Arrow 5×01 Roundtable: Discussing ‘Legacy’

A new season of Arrow means a new season of roundtables where Fangirlish writers Alyssa, Lizzie, Lyra, Nora, and Sarah discuss the hot topics from every Arrow episode.

In the season five premiere of Arrow, the series went back to basics with heavy emphasis on the gritty and action sequences as Oliver struggled as the lone man in the field with Felicity guiding him. We also saw Oliver resort to killing again, which was surprising to say the least. And as for Olicity, well, we’re not ready to give up. In fact, our hopes are higher than ever.

What were your overall thoughts on “Legacy?”

Alyssa: Well, Arrow’s season premiere wasn’t worse than The Flash’s so that’s a good thing. No, I thought that “Legacy” was a solid episode that was not without its faults. It gave us certain aspects of the show that we’ve always loved: Olicity, Oliver and Diggle, sensational action sequences, and flashbacks that we actually give a damn about. But then it also gave us some things that weren’t particularly pleasing: Oliver’s regression, retconning of Laurel Lance’s character, and a temporary, generic-looking boyfriend for Felicity as a means to cause Oliver emotional pain in the near future. The premiere wasn’t perfect, and it wasn’t terrible.

I will admit that I had lowered my expectations heading into the premiere given the teases we’ve been getting from Wendy Mericle. It almost seemed like Arrow was going to knowingly ignore the aspects that made it a success in order to cater to the comic fanboys. “Legacy” didn’t feel like that, so that’s good. I’m just hoping that the rest of the season manages to stay true to the essence of the show, which is Oliver and the relationships that have shaped him into the hero he is today. That means Olicity, Original Team Arrow, and Queen sibling moments. Give us all of them. I’m going to continue to keep my expectations lower than usual just in case the worst happens.

Lizzie: Meh. It wasn’t awful. It wasn’t great. It was just ….there. The action sequences were brilliant, but the characters felt a bit flat, or maybe, their interactions felt a bit flat to me. Maybe because Diggle was missing. Maybe because Donna was brushed aside and the breakup with Quentin handled off-screen. I felt like they were trying too hard to go back to the S1 vibe, and they sort of forgot the things we loved along the way. I hope I’m wrong, but that was my sense. That being said, the good news is I couldn’t use the flashbacks to go get a snack this time. My diet appreciates it.

Lyra: The Arrow premiere “Legacy” lived up to the EP’s promise that they would return to the formula of season one. That doesn’t necessarily mean it was a good episode. James Bamford killed it with the action scenes over and over again, each scene better than the last. I could even get behind Oliver having problems moving on, a new team coming in, and the friendship between Oliver and Felicity that still spoke of a closeness between them. What I couldn’t get behind was the way John was brushed to the side for these newbies. I know we’re going to get more John time in the future and that he’ll come back eventually. But this feels like he’s being thrown off to make room for others. Also what was up with Oliver killing people again and using Laurel as the reason? He knows she wouldn’t be ok with this slip backwards, brushes Thea off when she tells him this, and then acts on his feelings because of Laurel. I thought the dead didn’t want anything cuz, you know, they’re dead? Smh, Oliver.

Nora: Overall, I think it was a good first episode. It wasn’t my favorite episode, but it was a solid season premiere. It had its flaws, but I think it’s headed in the right direction. I enjoyed all the references to season one and I think it was definitely a way to get longtime fans re-energized about Arrow in general. Last season was Arrow’s weakest season, so really it could only go up from there. As much as I enjoy Team Arrow, I liked seeing Green Arrow/Oliver out fighting on his own. I think the stunt sequences become less cluttered and we can really appreciate the hand-to-hand combat, which Arrow has become known for.

I think all the main characters are in very interesting and engaging positions where we meet them in “Legacy.” I didn’t feel like I was watching the same stuff Arrow has done already. I think the characters really have an opportunity to evolve and change as Team Arrow goes through drastic changes and I’m excited to see it. I think “Legacy” acted as a great set up episode for the whole season and I’m crossing my fingers it stays this way. My favorite part of “Legacy” was actually the introduction of Chad L. Coleman as Tobias Church. He blew me away in this premiere and I’m really excited for his character to go at it with Team Arrow.

Oliver has put killing back on the table as we saw in the premiere. What are your thoughts on that? Do you see it as regression?

Alyssa: It’s definitely regression on Oliver’s part. My question is more what brought this on? Of course Oliver tries to use Laurel’s death as his excuse, but that’s no excuse. Not that Oliver realizes that. The thing that Oliver has yet to discover, and I’m sure will be a part of his journey this season, is that he needs to find a balance. Killing shouldn’t be a first line of defense, but then there’s a time where killing is sometimes necessary. Given the flashbacks and how they tend to parallel present day, that’s a lesson that Oliver is going to learn this season as we watch him spiral in the flashbacks.

Something that really struck a chord with me in this episode was when Quentin was coming clean to Oliver about his falling off the wagon and losing Donna. He told Oliver that it’s hard to stay sober when you have no one to stay sober for. Oliver is in a similar situation. Right now, he’s without Diggle (who’s fighting a war), without Thea on the team, and without Felicity as his partner in life. Oliver’s got to be feeling all kinds of messed up. When Oliver began his vow of no killing, he was doing it to honor Tommy. But when Oliver didn’t kill Damien Darhk on the several occasions he had the chance, it eventually cost Laurel her life.

Now, Oliver being Oliver, he’s going to translate that into: Laurel died because I refused to kill, when in fact that’s not the case. Oliver isn’t responsible for every decision that is made in the world that affects time as we know it. Perhaps something else might’ve happened to her. But Oliver has never been one to dust off guilt. He uses guilt as a blanket. He lives in it. But the key for Oliver this season is going to be understanding the delicate balance between killing to kill and killing when absolutely necessary.

Lizzie: Yes. Mostly because they were lazy about explaining it. I was one of the people saying that Oliver needed to commit to killing Darhk way earlier than he did, BUT, that doesn’t mean he get to go back to killing people indiscriminately without an actual explanation. Viewers can’t – or shouldn’t – have to fill in all the blanks. If they’d given me an explanation about how Oliver was willing to take the cost to his soul but that he’d recognized that he sometimes needed to take extreme measures or whatever, I would have been fine with that. But even that brings the caveat that it’s not just something to be done indiscriminately and with EVERY crook he meets. So, yes, I don’t think there’s any doubt that Oliver regressed, and he did so big time.

Lyra: Oliver killing is absolutely a regression. Do I love it? No. Do I feel like I was robbed months of development to see him come to this stage of his journey? Yes. But god help me, I do understand why they’re doing this to him. People aren’t perfect and Oliver’s not perfect despite those abs. It’s frustrating but true that people slip up and they fall back on old habits. This is a stumble for Oliver Queen and we can only hope that this is the last one. Because Oliver deserves all the happiness during the precious time he has in this world. I’m tentatively giving the writers leeway on this one and hope that he pulls out of it COMPLETELY as soon as possible.

Nora: I am definitely split right down the middle with this storyline. The die hard, action loving, original Arrow fan in me loves that we are seeing Oliver like this again. I really think this is where the show thrived in season one and two. I also think this is what set them apart from other shows. The very dark nature separated Arrow and made it stand out, so to go back to that I was excited as an original fan. I think Stephen Amell knocked it out of the park this week and James Bamford stunts were simply stunning.

That being said, I think it’s a major regression for his character. We watched an entire season where Oliver had to find the light within himself in order to stop Damien Darhk. It was basically the main Oliver storyline (aside from Olicity and his son) last season. Now, it’s like we are supposed to forget all that change for him. It’s almost like they want us to erase season four character development from our minds when looking at this. We are literally back to an Oliver that could care less who he hurts on his way to save Star City. I think it’s a major step backwards and something we are clearly supposed to wonder about because Thea even tells Oliver it’s a step backwards. I just feel like it’s character regression for the sake of trying to appease original Arrow fans. We are gaining the violent Oliver we all loved in season one, but losing the man he has become.

While Oliver and Felicity aren’t together romantically at present we got to see their truly magical chemistry shine. What were your thoughts on Olicity in the premiere? Do you feel hopeful for a reunion by season’s end?

Alyssa: Heading into this episode I would’ve told you that I had some doubt. But after “Legacy” I’m more than hopeful that we’ll see Oliver and Felicity reunite by season’s end. The thing with these Arrow writers is that they like to take the scenic route. Sometimes – more often than not –- it’s not necessary, but they know the final destination. The season five premiere essentially set up what’s sure to be a long, painful journey this season. There are several barriers in their way, including their own personal issues (Oliver’s killing again and Felicity choosing to live in denial with the Havenrock situation), but then again there are 22 more episodes before this season concludes.

One of the things I absolutely loved about this episode was how in sync Oliver and Felicity were as partners. That organic rapport really shone on the screen as they all but acted like an old married couple and were flirty as hell, much to our pleasure. But there was something significant that happened in this episode between them: they communicated.

Perhaps the biggest factor of their breakup last season was the lack of communication between the two of them. But in “Legacy,” we saw them not only disagree but talk it through. They each voiced their opinion and concern and they listened. They worked through it like the mature adults we know they are. And that was everything. That was what gave me hope. That showed me that over the past five months they’ve worked on rebuilding that trusting foundation that has always been a focal point of their relationship.

One of the things that they’ll both take away from this breakup – and moving forward, whenever that may be – is that they made a mistake the first go around by not communicating with each other. But this is one of those things that’s going to strengthen their relationship even more. But I will say I could do without the temporary, generic-looking boyfriend in the loft. Ugh. Fuck you, Barry (it’s probably his fault.)

Lizzie: I don’t feel hopeful about anything in this show right now, but I think common sense indicates that the story they’re trying to tell is the story of Felicity trying to move on – then Oliver trying to move on, and then both of them figuring out that they can’t move on. Only problem is, after how they handled baby mama drama, I don’t trust the writers to tell that story in a mature, adult manner. And that’s mostly because, right now, I don’t really trust them with anything that’s not action. But we’ll see. I can’t see how the endgame is anything BUT Olicity at this point, and that’s always comforting to know.

Lyra: The producers were true in saying that they would be going back to Season 1. The Olicity that I saw on screen was season one Olicity. They still cared for each other, listened to each other, were there for each other. But, here’s the big but, they didn’t linger towards each other. There were no heated glances or the true electricity that we’d seen with them last season. I’m a bit dissapointed by it but choose to believe that during the 5 months we missed they worked on becoming friends again. And it’s the fresh start that I think they need while they’re dealing with their own personal issues aka Oliver being mayor, vigilante, and new trainer to the newbies and Felicity with Havenrock. Since they’re friends again, with no traces of the lingering hurt of last season as far as I can see, they can go at it again refreshed and with a new understanding of themselves and what they want next in their life. The producers have put far too much effort and time into the beauty of their relationship. I’m going to choose to believe that Olicity will be reunited by season’s end. They’re lobsters.

Nora: Their chemistry was electric as ever in the Arrow premiere and that’s just a testament to Amell and Rickards acting I think. Even when they aren’t together, it’s hard to deny their chemistry. I think Olicity in the premiere was very reminiscent of the early days before they were together. I think Felicity definitely has more confidence while in the lair though, so that added an extra layer. As an Olicity fan, I always wish there was more, but I think this was a good balance for where they are. I like that we didn’t jump right into them flirting again because I also think that would’ve gone against events from season four. I think there was a good amount of Olicity and I like that we are working their work dynamic back into the story. I think that is something we seriously lost when they were in a relationship. I missed it. I really hope we get a reunion sooner rather than later. I would like to think it will come before or during the mid-season finale. I can’t imagine making us wait until the season finale.

My only issue off the Olicity relationship front with “Legacy” was that they felt the need to immediately place Felicity into another relationship with new SCPD Detective Malone. I was not a fan. This isn’t just because I’m an Olicity fan, it’s because I’m a Felicity fan. I was looking forward to a single Felicity working through her issues with Oliver and even Havenrock. I wanted to see her thrive alone before she went out and started dating. I just feel like this was only because they didn’t want her to be single and for viewers to be constantly wondering why she isn’t with Oliver. I knew it was coming, but I’m still disappointed in this.

The final year of flashbacks kicked off with Oliver in Russia and teased his Bratva journey this season. Did the flashbacks finally win your over?

Alyssa: Hallelujah, praise Jesus. For the first time in three years, I finally give a damn about the flashbacks! Next to Olicity getting all up in each other’s personal space with the flirty flirt, this was my favorite thing about the episode. We’re finally going to explore Oliver’s Bratva past. And the best part is that I’m already invested. Bringing back someone familiar like Anatoly certainly helped. But perhaps my favorite thing about it – besides shirtless Oliver, which we need more of – is how ruthless Oliver is in the flashbacks. FINALLY.

One of my biggest problems with last season’s flashbacks was that Oliver seemed more like season one Oliver than season four, where he was two years away from being the ruthless killer that we find in the pilot. He seemed tame. But in just one episode – roughly seven minutes – of flashbacks, Oliver finally began to resemble the dark, broken man we met in the pilot. And it’s about damn time.

Lizzie: Yes. AT LAST, flashbacks I care about. It was a long time coming, Arrow. Last year I ate too much because the flashbacks were so boring that I used to get up and get snacks. It seems this year Oliver’s gonna get really, really dark and I’m going to be thinner. Which, hey, it all works out for me. My only problem is that I like the flashbacks to contrast what’s going on in the present, and if we’re gonna have dark Oliver in the present too, then what is even the point?

Lyra: Can I be honest? I can do that with you right? So far I’m not sold with this batch of flashbacks. It was cool to see Bratva and see the differences between past and present Oliver. I’ll give it that. But I need more of the story. I need to know how this man transformed into season one Oliver aka broody mcbrooderston. If anything the flashbacks have given me a mighty need to connect my story and finally come full circle. That’s good, right? Plus he’s shirtless and showing off his skills in the ring. Can’t say no to that.

Nora: I’m really hopeful for the flashbacks this season. I’m excited for Bratva Oliver and watching him in Russia. I think the flashbacks in “Legacy” were already a vast improvement from last season. They were engaging and didn’t detract from the present day storyline. In the past two seasons, whenever they would cut to the flashbacks, it really messed up the pace of the show I think. It would slow down the momentum in present day and ultimately didn’t help the storyline. With the Bratva flashbacks, I can already see how it relates to Green Arrow fighting Tobias Church, which I think will help throughout the season.

The only downfall for me with the flashbacks is I’m still uncertain why Oliver is even in Russia. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Bratva Oliver, I just wish they came up with a better reason to get him to Russia. I really don’t think it works that he’s there to find someone because Taiana wanted him to. I barely even cared about her character last season and the fact that she’s the driving for behind Oliver being in Russia is just confusing to me.

Sarah: x

When we picked up five months later we found Oliver and Felicity manning Team Arrow. Felicity told him they needed a new team, but Oliver was adamant about not doing so until a talk with Diggle. What were your thoughts on Oliver’s reluctance to move forward with a new team?

Alyssa: It was very much in Oliver’s character to try to live in the past. That’s what he’s done ever since the island. We’ve seen him get hung up on the past to the point where it was unhealthy. Am I surprised that Oliver wasn’t gung ho for a new team? Absolutely not. I actually feel the same way sometimes when I’m praying we get the holy trinity back with Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity. But Oliver was mayor of Denial City (you can be different mayors at the same time, right?) in last night’s premiere. He was desperately clinging to hope that things would go back to the way they were – everything from Team Arrow to his relationship with Felicity.

Oliver, being mayor of Denial City, took it upon himself to do all the fighting out in the field as Felicity guided him. He knew it was too much – he even admitted it was part of the reason he was sucking so hard as mayor of Star City – but he kept at it. Mostly because he was hoping, praying that Diggle and Thea would return to the team, as well as Felicity would give him another chance, and things could go back to how they used to be. Almost. But leave it to John Diggle, sage of wisdom, to help steer Oliver in the right direction. After Felicity hounded him for the entire episode to do so – and with Diggle’s encouragement – Oliver finally elected to bring aboard new members, which we’ll get a look at next week. This could either be very good or very bad depending on how the writers handle the new team members. Let’s pray for good.

Lizzie: Moving on means letting go of what he loved – which was this team, Felicity, Diggle, OTA, the way it all started, and Oliver just isn’t ready to do that. He doesn’t understand things can change for the better because in his experience, they don’t. And that’s okay. This is a lesson he needs to learn this year. And I think he will, though I also think it will take him a while to get used to these new people, and even longer to consider them family, like he considers Diggle and Felicity. 

Lyra: Oliver’s reluctance to move on is believable. Accepting that he needs help means that he’s not strong enough to take this on himself. There’s a little bit of pride working there. Accepting that he needs help from new recruits also means admitting that Diggle is not coming back, Thea is not a superhero anymore, and that Laurel is dead. He doesn’t want to face the fact that his world has changed and it will continue to do so. He’s not being stupid or childish. He’s being human. On top of all of this, bringing in new recruits means opening his mind, and eventually his heart, to people who could get hurt or killed. Oliver is scared. By the end of the episode he agreed to the new recruits but there’s no doubt in my mind that this will not be the last time we see this hesitation. It’s going to be a journey for him, leaving a legacy behind that goes past being the Green Arrow.

Nora: I understood where he was coming from. It took a lot in season one for Oliver to let Diggle and Felicity into the team and even he was reluctant to let Laurel join eventually. So, I don’t think it was out of character for him and I was surprised by it. Oliver always wanted to do this job alone because he was afraid of hurting those he loved. So, eventually he lets people into Team Arrow and Laurel ends up dying. It’s everything he feared. I understand his resistance to bringing new people in. I’m really excited to see them all train this coming week. It’s going to be good!

Even though she was killed last season, Laurel was a prominent part of the season five premiere. What were your thoughts on that?

Alyssa: While Laurel has never been my favorite character, I’ll be the first to admit that her death hit me harder than I anticipated. So it was nice to see Black Canary be honored the way she was in the premiere. But then again, there was something about the way that Arrow handled Laurel’s legacy that rubbed me the wrong way. Arrow essentially is trying to rewrite Laurel in death. They’re trying to paint her as the epitome as purity and heroism when we all have elephant-like memorization when it comes to this show. Also helps that TNT just re-aired the first two seasons last week.

I don’t have a problem with the show honoring Laurel or focusing on her legacy, but I do have a problem with the other characters – namely Oliver – using her death as an excuse to act out of character. Oliver, obviously still feeling guilty about her death, took it upon himself to start killing ruthlessly again. He used Laurel’s death and the “what if I’d killed Darhk sooner” excuse to justify his actions, when it fact there was no justification. Hopefully the show will find a better way to honor Laurel’s character and the other characters that are alive and well as we move forward.

Lizzie: I’m of two minds on this. The Laurel that the writers have been trying to present the last few seasons is a Laurel I could like, but then again, the writers always seem to shoot themselves in the foot with her. The part where she asked not to be the last Canary? I loved that part. I felt it. The part where she added the thing about her being out there with Oliver? UGH, NO. This woman was OVER OLIVER QUEEN. So over. She didn’t care. I can’t take how the writers are doing a total 180 with her character just to suit the plot. There are better ways to bring Katie Cassidy back, and certainly better ways to honor a character they mistreated over and over again.

Lyra: I think they squandered the opportunity they had with Laurel’s death and maybe even made it worse. Laurel’s last words were about making sure there was another Canary after her, basically more vigilantes, so she could be out there with Oliver? I don’t buy it. Laurel’s last words wouldn’t be about Oliver. They would be about her father, about her sister. It made NO SENSE to have these be her last words. We can continue on by saying that I did not like the statue that they built for Laurel. They could’ve done a better job but I understand the sentiment. I think.

I don’t like the way Laurel’s death affected Quentin and how Donna was written off so he could have his man pain hour. Because as we all know, Quentin has to be crying over one of his daughters if he’s going to be on Arrow. That’s just the rules. Quentin was in a stable adult relationship with Donna and it would have been interesting to see him mourn his daughter’s passing as a different man. Smh, another missed opportunity.

Nora: I have my issues with this. Going into Arrow season five, I totally understood that Laurel’s death would continue to affect the character because she was such a big part of their lives. So, I totally understood why Thea is reluctant to go back to being Speedy and why Quentin is really down on himself in “Legacy.” All of this understood, but I figured this would be the end of her influence. It would all be talked about and would influence the characters in present day. She was literally propelling a major storyline and that wasn’t something I enjoyed. It felt like a major step backwards. I felt like Arrow was trying to explain why they killed her off and was trying to get us to realize that she will never truly be gone. I would’ve preferred her to be a fond memory in “Legacy” rather than a driving force for the premiere. We were reflecting backwards as opposed to looking backwards.

In terms of Laurel’s big moment in the premiere, which was her final words to Oliver, I was not a fan. She tells Oliver she doesn’t want to be the last Black Canary and she wants her mantle to live on, so I was VERY confused when they memorialized Black Canary. If the mantle is going to live on, why go through the trouble of telling every she was Black Canary and erect a (gross looking) statue of her? It just felt like it was a massive jumble that I didn’t quite understand. As much as I understand the need for the characters to still feel the weight of her death, I felt like they were still trying to have her in it too much. When Tommy died in season one, we looked back on him with fond memories, Oliver mentioned his friend and that was it. This was like Laurel was still a major part of the storyline and I just think it did a disservice for trying to move on. In one breathe they are trying to build Team Arrow 2.0, but in the other they can’t let go of Laurel. I just wasn’t a fan.

Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW. Stay tuned for another Arrow Roundtable next Tuesday!

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