Episode 10: Burned
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.
When Oliver misses one of the flying tennis balls, that's when the viewer should have figured out that something was wrong. It was in the beginning of the episode and it permeated until the very end. His confrontation with the other archer has affected him. He might have been injured at the end of the mid-season finale but this episode picks up six weeks later. He's back to his usual physical self so his body isn't the problem. It's all in his mind. When he faced the archer, he realized that his death would have repercussions for the rest of the people in his life. This is different from the time he was on the island, where he didn't have anything to lose. The thought of Laurel might have been what drove him to be rescued but he didn't fear death because he was all alone. There's the Chinese guy but it's not like they were terribly close. Oliver has come back from the island and now he has something to lose. He has family, friends, and a life. One of the reasons that the other archer was able to beat him is because it's the first time he's truly realized it. He's not just fighting by himself now as he has people he cares about. It isn't until Diggle tells him to use this to give him an edge. Fighting with nothing to lose is a great motivator but fighting with the fear to lose everything is an even better one. Once Oliver is able to use that fear, he's able to hit a lighter in mid-air before it burns up a fireman chief. It's an effective inner turmoil that the series was able to show because we know that Oliver is ridiculously good with a bow. Having him suffer with these skills allows the show to state that something is going in his mind. Once he's able to get back to his usual self, the writers are able to show that he is better. Showing is always better than telling and that show exceeded with this inner conflict.
Which was handled better than the family drama. It's been six weeks and Walter has been missing. Viewers will remember that he's been kidnapped by Malcolm. Moira is dealing with this disappearance by being home all the time and not getting out of bed. Thea and Oliver are worried about her state because it's not really healthy and there isn't a british guy to force her back into life. Moira's distraught nature is causing her ignore the company. Queen Industries might handle it's business without a CEO for a few weeks but the stock prices are hurting and the company's image is weakened. An executive from the company tries to convince Moira to take Walter's place as CEO but she isn't willing because she's trying to internally deal with her missing husband. She's brought back to life when Thea gets through to her. Moira is convinced to go back to living her life. She accepts the job of CEO while promising that she's going to continue the search for Walter. This plot was fine but it didn't externalize the conflict like with Oliver. It's true the plot doesn't have any action sequences for Moira to go through to show that her character is off but it doesn't help that Moira hasn't been developed enough for the show to visualize it. The show attempts to do this by having Moira look at pictures and just not do anything but it's difficult to see how different she is when we don't see it often enough to make any real impact.
Oliver might be having some family problems and issues with his vigilantism but there's an arsonist running around and killing firemen. One of these firemen that are killed happens to be the brother of Laurel's best friend from the clinic she works at. This friend is able to figure out that her brother wasn't killed in the line of duty but was murdered. She turns out to be completely right. It tuns out that a firemen that had been in the same company was left to die in a “monster” of a fire. This fireman managed to get out of the building. When he woke up from his coma, he started to go after the people who he believed had betrayed him. Oliver was able to take him down. As a villain, he would have been cool if his backstory wasn't so mundane. This is yet another villain based on a comic book villain, named Firely, that fails to really impress. Not only is he never that big of a threat to Oliver, when he should have been to underscore Oliver's mental weakness, but his character just turned out to be too regular. At least some people on the news think he's a hero for stopping him but Quentin is still determined to catch him. So determine he's willing to use his daughter as bait. I'm sure that won't affect their relationship at all.
Overall, Burned is a good return for Arrow after the break. It continues to suffer some problems in that the villains remain by the large too by-the-numbers to be really exciting. The family drama was done well but it could have been handled better as evidenced by Oliver's inner turmoil. In reality, the whole reason to watch this episode is because of that inner conflict. Burned might not be an episode that shows that Arrow has managed to figure itself out to be a consistently great action series but the signs keep pointing that it's heading in the right direction.