Tobias Church never stood a chance on Arrow.
It seems that Church was destined to play second fiddle to Prometheus in Arrow season 5. Church wasn’t even allowed to seem like the baddest villain on the block in the first official season 5 trailer before being one-upped by a surprise appearance of Prometheus at the end. As of the episode “Human Target” Church is dead, at Prometheus’ hands, and Arrow’s main villain count has dwindled from two to one. Church coming up second best to Prometheus might have been inevitable but Arrow still killed him off way earlier than seems necessary.
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Church Brought Something Old (and New) to Arrow
Church was not a revolutionary villain for Arrow. Arrow has had low-life criminals and gangsters threatening Star(ling) City since Oliver was telling people they had failed this city. On the surface there wasn’t much different about Church than other villains like Count Vertigo (both of them) and Brick. It’s actually that familiarity that made Church such a great villain for season 5.
Opinion among fans varies about seasons 3 and 4 of Arrow. Whether you love or hate them those seasons, most fans can agree that they were different from those that came before. Arrow expanded its world in seasons 3 and 4 with magic, resurrections and time travel. It led to some exciting moments but it was also very messy. Arrow season 5 already feels much more in line with seasons 1 and 2. After the craziness of Ra’s al Ghul and Damien Darhk, Arrow wisely slowed things down and gave us a villain that was relatable but still terrifying in Church.
Church has fit in beautifully as Arrow starts a new journey in season 5 with a brand new job and team for Oliver. Church has been threatening enough that he didn’t really seem like a push-over. Church was a still a low-level enough villain that it actually made sense that Oliver’s new recruits would be able to fight Church without immediately getting annihilated. As crime lord in Star City, Church also impacted Oliver as the mayor. There was both something familiar and exciting about Church and considering his history on Arrow lasted all of five episodes, it feels like the show did not do enough with him. Church had a very strong opening but he was wasted.
Is Prometheus Enough?
It’s not really a problem that Arrow killed off Church. The problem is that it happened so soon and Prometheus is so very untested. Since season 2 Arrow has always had a main villain for Oliver to fight and an even bigger villain lurking in the background. In season 2 Oliver had to fight Brother Blood and Deathstroke. In season 3 it was Maseo and Ra’s al Ghul. In season 4 it was Damien Darhk and Malcolm Merlyn, or depending on which part of the season you were watching, it was Darhk and his wife Ruve. The purpose of the two-villain structure has been to occupy all 22 to 24 episodes in the season and to make it reasonable that Oliver and the main villain don’t wrap up their conflict in a couple episodes.
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Church could have been the mini-boss underneath Prometheus. Thanks to Chad L. Coleman’s performance, Church was instantly magnetic and charismatic on screen in that way that only superb villains can be on Arrow. Despite a voice synthesizer and skill with a bow and arrow/shuriken, Prometheus really hasn’t proved his (or her) villainous mettle. Arrow certainly hasn’t told the audience why Oliver is going to need a whole season to take Prometheus down. This could all change in the upcoming episode “So It Begins,” where everything seems to suggest that Prometheus will make their big debut and come face-to-face with Green Arrow. It’s still a lot to ask, though, that one archer will be able to remain threatening for the entire season.
The Dark Archer of season 1 waited all the way until the midseason finale before he showed up and thoroughly pummeled Oliver. It took even longer for Oliver to find out that the Dark Archer was actually Malcolm Merlyn and that added a whole personal struggle to the conflict. Right now Prometheus really just feels like the poor man’s Malcolm Merlyn. Prometheus even looks almost identical to the Dark Archer.
If Church had lived, Prometheus could have used him as a lieutenant. Church could have been the charismatic figurehead to distract Oliver while Prometheus does whatever it is they are planning. With Church gone Arrow is going to have to go into overdrive and convince the audience why Prometheus is worth caring about and why we, not to mention Oliver, should be scared of him. It’s not impossible but it certainly is a tricky proposition.
So what do you think of Church’s death? Should Arrow have kept him around longer? Are you already interested by Prometheus? Can Arrow manage to make the new evil archer compelling? What are you hoping is revealed about Prometheus in upcoming episodes?
Arrow season 5 airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW. Want more news? Like our Arrow Facebook page for the latest updates!
(Images courtesy of The CW)