Arrow Season 5: Ep. 1 “Legacy”: A Review

Posted: 10/07/2016 in Uncategorized

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Well, hot damn. This was…perfect. For everyone who bitched and moaned about the show having lost its way with an over-reaching third season and magic laden and mired fourth season – season V starts off with a bang from start to finish. My brief opening salvo delivered, on to my thrilled review.

“Killling is back on the table.” This is stated a time or two throughout the episode, both as a condemnation and simple proclamation. Green Arrow has returned to his season one roots because he simply has to. Star City is a war zone and he is now a force of one, relying on Felicity (Emily Bett- Rickards) as his I.T./go to tech genius, with Curtis Holt (Echo Kellum) as back up. We learn that Oliver (Stephen Amell) is still mayor. He has however plummeted in the polls as he dodges his duties and strictly uses the position to gain intel and access he was previously denied. The “seeking the light” Oliver is gone and is replaced with a more brutal and tactically ruthless variant. Thea (Willa Holland) who made such strides last season takes serious step backs with this run. Whether or not they are temporary is unimportant. To be blunt, Colton Haynes was a far better Red Arrow/Arsenal than she was a “Speedy”. She isn’t going anywhere as she is still an integral part of Oliver’s realm, tethering him somewhat  to his humanity as his remaining direct family. Felicity is pragmatic, opting to help, counsel and not judge him. He has been at this for 5 years now, so she has grown to respect and understand his actions.

There were no missteps here. We open with a fairly vicious physical battle between the Green Arrow and Anarky/Lonnie Machin (Alex Calvert). GA ends it by viciously shooting him through his hands, knocking his opponent out and leaving him for the authorities. We learn of a growing number of people taking up the cause of vigilantism, inspired by Green Arrow. We meet “Wild Dog” (Rick Gonzalez) in this run. Oliver wants no replacements for his team and again, brutally doles out both counsel and punishment, telling the young hockey mask clad young man to “donate money to the police” if he feels like helping when the man tells him it’s his city as well and he wants to protect it.

The weakest part of last season was assuredly the flashback sequence with the excremental Baron Reiter/Taiana arc.  As this run is set in Russia and will reveal Oliver’s rise to the rank of Bratva captain, this will not be a problem. It is gritty from the get-go, starting with Oliver fighting a man to the death as an audition to meet a man named “Constantin Kovar”. The appearance of Anatoly (David Nykl,) immediately hearkened to superior season two and was just refreshing. The Bratva captain’s previous proclamation that “there is no word for optimism in Russian” is one upped with this season’s quote about sharks always ‘moving forward’. All moments between the two men are superb. There is banter and levity but although there is an unquestionable bond between the two – ultimately Anatoly is a crime lord. He agrees to help Oliver but will nonetheless subject him to an initiation that could easily kill him. The potential of this flashback arc is great.

Back to modern time, a new threat arrives in town in the form of Tobias Church/Charon (Chad L. Coleman). He is vicious and brazen, opening with an attack/annihilation of a shakedown by corrupt cops and escalating to the kidnapping of the mayor and several others to draw out Green Arrow.  Coleman plays against type; eschewing the uber pacifism of his Walking Dead career defining performance for a violent, hard case would be king. The warehouse scene featuring Oliver making use of the trick taught to him by Anatoly to escape his bonds is superior. His brutally taking down then eliminating his captor draws “Speedy’s” ire as she mounts a rescue attempt via a push from the returning Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne). She swears to never return to the crime fighting life afterward.

Oliver is a man with few options. Felicity offers him a solution he is not ready to hear. The notion of moving forward, moving past one’s personal conflict is a mantra in this episode. Felicity charges Oliver with building a new team, showing him images of Wild Dog and Evelyn Sharp (Madison Blaine McLaughlin) who briefly acted as the Black Canary. The image of long time 80s anti-hero, “the Vigilante” is shown as well and will assuredly come into play this season. Laurel’s  (Katie Cassidy) dying  request/promise wrung from Oliver is revealed tying into the notion of a rebuilt team.  Oliver is not willing to move on yet. A call to John Diggle (David Ramsey), now back in Afghanistan, pushes him to make a decision. Curtis’s assault pushes him to begin his transition into “Mr. Terrific”.  A later moment shows that Felicity has put her advice into practice, having moved on romantically.

Though Lance’s return is mired by his appearing broken due to the loss of Laurel and his return to the bottle, this sub arc is nicely and evenly mastered.  He quickly aids Oliver and helps him build a team within the police ranks. Oliver’s gains are compromised by an end sequence featuring another player in town. Church’s incursion of the city’s gangs opens the field to even more strife for Star City.

The fight sequences in this opener were superior to most seasons preceding it. The show has upped their game a level. Stunt work including a battle on a helicopter, and the holy eff moment that followed it, have set the stage for a fantastic return to form. Arrow returns to its standard as simply outstanding and well worth your time. If this trajectory can be maintained, this season stands to be stellar.

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