Friday, June 20, 2014

Arrow: Burned

So this episode involved Oliver trying to deal with the aftermath of his fight with the black archer, and it’s clear that he’s off his game both psychologically and physically. His training exercises are interspersed with flashes of combat with the archer (a nice way of demonstrating what’s on his mind) and his aim is off when it comes to his party trick of shooting arrows through bouncing tennis balls.

In a dash of exposition with Diggle (and seriously, the writers need to up their game with Diggle as most of the time he’s only used for encouraging speeches and exposition), we learn that six months have passed since the last episode. Walter has been missing all that time. The Queen family have been living in limbo. Progress on the night club has stalled. The Hood is lying low.

As with Year's End, a rather lacklustre standalone plot is strewn throughout character beats, flashbacks to the island, and setup for future episodes. Laurel’s co-worker Joanna finally gets something to do besides obsessing over her white friend’s social life; unfortunately for her it’s mourning over her brother who has been killed in a fire.

This may not have been entirely out of left-field considering he was a fire-fighter, but after doing some digging she realizes that the circumstances of his death were suspicious. She promptly hands this information over to Laurel, who in turn hands it over to The Hood.

Believe it or not, my knowledge of DC comic characters stretched as far as Firefly (it helps that he appeared on the animated Batman and Justice League), and I had his identity pegged the moment he stepped onto the screen. Thing is, villains don’t always need to be interesting. Often they serve their purpose simply by being intimidating or spooky, and with his old-fashioned gear, reflective visor and fire-fighting axe, this guy fit the bill, at least in appearances.

Imma just gonna sit here and die, mmkay?
His backstory was fairly predictable and his ending anti-climactic, but the whole thing was really designed to get Oliver’s head back in the game. Funnily enough, this coincides with Moira deciding to stop moping in her bedroom and head back out to work, courtesy of an angry speech from Thea (who, like Diggle, isn’t given nearly enough to do).

And is it just me, or are the island flashbacks really boring? Not only are they almost comically reminiscent of LOST (I keep expecting a giant smoke monster to pop out of the trees), but they move at a snail’s pace. This time around Oliver accidentally kills an operative and in doing so gets his hands on a map. Though I like that they showed Ollie giving the man what dignity he could in death (half-burying him in the foliage), if all this comprises the origin story of The Hood then it’s really not doing much to show me how a spoiled brat became a stoic hero. Not yet, anyway.

Elsewhere Laurel and Tommy debate whether to give the latter a drawer at her apartment, and Joanna is Put On a Bus, possibly for good. But finally we get an interesting development. Despite his jovial manner in allowing Laurel to keep the phone that he was using to communicate with The Hood, it turns out that Quentin Lance has fixed it with a transmitter and plans to use Laurel as bait to catch the vigilante.

Though it does beg the question: if a tracker is installed, then why give it to Laurel? Why not just ring it himself and arrange a meeting?

Miscellaneous Observations:

Nice shot of Laurel’s face reflected in The Hood’s cell phone (but it really took Quentin six weeks to check it for fingerprints? This guy might be able to tell the difference between The Hood and the Black archer's MO, but in all other respects he's not too bright).

Shouldn’t the news be all over Walter’s disappearance? I mean, I know six weeks have passed, but this is the second time in five years that the husband of a successful businesswoman has disappeared. It’s strange that Moira hasn’t been called in for questioning.

This marks the tenth episode of Arrow that I’ve watched, and whew – it’s been quite a challenge writing and posting daily reviews. I’m going to take the weekend off and see how I fare come Monday, though hopefully by then the first instalment in my Exploring Tropes project will be completed. Looking forward to posting that one!

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