This latest episode of Arrow took a slight detour by revolving around a family that was affected by Oliver’s father’s mistakes, rather than focusing on a new target out of the book of names. Since the show premiered, almost every episode has followed the same format – Oliver picks another person from his dad’s list of corrupt figureheads in Starling City and brings them down. It was a nice change of pace, prompted by Diggle’s insistence that Oliver can help people without always going after the big fish at the top of the criminal food chain. In addition to mixing the formula up, “Legacies” also paid particular attention to how Oliver’s alter-ego affects his relationship with his friends and family. As usual, this episode of “Arrow” was about more than using awesome ninja moves to bring down a notorious bad guy.
Legacies begins with what appears to be your typical bank robbery: there are scary masks, an easily cracked safe, and a doomed undercover cop who tries to pull a fast one on the burglars and pays for it. Shooting a cop was never part of the plan, but the four robbers manage to escape the bank and the police squad waiting for them outside. But it soon becomes clear that these were no ordinary crooks, and that they actually have ties to Oliver’s father. When his dad relocated the company’s manufacturing plants to China, many workers were put out of work and not given the severance they deserved. One of those workers is the father of a family of four, who now resorts to hitting up local banks to make ends meet. As Oliver’s new sidekick, Diggle pleads with him to consider getting involved in the case and put his usual schedule aside for once. After Diggle pulls a fast one on Oliver (getting him to pay the medical bill for the wounded cop that was shot during the first heist), he reluctantly agrees to fight crime at a lower level than he’s used to.
Diggle and Oliver’s discussion about the level of crime he intends on fighting is one of the key ways that “Arrow” sets itself apart from other masked vigilantes like Batman. Until “Legacies,” Oliver has always targeted the city’s most corrupt figures, hoping to eradicate crime from the top down. But Batman was fonder of fighting street crime and occasionally taking on the more skilled, twisted psychos on that level (think notable villains like The Joker). Essentially, Diggle’s argument is that it wouldn’t hurt for Oliver to be more like Batman once in awhile and fight the lowest scum in Starling City on occasion. For the show, it would mean more variety and a clever way to get away from the pitfall of doing the same thing every week.
In the midst of sorting out the bank robber situation, Oliver has problems at home as well. His busy schedule and long absences is putting a strain on the family, particularly on his mother. With Walter on his indefinite business trip and Oliver off saving Starling City, Moira is lonely and struggling to prevent Thea from becoming the problem-child that Oliver was before he got stuck on the island. Oliver tries to be there for a family breakfast with friends and for Laurel’s fundraising event, but duty calls and he has to leave early. As the title of this episode implies, Oliver is really facing the question of what kind of legacy he will leave behind him. Most of Starling City, his own family members included, considers him to be a useless, immature party boy who is incapable of thinking of anything or anyone but himself. Sacrificing his public image is the cost of maintaining the secrecy of his alter-ego, but is that tarnished legacy something he can live with? By the end of the episode, Oliver tries to right the ship by taking his mom out for a bite to eat, but the question still remains as to whether he will be able to balance his double lives and somehow transform the way the public sees Oliver Queen.
While Oliver has his hands full with family problems and bank robbers, there are things happening between Laurel and Tommy. In recent episodes, Tommy has been adamant about being able to change into a one-woman guy, and that he wants Laurel to be that lucky lady. In “Legacies,” Tommy at first ties to woo Laurel by flaunting his wealth, which only pushes her away. So he turns to Thea for some dating advice, and she urges him to find out what the girl is into and then show her that he also has an interest in it. How Thea didn’t realize that the “girl” Tommy was referring to was Laurel is a mystery—she’s the one that blew the whistle on them in front of Oliver, so why would he already be with somebody different? Regardless, Tommy takes Thea’s advice and offers to throw a fundraising party for CNRI, which just lost its biggest sponsor. Laurel sees the offer for what it is, a way for Tommy to get back in her pants, but her constantly nagging girlfriend reminds her how much it would benefit CNRI, so she takes one for the team and tells Tommy they’d be honored if he put together a gala event for them. Later, at the party, Laurel lets down her guard and seems charmed by Tommy’s care for a drunken Thea (as well as his jealousy over Laurel dancing with a rich donor at the party). Also present at the gala event: some truly awful drunk acting by the actress who plays Thea, which involved a bizarre change of speech and hitting on Tommy. When the night ended, it seemed to leave the Tommy/Laurel relationship in the realm of possibly happening again. It’ll be interesting to see how Oliver feels about that when he actually has two seconds to pay attention to Laurel again.
Once Oliver figures out the connection that the bank robbers have to his father and the company, he tries to right his dad’s wrongs and intervene before the family gets arrested or killed. Unfortunately, his efforts come too late. During the family’s last heist (it’s always the last one), the father dives in front of his son to take a gunshot from the security guard who had been posted at the bank. As cliche as the entire bank robbery plot was, it was interesting to see Oliver fail at what he was trying to accomplish this episode.
“Arrow” has done a good job with keeping the show fresh and engaging, despite resorting to the same format each week. After awhile that strategy is bound to grow stale, so hopefully the writers have plans to mix things up a bit. ”Legacies” was a good indication of that, straying from the typical mission to take down the major players and instead delving into the lower level or crime in Starling City. Plus, there are other subplots and B-stories that add to the initial premise of the show—the fact that the boat Oliver was on was sabotaged, his mother’s connection to high-crime figures, the love-triangle between Tommy, Laurel and Oliver (though love-triangles are so overused these days), and Diggle becoming Oliver’s sidekick all offer a substantial amount of meat to the show besides the surface of vigilante action. Though “Arrow” has its occasional soapy moments that remind us that its a CW show, it usually manages to avoid the more teen-drama qualities of shows like “Gossip Girl” and “90210.” There are some melodramatic moments, but they are thankfully outweighed by action and mysterious subplots. Six episodes into its first season, “Arrow” is an entertaining show that is showing a lot of promise. The CW may have another hit on its hands.