Episode 7: Muse of Fire
By: Carlos Uribe
Arrow is a show about the Green Arrow, a vigilante who seeks justice. It is based on the DC comic superhero Green Arrow.
Muse of Fire does some silly things that stop this from being an amazing episode but it's the closest this show has gotten to greatness. The first silly thing it does is in the beginning. Oliver is going to meet his mother for lunch when someone comes up on a motorcycle and shoots some guy his mom is talking to. Oliver's response is to make sure that his mother is fine before chasing the motorcycle on foot. That he's almost able to keep up with it challenges the suspension of belief but that's not what makes it silly. That would have to go with the established information that his motorcycle is about twenty feet away from him. He could have just gotten on the motorcycle and had his little chase scene riding it instead of depending on his feet. If they weren't going to have him chase her on a motorcycle, then why not show Oliver arriving in a normal car? You can't have the character arrive in a motorcycle, an assassin show up in a motorcycle, and then not be surprised when the audience expects a motorcycle chase sequence. It’s this planting of information and then not doing anything with it that makes it frustrating. That's just not paying attention to what's happening on the show. When you begin an episode with such a glaring narrative oversight then it becomes slightly more difficult to get sucked into the world of Arrow. Considering that this episode has some of the best scenes this show has flat-out done, then that's a large shame.
The second silly thing drew me out of the episode for a second. Tommy has asked out Laurel on a date but it ends with an embarrassing note. That's because Tommy's credit card has been declined. He goes to his father to ask why all of his wealth is gone all of a sudden. That's when the episode makes a major reveal. The well-dressed mystery man that talks to Moira turns out to be Tommy's father. This is a twist that the series had been building up to but it's a bit perplexing because Tommy and his father look like they're the same age. It's kind of hard to buy that they have a father-son relationship when they look more like they're brothers. Tommy is only in one scene with his father for the entire episode so the damage was contained to just that one single scene. I generally only like to talk about the narrative and plot points in my review, but I'm going to take a note to all casting agents: it's generally a good idea to not just cast the best actor but the best actor that fits within the universe. John Barrowman is a great actor but he's simply not right to be playing Colin Donnell's father. It's possible that they could have given him make-up to make him look older and it's a mistake that they didn't. This isn't a narrative flaw as much as a production flaw that affected the narrative.
So if the show did these two silly things, then why is this such a good episode? It's because of what it gets right. This is an episode that complicates the weekly mission because it isn't about trying to bring someone in a book justice or trying to stop active crime. Oliver isn't happy that his mother was almost shot right in front of her business and Oliver decides that he's going to do his best to find the killer. Since the target of the crime was someone in the mafia, Oliver tries to go undercover to try and figure out whose behind the shooting. This leads him to having a dinner date with the mob boss' daughter, Helena. Helena is actually the Huntress from DC Comics and it looks like the series is giving her character her proper due. Helena is the one that killed the guy even though he belonged in the same mob as her father's. That is because she is seeking revenge on her father because he had killed her fiance. She is acting on a vigilante impulse just like Oliver. The scenes between Oliver and Helena are hands-down the best this show has done. There is some clunky dialogue and bad line deliveries in them but they don't drag down the scenes their in. That the script still needs some work is a sign that this show still needs work but at least it's constantly improving.
Muse of Fire is an episode on the verge of greatness and it's without a doubt the best episode this show has managed to do so far. It makes some mistakes and there are still moments where the dialogue is very weak but this is a show that is becoming more and more entertaining as time goes on. The scenes between Oliver and Helena are the closest I've come to the series having my complete and total attention simply because they're really working well with the show's themes. It's two characters that are deeply damaged and whose convictions seriously changed due to life-altering events. They are both seeking justice in some form or another but it leads them to living lies and being alone. It is because the character of Helena is so well drawn-out that the scenes with her are able to work so well. Muse of Fire still has many faults but it's the first episode where this show is telling me it has what it takes to make me fall in love with it. It just needs to find a way to be consistently good and strengthen the scrips to weed out the bad lines.