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Arrow: 110 “Burned” Review


Reviewed by Phil Boothman.

A quick recap: last time on Arrow Oliver got his business handed to him by the ‘Dark Archer’, who turned out to be none other than Malcolm Merlyn, who then went on to drop hints about his evil plan to Moira as he simultaneously had Walter kidnapped due to his prolonged interest in the List. As we return, Oliver is going through something of a crisis, having been humiliated and almost killed by the Dark Archer, but that doesn’t mean he’s given up his regime of muscle-punishing exercises: far from it, in fact, as he seems to have added a few brand new ones to his routine.

Oliver’s crisis of confidence comprises the bulk of the episode, which unfortunately necessitates a relative lack of screentime for the villain: this time, a pyromaniac very loosely based on the DC Comics character ‘Firefly’, who at the beginning of the episode douses a firefighter in turpentine while he is in the midst of a blaze. However, other than killing another firefighter, getting the upper hand on Oliver in a fistfight and eventually setting himself on fire, he really doesn’t have a lot to do this episode: we discover his motive part way through, but it’s a vague, clumsy story of revenge, although against whom I was left largely unclear.

But in the grand scheme of things, this is relatively unimportant, as Firefly is present in the episode simply to serve as a plot device, a way of allowing Oliver to get his mojo back. It is slightly unfortunate that, for all his inspirational speeches and genuine support, Diggle fails to get Oliver back on track, and an insane rogue fireman succeeds, particularly when the scenes between Oliver and Diggle were some of the best in the episode.

The same cannot be said for the ongoing saga of Laurel and Tommy trying to be a normal couple. Regular readers of my reviews will know I am not a fan of this relationship, but their story in this episode was one of the worst so far: apparently at some point in the six weeks that occurred during the show’s hiatus, Laurel refused to give Tommy a drawer in her apartment. In order to try and fix the argument, Tommy does the only thing he seems capable of doing when under pressure, and starts organising a party. Admittedly it’s a fundraiser for the firefighters, which is undoubtedly a good cause, but the firefighter who died at the beginning of the episode was the brother of Laurel’s friend and co-worker, so it also serves as an attempt to make Laurel like him more, which lends it a slightly sickening edge.

The one really interesting element of this episode does involve Laurel, however: she steals the phone which Oliver used to contact Detective Lance in a previous episode, in order to get in touch with him and ask for his help. Naturally, her father finds out and tells her to return the phone to him, which she does. However, mere moments later, the good Detective turns round and gives the phone back to her, stating that although he doesn’t like what the Hood is doing, he ‘has a habit of getting in between trouble and you’. She seems grateful for this, and Lance goes back to the police station, where it is revealed that he has bugged the phone and intends to use it to find the Hood. As the police techie says, that’s ‘stone cold’, even for Detective Lance, and it’s likely to cause some friction in future episodes.

Meanwhile, in the Queen household, Moira has been moping around the mansion for the past six weeks due to Walter’s abduction: Diggle points out to Oliver that there has been no contact made by the kidnappers in that whole time, which probably means that he is dead. If Walter, one of the best characters in the show, both morally and in terms of general characterisation, has been killed off-screen, it would be a tragedy: however, going by the laws of TV dramas, particularly those involving superheroes, if you didn’t see them die, they’re probably not dead, so I’m betting on an eventual return for Walter.

Anyway, Moira is an irritating combination of mopey and needlessly aggressive, snapping at Thea when she tries to help and neglecting to eat or go out anywhere because she’s either ‘not hungry’ or ‘too tired’. This also involves refusing to do her obligation as the de facto head of the Queen family and take over the running of the company. That is, until Thea finds the exact balance of ‘comforting family member’ and ‘giving mum a kick up the arse’ and she jolts back into action.

Presumably this is going to be an important plot point for the show, as the current head of the company is now under the influence of evil Malcolm Merlyn, but this idea wasn’t really explored in this episode. My hope is that these important plot points are being saved up for something big in the future, but the potential for some excitement in future episodes is not something which encourages enjoyment of the current episode, and the producers of Arrow need to remember that: each episode needs to be enjoyable on its own terms, as audiences are likely to tune out if they are made to sit through several ‘filler’ episodes before something important happens.

Verdict: 4/10

“Burned” as a kind of elongated recap works fine: it updates us on what’s going on with the main group of characters and gives Oliver a chance to resume his crusade with renewed vigour, but as an episode which is supposed to engage an audience, it falls down horribly. The villain, while nasty, is dull, and the rest of the stories fail to excite or even maintain interest: hopefully now this is out of the way the rest of the season can power on full steam ahead.

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