Arrow, Season 5, Episode 1: “Legacy”
The new season returns continued with Arrow retreating to the familiar for its fifth season premiere.
In the broad scheme of things, this was a by-the-numbers setup episode, but the framework was a callback to the way the show was structured in its first and second seasons (widely considered Arrow‘s strongest). After a couple of years of mystical big bads and pointless flashbacks, the effort to get back to basics was certainly welcome.
All the hallmarks of an Arrow episode of yore were there:
- Ollie was finding it difficult to find balance between his vigilante life and public duties.
- Felicity was all full of snark and sass – and didn’t cry once (The new boyfriend might have had something to do with that)!
- Things Oliver learned in the flashbacks (and there were a lot of them in the episode) had immediate and direct impact on the story being told in the present.
- The villain was an especially hard-nosed street criminal consolidating power under his own brass-knuckled fists.
- Laurel managed to be awful, seemingly from beyond the grave, thanks to a terrible bit of retconning.
Let’s touch on that last bit which managed to be an isolated negative in an otherwise good episode. Part of what made Laurel’s death (for the record, I’m still not convinced she’s actually dead) so shocking last season was that she went from being on the road to recovery to on the slab in a snap of the fingers.
Laurel was having a heart-to-heart with Ollie and asked him to make her a promise, the contents of which we didn’t learn until last night. The favor she asked was to not let her be the last Canary, because, that way, a piece of her would always be with Ollie. Blerg.
The way it all played out made it sound like Laurel knew the icy scythe was coming for her all along, which was not the case when it first aired. When you add this new wrinkle to the fact that, while this was going on, the Junior Canary wannabe was plotting to steal Laurel’s gear to impersonate the Canary, it’s suddenly all too convenient. The writers tried to eliminate a plot hole by making the hole bigger. Sure, the first hole isn’t there anymore, but it’s not like the draft in the room went away.
It was a rare misstep in what was otherwise a well-crafted episode that set the stage for the season to come. A new threat is on the rise in Star City; one that is too big for Ollie to handle by himself. Parts of the old team (Thea and Diggle) are content in their lives without masks. Others (Felicity and Lance) want to contribute in their way, but a new Team Arrow needs to be assembled, trained, and set loose to fight crime so Oliver can shake hands, attend zoning board meetings, and do other mayoral stuff.
Most importantly, with no spinoffs to launch or mystical worlds to establish, this was the first time in a long time an episode of Arrow felt like an episode of Arrow, which is a solid first step for any new season.