trying to frame him. They begin to suspect that maybe Julian is telling the truth, here is where Barry once again puts his trust in people almost too easily. He takes off his mask, shows Julian who he really is and here is where Julian opens up about hearing voicing and blacking out. It’s here the truth about Savitar becomes more clear, Julian confesses that he saw his dead sister in a daze and that it was her that told him where to find the stone. Cisco continues to see Dante, Dante urges Cisco to open to box… telling him that this power will allow him to come back to life. When Cisco opens the box, Dante transforms into Savitar. Barry goes toe-to-toe with Savitar again and in one of the best action scenes this episode, Wally jets in to save Barry… of course the more experienced speedster gets the better of them, but before he can slay them both, Caitlin convinces Cisco to close the box… again sealing Savitar away.

They believe that Savitar can speak through his selected host, so they hook Julian up to a machine to allow Savitar to speak through him. Savitar tells them all the truth, that it was future barry who sealed him away… future Barry who will suffer… and that in time (talking about his team) “one will betray you, one shall fall! I am the future. I want everything you took from me back and then, I will destroy you.” Realizing that the stone can’t stay anywhere that it can be used against him, Barry (with Jay’s help) run fast enough to create a breach and send the stone into the heart of the Speedforce. It’s here that the time traveling gets tricky, Barry accidentally runs too far… as in 5 months into the future too far. He witnesses Savitar back again and that in 5 months time he will kill Iris. I will call it now… that Iris will not die. If Arrow can be any indication, they saw what happens when they kill off the OTP. Iris belongs with Barry, so while I don’t doubt that someone will die this season… I don’t think it will be Iris, because so help me Zod, if they do kill her off I will pretty much write off this entire season.

As the festivities commence, Barry is obviously troubled. Even though Jay tried to reassure him that the future is malleable… it still much sting to see your one true love get skewered by the bad guy. Speaking of skewered, what is it with Barry Allen and watching his loved ones get stabbed? The episode ends with Iris and Joe finally trusting Wally… going so far as to giving him his suit… and Barry giving Iris his Christmas present, asking her to move in with him.

To continue the Christmas festivities, it’s a holly jolly Christmas in Star City… well, as holly and jolly as you can get with a homicidal archer clad in a black variant of Oliver’s season 1 garb can be. Artemis has gone full traitor here, going so far as to giving Prometheus all the information he needs to take down Team Arrow outside of their masks. I’m personally still torn by this, if they somehow make it so that Artemis has been acting on Oliver’s orders the whole time… infiltrating the enemy camp to be the bow on the inside, there could be some redemption… but so far as its looking now, the girl has gone full rogue.

Thea throws a Christmas party for Oliver and the rest of the city staff. Susan Williams shows up as Oliver’s date and the sparks between the two continue to fly ever since their drink a few episodes back. Felicity, already a few glasses of champagne in, drunkenly introduces Billy to Curtis and and his husband Paul. When Felicty does a pretty terrible job to help Curtis cover for his late nights working as Mister Terrific. At the Arrowcave; the rest of Team Arrow with Baby John are celebrating their own Festivus. Evelyn shows up with a bag full of gifts and Rene hints at possibly being a father. Back at City Hall, Oliver gives a rousing speech about Christmas and both Susan and Felicity congratulate him at the same time. After going full awkward Felicity, Curtis and his husband end up leaving the party, his his better half catching him in a lie… Mister Terrific is gonna have some ‘splaining to do! Before their argument can get even more heated, Prometheus attacks Curtis. After trading a few blows back and forth, Curtis is taken down with Paul pleading for someone to come help.

Waking up in the hospital, Curtis is shaken and absolutely incapacitated, but he’s alive. After Paul leaves the room to give Billy Malone his statement, Oliver and Felicity speak to Curtis… realizing that Prometheus not only knows that Oliver is the Green Arrow, but also the identities of his entire team. The plot thickens while examining Curtis, they find a drug in his system… a drug linked to Oliver’s past. It’s here that the flashbacks start… not in Russia but season 1 era Arrow.

Presumably off camera or during the breaks, Oliver has taken down a pharma douche named Justin Claybourne. He was price gouging a treatment for TB, essentially pricing out poorer families and those who were not fortunate enough to have the fiscal means to fight it, sound like a certain pharma douche we know in real life? Anyway, to add to his villain cred… it was also revealed that Claybourne also developed a weaponized strain of TB, infect the populace and create the need for his wonder drug. Pretty much super villain worthy right there if I do say so myself. It’s here that they hypothesize that Prometheus could be Justin Claybourne cheating death.

Team Arrow tracks Prometheus to an old office where Claybourne developed the drug, it’s here that the shit hits the fan for Team Arrow. The Green Arrow faces off against Prometheus and just as Wild Dog makes it to help, Artemis throws her hat in with Prometheus and shoots Rene’s gun out of his hand. Shaken, the team gets their first glimpse of the traitor and the reason why Prometheus knows who they are. Artemis claims that the city does have to be saved, but not BY the Green Arrow but FROM the Green Arrow. Looks like her disdain for the former killer Oliver used to be hasn’t subsided. The team is forced to examine their loses, down one mask and informing Curtis that Evelyn was a traitor. Even going so far as to having all their loved ones kept safe at Argus facilities. To make matters worse for Curtis, Paul walks in as Curtis is speaking to Rory and Curtis eventually comes clean with his nighttime activities. What I wonder… and I’ve wondered this for a while on Arrow, are secret identities at all sacred anymore?

At Claybourne’s warehouse, they found ashes. Realizing that Prometheus does everything with a reason, they run a DNA analysis on the ashes. Revealing they belong to Claybourne… pushing Team Arrow back to square one. Meanwhile, Billy Malone continues his investigation into Prometheus… not content to just leave it in the hands of the masks. After finding a photo of a baby in Claybourne’s office, he sends the photo to Felicity before Prometheus attacks him and takes him hostage. Facial recognition plus some tech wizardry lead the team to realize that Claybourne had an illegitimate son… a man who could be the face behind Prometheus.

Adrian Chase, flexing his D.A. muscle puts out a shoot to kill order on Prometheus in lieu of Malone’s abduction. Oliver suits up, even Thea throws her bow back into the mix (I knew she couldn’t stay away for too long) when Oliver remembers a time when Felicity helped him track down Justin Claybourne. This takes Oliver to an office full of memories and series of scenes that has to be one of the coolest moments on Arrow. As Oliver explores the building, he realizes that Prometheus has left bodies all over, arranged strikingly similar to how Oliver dispatched Claybourne’s guards all those years ago. Flashing back and forth between present and past, it’s when Oliver makes it to the place he killed Justin Claybourne that he finds Prometheus waiting. The fight and after crashing through a window to the level below, Prometheus vanishes and begins taunting him… expressing how all this time he’s been watching him and learning him. When Prometheus stumbles into sight, Oliver sends three arrows into his chest… but that was too easy, lifting the mask… it’s revealed that Billy Malone was under it, his mouth taped shut with a sword taped to his hand. Oliver killed Felicity’s boyfriend… hoo boy this won’t be good.

Coming clean at the Arrowcave, Felicity is shaken but realizes that this wasn’t Oliver’s fault, Prometheus did this. Diggle responds to a call from Lyla and gets taken after leaving the Arrowcave and Oliver turns to Susan Wells for comfort. After the two presumably made sweet sweet love to eachother, Oliver returns to the cave with the biggest twist this entire season standing right in front of him… Laurel turns around and ends this first half of of Arrow with a simple greeting. Hands down, and episode that had me at the edge of my seat the whole time… and that final reveal was both jubilant and puzzling.

But, we don’t have time to dwell on that right now. Our time traveling heroes are next to have a midseason finale and boy what a finale it was. The place, Chicago… the time, 1927. Damian Darhk and Eobard Thawne in full Reverse Flash regalia confront Al Capone and his men. They offer to help him but as Capone orders his men to take them out, Thawne makes quick work of the gangsters. Capone, wondering just what these men can do for him, they introduce Malcolm Merlyn… the third member of their Legion of Doom.

Back on the Waverider, Atom and Steel are sparring and acting very much like brotherly rivals when Sara pulls the mom card and pulls a “don’t make me come back here” before leaving. Jax and Stein talk more about having created a time aberration. Though Stein is growing to love this girl more and more as he begins to remember the timeline he created, he hypothesizes that regardless of being a time aberration, she will be safe as long as her impact on history is minimal. Much like the reason Rip Hunter originally recruited the Legends, he found them because their absence would not affect the main timeline as majorly with them aboard the Waverider. Nate’s device discovers a time aberration and the Legends are sent to 1927 Chicago to stop whatever causes Al Capone to rise to such power.

Nate believes that Capone intends to kill Elliot Ness, having learned of his fate from the time traveling speedster. Ray tries to take Ness intro protective custody when two cops come to “escort” Ness to the FBI. Of course, this being 1927 and full of crooked cops, these men were on Capone’s payroll and instead took Ness to Dock 39 where he’s set to try on a pair of cement shoes. Back on the ship, the Legends learn that because of they kill Elliot Ness; Al Capone will rise to become the mayor of Chicago… quite the alternate timeline indeed. The team shows up to save Ness, but not until after being dumped into the water. Though they save him, it’s revealed that Ness was only the bait for a much larger plan.

Back on the ship, Ness is severely injured and though Gideon can save him, he will be out of commission for a while. Realizing to set events back the way they are meant to unfold, the team needed to find Capone’s ledger. History says Capone was taken down by tax evasion charges, charges brought forth thanks to Elliot Ness and his Untouchables. Nate decides to pose as Elliot Ness with Ray and the team of Sara, Jax, Stein infiltrate one of Capone’s clubs. Back on the Waverider, Snart returns but not in the way I was hoping. Mick begins seeing his dearly departed friend, could be something is messing with his head but imaginary Snart continues to chastise Mick for playing the hero, going so far as to say his final sacrifice last season wasn’t all it was cracked out to be. Amaya attempts to get Mick to open up, but he resists at every turn.

Back at the club, everything goes wrong all at once. While Nate and Ray were able to successfully pose as Ness and his plucky sidekick, Damian Darhk and Eobard Thawne make short work of the Legends. Thawne kidnaps both Sara and Stein before jetting off to their secret warehouse, yes another secret warehouse. I swear the Arrowverse really loves their warehouses.

Set to get their team back, the remaining Legends discuss how to use Rip’s armory to tackle the new threats. Mick decides to take charge, urging everyone that this time… they are going to do it like the bad guys. Back at the warehouse, Malcolm Merlyn talks to Sara and tries to reason with her. He tells her that if the Legends turn over the amulet Thawne wants, he will rewrite time so that she never got on the Queen’s Gambit. Declining, Sara tells him that she’d rather take a real nightmare over a fake dream. It’s also here that Stein, much to Sara’s disappointment, comes clean about his daughter. Darhk then enters and takes Stein away, set to torture him for the amulet. Thawne comes face to face with Stein again, though it seems that Stein doesn’t really recognize him? Personally, I’m still waiting for a Flash and Green Arrow appearance on Legends outside the realm of crossovers.

Mick and Amaya stick up one of Capone’s liquor shipments to find their taken team. After a short scuffle and Nate finding the ledger, they locate both Sara and Stein… almost too easily. Back on the Waverider, everything gets screwy for the final battle of the season. The win was almost too easy and I saw this twist coming a mile away. Thawne uses the same tech he used to impersonate Harrison Wells, somehow not killing Martin Stein while taking his appearance. Like a wolf in sheep’s clothing, he infiltrates the Waverider, looking for the amulet. Though the Legends were able to push back against Capone’s men and even force Thawne to retreat, they were still down a man and Sara makes the difficult choice of trading the amulet for Stein.

The season ends with the Legion of Doom putting both pieces of the amulet together to create a compass. In a truly puzzling way to end the midseason, much like how Arrow just dropped Laurel in at the end, the final scene of Legends had a seemingly American Rip Hunter directing a movie about… Rip Hunter. It was weird, I have no idea what to make of it, a good episode but one that left me with way more questions than answers.

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So with that! The first half of the season is said and done for the Arrowverse. So many loose threads left and one that has kept me wondering what’s next far more fervently than I ever have in the past. Looking back, I remember other great mid season finales, like when Slade was revealed during Arrow’s second season or Oliver’s apparent death during the third season… even the reveal that Harrison Wells was the man in the yellow suit… those were all great moments but none of them have made me want to time travel more than this year’s midseason finale. We’ll see you all in late January when the Arrowverse comes back… until then, Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year.