Arrow season 4 was divisive to say the least. While it was personal favorite and it dug the show out of the hole that season 3 created, many saw the season as Arrow getting further and further away from the show it started out as in season 1. It’s probably for that reason that in the off-season Arrow star Stephen Amell was telling everyone that would listen that Arrow season 5 would get back to the show’s roots. Now season 5 is here and it’s time to judge if Amell was telling the truth.

After one episode, the answer is a pretty emphatic “yes!” Arrow is back to basics in a huge way with “Legacy.” This means that Oliver’s emotional story is the center of the show, the action is tremendous (every scene is a wonderful tapestry of violence) and the weight of the show is back. Arrow is once again a show about a guy with a bow and arrow fighting crime with all the ridiculousness and death-defying that implies. Oh, and like season 1, Oliver Queen really, really likes killing people again.

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Mayor Handsome and “The Other Guy”

Oliver is settling into his new job as the mayor of Star City… kind of. Oliver is just spending more of his time fighting crime and putting arrows in criminals as the Green Arrow than actual mayoring. As the mayor, Oliver is tapping back in the charismatic playboy image he had in season 1. Oliver’s public image isn’t the only thing that the opening of Arrow season 5 is borrowing from season 1. Oliver is on his own again with no one but Felicity to guide him and keep him from being an incredibly handsome but broody vigilante/murderer. 

Oliver is convinced that Thea and Dig will eventually come back to the team. For now though, Oliver is a strong independent archer who doesn’t need a new man or woman to help him. Felicity sees things differently and is combing the city for D-list type heroes that have been inspired by the Green Arrow. In typical Oliver fashion though, he is refusing to listen to Felicity and her ideas.

Oliver, as the mayor, throws an unveiling ceremony for a new (incredibly ugly looking) statue of Laurel to memorialize her life of bravery as the Black Canary. It’s a nice sentiment and all, but the statue is gross-looking. Anyway, the ceremony is broken up by the arrival of a new group of criminals who are led by our brand new villain, Tobias Church. Church is terrifying in the best way possible. This terrifying nature includes everything about him from his swaggering attitude to his ability to kill people with ease using brass knuckles. 

Murder is Back on the Table

Church might be strong, but he is no Oliver. Church and his goons capture Oliver and several city employees at the ceremony. When Oliver is left alone with one of the goons though, he takes almost no time in breaking out of his handcuffs. Oliver proceeds to break his kidnapper’s arm and snaps his neck with ease. Murder is wrong and all that, but when your murdering just looks so damn cool who really cares? The answer is Thea. Thea cares.

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Thea suits up to save Oliver, but Oliver (clearly) doesn’t need saving. However, Thea arrives just in time to see Oliver snap his captor’s neck. Though Thea is mad at her brother for casual manslaughter she still helps him escape Church’s stronghold and Oliver promises that they will come back for the other hostages. When Thea and Oliver are alone, she rips into him for killing people. She tells him that killing is not what Laurel would have wanted. Oliver responds that if he had more people willing to kill last year, Laurel probably wouldn’t have died, which is … fair. Oliver’s definitely down a bad path, but he should have killed god-like Damien Darhk far sooner than he actually did.

As for what Laurel did want, we find out in a flashback that is just kind of thrown into the middle of the episode with very little context. (Katie Cassidy has to make that series regular contract for multiple shows money somehow!) We finally hear what Laurel made Oliver promise her on her death bed. Laurel told Oliver to make sure that she wouldn’t be the last Canary so a piece of her would always be with him. This promise doesn’t make an extraordinary amount of sense since Laurel didn’t really know she was about to die but the Black Canary will live again… at some point, maybe. Oliver isn’t that great at keeping promises, you know. 

Flashback Break

Now it is time for the biggest surprise of the premiere, the flashback storyline is actually interesting! Oliver has traveled to Russia to honor the memory of Taiana and get the revenge she wanted on some mob boss. If the name, Taiana, does not ring a bell, don’t worry about it. All you need to know is that she was the Russian girl in last season’s flashback storyline who was so drab and boring that Oliver couldn’t even be bothered to sleep with her. 

In Russia, Oliver meets back with Anatoly (aka the other Russian you might remember from the island flashbacks). Back in his homeland, Anatoly is a mob boss (though in Russia they call them “captains”) and the mob is called the Bratva. Anatoly tells Oliver that if he wants to take down the rival captain to honor Taiana, he is going to need help and that means joining his Bratva. And by joining his Bratva, Anatoly means that Oliver must get viciously beat up by his employees. Ah, hazing rituals. 

New Beginnings

Back in present day, Oliver is tracked down by Quentin Lance, who is still on the show for reasons unknown. To barely justify his existence, Quentin manages to convince Oliver to accept help. The help will come not from a new group of vigilantes but a special (and trustworthy) group within the SCPD. 

Together with his new gun-toting police friends, Oliver as the Green Arrow, breaks back into Church’s stronghold. The police and Oliver work together to save the hostages but are unable to capture Church. Church sets off a bomb as a distraction and runs away in a helicopter. Oliver does manage to shoot an arrow onto Church’s helicopter and hoist himself on board, but Church pushes Oliver off. 

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As Oliver tumbles to the ground, he shoots off a parachute arrow, as in an arrow with an actual parachute attached to the end. (Try and tell me that a guy who fights crime with just a bow and arrow is impractical after seeing that stunt. I mean yes you would still be right, there are way better ways to fight crime but parachute arrows are so ridiculous, you have to love it.)

Off his big mostly successful mission with the police, Oliver agrees (after receiving a Skype call from Dig) that Felicity is right. It is time to build a new team and accept that things are not going to go back to the way they were before. 

Following Oliver’s pronouncement, there is a quick series of scenes showing changes that the rest of the episode did not showcase. Such as Felicity has a new detective boyfriend. (Felicity will evidently not date anyone who does not fight crime in some capacity.) There is also a new evil archer on the loose who is killing people and being initially mistaken for the Green Arrow. 

It’s a new world for Oliver Queen and Arrow. It just so happens to resemble the old one. While Oliver might be taking a step back in killing people once again, Arrow is stepping forward into an exciting and refreshing season, by also stepping and gaining a little perspective.

But what do you think? Do you like Arrow’s new back-to-basics structure for season 5? How do you feel about Oliver killing people again? What do you think of Felicity’s new boyfriend? Are Thea and Dig really done with the crime-fighting life? 

Arrow season 5 airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW. Want more news? Like our Arrow Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of The CW)

Derek Stauffer

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Derek is a Philadelphia based writer and unabashed TV and comic book junkie. The time he doesn’t spend over analyzing all things nerdy he is working on his resume to be the liaison to the Justice League.