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ComicsAlliance Recaps ‘Arrow’ Episode 1.7: Muse of Fire

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, Ollie’s mom is the victim of a vicious attack, The Huntress comes on the scene (though she doesn’t have the name yet) and a possibly nefarious familial relationship is revealed!Previously on Arrow: Ollie’s got to let someone in! Lying doesn’t hurt anyone more than it does Ollie! Shooting! An irrational hatred of cinder blocks! All context we’re sure to need in this week’s episode.

But not so much at the start, which features a motorcycle-riding Ollie stopping in the middle of the street to take a phone call using the Bluetooth device in his ear. Maybe everyone close to him should have been berating him about that instead of his emotional distance. Perhaps he didn’t realize, since he was on that island for five years, that those things are the absolute worst.

The call is from Thea, who reminds Ollie of his lunch date with their mom. After some mild sibling bickering, Ollie heads off to see Moira outside Queen Consolidated, where she’s talking with a real fidgety fellow about a business deal she, like me, doesn’t seem too interested in. That’s when a mysterious, helmeted assailant on yet another motorcycle zooms by and pops off some shots in Moria and Fidgety Guy’s direction.

Fidgety Guy takes a couple shots to the chest, swings his arm out while being murdered and clocks Moira one. How inconsiderate. They both go down, Ollie does a cursory check to see if Moira’s OK and starts chasing the attacker.

He takes off after the motorcycle on foot even though he’s got his own motorcycle right there, and even more ridiculously, he manages to stay right on its tail, even knocking out one of its wheels before a truck comes through an alley and blocks his way. Look, I know Ollie learned a lot on that island, but gaining motorcycle-class speed is just a tad far-fetched. Geoff Johns co-wrote this episode. Maybe he’s got enough creative sway at Warners to suddenly give TV Ollie superpowers. Who knows.

After the title card, Moira’s laid up in the hospital with a mild concussion from that devastating elbow death-flail. She’ll spend the rest of the episode convalescing like she’s got black lung, though. She asks Thea if Steele, who we last saw leaving for a long trip to Melbourne because Moira lied to him (which really should have been in the “previously”), has been in touch. He hasn’t.

Ollie apologizes for leaving his mom laid out on the ground all concussed, and she asks what he was even doing. He lies that he was trying to get the license plate number. Moira says that was foolish. Ollie and Thea head out into the hallway, where she gives him a talking to about running after the assailant: “You left mom in the street. Alone. And hurt. In the street.” Man, Geoff Johns really did co-write this thing, didn’t he? (And, just to get technical here she was on company property, not in the street.) Thea tells Ollie she and Moira love him, “but it’s getting hard when you won’t be truthful with us,” and bleep bloops back to her robot charging station because I find it hard to imagine a present-day human being phrasing it that way.

Ollie runs into detectives Lance and Hilton in the hallway, who reassure him they’re going to nab the attacker and that Moira wasn’t the target. Fidgety Guy had mob ties, like most fidgety guys do.

Laurel’s at her apartment, listening to music Now Available on iTunes when a knock at the door reveals a pizza guy and Merlyn, both bearing dinner. Laurel picks Merlyn’s sushi over the pizza (which she pays for and saves for later; it’s Chekov’s pizza), and Merlyn takes the opportunity to ask Laurel out on a real date.

In the Arrowcave, shirtless, training-mode Ollie explains to Dig that Fidgety Guy worked for Bertinelli Construction and mob boss Frank Bertinelli (Jeffrey Nordling), and he isn’t the first mob goon who’s been offed recently. Ollie’s planning to find out more from the Bertinellis under the guise of continuing that business deal Moira hated, but Dig wonders why Ollie can’t just be with his family (this is the character that wanted to start going after regular bank robbers last episode, by the way). Ollie offers up some weird reasoning about how he can’t explain how he can nearly outrun a motorcycle while his mom is bleeding on the pavement (everyone is getting the details of this attack wrong; she wasn’t bleeding), but he can protect his family.

Ollie says the attacker is a dead man, but in true Metroid style, it turns out to be a lady! Swerve!

At Casa Queen, Thea’s about to head out for a night of clubbing when Ollie stops her to say he’s got to go out for a business meeting and she should stay with Moira. Couldn’t they both go out, at least for a bit? Does a relatively mild concussion really require 24/7 oversight like that? Anyway, Thea heads back up. Merlyn swings by and tells Ollie about the date with Laurel, which Ollie approves of, but with a “playful” warning that he will murder him if he hurts her.

Ollie arrives at the Bertinelli home, where he meets Frank Bertinelli’s hired muscle, whose character name is Nick Salvati, but I’m just going to call him Helo because he’s played by Tamoh Penikett from Battlestar Galactica, he doesn’t have a comics counterpart and he won’t make it out of the episode alive anyway. He also catches a glimpse of Bertinelli’s daughter, who we know shot up Fidgety Guy, but he doesn’t. (We also know she’s The Huntress, because that’s her last name and we’ve seen the preview photos, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.)

Thea’s doing her best to keep her mom entertained by listing off the titles of bad TV shows they could watch. On the one hand, it’s finally proof that TVs in Starling City show programs other than the news. On the other, is this really the road you want to go down, Arrow? Because I’d rather watch Cop Docs, about doctors who fight crime, than the past few episodes of this show in a heartbeat. Thea and Moira have a brief, somewhat robot-like (“Don’t be so harsh on your brother”) talk about how they need to stop expecting him to be what he was and start accepting Oliver for what he’s become since his shipwreck.

Ollie and Bertinelli talk business (Bertinelli wants to build the new Applied Sciences division, which they already broke ground on weeks ago, so you’d think there’d already be a contract, right?), slag off the media (who pedantically point out stuff like that) and talk about how violent the city is before Helena (Jessica De Gouw) walks in, creepily reciting verse like a hypnotized Von Trapp child. They get introductions out of the way, and Helo calls Bertinelli away to an urgent meeting. Bertinelli asks Helena to take Ollie — whom she calls “the rich man’s Lindsay Lohan,” as if that makes any sense at all and wasn’t just spat out by a celebrity-reference generator — out to dinner with her to help score the company the contract. She grudgingly agrees.

That urgent meeting Bertinelli needed to get to? It’s with China White, who says she’s not responsible for the attacks on Fidgety Guy and the rest. Bertinelli doesn’t believe it; he says he’ll come after the Triads if someone else dies. Seems prudent.

Also, that guy with her? He would seem to only be there to say things in Chinese before White says them in English to the two English speakers she’s meeting with. He’s like her anti-translator.

Apparently, detectives Lance and Hilton were listening in to the whole thing at police HQ — I guess Helo’s wearing a wire — and Lance is pretty sure it’s not the Triad behind the killings. The shooter missed a bunch, so it wasn’t a professional. Not to mention all the accidental concussions! If Bertinelli goes after the Triad, it’ll be a full-on gang war, Lance observes.

Helena and Ollie are out to dinner, being fawned over by yet another fidgety guy, this one the restaurant owner, Mr. Russo, who wants them to put in a good word for him with Bertinelli. He’s kind of like Artie Bucco from The Sopranos but with less fortitude.

Helena and Ollie exchange some icy conversation about how they’ve already judged each other (he overheard the Lindsay Lohan comment; the claws are out!) until finally Helena asks if being on Purgatory for five years wasn’t liberating somehow. He says that some days, it was. I’d guess those weren’t the ones when Deathstroke jammed hot pokers into his torso or he was seeing his dad’s ghost.

Merlyn and Laurel are out to dinner, too, at an Indian restaurant. Continuing the episode’s trend of awkward phrasings, Merlyn tells her he “read this article by a film critic once” about how he wished he could watch his favorite movie for the first time again. He says he also wishes he could have a fresh start with Laurel because he’s made so many mistakes with her (which is almost definitely not why that critic wanted to see his favorite movie with fresh eyes, but not every metaphor can be perfect). As the sentiment lands, the waiter comes back to tell Merlyn his credit card has been declined. Wuh-oh!

At Russo’s Italian House of Flopsweat, Ollie and Helena have closed the place down. They’re too busy sharing tragedies! Ollie talks about Purgatory, which Helena calls a crucible that changed him. He asks about the cross she wears, which was a gift from her dead fiancé. “That was my crucible,” she says. What a fun couple!

Boe has come to visit laid-up Moira so he can ask a concussed woman whether her commitment to exploiting the weak remains. She says it’s strong as ever; he says he can see in her twitchy pupils that she means it.

Out in the alley by Russo’s, Ollie takes a call from Dig. Helo’s been going around forcefully collecting protection money from people all night, and old poops-his-pants Russo is next. Ollie says he’s already there because he was on a date with Helena; Dig reveals he’s seen some pictures of her “on the Web” because he apparently spends his off-time creepily searching for local rich girls on Google Images. Please don’t make Dig a creep, Arrow.

Helo arrives and threatens Russo in a shakedown scene that’s so by-the-numbers he might as well say he’s offering Oops Insurance.

Arrow shows up and knocks out the lights (isn’t it convenient that all this show’s action scenes take place in extremely low light?) so he can beat up Helo’s crew. But then the not-yet-Huntress pops in and starts spraying bullets at guys. She and Arrow tussle for a bit before he manages to get her motorcycle helmet off to reveal her true identity. Could this be yet another crucible in this relationship?

Ollie and Dig regroup at the Arrowcave. Dig insists that Helena is a murderer and any further action on her part will spark a huge gang war; Ollie knows she has to have her reasons for killing a bunch of people. And, really, can he judge?

Detective Lance and the police video guy are scanning through the surveillance tape from Russo’s to see what happened, but the coverage is bad and they don’t get a good look at almost-Huntress. They scan back through the night to try to spot any Triad diners, and come up with none, but they do spot Ollie and Helena.

So Detective Lance pays his 400th visit in seven episodes to the Queen home to warn Ollie to stay away from Helena. Lance feels bad that his totally-true assertion that Ollie was Arrow nearly got him killed, so he’s doing him a solid.

At the Merlyn residence, Merlyn the Younger confronts Dad Merlyn — who is in full fencing gear, including face mask — about his cancelled credit cards and frozen accounts. Masked Dad says he’s tired of paying gobs of fees on Tommy’s debt. The trust fund is finished. And he doesn’t stay masked for long. It’s…it’s Boe!

I know this is supposed to be a big, shocking reveal, but I can’t feel much but, “Oh, that one guy is that other guy’s dad. OK.” Also, the Merlyns are definitely the DCTV version of Norman and Harry Osborn, right? It’s an evil rich dad who is a secret villain, and a generally well-meaning son who’s the hero’s best friend even though he occasionally dates the hero’s ex. It’s certainly a big divergence from any incarnation of Merlyn from the comics. At least it’s not something from Nolan Batman.

Helena’s enjoying her evening sitting in front of her fiancé’s grave when Ollie approaches and says he found her there by following her from her house. Young, morbid, stalkerish love! Ollie asked how losing her fiancé changed her, like it’s weird that it did or something, and she said it changed her love into hate and that Ollie should stay away from her, making her the third person of the episode to say that very thing.

Ollie’s a stubborn SOB, though, so he follows Helena just as Helo and some thugs drive up in a van and grab them. They end up tied up in a dimly lit warehouse (where else?) where Helo slaps Helena around and reveals he knows she’s the one who’s been killing her father’s guys, because she dropped her cross necklace at the restaurant. Ollie stalls for time so that Helo can explain that Bertinelli asked him to kill Helena’s fiancé, Michael, because they found a laptop full of evidence on them they believed he was collecting for the FBI.

In a not-altogether-convincing moment of intense acting (it’s more breathy than intense), Helena says that was her computer, because she wanted to stop her dad’s criminal activities. Helo says it was her fault Michael died, then, even though he carried out the hit. “You shot Michael?” she asks. “In the chest, so he knew it was me,” Helo replies. I guess that’s his signature method of shooting that no one else uses. “Yo, watch out for Helo,” guys probably say on the street. “That dude shoots people in the chest. That’s how you know it’s him.”

Helo’s about to pull his patented chest-shooting move on Helena when Ollie slips out of his bonds and tackles him. Some oddly staged fighting ensues where Ollie uses at least one guy as a human bullet shield and snaps a guy’s neck while Helena snaps Helo’s neck in a less-than-perfectly-clear way. “I didn’t have a choice, Oliver,” she says. “No one can know my secret.” That’s an almost word-for-word Ollie line from the pilot. (Which, again, was not included in the previouslies, even though it’s pretty pertinent here.) So they made The Huntress into, essentially, She-Arrow. She gets a crossbow, even. We now have Arrow, Proto-Arrow, D’Arrow and She-Arrow. Four Arrows in seven episodes!

A quick scene at police HQ reminds us that newly dead Bertinelli guys means a likely war between the mob and the Triads. Merlyn shows up at Laurel’s apartment to break the news that he’s completely cut off. Laurel offers up some reassurances and says that pizza she didn’t eat before is in her fridge. See? I told you.

At the Queen house, Steele returns and has a sweet little moment with Moira as Ollie, hawk-like, looks on through the door. Thea walks by and apologizes for being robo-mean to him. She also says he ought to find someone to open up to, even if it isn’t someone in the family.

So he goes straight to Helena’s, where she’s exiting the bathroom in a robe and a bit of an Australian accent. She says she knows he’s “the Starling City vigilante” (somebody come up with a name for this guy already) because she saw him fight. They have a little debate about justice versus revenge, which culminates in her asking “Why’s your vendetta more valid than mine?” and saying, “We’re the same, you and I.” Cliches, both, and also valid points.

They cry and make out and it’s weird.

Final Thoughts:

I’m a little put off by how this version of The Huntress is being portrayed as little more than Female Ollie, but there’s potential in the character. Making her a bit more ruthless than Ollie’s willing to be could be really interesting, but they both snapped guys’ necks at about the same time there near the end, so it may be a distinction without a difference.

De Gouw came off as a little dead-eyed and cold in the early scenes of the episode, and she didn’t knock me out with the action stuff, either. She stepped it up a little more in the last few scenes, though, so maybe there’s hope yet. At the very least, she gives Stephen Amell someone with whom to play scenes a little differently. Their characters can just be big, open scars with each other instead of having to hide things. It’s a super-weird relationship, but that’s kind of what makes it interesting.

I suppose this episode is the first in an arc involving a Bertinelli/Triads gang war, which isn’t a terrible story to have on an action show like this, but seems to kind of deviate pretty broadly from the core concept of the show, doesn’t it? I know I wondered if the show could sustain just marking a name off the list every week, but now the producers have all but tossed it out the window, without even a mention this week. I’m sure they’ll come back around to it, but Ollie didn’t exactly seem like he was that into taking breathers when it came to cleansing the city. Why do that now? Maybe we’ll find out Bertinelli’s name is on there.

Also? No flashbacks this episode. After last week’s ghost dad stuff, that may actually be OK, but prior to that, the flashbacks were the most interesting stuff the show had to offer. The lack of them here made this episode seem more, let’s say, mundane. Let’s have Proto-Arrow back. That old jerk.

Previous episodes:

1.1: Pilot

1.2: Honor Thy Father

1.3: Lone Gunmen

1.4: An Innocent Man

1.5: Damaged

1.6: Legacies

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