Arrow -- "Legacy" -- Image AR501a_0060b --- Pictured: Prometheus -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
ReviewsTelevision & Film

Recap: ARROW Tries to Move Forward by Looking Back


Episode 501 “Legacy”
Teleplay by Marc Guggenheim & Wendy Mericle
Story by Greg Berlanti
Directed by James Bamford

[photos: Bettina Strauss/The CW]

It’s an ironic title for this episode, as the “legacy” of Arrow is a set of much better shows than the flagship of the Arrowverse. The Flash and Supergirl are the superior of the four series in Greg Berlanti’s stable (five, if you count the animated Vixen), and Arrow is really starting to feel a little long in the tooth, which is why it’s no surprise they went back to the well of season one.

But hey, at least we got to find out what Oliver promised Laurel, and it didn’t have anything to do with Felicity. So… win?


Alas, Team Arrow™ is no more, and everyone gets that except Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell). He’s in denial that everyone’s gone, leaving him high and dry to protect the city with only Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) to coordinate his moves as “the other guy” — that’s what he and Thea (Willa Holland) are calling the Green Arrow now, since Oliver is supposed to be putting in time as the newly-elected mayor of Star City.

That job is being compromised by his spending so much time in the hood, and it shows in the public’s perception that “Mayor Handsome” isn’t getting the job done. He doesn’t help things any when he accuses the SCPD of being a hotbed of corruption.

Some of those crooked cops fall victim to the New Man In Town™, Tobias Church (Chad L. Coleman), who gathers the rest of the criminal bosses together to declare himself the Man with the Plan very much like Danny Brickwell did before in seasons past. Church, also known as “Charon”, has a habit of leaving coins on the eyes of his victims. Blüdhaven gets name-checked in this episode, which seems to be striving to return the show back to its roots before the introduction of magic and metahumans.

But is it enough?

Church has decided that in order to run the criminal element in Star City, he first must take out the big competition, taking Oliver and others hostage at the dedication for the statue of Black Canary — which looks like it was carved out of peanut butter by a six-year-old, come on — only Church doesn’t get that the Green Arrow won’t be coming to the rescue, mainly because… well… Oliver is right there. How does he get out of it?

By getting himself pulled off away from the other hostages, where he can use his tricks learned in the Russian mafia to start taking out Church’s chickens in their roost. (Had to. Sorry.)

Speedy to the rescue!
Speedy to the rescue!

When Speedy shows up in costume, Oliver’s thinking the band’s getting back together, but his liberal use of the Killing and Such put Thea off, and she’s got no stomach for the leather and quiver anymore, opting instead to put all of her energy into being Mayor Handsome’s chief of staff and trying to lead a very normal life again.

Meanwhile, Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) has to recover (again) after the loss (again) of his daughters. As he pulls himself back out of the bottle, he realizes that, unlike Thea, he has to keep moving forward to push through the pain in his life. And even though he doesn’t enjoy it much, he understands that he has a purpose, and it’s time to step up.

Regrouping with Felicity and Curtis (Echo Kellum), Oliver manages to come up with a rescue that gets the hostages out using fine upstanding members of the Star City Police Department, hand-picked by a guy trained by Lance, who is taking it upon himself to coordinate the Boys in Blue with Team Arrow. This will likely put Lance in Diggle’s position of “sage” who tries to keep Oliver from doing some rash, stupid, or complicated.

The rescue is successful, and it gives us a fight in a helicopter, which gives us a chance to see a “Parachute Arrow”.

Your American accent is terrible, tovarisch.
Your American accent is terrible, tovarisch.

Flashbacks this season — and it’s been confirmed by Marc Guggenheim that next season will get away from serialized looks backward, thankfully, finally — look like they’ll focus on Oliver’s time in Russia developing his contacts with Bratva, the Russian mafia, through his friendship with Anatoly Knyazev (David Nykl — remember when he was on Stargate: Atlantis?). And since Diggle is in uniform and serving in Chechnya, expect some kind of intersection at some point.

It’s interesting that the hero and the villain are each taking cues from characters from other comics universes. With his flashbacks to Russia and the proverb about sharks swimming “always forward”, the writers seem to be putting Oliver in the Luke Cage role, having him finally accept that he has to move past the loss of his team and put together a new group of vigilantes. Perhaps we could even call them… outsiders?

Would the show go there?

I have a baseball bat, too.
I have a baseball bat, too.

On the flip side, Church seems to channel The Walking Dead‘s Negan, at least in one scene. Ironic, since Coleman is an alumnus of that show. But it remains to be seen if his character is a strong enough protagonist to sustain a season arc.

(Note: the coins on the eyes may have been inspired by the one-off villain Limehouse Jack Conroy, who killed the homeless with poison coins, which he then laid over his victims’ eyes. This was Conroy’s only appearance, in Batman Vol. 1 # 307 from January 1979. It may just be a nod and a wink, but it’s a deep one.)

The relationship between Oliver and Felicity feels more like pre-Olicity, but it isn’t there yet. And she still gets some pretty good zingers in: “It’s called not being in denial. You need to give it a try.” And as she continues to badger Oliver about recruiting a new team, all the while putting together dossiers on them, Curtis gets his moment to step up and volunteer to be a part of it. Hopefully this means Mr. Terrific will show up this year.

And lest we overlook it, props to the show for letting Oliver’s promise to Laurel be about something other than Felicity. “Don’t let me be the last Canary” is just as much an argument for the new team as anything Felicity could say, and it actually gives Laurel her own bit of “legacy” as her successor carries on the name.

Assuming, you know, the changes from The Flash actually mean Laurel doesn’t stay dead or something…


Wild Dog (Rick Gonzalez) gets a brief moment at the beginning of the episode, but doesn’t get a lot to do except get shot in the leg (same as Roy Harper) when Oliver wants to make it clear he doesn’t want help. So we really have no clear idea how well these new players are going to fit into the Season One Mold™ it seems we’re pulling out of storage.

And did Tobias Church just kill Helena Bertinelli’s father in a throwaway scene? Because if that’s the case, are we setting up for something?

Pulling the old costume out of mothballs...
Pulling the old costume out of mothballs…

“Legacy” is as much ironic as it is inspirational. The show can’t seem to lift itself up out of the story structure and character problems of the past two seasons, although noticeable efforts are made here. And for the most part, this felt like an hour from the better parts of past seasons. The question will be whether they can maintain it.

But then again, we’re getting yet another dark-clad villain with a bow and arrow. I fully expect the season finale to include Star City in flames. Again.



Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on the CW.


Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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