Arrow "Legacies" Review: Family Ties

By Noel Kirkpatrick

Nov 15, 2012

Arrow S01E06: "Legacies"

With “Legacies,” Arrow tried, for the first time in my mind, to keep as many of its main characters as possible involved with a plot of some sort, also do an action story, and have all of those elements complement one another in some way. While I don’t think the episode was as just plain entertaining or as good as last week’s, it’s the sort of episode I want to see Arrow attempt more often as we head around the bend on the show's initial 13-episode order.

Despite obviously being about legacies (another thing Arrow shares with Revenge: heavy-handed episode titles that tell us the theme), this episode was really about families and their complicated dynamics. Oliver is obviously at the forefront, as he’s blowing off his living family to carry out his dead father’s wishes, but he’s also doing this in a very limited way, as Diggle pointed out to him.

I never expected Arrow to be overly attached to that list—and it shouldn’t be—but the way in which Diggle got Oliver to break out from those confines was not only clever but organic to the story. I like that Oliver is really resistant to fighting “street crimes” because it’s not what his father intended, and that Diggle is attempting to expand those horizons. Diggle’s right to do this, of course, because even if you eliminate all the “CEOs and crooked entrepreneurs” of Starling City, crime’s still going to be there, and it’ll need to be dealt with.

It’s that's same singular focus that’s hurting Oliver's living relations, too. Moira’s frustration with the lack of cohesion in the household, especially after Walter’s departure last week, is palpable. She’s all by herself now, mirroring, in some ways, Thea’s position in the family after the yacht sank, and she’s looking for her children to help fill that gap. Couple that with her dismay over Oliver’s distance, and it’s no wonder she’s throwing passive-aggressive brunches with the other members of Starling City’s elite.

Even though it was only done in a few scenes, I felt like the progression through Moira’s arc in this episode really worked. A lot of this is due to Susanna Thompson and Stephen Amell really nailing the push and pull between their characters, the frustrated delivery and heavy silences, so that when they arrived at Big Belly Burger at the end of the episode, the moment was earned as a first step toward the two of them beginning work on reestablishing their relationship.

These family tensions were nicely paralleled with the bank-robbing Restons (inspired by the Royal Flush Gang from the comics). Not only did the episode provide a link through Derek (played by TV character actor extraordinaire Currie Graham) and Queen Consolidated to give that plot just the right amount of emotional heft, but it also allowed us to see another father frustrated with the choices he’s made and how those choices are affecting his family.

I cannot stress how much I like that Arrow crafted the episode in this way. It was by no means a complicated structure, but the way individual plots echoed each other made them richer and more interesting, and that's exactly the sort of thing that the episode (and the show) needed. I’m not suggesting that every episode must be set up this way, but it’ll help the show balance its action and melodrama beats more effectively.

However, some things didn’t work quite as well. Thea thinking that Tommy was into her felt really bizarre. While his vagueness early in the episode—when he said he's into a girl who doesn’t care about money, and that he’s known her a long time—laid the groundwork, it’s not very believable that she’d respond that way, considering that Thea’s the one who told Oliver about Tommy and Laurel sleeping together. So it made her breakdown at the gala sort of unearned (and not all that well acted by Willa Holland, who showcased all the worst "acting drunk" clichés). If there had been some previous hint that she was crushing on Tommy, then yes, it might’ve worked better, but as an isolated incident to drive home her sense of loneliness, it wasn’t all that compelling.

Thea aside, the subplot involving Tommy throwing an incredibly quickly planned gala for CNRI after it lost its biggest sponsor, in hopes of showing Laurel that he’s ready to stop being the one-night-stand guy, was fine. Katie Cassidy performs far better with lighter, more comedic fare, so her scenes with Colin Donnell didn't feel quite as lost in the tall grass as her scenes with Amell have the past couple of weeks.

Sadly, after I praised the island flashbacks last week, this week’s flashbacks didn’t work very well. I feel like present-day Oliver covered similar-ish ground with his father’s gravestone back in “Honor Thy Father,” making island Oliver’s struggle, as it were, sort of dull. It offered a little bit of character work for that island arc, but beyond that it really just existed for Oliver to find the flame-activated names in the notebook. At least we know where the names came from now.

What’d you all think of the episode?

Notes & Quotes

– “Why would he want you to be a wizard?” and “Snap!” were continuations of the Oliver-is-behind-on-his-pop-culture-references bit, but the Dr. Oz one was a bit of a stretch since he was a thing before Oliver ended up on the island, even if he wasn't as well-known as he is now.

– Despite the fact that it was mostly there as an exposition dump regarding Walter’s whereabouts, seeing Oliver and Thea talk and behave like brother and sister was such a relief. Their comedy duo rendition of Moira’s praise of Carter Bowen was not only funny, but natural.

– “The first annual attempt to get back into my pants gala.”

– “I should add ‘Personal internet researcher for Oliver Queen’ to my job title... happily, I mean.”

– Doing the fake math, it seems that Colin Salmon, who plays Walter, and Paul Blackthorne, who plays Quentin, are worth four guest stars.

– DC Comics Fun Facts: Stagg Industries, which pulled its funding for CNRI, is owned by Simon Stagg, the villainous businessman most associated with the superhero Metamorpho; Keystone City, where the Royal Flush Gang started, is home to the Flash, while Coast City, where Tommy wanted to take Laurel, is the home base of Green Lantern Hal Jordan. (Thanks to @Gislef for his sharp eye; I originally had Central City, Keystone's sister city, and the typo Coastal City.)

– I normally don’t harp on these sorts of things, but this is kind of driving me nuts in an irrational way: In the background of Oliver’s Arrow Cave/lair/whatever, there’s water cascading past the windows. I can’t tell if it’s raining (there haven't been any establishing shots of rain) or if there’s just a drainage pipe nearby, but it appears in every scene that takes place in that location and I have no idea why it’s there beyond atmosphere. I get that all the Arrow Cave stuff was most likely filmed over the course of a day, and so no one turned off the water machine, but still.

– Here’s the fanboy gripe (I’ve done really well with not engaging in these!): As a fan of the Royal Flush Gang in animation and comics, the painted hockey masks and assault rifles didn't really work for me. Folks dressed up like playing cards with energy weapons and an android (Ace is often an android) wouldn’t exactly fit in with Arrow, and the show’s solution to featuring those characters (albeit without the 10) was about as satisfying as any I could come up with, so I sort of wish that Arrow hadn’t bothered, but I also liked the storyline around them. I’m curious to see what folks who don’t know the Royal Flush Gang from other media thought of them.

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  • lindhoffen Jul 10, 2015

    Sorry, I thought this episode was another boring outing of Arrow and didn't hold my interest at all. I know I'm late to the show and I haven't read the comics, but I gave the show seven episodes and I can't be bothered with it anymore.

  • KatharinaHenz Oct 10, 2013

    It's not water in the background of the arrow cave it's a big ventilator. ;)

  • Acrobit Nov 20, 2012

    Yeah, so after the spoiler warning about The Royal Flush Gang (not a big spoiler; not your fault that I don't watch the 'next week on Arrow' stuff) I didn't think I'd like this episode much, but I was wrong. I didn't like hardly anything at all.

    I actually would've posted days ago, but it took me forever to finish this episode...or so I thought. When I finally sat down to finish tonight, I realized that I'd watched the entire thing, but forgot. My bad, but theirs, too. I forgot, but it only because the episode was mostly forgettable.

    I'm sorry, but Diggle's the sidekick. He and we can call it whatever, but when you need to get the main guy involved in your projects before you can do anything...and then, *you* don't do anything, you're the sidekick. When the main guy tries it his way, unsuccessfully, and you then ask him 'what's next?' you're the sidekick. I get why it works out this way; it's Arrow's show, and as they proved this week with the mom's husband, there isn't enough room to fit everyone's projects in one episode. Also, when any key questions like 'now what,' 'what's our next move,' 'how to we get in,' 'how do we find him' are used, you're the sidekick. It's too bad, but really, aside from making a spinoff (Diggle? Big Dig?), how else was this gonna work? (I'd probably watch Diggle, too. Just saying, CW.)

    Thea, wouldn't be a CW show without its PLL moments, but I don't really get who this last one was for. I think we already knew that Thea hated her life and her Priviledged Kid Problems, but this one didn't even spill over onto Oliver. I guess it was to humanize Tommy during his push into what's-her-name's story, but it's hard to think that they really want us to take him seriously, even briefly. It's not like Tommy and Thea even concluded the night with a new understanding. It just finished awkwardly. Realistic, but...why start now? This whole thing was ridiculous.

    Back to the card guys, I'm a fan of them, too. It wasn't that I didn't want to see them; I just didn't want to see them butchered here. Like the reviewer (basically) said, there wasn't really a way to have them dressed entirely as cards (*riding* flying cards), or have Ace as a giant, silent android, but if the closest thing they were gonna do was put on a few hockey masks...why bother with the theme at all? It'd be like having The Flash show up with just a lightning bolt tattoo on his wrist. They could've at least had them be rich, or financed well enough to have higher-tech weapons. It would've been nice if they'd posed some kind of threat to Arrow. Watching bullets bounce off Superman is really only cool for a few seconds.

    The one part I did like was Oliver and his mom. I get that she's the bad guy (for good reasons, I'm sure), but it was decent of Oliver to look out for her for a moment. Those BS formal lunches have got to go, but I think Oliver can help his family in small ways. I never liked that he was going to pretend to be a total screw up. That's his sister's job now.

    So, I didn't actually hate this episode like I did the 4th, but it was a flat 'meh.' Stupid is much worse than boring, but boring is just so...meh.

  • AdaHui Nov 19, 2012

    I liked this episode (as I have all the episodes) but my question is - if Oliver was using pages of his father's book to keep the fire stoked on the island, does that mean he burned a whole passel of names? Was he ripping from the back where there wasn't any or do we assume the ENTIRE book was filled?

  • noelrk Staff Nov 19, 2012

    There's some debate, I think, below, about how that plays out, and if the first page getting burned was part of his dream/hallucination.

  • AdaHui Nov 20, 2012

    Hmm, that makes sense!

    Keep up these awesome reviews! I enjoy coming here for a good read after each episode!

  • AdaHui Nov 20, 2012

    This comment has been removed.

  • Dre5d Nov 19, 2012

    does the green arrow have any enemies with super human abilities or is the show just showing the normal people for the sake of budget and special effects and realism?

  • noelrk Staff Nov 19, 2012

    He does, but they're few and far in between. The biggest is probably Brick (superstrength, a degree of invulnerability). Most of his enemies tended to be other archers or regular humans who were likewise at peak physical condition (Drakon, Onomatopoeia). Count Vertigo strikes the balance as a regular guy who originally had device-based ability...though I think it has since become a superpower.

  • CodyBush Nov 19, 2012

    In the comics he does, the above mentioned Android in the Royal Flush Gang being a reference. But the producers and writers have said that they will not be including super humans or otherwise in the show for the foreseeable future, as well as no cameos by Clark Kent.
    From Zap2it's interview with the Executive Producers
    "Kreisberg says that the lack of superpowers doesn't limit the characters they can bring in from the DC universe, but it does give them license to change those characters. "What it does is it creates an opportunity for us to reinvent some characters and present them in a non-powers, grounded way," he explains."

  • CharlesDarkTw Nov 27, 2012

    kreisberg is nuts...why would anyone want to make superheros more grounded ?!?! pretty much taking the fun out of it...and pretty much taking the point away from why we are into these things! am i wrong?

  • Dre5d Nov 20, 2012

    oh ok thanks

  • bluemystique Nov 18, 2012

    I really liked this episode! I mean it did have some minor things that were kinda...ugh, but overall I really liked the effort they put forth into actually utilizing all of its characters to the best of their abilities w/o it detracting from any other aspect of the show.
    - Thea was almost becoming more tolerable. She was really solid in this episode with the back and forth with Ollie, which was like the second time that they actually seemed believable in their sibling bond. I also loved the attempts at giving Tommy advice, up until the point where out of the blue she went all cliche with developing a crush on her bro's best friend (no...not diggle...I know right?) in all of ten minutes and acting like a drunk fool. I cringed. Hard. It's like they give you tiny nuggets of pretty sound character development and then revert back to the typecast teen handbook. Frustrating. So I was both pleased and disappointed in her progression this week.
    -Tommy. So apparently even though he's set up to be Ollie's best friend, the irony is that he shines best when he's not around Ollie. Vulnerable Tommy with Laurel...though still not nearly as interesting as other aspects of this show, works. I have no stake in this not so believable love triangle thingy they're trying to do. Any romantic aspect of this show is so far down on the list of things that hold my interest, however Tommy and Laurel seem to work.the best way to actually give both their characters presence is to apparently have them interacting with each other in a, C story
    -I'm blanking on her name...curses...but badass Penelope Garcia like computer chick. LOVE her. Every episode they should have her in it. She's proof that it is possible for someone to work the hell out of a little bit of screentime. Having her, Oliver, and DIggle in the same scene. Made.Of.Win.
    -Which brings me to the awesomeness. I knew I'd enjoy the episode when it started off with Oliver and Diggle sparring in the Batman/TMNT sewage cellar dungeon thingy. That made me smile so hard I felt like my face was cracking. I love this. I love the partnership and dynamic that is Dollie. Oggle? Still gotta work on that. But love it. It wasn't surprising that Ollie was laser focused on the execs so I was thrilled when Diggle pointed out to him that there are other ways that he could help. Diggle has this way of dropping knowledge on this Ollie in this "you're amusing kid" kinda way that I love. Diggle's already slightly amused at this great white hope saving the urbanites thing that Ollie has going on, but challenging him that if he was genuine in his justice there are more ways to help was satisfying as a viewer. It's like how you never take some A-list celeb seriously in their quest for saving the poor orphan kids of the world, until they actually adopt a kid from the States or some other place that isn't in Africa or Asia. Adopting kiddies from Africa and Asia can come off as indulging in a trend...adopting a poor kid from nowheresville USA or Ecuador somehow implies that you're genuine in your actions. But Diggle and Ollie, They give each other a run for their money. I love that.
    -The family thing was somewhat okay I guess. I loved what it did for Ollie, making him more aware of his status with Moira, more aware of broadening his horizons with saving the city, and seeing some of his "victims" as actual people.
    -Yeah the flashbacks weren't really necessarily in this episode.
    Great review!!!!!!

  • noelrk Staff Nov 19, 2012

    Definitely needs to be Oggle.

  • daniel_tanure Nov 17, 2012

    Can I be such a huge geek that I was the only one to notice this?

  • daniel_tanure Nov 17, 2012

    One thing you guys left out is that Thea's childhood's nickname is revealed to be "Speedy", and Speedy is the name of Green Arrow's sidekick. So I think the connection is kinda obvious.

    The question now is: Will Willa Holland look good in leather? Will she be able to pull off the martial arts moves and archery?

    Because I can't see it.

  • henriette Nov 18, 2012

    I'm fairly sure Noel mentioned it briefly in the review for the first episode :) But besides that I agree with you - I can't really see her pull that off either!

  • noelrk Staff Nov 18, 2012

    I did indeed, in the notes section of the review.

  • henriette Nov 17, 2012

    First of all - love these reviews! Keep up the good work :)

    About the Royal Flush Gang: Besides the obvious irrationalness of wearing very recognizable masks that can tie you to a whole string of crimes if you get caught, I really liked them. It made a lot of sense to have a story that showed some of the impact Oliver's dad's actions had on the city in a more comprehensible way. And I really liked that this showed that it's not always black and white with crime, not even in Starling City. It's not always just bad, bad CEO's doing bad things to good people. I'm very glad that Diggle might really have opened up Oliver's eyes to this matter.

    I can't remember exactly how I got this impression - which really annoys me - but I've definitely gotten the impression from earlier episodes that Thea has a bit of a crush on Tommy. So to me it seemed like a natural progression, given his talk with her this episode, that she began to hope there might be something there. But again, I can't refer to any specific scenes or anything, so it could also just be my mind jumping to conclusions since the "I'm a teen and I have a crush on my big bro's bestie" is probably THE MOST used storyline in anything involving a teenager. So I hope that now Tommy has told Thea how he feels (or not feels, I suppose), the writers can move on to finding an actual purpose for keeping Thea around.

    Was I the only one who found Tommy's gala gesture surprisingly sweet? I'm beginning to be on Team Torel/Lammy! Laurel and Oliver seems to be all about hanging on to the past when they are together (and maybe understandably so), where Laurel and Tommy seems to mostly be about having fun in the present. Tommy seems to be genuinely interested in making Laurel happy, but he's just now learning how to do so. Up until now he has been trying to make her happy with what works for him (parties, dinners, flying away to wherever) but he's now realizing that it's not the way. You go, Tommys first tiny personality development!

    Even though I am so excited every time we get to see flashbacks from the island, this week really disappointed me. It's good we now know that it was in his (probably) most hungry, desperate, lonely and confused moment that Oliver discovered the hidden writing in his father's notebook. But I could definitely have been without the whole daddy-ghost/hallucination thing. How many weeks are we going to keep watching Oliver lying around in that cave being cold and hungry? Yeah, he had an awful time, he almost died. He wish he was dead, so he didn't have to be forced to kill poor innocent birds with his bare hands. We get it! Please move on to revealing the mysteries of the mysterious island now. I'm sure there's plenty of them, no need to hold back.
    Also, what about the page Oliver threw into the fire before he figured out it was the most important notebook he'd ever hold in his hands? Are there some villain-CEO's that won't get punished because of this? Or was it by an odd coincident exactly the page where Mr. Queen did his doodles in invisible ink?

  • noelrk Staff Nov 19, 2012

    Glad you're enjoying the reviews. :)

    You're not the only one to say that they got the impression about Thea's crush on Tommy, but I really cannot recall a scene that hinted at it any way. I mean, there's Tommy comment in the pilot about Thea being hot, but I think that was about it on their potential interest in one another prior to this episode.

  • ben45tpy Nov 17, 2012

    I'm just about through with this show. The characters and acting are just so dull and lifeless. I'll tune in next week but it would take a gargantuan improvement to keep me watching.

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