After a Thanksgiving stint off, our favourite non-caped crusader and champion of the people has returned. And he’s met a special lady friend…
Let’s bitch it out…‘Muse Of Fire’ returns Arrow to the heights of 1×05 ‘Damaged’: a mostly character-based hour interspersed with some of the show’s traditional high-octane action. But it’s not the gun battles in the Rousseau restaurant or the final warehouse battle that resonates. It’s the discussion between Oliver (Stephen Arnell) and Helena (Jessica De Gouw) that’s memorable. The connection they forge over their respective crucibles and the impact it’s had on their psyche is interesting, well played by both actors and compelling because it gives their quests for revenge/vengeance/justice more depth.
For the last six episodes, we’ve watched Oliver slowly thaw-out after his five year stint on the island. Each week the introductory voice-over tells us that his only goal on the island was to survive, but if we’re being honest that’s not quite true. When Oliver meets with mob boss Bertinelli – Helena’s father – the criminal inquires why Oliver returned to Starling and Oliver’s response (“This is home”) is incredibly telling.
See Oliver hasn’t simply returned to the city to clean it up (if he had, he would be more focused on eliminating names from that list, or even taking up David Ramsey’s Diggle request to focus on the street gangs). Whether he knows it or not, he’s also trying to come home. This is helpful as we learn more about the family Queen, who (despite their dysfunction) operate much like other families on television. Moira (Susannah Thompson) may be knee-deep in corruption and Thea (Willa Holland) will go clubbing any night of the week, but at the end of the day what they want is the son and brother that they lost when that boat sunk five years ago.
For Oliver, his connection to family is tied to the promise he’s made his father. It therefore also ties him to the city – or rather ‘The City’ (since it is a character of its own in the series). In this way Oliver feels a certain patronage over the city, which is how he justifies his actions as the Hood. It’s also why he disparages against Helena at the end of the hour: her cause is less valid because she lacks the ambition that he associates with “doing good”, despite the fact that they are both determined to clean up the city. Her mission is simply more intimate since the villain of her story is her father, whereas his is the abstract concept of ‘crime.’ Regardless of which approach each adopts, however, now that they know each other’s secret, they are interconnected: confidants, partners (potentially) and, as the fade to black kicks in, lovers.
It’s not the most original story (consider how many shows feature a lone wolf responsible for the city, isolated and unable to confess their truths), but Arrow is finding its way towards a more interesting show as it progresses. Last week when the show returned to its “name in the book” of the week, it felt like a regression. In order to progress, the show needs to continue allowing these characters to evolve. That and pay-off the slow tease about how Moira and the Well-Manicured Man (John Barrowman) are connected and what their devious plan is.
A good first step is knowing how to use a guest star. Thus far we haven’t yet had an episode in which there hasn’t been a crime/criminal of the week, so if the show insists on maintaining this episodic format, it needs more characters like Helena as opposed to one-offs like the Royal Flush Gang or Deadshot. Perhaps it’s the Catwoman lover in me, but there’s always a special connection between a masked vigilante and his love interest/opponent (both in and out of costume). It certainly doesn’t hurt that Helena and Oliver have great chemistry in both their dinner date, as well as the final scene when they confess their loneliness and break out of their isolation with a kiss. I don’t think Helena’s destined to become a regular character (Oliver is still clearly meant to be with Katie Cassidy’s Laurel), but this is a step in the right direction.
- Am I the only one who wonders if Starling City only has one set of detectives? When Lance (Paul Blackthorne) and Hilton (Roger Cross) show up at a crime scene, I half expect people to turn to each other and exclaim “these guys again?!” From all indications Starlight City is relatively big, but these two appear to get all of the cases!
- Speaking of Moira: she’s kind of asking to be shot if she’s meeting a man with mob connections in the street. In broad daylight, no less! She needs to take more criminal mastermind classes at the learning annex because this is not how you do it
- Big reveal of the night = the Well-Manicured Man is Tommy’s (Colin Donnell) father. In hindsight, it seems pretty obvious given Tommy’s connection to money. This could also eventually tie him back into the larger story about their two families’ criminal plans, so perhaps this will make Tommy more vital sometime in the future
- As for the “rich kid loses his trust fund” and his burgeoning relationship with Laurel, all I have to say is…yawn. Why do so many shows insist on having characters that just suck the energy out of the room whenever they appear on screen? Keep Laurel, but Tommy is dead weight, regardless of his role in the comics
- Good to see Kelly Hu back as China White, even if only for a few seconds. I’m interested to learn more about how Bertinelli and the Triad are controlling the city, so hopefully this – and Hu’s role – will expand more as the season continues
- RIP Tahmoh Penikett. This is an example of how you do bad by a guest star. Come on, Arrow, this guy was on Dollhouse AND Battlestar Galactica! It’s pretty surprising that they brought him in for a single episode only to kill him like he’s a generic day-player. Give this man some respect!
- Finally, does Diggle just hang out in the batcave all day? Someone lets him out to get Vitamin D and ensure no one calls the cops to report a missing person, right? That dude seriously needs a life outside of the justice game because hanging out in a dark warehouse is not healthy
- Oliver (about being judged for his family name): “I’m the rich man’s Lindsay Lohan”
- Diggle: “You’re supposed to be going undercover, not speed dating” Not your best, Diggle
- Diggle (when Olive says he knows what’s he doing with Helena): “Now I know how your family feels when you lie to them” Speaking of mother figures
- Oliver (to Thea when she apologizes for being a b*tch): “There were a few times. Can you be more specific?”
So that’s it for this week’s episode. Do you approve of De Goux as Huntress/Helena? Did you find it distracting how much she resembles Rachel McAdams and Eva Green? Anyone care that Tommy lost his trust fund and car? Excited that Walter (Colin Salmon) has come home? Hit the comments below!
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8pm EST on The CW