Arrow: 107 “Muse of Fire” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
This week’s Arrow was veritably stuffed with references to the Green Arrow comic books, as well as some juicy revelations and interesting character moments, all of which made for an enjoyable, if sometimes over-dramatic episode.
The episode opens with Oliver on his way to meet Moira for lunch, while Moira talks to a fellow businessman who almost immediately gets gunned down by a strange figure on a motorbike, right in front of Oliver. He takes the initial steps towards looking after his mother, but quickly abandons her and runs after the shooter, almost catching him. His abandonment of Moira causes some family tensions, particularly between Oliver and Thea, who has made an abrupt U-turn from bratty teenager to someone who seems genuinely concerned for the state of her family, although as Oliver points out she still has her bitchy moments.
Anyway, as Oliver embarks on a revenge quest against the person who almost injured Moira, it is soon revealed that the shooter is, in fact, a woman, who appears to be bumping off people associated with the Bertinelli crime family. Oliver sees this pattern and decides that the only way to identify the shooter is to infiltrate the Bertinelli family: to this end, he sets up a meeting with Frank Bertinelli, the patriarch of the family. The meeting is surprisingly genial, until Frank gets called away to another meeting and leaves Oliver in the company of his daughter, Helena, who also happens to be the shooter he is looking for.
While Oliver and Helena have dinner together and talk surprisingly candidly about Oliver’s time on the island, Frank meets with China White, the triad assassin from episode one, and threatens her, believing the triad to be behind the attacks on his people. It is to the credit of Jeffrey Nordling, the actor who portrays Frank that his calmly threatening demeanour in this scene doesn’t feel at odds with the friendly manner he displayed in the scene he shared with Oliver.
Similarly, the dinner scene between Oliver and Helena feels significantly different to the interaction Oliver has had with any other characters thus far in the show, and yet his characterisation never feels as though it opposes the continuity set up throughout the previous six episodes. He opens up to Helena, who compares Oliver’s trials on the island to her own suffering caused by the murder of her fiancée: a comparison which isn’t entirely fair, but for the sake of characterisation I’m willing to let that slide.
Oliver soon discovers that Nick Salvati, Frank’s right-hand man, is going around brutalising the people who pay the crime family protection money, and his next target is the Italian restaurant that Oliver and Helena have just had dinner in. Oliver Hoods up and returns to the restaurant, engaging in some arrow-play with Frank’s goons, before Helena turns up in her biker gear: Oliver’s attention switches to her, and after trading a few blows he unmasks her and looks generally confused as she escapes.
Soon after, Oliver confronts Helena at the graveyard where her fiancée is buried, and they are swiftly abducted by Salvati, who found evidence of Helena’s killing spree at the restaurant and put the pieces together to form a jigsaw of betrayal. Helena confesses that she was killing her father’s people because Frank was the one who murdered her fiancée, to which Salvati states that he was actually the one who did it, because her fiancée was an FBI informer. Helena then pulls a double-reveal and tells Salvati that she was actually the one who was informing: Oliver looks generally confused by all this, and focuses on wriggling out of his bindings. He and Helena manage to slip their bindings simultaneously, and do a pretty neat job of killing everyone in the warehouse, with almost synchronised neck-snaps.
The episode closes with Oliver visiting (read: breaking into) Helena’s apartment, wherein they have a pleasingly tense conversation in which Oliver believes she should be fighting for justice, not revenge, and she points out that there is a fine line between the two, and she doesn’t believe that what she is doing is any different to what he is. Somewhat inevitably, the scene and the episode end with the two of them kissing: I have no problem with this pairing, the main reason being that it will distract Oliver from his tedious pursuit of Laurel, for a few weeks at least.
While all this is going on, Moira has various visitors: firstly, Thea spends some time with her, during which Moira shows a genuine understanding of the way Oliver is acting towards his family, leading Thea to forgive Oliver and apologise for her earlier bitchiness. Then, she gets an unwelcome visit from the Well-Dressed John Barrowman who churns out some sub-Luthorite clichés about the future of Starling City, all of which seems to significantly creep Moira out. Finally, she gets a reward for being nice about Oliver: Walter comes home, and not just because he’d heard about Moira getting injured, but because he missed her. As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m a big fan of Walter so his return to the show is welcome.
The other subplot concerns Tommy and Laurel: I had very little enthusiasm for this plotline, finding the whole relationship awkward and tedious, as Tommy takes Laurel out for dinner, they flirt and have fun until Tommy’s credit card is declined. However, when Tommy goes to confront his father about this, the subplot actually delivers one of the best twists of the show so far: his father is fencing as he explains that he is disappointed in Tommy and has cut him off financially. He then pulls of his mask and reveals himself to be none other than the Well-Dressed Barrowman: a revelation which I genuinely didn’t see coming, and brightened up the subplot nicely.
With the introduction of Helena Bertinelli (aka ‘The Huntress’), a popular character in DC comics, some excellent performances and a healthy dose of satisfying twistiness, “Muse of Fire” is, in my opinion, the best episode of Arrow so far.