Arrow: 106 “Legacies” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
This week’s Arrow had a much more obvious set of themes running through it than many of the other episodes, and while some of these themes were dealt with somewhat heavy-handedly, it made the various plot strands feel like a far more cohesive set of narratives than seen in previous episodes. “Legacies” was an episode all about family and the promises families make, as well as the ability to come to terms with past misdeeds, and some of the plotlines handled that theme better than others.
The main plot of the episode concerns a group of bankrobbers who disguise their faces with masks printed to look like playing cards, in a nod to the ‘Royal Flush Gang’, a group of playing card-themed supervillains in DC Comics. After a brief altercation, one of the bank customers, who also happens to be a cop, is gunned down by the gang, an event reported by the Starling City news. While sparring with Oliver in the ‘Arrowcave’, Dig sees the report and suggests that Oliver should be going after the gang, rather than his intended target, a power company executive who increases electricity prices for people when they need it most. Oliver states that the gang are a ‘symptom’ of the disease corrupting Starling City, and he is attempting to remove the cause of said corruption, which is actually a fairly lucid argument under the circumstances.
However, Dig eventually convinces Oliver to take on the gang by tricking him into meeting the wife of the cop who was shot in the robbery, again bringing up the fact that Dig only agreed to be Oliver’s partner if they were equals, which again is a reasonable argument. I’m enjoying the chemistry of the relationship between Oliver and Dig, because it seems to be the only one in the show which is built on mutual trust and respect: neither of them is afraid to call the other one out when they could be seen to be making mistakes, which is a rare thing in television drama partnerships.
Through some highly improbably deduction, Oliver discovers the identity of one of the robbers, who also happens to be an old schoolmate of his. Upon further investigation, and the assistance of the wonderfully snarky Felicity Smoake he works out that the gang is actually a family, who were driven to crime by the father’s employment at none other than Robert Queen’s steel mill being terminated. Oliver meets with the man, offering him a job and bugging his jacket when he inevitably turns the offer down.
The family meets, under Oliver’s surveillance, and they come to the conclusion that they can’t give up their life of crime: as much as the father wants to take the legitimate job, they know that Kyle, their son and Oliver’s former classmate, won’t stop robbing banks. This was actually a nice moment, as it showed the lower end of Starling City’s corruption, consisting of normal men and women forced into crime and immorality by the richer, more powerful end of the class spectrum. However, the fact that the family were more or less forced into their current situation doesn’t matter to Oliver, who declares he is going to ‘take them down’ when they attempt their big score.
Somewhat inevitably, Oliver does exactly that, with relative ease, until a pesky security guard decides to shoot Kyle, forcing his father to sacrifice himself. As he dies in Oliver’s arms, he states of Kyle that “It wasn’t his fault. I turned him into this”.
This is a statement which brings us nicely on to this week’s island flashbacks, in which Oliver is still trapped in the cave the mysterious archer left him in after all the Deathstroke-y goings-on last week. He is clearly in a bad way, because it takes him roughly three minutes to start hallucinating the ghost of his father talking to him. This is fine, as it portrays Oliver’s declining mental state and ties the flashbacks into the theme of the episode in one fell swoop. My only problem with the conversation between the two is that it is realistic enough that it loses the hallucinatory edge which makes it believable: Robert’s ‘ghost’ even gets close to giving Oliver new information about the ‘things he has done’, an act which is impossible when the ghost is merely a figment of Oliver’s imagination.
Anyway, Robert gets upset with Oliver for having ‘given up’ on himself, even though he promised his father he would survive and make things better. Oliver, having not yet become the hardened badass we know him as, gets a bit whiny about starving to death and wanting his death to be quick. His father gives him a gun which Oliver tries to shoot himself with, but it obviously fails, because this is all a hallucination. After Robert tells Oliver to ‘right his wrongs’ and that he loves him, Oliver wakes up and finds that names have appeared on the pages of his father’s notebook, due to the fact that he was holding the book close to the fire and the invisible ink has become visible.
This was a reasonable way to introduce Oliver’s driving motivation, the list, but I’m not entirely sure why the names couldn’t have been printed in regular ink and the list discovered straight away. It’s probably down to some variation on ‘the journey is more important than the destination’, but it just jarred with me slightly.
In other news, I’m almost ready to give up writing about the various subplots of the series, as they seem to largely involve the odd Laurel-Oliver-Tommy love triangle, which I find tedious and infuriating in equal measure. It was particularly annoying this week as Thea was thrown into the mix, apparently harbouring feelings for Tommy and a misguided belief that he shares them. Anyway, the ever-inconsistent Laurel seems largely uninterested in Tommy until a brief display of affection at the end of the episode, Thea embarrasses herself at a public event, and Moira expresses her frustration with Oliver for disappearing all the time and not honouring his family commitments, until they ultimately reconcile over a delicious burger. Another week, another largely pedestrian subplot, and one which detracted much of the interest I had for the episode as a whole.
Another solid episode, unfortunately let down by a flimsy, uninteresting subplot, but the main plot was interesting enough to salvage the episode. It also seems as though we are on the verge of some interesting developments in the island flashbacks, which can only ever be a good thing.