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Arrow - Legacy - Review

Arrow returned for season five with “Legacy” directed by stunt and fight coordinator extraordinaire, James Bamford. The teleplay by the team of Marc Guggenheim and Wendy Mericle was based on the story by Greg Berlanti. While I still have some reservations about where the season may be going, this felt like a stronger episode than we’ve seen in at least a season, maybe two. It felt like the show was getting back to its roots a bit and the writing felt a bit tighter than it has in some time. I have to admit that at the end of last season, I was about ready to give up on this show.

One of the things that I didn’t like about the direction of the show last season was a decision to take the show in a “lighter” direction, more like The Flash. The thing that drew me to this show was that it took a darker look at superhero crime fighting. It’s hard to say whether the show is headed back in that direction, but Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) decision to put killing back on the table would seem to lean in that direction. He isn’t wantonly killing everyone, but breaking the neck of a bad guy who could give away his secret is a pretty grey area.

The episode picks up five months after the end of last season. Everyone is in a slightly different place. Oliver is still fighting crime at night, but without most of the team. Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) is still offering support as Overwatch in the lair, now with the help of Curtis (Echo Kellum). As the episode opens, Curtis seems happy to just be offering tech support, but let’s not forget he is an actual athlete – he can bring skills to the table that Oliver doubts the other would-be crime fighters running around Star City can. I’m happy to see what Curtis can do, but I am particularly worried about the introduction of Wild Dog – a character not well-beloved by comics fans – and the other “amateurs.” Is this an attempt to grab a younger demographic?

I could accept losing Katie Cassidy as Laurel and Colton Haynes as Roy to streamline the show, but they have, in reality, simply been replaced. It was nice to see Cassidy back if only to hear her last words to Oliver: Not to let her be the last Black Canary. Hence the title of the episode and the premise to let the new kids try out for the team. I particularly miss Diggle (David Ramsey). I didn’t enjoy his brooding storyline last season, but having him go off and essentially abandon his family still seems completely out of character to me. It was at least nice to have Oliver touch base with him at the end of the episode.

Thea (Willa Holland) has thoroughly embraced running Star City – and it’s good that one of the Queens has because Oliver has been seriously neglecting his office. He may have started out with good intentions, but he’s mainly using the position to gain access to information. Holland is excellent in the episode, both as competent aide to the Mayor and in portraying Thea’s healing, yet still damaged self-perception. Thea does not want to return to the field but does so, albeit reluctantly, to save Oliver when he is kidnapped – hysterically as bait to draw out the Green Arrow for the new baddie in town – Tobias Church aka Charron (The Walked Dead alum, Chad L Coleman). Coleman is clearly having a ball with the role. He’s just shy of having too much fun with it and going too broad with the portrayal.

The five intervening months have not been kind to Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne). Even Lt Pike (Adrian Holmes) is missing Lance, who might have been a pain in his butt, but kept his officers on the straight and narrow. There is rampant corruption in the department, however, leading Oliver to champion the Anti Crime Unit – spearheaded by four officers who will report to Lance. Of course, this is only at the end of the episode. When we first see Lance, he’s off the wagon and pretty much a mess. The dedication of a statue in Laurel’s honor and then the kidnapping of Oliver and the other officials finally shocks him back into action, however. I was sad to see the end of his relationship with Donna – Charlotte Ross, but I’m still not a big fan of what they had Ross doing. Having such a talented actor play a bimbo for laughs was a waste.

What I particularly liked about this episode was that the flashbacks suddenly felt relevant again. We see Oliver learn how to get himself out of restraints in the past and use that information in the present episode. Oliver finally has a pretty decent wig for the flashbacks! Kidding aside, last season, he looked exactly the same age in the five years ago flashbacks as the in the present. We also see the reappearance of the book of names that he got from his father. There are other nice little subtleties from the first season, such as the intimation that Oliver is late for the Police function at the beginning of the episode because he is out being a playboy. However, the flashbacks also bring back one of my favorite characters, who has appeared in both the flashbacks and present day storylines – Anatoly Knayezev (David Nykl).

It’s Anatoly that gives Oliver the advice that he applies to his current situation too. The shark that does not swim, drowns. You have to move forward, move on with your life. Oliver is finally in a place to do that and he also gives the same advice to Lance. Anatoly in the past is trying to get Oliver to give up his vendetta to kill Constantine Kovar, but it also gives Oliver a purpose in the flashbacks that really seemed to be lacking last season.

The episode naturally contains several great fight scenes. I loved the initial fight sequence between Oliver and Lonnie Machin (Alexander Calvert) that began with them in silhouette. I also really loved Oliver using the chair to fight. There was some nice – and quite judicious – use of slow motion thrown in to emphasize and highlight some great moves. And of course, there were those trick arrows we love so much – the one Felicity uses to disarm the bomb is one, but the best is the parachute arrow.

Finally, it did seem a bit quick that Felicity, after being so in love with Oliver, is now apparently living with a new boyfriend! Seems she can’t get enough of boyfriends with dangerous professions as she’s hooked up with Detective Malone (Tyler Ritter). It would seem likely that Oliver knows about this, but I’m more interested in how fans are taking the news! And why is it that Felicity is still living in the loft? Where is Oliver living? Clearly Thea is still in Laurel’s apartment… But I digress…

What did you think of the episode? Do you want Diggle and Thea back on the team as much as I do? I have to admit that I’m surprised at how much I liked this episode. It actually felt like a very promising start to the season, and I’ll be honest, I’d pretty much decided that this was going to be my last review for the show, but I think I’m gonna stick around just a little bit longer! Let me know your thoughts on the episode and the new season in the comments below!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The X-Files, Defiance, Bitten, Killjoys, and a few others! I'm active on the Con scene when I have the time. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.
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