This review contains spoilers.
1.7 Muse of Fire
Oliver gets a new partner in crime in this week’s Arrow, as Laurel gets cosy with Tommy, Thea and Moira bond over Oli’s new closed-off persona, and part of the identity of John Barrowman’s ‘well-dressed man’ is finally unveiled. After Oliver witnesses a drive-by shooting that inadvertently involves his mother, he tries to find the shooter and becomes tangled up in dangerous mob business as a result. The shooter is actually Helena, the daughter of the man he’s tracking, and Oliver finds that he has more in common with her than he might have thought.
After criticising the previous episode for playing it too safe, Muse of Fire goes in a very different direction. Whereas previous weeks have had Oliver target a particular villain as we discover more about his character, those two elements of Arrow here go hand in hand. As Thea seems to point out at every opportunity, Oliver is deeply lonely, and Diggle’s involvement in his secret life has only eased the pain a tiny amount. His new sidekick has disappointingly been resigned to research and exposition (as well as a twice-weekly moral check) for the time being, so Oliver is still flying solo when it comes to his new life.
I’ve wondered where the show would go with the love lives of these characters, since early episodes seemed far too concerned with whether Oliver and Laurel would be getting it on again, and this shift towards her and Tommy works a lot better considering how dark Oliver’s character is at the moment. Somehow, I think him to be going out killing criminals and snapping necks before curling up with his ignorant girlfriend would make things seem even more brutal, rather than less. Helena a.k.a Huntress, however, seems like a perfect fit, and their heartfelt conversation over dinner might have been the most genuinely happy we’ve seen him so far.
It also marries his superhero persona and the man the world sees, as to the outside they’re just two rich kids from dodgy families, but behind closed doors they’re a pair of deeply damaged vigilantes avenging the wrongs their parents committed. I’ve become increasingly fascinated and disturbed by how irrational our protagonist is coming across each week, and to have a partner in this will only increase that factor. He’s convinced that he’s different from Helena in that he’s after justice rather than revenge, but the audience know different. They’ve both been through a crucible, and it changed them.
This is what separates Arrow from shows like Smallville, as the moral implications are never clear-cut for the characters or the viewer. There certainly isn’t a moral lesson at the end of each week, and the introduction of a new super-villain that parallels the hero in so many ways just highlights how dubious Oliver’s actions have been so far. If past episodes are anything to go by, too, it can’t be long before someone else in his life finds out about his nightly adventures, and I can’t see them all being as understanding as Diggle was. If anything, Diggle is the only one who understands the PTSD aspect of his life, as if he’s just keeping an eye on him in case he goes too far one day.
Sadly, with Oliver’s stories being so compelling, the rest of the characters sometimes come across a little like spare parts. Laurel and Tommy’s courting was sweet enough but, as a regular viewer of CW dramas, my tolerance for endless wooing is pretty low. I like both characters enough individually, but do we need to see so much their dating life? There’s a large chunk of viewers that probably want to see even more but, this isn’t The Vampire Diaries, and I’m just not as interested. It’s better than the Tommy/Thea romance toyed with last week, of course, but I would have liked to see more of his relationship with daddy. Yep, John Barrowman is Mr. Merlyn, but we’ll have to wait until next week to find out more.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Legacies, here.
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