Arrow returns for season five with “Legacy,” a concept that’s a part of a lot of DC’s history. Unfortunately, they don’t live up to the word on pretty much any front. I’ve been a fan of the show with varying degrees of intensity over the years. If nothing else, I like the show for starting off the “CW-verse.” But this may be, in my opinion, one of their worst individual episodes.
As the show opens, Thea is running interference for her brother, who is, once again, late for something he’s supposed to be doing as mayor. In this case, it’s the Anti-Crime Initiative. People are noticing this pattern of behavior, and getting annoyed with Oliver, thinking he’s not taking his job seriously. Of course, his reason for being late is that his other job has him busy. Green Arrow is off fighting Lonnie Machin, Anarky, who is having fun with bombs. To no great surprise, Green Arrow wins, and the fight shows us two things. One is that they came up with a brilliant new trick arrow, one that lets Felicity hack into what it’s connected to. That’s a great way to combine their skill sets. The second is that, even with Team Arrow disbanded, Green Arrow isn’t alone. He looks up after beating Anarky and sees Wild Dog trying to defuse the bomb. Apparently they’ve had words before, and the archer responds to Wild Dog’s continued presence on “his” streets by shooting him in the leg. That’s reasonable…
Oliver finally shows up, and he and Thea bicker over the way he handles being mayor and her refusal to suit up as Speedy anymore. Neither of them seem likely to persuade the other. Oliver is now looking at his job as mayor as a way to get intel for Green Arrow. It’s harder to take action since he’s working all these alone on the streets, with only Felicity as Overwatch for backup.
Down in the lair/bunker/Arrow-cave, Felicity and Curtis are working on the computers. When Oliver shows up, he and Felicity have what sounds like a recurring argument. She wants him to recruit more heroes for Team Arrow, and he’s convinced that everyone is going to come back. She is building files on the various new vigilantes in Star City, including Wild Dog and someone they haven’t named yet but is clearly the Adrian Chase version of Vigilante from the comics. I wonder if he’s going to change his name, since one of Oliver’s early handles was “The Starling City Vigilante.”
While this argument goes on, we see that some of Oliver’s fears about corruption in the Star City police force are well-founded. A group of bad cops fake a gang hit in order to kill several gangsters and steal their money. They get their own surprise when they get interrupted by this season’s big bag, Tobias Church. Church is a very ruthless foe who handles matters quickly.
Later the police try and figure out what happened on the scene. The two officers debate how to handle it, and we learn that Quentin Lance is back in town, although he’s fallen off the wagon. The Arrow is crouched, Batman-like, listening in on the conversation. That’s probably why Oliver pays a visit to Lance’s apartment, and sees just how far his former ally has fallen. They argue a bit about Laurel’s memory and the upcoming ceremony for her.
Back at the lair, Oliver checks in with Felicity, and they bicker about the team yet again. She has info on Tobias Church, AKA Charon, and says that Church works with a crew and Green Arrow’s isn’t coming back. After Oliver stalks off, Felicity sends Curtis out to run down a lead on who Wild Dog might be. Because Curtis is totally qualified for field work, right? What can possibly go wrong? We’ll come back to that.
Charon tells his underlings that he’s going after Green Arrow as a variation of the advice you hear in movies and on tv about, when in prison, going after the biggest, toughest guy in the yard. Charon’s plan is actually decent: he shows up at the dedication of the Laurel Lance/Black Canary statue, kills some cops, and kidnaps Mayor Queen and the City Council. Amusingly, his plan to make Green Arrow come to him isn’t going to work, since he managed to capture him in his civilian identity, and Oliver couldn’t effectively fight back with cameras all over the place.
Charon takes off with his prisoners, while Thea and Lance look on, being utterly useless.
Lance and Thea go back to the lair and fret over what to do. They have no leads, and Thea is still refusing to put on the suit. Oliver, meanwhile, has figured out that Church is trying to draw out the Green Arrow, and tries to bargain with him. Oliver provokes him when the deal is clearly not going to work, and Church makes one of the classic bad guy errors of having Oliver taken away by a nameless thug to be “taught some manners.”
We get to see just how smart Church is, as he’s leaving demands for Green Arrow to come meet him by leaving signs near city security cameras. Church has worked out the existence of someone like Felicity, if not who she is in particular. He really is pretty damn sharp. Lance has some files for Felicity, although how he got them I don’t know, since he’s an ex-cop who has been both a known alcoholic and randomly demoted and suspended. Lance even fled the city when it was danger last season. Not a combination that is likely to make other officers do you favors.
Oliver, of course, frees himself and then kills the bent cop who was beating him. Oliver says he needed to do it to preserve his identity. Seems our heroes acting less than heroic is a recurring theme on the CW this season. Killing to keep your secret? That’s a villain move, Oliver. For that matter, how does it make sense to kill a corrupt cop with no special skills, but leave Anarky, a multiple murderer with top-flight fighting abilities alive? Thea makes a reluctant return as Speedy, just in time to be horrified by Oliver killing several men on their way out. Thy leave the City Council behind because the room is booby trapped and Oliver’s not in costume. Remember, seeing Oliver fight without his mask on is now a capital offense.
Regrouping back at the lair, Thea and Oliver argue about his return to killing. She’s not going to do it and thinks it’s a giant step back for him. His rationale that you have to be able to do what it takes out there is part of hers for quitting. Personally, I think they’re both wrong. Felicity again argues with Oliver about recruiting for Team Arrow. She’s really getting stubborn on this point, and good for her.
Curtis is out trying to follow up on Felicity’s clue about Wild Dog, calling it a superhero scavenger hunt. He’s also not sure about the difference between a superhero and a vigilante, which is fair enough, especially in this city. He hangs up with Felicity and then gets himself mugged. Remember this for later on.
Oliver calls Diggle and leaves a voicemail, saying he wants to ask him a question. After getting no help there, Oliver meets with Lance at the Black Canary statue. They talk about what’s going on, and Lance says that if Oliver keeps trying to do this alone, he’s going to die. Lance then offers some help by means of officers he’s positive are trustworthy, much like Sean Connery’s Untouchables in the movie.
Not content with the usual far too many flashback segments, the show takes us on another one. They have shoehorned in another scene with Laurel on her deathbed, urging Oliver to not let her be the last Canary. Now, since her death shocked everyone, why she’d be making that plea at that point is anyone’s guess.
Church is pacing around his base of operations in a scene they copied, not at all subtly, from much-talked about cliffhanger at the end of last season’s Walking Dead finale. He has a bat, prisoners with their hands tied, and is chanting a kid’s game, granted Duck Duck Goose and not Eenie Meenie like on TWD, but come on. This was a pretty direct rip off, and not a well-done one. Green Arrow and Lance’s Untouchables come in on their rescue mission, and there’s a lot of fighting. The battle ends with the building blowing up, a helicopter escape, and a parachute arrow which is both their silliest toy yet and would have been far too low to actually deploy.
The next morning, Oliver gives the speech he was going to at the Black Canary statue dedication. He praises some of the officers for being exemplary, while still going on about police corruption. Was this a concern last season? I don’t remember it being anywhere near as big a deal as Oliver’s making it out to be here. Oliver announces the Anti-Crime Unit, which will report directly to him. Aren’t all cops supposed to be anti-crime? One of the officers here shortly learns why it’s a good idea for people standing up for justice in this city to wear a mask, as he falls afoul of yet another costumed villain. I have no idea who this is supposed to be.
That night, Charon has a meeting of the various crime bosses in town. He says they all need to team up to take out Green Arrow. None of them looked convinced, and Church shows how effective he is. His victim is one of the Bertinellis, which makes me wonder if the Huntress will be coming back.
Later, at the lair, Felicity pushes once again about the new team. She’s figured out that Wild Dog is Rene Ramirez. This is about when Curtis staggers back in, bearing the marks of his mugging. Let’s review this. Felicity sent him out on the streets. It’s been at least a day and he’s only just now turning up. And she never thought to worry about him? Curtis announces that he’ll only help find and recruit Wild Dog if Oliver recruits Curtis as well.
The last few scenes are Diggle and Oliver talking over Skype. Diggle agrees with Felicity that Oliver should recruit more heroes. Boy, I hope that’s a really secure chat line. Oliver is surprised. He’d be even more surprised if he saw what happened when Felicity got home that night.
Sadly, Flashback Theater is back. Oliver’s finally off the island, so I can’t call it Flashback Island anymore. But this seems to be about how he became part of the Russian Mafia called the Bratva, so I’ll call it FlashBratva Theater. These bits deal with Oliver fighting for money, working his way closer to Kovar, so he can keep his promise to a dying Diana back on Lian Yu. There’s a lot of violence and the return of an old friend of Oliver’s, who advises him to go home.
Interestingly, there is a DC Comics character of Russian origin whose last name is Kovar. While the gangster Oliver is targeting is Constantine Kovar, Leonid Kovar, also known as Red Star, was a recurring character in various incarnations of the Teen Titans. The last name seems like a big coincidence, especially if the writers know enough to dig up an obscure character like Wild Dog.
What I liked: Felicity is sticking by her guns and trying to beat some sense into Oliver. The statue of Black Canary reminded me of one of the things I really liked about the pre-reboot DC Universe. They had a big hero graveyard called Valhalla, and her statue looked a lot like what they had there. The hacking arrow was a brilliant invention. Church seems like he’s going to be a ruthless foe.
What I didn’t: Oliver is Green Arrow, not Punisher. He’s not supposed to be shooting potential allies and killing bad guys to keep his secret ID. Thea is being selfish in her refusal to help. Wild Dog has always been Jack Wheeler, not Rene Ramirez. I don’t see why this change was needed. If they wanted a more diverse team, there’s a perfectly good unused Latino hero out there called Gangbuster. I don’t see how Lance is getting so much information with no more official standing. Sharing info from police files is a crime in and of itself, a career ending move if someone’s caught doing it. Who is risking their career for Lance at this point? Felicity didn’t notice Curtis didn’t come back from his mission for her? Kind of makes it seem like she doesn’t deserve the codename “Overwatch.” I’m not wild about the new baddie at the end of the episode. Do we need yet another character of this motif running around? The parachute arrow was goofy.