Arrow Bumper Review: 5×01 – ‘Legacy’ and 5×02 – ‘The Recruits’
Director: James Bamford
Story by: Greg Berlanti
Starring: Stephen Amell, Emily Bett Rickards, Willa Holland, David Ramsey, Echo Kellum
Episode 1 – ‘Legacy’
Arrow is back for its fifth season, but hold all groans for the time being – all is not as it has been, weary traveller, and your perseverance is about to be rewarded with the opening episodes of this game-changer of a season. When last we saw Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), he was being sworn in as Mayor ‘Handsome’ of Starling city in a curious method of blending his day and night job into one big city-saving project. However, when we join him at the beginning of first episode, ‘Legacy’, it seems that Oliver may be spreading himself a little too thin, juggling his Arrow work and trying to establish the city’s Anti-Crime Unit. Almost immediately, we are thrown into the first of many fight sequences this episode that rival anything we’ve seen the Green Arrow do before. Grittier and more violent than past seasons, we’re already off to a great start.
The writers have also managed to capture more of the comic book humour that has been lacking in the Green Arrow character’s television counterpart. However, with the Arrow Cave feeling a hell of a lot emptier than it last series, Oliver has a lot of work to do, having only Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and Curtis (Echo Kellum) to back him up. And he’s going to need a lot more help if he’s going to contend with new season antagonist Tobias Church (Chad L. Coleman), who’s amazingly intimidating voice, and imposing presence, feel as though he’s carrying over some Walking Dead spirit, in playing a character remarkably similar to Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s, Negan (he even has a baseball bat at one point). Church isn’t the only baddie, however, there’s also a bunch of corrupt cops, and who doesn’t enjoy that theme?
And if you find yourself worrying that they might not do Black Canary, Laurel Lance’s death justice – fear not, as Laurel (Katie Cassidy) is mentioned more in this episode than ever before. And while constant mentions of her can become a bit annoying, the emotional arcs of the characters in ‘Legacy’ more than make up for it. We see the return of Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorn), drowning his sorrows (and let’s face it – he’s got a lot) and worse for wear after Laurel’s passing. This however, does nothing to detract from how great his character is, as sharp and witty as ever. Another who’s feeling the strain of a life without Laurel is Thea, who struggles in this episode to decide what she wants her life to be – desperately wanting to be normal, yet ready when a problem arises – and though she is willing to help Oliver clean up his mayoral messes, she is unwilling to re-join the Arrow team. ‘Legacy’ is a fitting send off for Laurel’s character, though the Black Canary statue erected in her honour is frankly terrifying, so if that doesn’t feature again, I’m sure we’ll all move on.
The only issue with this episode, is the same issue that has been there for a couple of seasons now – and that, unfortunately, is Felicity’s character. Starting off as a loveable geek, Felicity found her way into the hearts of not only the audience, but of Oliver himself. And while that particular relationship wasn’t the best move, it could’ve been forgiven were it not for the deterioration of her character, to be reduced first to a love interest, and second to a nag, whose sole job at the moment seems to be pointing out everything Oliver is doing wrong, and saying ‘I told you so’ A LOT. The writers have a lot of work to do to restore Felicity to her former glory, but the way they have chosen to start this is by giving her a mysterious, yet convenient boyfriend. So, let’s just see how that plays out.
Shifting the focus away from ‘Olicity’, ‘Legacy’ has begun to restore Arrow to its former glory, and the biggest way this is achieved is through the grittier fight scenes, which we are given a few of in this opening episode alone (the ‘chair as a weapon’ stuff was particularly impressive), and go some way to showing us the new more ruthless Oliver Queen. Blaming himself for Laurel’s death by not killing Damien Darhk sooner, the new Green Arrow is taking no chances, and leaving nothing to chance. We are also rewarded for our perseverance by (finally) getting to how Oliver ended up in the Bratva – and after all this time, you will not be disappointed.
Episode 2 – ‘The Recruits’
In the second episode of this season, Arrow goes all Justice League – but if the Justice League was made up of angry tweens who were invited along via Post-its. Finding that Church is proving to be more work than he can handle, and the threat of a new meta mummy monster, dubbed ‘Rag Man’, Oliver decides (after a whole previous episode of Felicity nagging him about it) that he must train new recruits in Thea and Diggle’s absence from the team. Gathering together Curtis, season 4 returner Evelyn Sharp (Madison McLaughlin) and newbie Rene ‘Wild Dog’ Ramirez (Rick Gonzalez), Oliver puts his hood up and his drill sergeant voice on to put the junior members of Team Arrow to the test.
This new addition ties in nicely with the flashbacks to Oliver’s initiation into the Bratva, as he makes them perform the same tests he had to – though in comparison, they seem to get off pretty lightly, despite all their complaining. Though, when it becomes clear that the cutthroat nature of the Bratva’s training will be no help where the three trainees are concerned, Felicity pleads with Oliver to reveal his identity to them, to give them a leader to follow, a leader they can trust.
We also see the re-occurrence of the ‘Rag Man’ we saw in the first episode, as he tries to pick off the bosses of AmerTek. The team finally gets a lead on the mystery man, courtesy of ‘Wild Dog’ snatching a piece of his rags, and Felicity’s convenient boyfriend, Detective Malone working where it can be tested. And though we are unsure whether ‘Rag Man’ can be trusted, he is later revealed to be a victim of the AmerTek missile Damien Darhk fired, and Felicity redirected to Havenrock. And with Oliver having asked ‘Rag Man’ to join him, it could be very interesting to see how they will handle the revelation of Felicity’s involvement in Havenrock’s demise.
‘The Recruits’ also provides a much needed visit to John Diggle, everyone’s favourite motivational speaker, who had little presence in the season five premiere. However, just when it seems that Diggle is back in a world he knows, and a world he can handle, at that – he finds himself in his own realm of trouble. It seems that this is an episode where no one can be trusted, and Diggle learns this the hard way. But, while John is dealing with his own problems, Starling City is at risk from a new archer (who is not ‘Rag Man’ despite the fact that their costumes look almost exactly the same), that goes by the name of Prometheus – which is a lot better than the names that the Arrow Team is giving out at the moment.
Either way, my money is on Prometheus being Malcolm Merlyn again.