ComicsAlliance Recaps ‘Arrow’ Episode 1.10: Burned
The CW’s new superhero series Arrow re-imagines Green Arrow for a TV audience as a tough, often ruthless vigilante bent on setting things right in his home of Starling City by punishing the wicked. ComicsAlliance’s Matt Wilson will be following along all season to see how he fares.
This week, Arrow investigates some mysterious firefighter deaths, Moira mopes about her missing husband and Ollie finally sort of opens that nightclub he’s been talking about so much.Previously: Steele got a syringe to the neck in an elevator! Ollie done f**ked up by letting Dark Arrow get to him and he knows it! That’s all that happened!
Well, it had to come back sometime, didn’t it? After a full month of blissful, Arrow-free life, the show has returned. And it does so with a literal bang: A warehouse full of pipes is burning and exploding with great ferocity, so great in fact, that the it’s got the Starling City fire chief yelling like a madman at everyone around him.
Everyone except the firefighter up on the top floor, who the chief radios for a report. As the firefighter reports that it’s “clear on the upper level” despite open flames raging right behind him (maybe he means it’s clear of people, but he’s sure being casual around that fire), another firefighter in an air purifying mask approaches and sprays the first guy with turpentine as if he’s watering his azaleas. He instantaneously ignites like a monk on a Rage Against the Machine album cover and the mysterious assailant (but come on, it’s Firefly) struts away.
At the Arrowcave, Ollie works out while flashing back to the beating Dark Arrow gave him on Christmas. Side-note: I hope they never explain why water is constantly cascading to the ground in and around the Arrowcave, which, unlike the Batcave, is not an actual cave, but a factory basement. Maybe in season four or something Ollie and Dig will have to fight the mildew creature that’s been growing down there.
The memory of the beating is clearly getting to Ollie. He tries and fails to hit his favorite target, a tennis ball, with an arrow. He killed like a dozen tennis balls back in the pilot, so we know this is bad news. Dig enters, and he and Ollie exchange some exposition about Steele’s disappearance and possible death. Dig then asks if it isn’t time to get started crossing names off the List of Evil. Ollie makes up an excuse because he’s shook. Remember the tennis ball thing that happened a few seconds ago?
Now it’s Flashback Island time, but it’s actually a flashback to a flashback. We’ve seen this all before, where Deathstroke and Fyers grab up Proto-Arrow and leave Ollie alone in the woods. Deathstroke looks right at Ollie but doesn’t kidnap him because, look, we have to keep this flashback thing going, OK?
In the present, a sour-looking Sgt. Lance (remember that he got demoted, or maybe it was promoted, though it seemed like a punishment) and the fire chief show up at Laurel’s office to inform Joanna that her brother, Danny, was the one that died in that fire in the cold open. It would be a powerful moment if prior to this we had known that Joanna had a brother or he was a fireman or really anything about him, or for that matter, her, at all. The actress who plays her, Annie Ilonzeh, does a nice job with the scene, though.
Moira’s in her bedroom, longingly staring at a framed photo of herself and Steele like she wasn’t part of the shadowy cabal that had him kidnapped and can’t do anything about it. I know. We’ve all been there. Ollie comes to the doorway and asks if she wants to eat some takeout and “watch a DVD.” What, you live in an actual castle and you don’t have Blu-ray, Queens? Moira opts to mope in her room instead.
So Ollie and Thea watch the movie (it’s a Blu-ray after all, I guess Ollie just really had his hopes up for HD DVD before his boat sank), and Ollie struggles with the pronunciation of Zach Galifianakis’ name but somehow gets it right, even though that’s not how you’d sound it out at all. Ollie and Thea talk about how Steele snapped Moira out of her depression last time a husband of hers disappeared and Thea incorrectly theorizes that maybe Steele wasn’t kidnapped.
Meanwhile, a talking head on the One Station TVs in Starling City Get is talking about how “the vigilante” (these media vultures should be ashamed they haven’t given him a decent name yet), who hasn’t been seen in six weeks, had actually reduced muggings and murders in the city. How he did that by attacking a few businessmen, breaking into a prison and participating in a gang war, I’ll never know, but whatever.
Laurel arrives home to find Merlyn holding on to a note he had a seven-year-old hand write for him listing the reasons he deserves a dresser drawer. She says they aren’t there just yet; he looks hurt. But before it can go any further, Joanna shows up to say she thinks her brother’s death is fishy. Laurel tries to say she’s overthinking things, but Joanna’s got a copy of the coroner’s incident report showing the turpentine on his coat, and that there was no turpentine in the burning pipe mill. If it’s that obvious, why is no one else investigating this? What the hell, Starling City justice system?
Sgt. Lance certainly doesn’t see the problem in the light of pretty shocking evidence and at least one other case where things went down exactly the same way. Nope, nothing weird there! Laurel has come to police HQ to try to convince him, but they’re interrupted by an IT guy who has been trying to pull evidence from the smartphone Arrow gave Sgt. Lance a few episodes back. The IT guy says he can’t even tell who manufactured it even though it is very obviously an iPhone. Police work!
Laurel asks about the phone and her dad tells her it’s from “the vigilante.” So, of course, as soon as he leaves it lying right there on his desk, she takes it and calls Arrow.
Is there a more perfect movie to advertise on Arrow than that Hansel and Gretel thing with Hawkeye in it? I say no.
So after six weeks of inaction, it turns out all it really took was a phone call to perk up Arrow’s spirits. Arrow’s a lot like a mom with an empty nest. He goes to Laurel’s, voice-changing device thing in tow, and she tells him about the oddness surrounding Danny’s death.
Arrow’s also a lot like a seven-year-old, in that he throws something he thought was mean (she told her dad she thought he was a killer, which he is) back in Laurel’s face before he agreed to help. Class act, that Arrow.
Looks like Arrow’s not totally back yet, though. Ollie returns to the Arrowcave to instruct Dig to tip the fire department investigators to the evidence of the turpentine, which was in a public record and they ought to have anyway, and let them and the cops handle it. Dig’s all ready to give a pep talk when he and Ollie overhear Merlyn yelling at a contractor upstairs.
That’s right, the nightclub is finally coming together! A nightclub that’s apparently separated from the Arrowcave by an easily visible door and a very functional, not-at-all hidden set of stairs. Again: Putting your alibi business right on top of your secret crimefighting headquarters seems like an open invitation for someone to stumble in there. Barely hiding that secret headquarters makes it just dumb.
Anyhoo, Tommy’s got an idea for a fundraiser for the fire department at the not-yet-finished nightclub. Ollie compliments him on his initiative and does not point out that inviting firefighters to a club that’s still under construction and almost definitely not up to fire code will lead to an immediate shutdown.
At Laurel’s office, she’s offering Joanna some “do as I say, not as I do” advice about grieving for her brother when Sgt. Lance blows through to chide his daughter about taking the phone. She lies that Arrow took the phone back, which leads to a short debate about what lengths someone should go to for justice. This Laurel/Sgt. Lance conversation is quickly coming to rival the Ollie/Thea “you’ve changed” discussion for most-repeated dialogue. It’s a horse race.
Queen Consolidated’s COO is at Casa Queen making a pretty reasonable case that another CEO disappearing is probably pretty bad PR for the company and has riled the shareholders, which need some stability. But Moira turns down an offer to step in as CEO, even after Ollie says she should take the job. She’s upset, and who wouldn’t be after your secret-society friends drugged and abducted your husband? That’s a one-way ticket to Pajamatown.
Ollie offers some comfort to Thea, but soon enough Dig sidles in to pull Ollie away. Stagg Chemical is on fire and someone’s probably going to die. “They need the man in the hood,” he says. And Ed Lover wasn’t available, so they’ll have to settle for Arrow. (Maybe if Simon Stagg ever shows up on this show, they could get Ed Lover to play him. That’d be pretty great.)
Young Ollie’s building a tiny little fire on Flashback Island when he hears rustling in the woods. He snuffs the flame out and hides from the paratrooper who emerges. The paratrooper sees the smoke and radios for backup. We had a whole flashback just for this?
At Stagg, Firefly knocks another lone firefighter off a railing, leaving him dangling over the massive flames below. Arrow spends about half an hour swinging around the building like he’s running the Eliminator on American Gladiators, giving Firefly ample time to drop the guy to his death. Arrow finally gets over to Firefly and they fight for a while. Firefly gets the better of him, but as he’s escaping, Arrow notices a tattoo on his scarred wrist.
By the looks of the tattoo, Firefly is a freshman girl on spring break who hates her dad.
Arrow’s feeling bad. He let that firefighter die because he was having too much fun on the zip line. His remorse leads to another flashback in which he attacks the paratrooper with a knife only to end up in a roll-around-on-the-ground fight with him. Ollie ends up in a creek. What a short memory to sit around and think about, Arrow.
He calls Laurel on his super-secret ArrowPhone and offers her some identifying information for Firefly: his scarred hand, his tattoo and that he drives a 1970s Ford pickup. He couldn’t get the license plate number because he was dodging Nitro on the medicine balls, I guess. Arrow’s got the suspects narrowed down, though: The men in Engine Co. 15 had those tattoos. Laurel asks what she should do with this information. “Whatever you’d have done before you met me,” Arrow mopes. I’ve had just about all I can take of Sad Arrow, let me tell you.
So has Dig, who throws a punch at Ollie in the Arrowcave to see if he’s lost a step. Ollie defends himself easily, so Dig points out Ollie’s problem isn’t physical. He states quite bluntly that Dark Arrow got in Ollie’s head and made him unsure of himself because people might not have picked up the subtleties of that tennis ball thing earlier or Ollie’s Charlie Brown-like demeanor.
Ollie gets called off to the firehouse to check on the guest list for the benefit. There, he runs into Laurel, who’s there to ask about the chief’s old company, the Fireflies, and insensitively remind him that a lot of his friends are dead. She, and later Ollie, think Garfield Lynns, who reportedly died two years ago in a tower fire, may be alive. Oh, and there’s a conversation about that drawer Merlyn wants because ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
What? No, I’m awake. So is young Ollie, who pops out of the creek on Flashback Island to find the paratrooper guy knocked out on the rocks. Pretty soon these flashbacks are going to be measured in hundredths of a second, like sprints.
Moira’s still in her bedroom, still looking at photographs. Thea insists they go to a movie or dinner, but Moira just wants to stay shut in. There’s an argument. They’re both sad. Everybody’s sad.
In the Arrowcave, Ollie finally opens up to Dig. It’s not almost dying that’s got him upset, but the prospect of losing the relationships he’s built back up since returning home and hurting those people by leaving them again. Dig says it’s actually good to have something to live for because I guess he forgot that he used to have a sense of humor once.
And now it’s club scene time! It’s jumpin’ at the firefighter club benefit tonight, y’all! Look at this hype crowd:
Yeahhhhhhh son, y’all know how we do, standing around and calmly conversing up in the club!
Laurel and Merlyn resolve that whole drawer thing by not resolving it at all just before Ollie pulls her aside to go grill the poor fire chief again about his deceased co-workers. Turns out Garfield Lynns was a pretty serious fool. He stayed in that burning tower even after everyone else had given up on it. The chief, quite prudently, didn’t send his unit back in.
And, as if speaking his name made him appear, Firefly shows up at the party. A naive older lady thanks him for his service and starts rambling about it until he looks at her with his charred face and freaks her out. Firefly approaches the chief, spits out a fairly weak one-liner and throws some kind of firebomb toward the back of the room. That sets everything but the middle of the room on fire, which is not quite how fire works, if I remember my chemistry.
Dig and Merlyn rush people out of the building. Firefly tells Laurel to run away before he starts spraying the chief with turpentine just like he did to Danny earlier.
Ollie takes his sweet time to gingerly run downstairs and grab his Arrow gear. Merlyn and Laurel get trapped in the fire. Firefly shakily tells the chief his flimsy revenge story. He didn’t even stay in the tower to save a loved one or anything! He just wanted to save the building! Insurance is a thing that exists, Firefly. Just so you’re aware.
Firefly threatens the chief with a lighter, but before it can land, Arrow slides in and hilariously sidesteps the raging fire — he seriously just jukes it like he’s charging to the hoop for a layup — and shoots the lighter out of the air. Good thing it wasn’t a tennis ball!
The chief runs away so Firefly and Arrow can have a heart-to-heart. “Lynns, let me get you help,” Arrow offers. Look, I know Starling City has some weird ideas about justice, and maybe Ollie’s just trying a ploy here, but this man who committed a bunch of arsons and murdered at least three other firefighters is perhaps past the point of help, at least in legal terms. Maybe Arrow’s finally coming to terms with his murderer status and trying to start a support group.
Firefly won’t join any club that would have him, though. “Thanks, but I’m already burned,” he says ’90sly before walking into the fire and crashing to the ground like a ragdoll.
Back at Queen House, the pro-Arrow commentator on The One Station in Starling City is once again singing his praises. She’s the anti-J. Jonah Jameson. Thea says Ollie should be upset because his club burned up, but he’s happy because he clearly never wants that thing to open, anyway. I can’t wait to see how wind damage or mold or something affects it in a few weeks.
Moira comes downstairs and announces she’s taking Steele’s place as CEO because her daughter called her a baby. Business is weird.
Joanna tells Laurel she’s taking some time off. But who will tell Laurel she has to go to parties and s**t now?!? Joanna gives Laurel her brother’s badge to give to Arrow as a token of her gratitude even though it wouldn’t mean anything to anyone but her family and he’ll probably just try to shoot it to see if he’s really got his aim back. Sgt. Lance drops by to apologize to Laurel and get his ArrowPhone back. Before he leaves, he decides to give it back to her, though, for her safety.
…Or is it? Sgt. Lance returns to police HQ to ask IT guy whether the phone bug is working. He says it is, although it’s pretty f’ed up to use your daughter as bait. (He also calls Lance “detective” here, which makes the rank thing all the more confusing.) Sgt. Lance responds by curling his lips more than they’re already curled, nearly reaching Max Curl.
Ollie trains at the Arrowcave so he can have a final flashback. Now equipped with the paratrooper’s multi-pouched vest, a mysterious set of keys and an island map, he can finally start his life on the island as a Liefeld character. He already had the hair for it.
In the present, Ollie thanks Dig for helping…uh…dig him out of his funk. Ollie says it’s time to start hunting people on the list again. I never thought I’d say this, but thank goodness.
For an episode that promoted the hell out of having Firefly in it, this thing was pretty dang light on Firefly. He was in it for what, maybe four minutes total? I mean, not that I necessarily wanted to see more of this character with these really weak motivations, but give people what you advertise, Arrow, jeez.
The other 9/10ths or so of this episode was all Mopey Moira and Sad Arrow and Worried Lance of Indeterminate Rank. It dragged. It repeated itself. That subplot with Laurel, Merlyn and the drawer was so thin you could see through it.
And the one action sequence that I thought was pretty not bad, the one in the flashbacks, was all broken up into 15-second bites. The parts that deserved time were cut laughably short; the parts that bored stretched on forever.
A pretty rough episode to come back on. Maybe Ollie will finally get that tennis ball next week.