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Arrow season 4 found Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) at a major crossroads by its concluding moments, with the vigilante having resorted to murder once again to finally put an end to Damien Darhk’s (Neal McDonough) reign of terror. After the way that particular batch of episodes let down many fans, the show itself appears to be facing a similar position of uncertainty as to how it would aim to proceed with its titular hero.
With the continuing love afforded to The Flash and the addition of Supergirl to the same shared universe, Arrow could easily become eclipsed by its counterparts in the coming months, an ironic twist considering that the show’s successful debut in 2012 made this entire interconnected web of shows on The CW possible in the first place. The fact that the season 5 premiere is titled “Legacy” is appropriate, then – this year, both Oliver and Arrow itself need to re-evaluate their place in the world.
Now serving as the mayor of Star City, Oliver is tasked with protecting his hometown in an entirely new arena, even as he’s still reeling from the dissolution of Team Arrow. Diggle (David Ramsey) and Thea (Willa Holland) have moved on, with the former having re-enlisted in the military. As it turns out, only Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) – whose relationship with Oliver isn’t in the best shape either – appears to be interested in getting a new crew of heroes together.
Meanwhile, Oliver is moving to fight police corruption and a new threat led by gangster Tobias Church (Chad L. Coleman of The Walking Dead fame), who’s intent on uniting the criminal organizations in Star City under his own leadership. If all that sounds a bit dark and scattered (even for Arrow), then you’re starting to get the idea of how “Legacy” plays out.
Since Green Arrow has long served as the surrogate Batman of this bunch of DC superheroes, it shouldn’t surprise fans to realize that Oliver is in full-on brooding mode for much of “Legacy.” In fact, his somber attitude is shared to some degree by the show’s other heroes, especially Quentin (Paul Blackthorne).
The death of Laurel (Katie Cassidy) last season has left a lasting impact on the series narrative and its characters, those two specifically. The premiere in part deals with a dedication to honor the late Black Canary, and it’s this key event that allows Laurel’s influence to reverberate into season 5, setting up the tale to follow. In addition, it serves as a poignant reminder that the show’s heroes aren’t invincible.
Less successful, as some longtime viewers might surmise, are the flashback sequences. The premiere’s edition focuses on Oliver’s time in Russia, and though it has ties to his current predicament in Star City, they are tenuous at best. More and more, Oliver’s flashbacks have reeked of filler, a common complaint among even the most loyal fans. “Legacy” does little to dispel that notion, making one wonder why Arrow does not simply just cut ties with the narrative device altogether. After nearly 100 episodes, the time has come to move on to something fresher and either adopt a new approach or focus solely on present-day Green Arrow.
Arrow doesn’t need to try to be Lost. At this point, we already know all we need to about Oliver’s previous adventures and are eager to see what happens next. As season 4 proved, fans’ interest in the show may have its limits. Besides, as it stands, the charismatic performance by Coleman and the personal quandary that Oliver finds himself grappling with are continually undercut throughout “Legacy.”
It’s a bizarre artistic choice, that’s for sure, especially since literally every other subplot, character interaction, and story beat carries more weight than any of the series’ reflections on Oliver’s past. Arrow needs to learn its lesson and adjust its storytelling approach this season before viewers just give up entirely. It’s not like there aren’t any other superhero shows out right now, after all.
As the saying goes, sometimes a thing needs to be torn down before it can be rebuilt. “Legacy” very much feels like Arrow trying to find its footing once again, and though the episode takes some steps in getting the show back on top, more work has yet to be done to redeem the series for last season’s jumbled narrative. Flawed though enjoyable overall, this premiere could be simply the foundation of something greater to come – there’s a lot of potential in the idea of Oliver balancing his duties as mayor and Green Arrow – or a failed attempt at resurrecting the show’s heyday as a gritty superhero drama. Let’s all hope Oliver can get his groove back and keep the Arrowverse’s pioneering series going strong in the months ahead.
Arrow season 5 begins the process of rebuilding the show from its lackluster fourth year, and so far, it appears that the showrunners may have a solid plan in mind to redeem Oliver Queen in the eyes of disillusioned fans.