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'Arrow' 1.10 – "Burned"

Someone’s killing firefighters in Star City, one of whom is Joanna’s brother, Danny. Jo is suspicious about Danny’s death, telling Laurel that she thinks her brother was murdered and that this wasn’t an accident at all. Using the cellphone that the Green Arrow gave Vance, Laurel asks for help, but Oliver’s lost his mojo after his run-in with the Dark Archer and is less than committed to the investigation he carries out. It turns out that firefighters are being picked off one by one by a member of their team who is enacting revenge for being horribly burned in a tragic accident a few years previously.

Walter has been missing for six weeks and Moira is cracking under the strain. Oliver and Thea struggle with trying to encourage her to return to her old self while her role in the company is at stake. She eventually emerges from her period of mourning with a renewed energy, vowing to find Walter and take control of the company, citing Thea’s encouragement and interference as her motivation. Thea is suspicious of the about-face but Oliver tells her that it’s a good thing their mother has returned to her usual self.

At a benefit, organized to raise money for the families of firefighters, the badly burned avenging firefighter appears and tries to kill the Chief he said left him alone to die. Green Arrow tries to convince the firefighter to live but he eventually sacrifices himself to the fire, while Oliver realizes that his mission has changed: he’s now hailed in the city as a hero, not a vigilante. And he accepts the responsibility of that.

Vance tells Laurel that the vigilante is a force for good, but is using his daughter as bait in order to capture Oliver.

In flashbacks on the island, we see Oliver take control and begin to learn fighting skills to ensure his eventual escape, killing a man in order to survive and starting to show the beginnings of Green Arrow.

SUPERHERO:

  • Diggle, who has taken on the role of “Alfred” in the Green Arrow’s life, is instrumental in encouraging Oliver to return to full strength and continue his good acts within the city. “Isn’t the whole idea of being a vigilante that you do the police’s job?” he asks. He insists that Oliver’s fear of dying is a good thing, and that letting people into his life again means that he now has something to live for, rather than nothing to lose. “They need the man in the hood”, he tells Ollie, but not before he’s worked out with his shirt off and the two of them have sparred. And that’s one of the reasons I watch this show – gratuitous man flesh. But Diggle is fast becoming Oliver’s conscience and the relationship between them is pivotal in helping to shape who the Green Arrow is.
  • News items say that the Green Arrow was making a difference: “a positive force in this city”. By the end of the episode, Green Arrow is hailed as a hero.
  • Tommy and Lauren reach a new stage in their relationship and it’s clear that being with her is changing him – Ollie comments on how he doesn’t recognize Tommy anymore. Stepping up into the role of “good guy” means that Tommy is less selfish and more deserving of someone like Laurel, only I can’t help feeling like this is all going to go bad, given Oliver and Laurel’s history and current sparky interaction.
  • Oliver encourages Laurel’s relationship with Tommy, possibly at the expense of his own feelings. She tells him that she’s an “all or nothing” sort of girl and that “Our feelings, our fears, they control us, not the other way around.” It’s part of the motivation Oliver needs to get his mojo back and face his insecurities and fears about being a “hero” head on.

ANTI-HERO

  • Vance is hellbent on finding out who the Green Arrow is, and lies to Laurel about thinking that the vigilante is one of the good guys. He allows her to keep the cellphone Oliver gave him only in order to put a trace on it which he hopes will lead him to the Green Arrow’s lair.
  • Oliver feels the pressure of caring for people and allowing them into his life. He allows the rogue firefighter to best him and almost gives up completely, not wanting to get involved in the investigation. Even when he visits Laurel’s apartment under the guise of Green Arrow, his lack of self-belief is evident: “You’re asking one killer to find another – I heard what you said to your father about me.”
  • Moira is clearly guilt-tripping herself over Walter’s disappearance, on the one hand mourning for him and on the other determined to protect herself. When Thea confronts her about it, she’s resolute in shirking the role that she’s adopted: “Maybe I don’t care what everyone wants!”. But as SHE has been involved in what happened to Walter, it’s only a matter of time before she caves completely, or gets found out.

HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO

  • Laurel is clearly still fascinated with Green Arrow and I can’t help feeling like now she can have contact with him via the cellphone, that this is going to become a regular occurrence. She might have Tommy in the palm of her hand, but she’s still holding back in their relationship and it feels like there’s still a part of her that wants something Tommy just can’t provide.
  • Oliver’s relationship with himself and his persona as the Green Arrow is developing nicely. He’s afraid of caring for other people – and of them caring for him – and I feel like this is the chink in his armor. So often we’ve seen that superheroes get attached and that it presents itself as a weakness. In this episode, it was clear that Oliver’s feelings for his family and his friends are going to get in the way of his mission. I like that his motivation isn’t so clear cut anymore, as it brings layers to him and his role as Green Arrow, particularly where Laurel is involved.

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