“Legacy” refuses to let Arrow drown.
Wow. Okay, I guess we love Arrow again. I had hoped that the start of this next season might leverage Arrow’s strengths enough to improve upon season four’s missteps, but I can’t say expected this big of an improvement. These improvements are evident almost immediately as the episode begins with a fight scene that is both clean and brutal at the same time. The choreography is Arrow at its absolute best, which isn’t that much of a surprise considering that we’re getting James Bamford at the helm who is already a stunt coordinator and fight choreographer for the series. Bamford has already directed two previous episodes of the series, “Brotherhood” and “Code of Silence” which were impressively high points for the lackluster season four, so right from the beginning “Legacy” was getting started with the right tools, but what’s really impressive is the eye for action this time around. Every fight scene in “Legacy” is given an almost three hundred and sixty degree viewpoint that is supplemented by a clear cause and effect form of sequential action that is easy to follow, but is still given adequate impact to be convincingly threatening. This isn’t just the fight scenes themselves, but the anatomy of the action set-pieces. Characters enter and exit in believable ways, and the decisions they make actually seem to be natural for their given situations. Basically “Legacy” had stylish action, and even when it was over the top it was still filmed in a way to give it a sense of believability.
Aside from fight scenes the story unfolds in a very simplistic, but also natural way. What’s so amazing is that the story is set up to clearly defy the wants and needs of the fandom, but it works so well that it instead creates tension where their used to be expectancy. Yeah, that’s right. “Legacy” hates your ideas, and is going to do things differently; and it’s a good thing too because if this is the direction the series is headed it might not be the worst idea to have faith in the showrunners. Everything about “Legacy” makes sense. Even Oliver’s decision to revisit killing enemies as an option makes sense; and the show is even aware of the reaction of most fans by using Thea’s character to state the misgivings but it builds a convincing enough argument to consider the idea’s merits (at least according to Oliver’s mentality).
The absence of certain characters weighs heavily on the episode, but it adds to the tone, and creates a vacuum that the show is in the process of filling. The vigilante recruitment is catalyzed in “Legacy” but by keeping it a sidebar they’re able to focus on getting things back on track and telling a cohesive story that reintroduces characters, gets the audience up to speed, and (this is important) reminds us that that Arrow is first and foremost a superhero, martial-arts, action adventure series. “Legacy” is visually one of the most impressive episodes of the series. The fight scenes are easy to follow, brutally realistic, and have more than a few unexpected surprises that keeps things tense and unexpected, the characters act and react naturally, pursuing individual and reasonable interests, and Tobias Church (Chad L. Coleman) while not exactly being the most unique or even interesting villain is still given a sincere and charismatic presence thanks to Coleman’s portrayal.
All in all, Bamford rocks yet another episode and Arrow gets a fresh start it desperately needed and deserved.