So I have a job on Thursday afternoons, now. Which means my time to watch and recap Arrow is sort of limited, on account of me not being the kind of blogger who will sacrifice sleep or anything else for the blog. So today I’m trying a new format. Instead of painstakingly describing each scene as it happens, I’m going to focus on each of the subplots. It didn’t actually work in terms of getting this up before work, but oh well.
The good thing is that the show’s comfortably formulaic enough that I can do this. This episode for instance, has the following traditional threads:
- Villain of the Week
- Ollie’s gots Issues (with bonus appearance by the Island of Low Saturation)
- Laurel and Tommy Need Their Own Show
- The Grown Up Plot (featuring Thea!)
Highlight of this week: Joanna gets plot! Of course, what actually happens is Joanna gets enough characterization to provide motive to her white best friend and the wbf’s white hero buddy. And at the end of the episode is disappointing. And it generally speaks to the show’s problems with its female characters of color that it’s an improvement that someone other than the wbf acknowledges her existence. Yeah.
Secondary highlight of the week: Diggle gets his shirt off.
Theme of the Week: traumatic experiences and recovery.
But on to the recap:
Villain of the Week
The episode opens on a team of firefighters fighting a blaze at a factory. One man in particular is trying to clear the upper level when he calls over another man in uniform (“Hey you!”) to help him. The unidentified firefighter ‘helps’ his colleague by spraying him with an accelerant and calmly watching him burn. (It’s kind of hard to tell in the lighting, but worth mentioning that the man we see screaming and pinwheeling around on fire is a black man. The man watching him die is a white man. I’M JUST SAYING.)
Instantly, anyone familiar with comics knows who this villain is.
Note to Non-Comics Readers: Garfield Lynns, aka Firefly, is a Gotham villain most commonly seen in the Rogue’s Gallery of Batgirl. His in-universe first appearance (though not his in-comics first appearance, if that makes sense) was in Batgirl: Year One, in which he came up against Batgirl I, Barbara Gordon. The book also featured Babs’ later girlfriend partner Black Canary.
At the CNRI offices, Joanna and Laurel are talking about what an awesome lawyer Joanna is, when they are interrupted by Quentin, and the fire chief, both wearing bad-news faces. The man burned to death in the opening was Joanna’s brother, Danny. Joanna also gets a last name: de la Vega. And some fine acting, I have to say.
Later, Joanna drops around to Laurel’s apartment with the simple opener “I need your help.” She’s convinced that Danny was murdered, rather than dying in the line of duty. Laurel is reluctant to believe her, based on Laurel’s own experiences of trying again and again to find a reason for why the boat may have gone down and killed her sister.
(Or course, we know this was sabotage, and I’m sure it was well covered-up, but they kind of made Laurel look less than super-competent, here.)
However, Joanna has actual evidence. From the coroner’s office she has a report that Danny’s turnout coat was doused in turpentine, a substance that wasn’t being used at the factory. The coroner also said (don’t know how he knows this, but w/e) that the fire didn’t exceed 250°F, but the coat’s supposed to withstand temps of up to 500, so Danny burned to death at a temperature higher than the fire he was supposed to die in.
At this point, Laurel takes over, for reasons uncertain. She does some digging – which presumably Joanna could also do – and a week ago, a firefighter Leo Barnes died under the same really-hot turpentine-doused circumstances. Armed with this information, she confronts her father, who explains that the fire department has their own detective unit and don’t answer to the police.
Given that I’d think ‘doused in turpentine’ where turpentine wasn’t supposed to be present would be a reason to follow up any death, I wonder whether this is supposed to be a Grand Conspiracy on the part of the FD. Most likely sloppy writing, but still.
They are interrupted by a random forensics dude dropping Ollie’s phone on Quentin’s desk. After six weeks of analysis, they’ve found nothing, not even the manufacturer. Laurel asks about it, and Quentin confesses about it being an Arrow-phone, then changes the subject. When he runs off to do more work, Laurel steals the phone and uses it to phone Maninnahood.
He turns up at her apartment that evening (by cutting the power, which really?) and uses a voice changer to be passive aggressive about those mean things she said to her father about him being a killer.
(Newsflash, Ollie: YOU KILLED PEOPLE. Geez.)
She gives him the file by saying that if Danny was murdered, they “have to bring the killer to justice.” And despite my best efforts I start getting Canary!feels. Suddenly I have this idea in my head that Laurel needs to solve all this on her own, and go and bring down Firefly on her own. Spoiler alert: she doesn’t, But that would have been nice. Just insert Laurel into Maninnahood’s role in this plot and have Joanna do Laurel’s stuff.
Ollie relates this to Diggle, who promises to reach out to his contacts in the fire investigations department. He comes up with a ’72 Ford Pickup eyewitnesses reported at the scene of the fire where Danny died. And when Stagg Chemical (Presumably run by the same Stagg Industries that pulled out of funding CNRI in an earlier episode) started burning, Diggle hacked into the security cameras – as you do when you’re a bodyguard who still needs Felicity Snoak to Bing search for you. (Though not this episode thankfully.) And what did he see? The same pickup. So he gets Ollie to go over there in Hood.
By the time Maninnahood gets there, Firefly has already thrown his victim over the railing of a walkway into the blaze, in the process losing a glove. Hood and Firefly fight on the walkway, a process that involves a lot of Ollie getting the snot kicked out of him. He falls to the ground, and Firefly continues to put the boot in, just like Merlyn (see Ollie’s Gots Issues). For no apparent reason, he leaves Ollie lying there and steps back. With a closeup of a horribly burned right hand, with a tattoo of a firefly (told ya), Firefly draws a… wait for it… an actual smoke bomb, and uses it to escape.
Ollie phones Laurel to tell her about the pick up and the tattoo. Also some new information that all the men in Engine Company 15 had firefly tattoos. I don’t know how he knows this. He tells Laurel to do with this information what she would do before she met him.
(Me: NO! Dress in fishnets and go after him! That’s what he means!)
Laurel – with Ollie in tow – asks the Fire Chief about “The Fireflies,” a group of 15 firemen from an old, now shut down station house, all of which went to different companies. Four of them are now dead: three in the last six weeks, making Danny the second, I guess. The fourth is Garfield Lynns (told ya) , who “died” two years ago in an apparently famous “Nodell Tower tragedy.”
For the benefit of the man who was on an island at the time, they explain that the Nodell Tower was a poorly built tower which collapsed when a gasline blew, taking with it 34 civilians and 6 firemen, including Mr. Lynns. As soon as she’s shed Ollie, Laurel phones the Hood, and the comedy opportunity is completely wasted. She asks him what she’s supposed to do now, and Ollie disappoints by saying it’s his turn.
NNCR: I’m choosing to believe that this is a shout out to Mart Nodell, the creator of Green Lantern, the second of which is Ollie’s comics BFF. (Was, pre-boot.)
With an alibi for all surviving men in the Firefly unit, Ollie looks up Garfield Lynns and the Nodell Tower incident. Some of the bodies – implicitly including Lynns but he doesn’t make it explicit – were too badly burned for identification.
The Weekly Party Scene is relevant to the Tommy/Laurel plot and is taking place in teh club above the ArrowCave. At it, Ollie sweeps Laurel over to the Fire Chief to ask him about the Nodell Fire, and the absense of Lynns’ body. It’s inappropriate for the situation and the chief calls him on it. But still, he admits that it was a fire and a half. The fire was like “some monster out of a science fiction movie,” and I’m sad it probably wasn’t a comic book villain. He radioed his men to get out, but Lynns stayed, refusing to come out while he fought but without the backup that the chief wouldn’t send in.
At that moment they are interrupted by the arrival of a man in a fire fighting outfit. Lynns apparently got bored of waiting for fires and has crashed the party. He wades into the building and starts throwing fire bombs, setting the party alight. Taking his helmet off, he reveals a scarred face, which I’m not screen capping because I don’t know how I feel about FACIAL SCARS MAKE VILLAINS. Or rather, I do, and I don’t like it. Diggle and Tommy evacuate the building, leaving the Fire Chief, Ollie and Laurel facing down Lynns, Ollie shielding Laurel bodily. Lynns tells them to run and they do, leaving the chief to be sprayed down by turpentine. Laurel runs to Tommy, Ollie disappears into the Arrow Cave, where he Hoods up.
Lynns explains his backstory – pulled out as a John Doe, burned and feeling horribly betrayed by his boss, swearing revenge.
NNCR: Comics!Firefly is a complete pyrophile. He just likes to watch people burn. This version is thematic for the episode, but I like comics!Firefly.
After his monologue, he reaches into a pocket and pulls out a Zippo, which he throws at the chief. Fortunately, Maninnahood has just arrives and SHOOTS THE ZIPPO OUT OF THE AIR.
It’s awesome archery, admit it. It’s even shown on screen – the zippo being hit by the arrow, I mean. I didn’t cap it because I suck at capping.
Ollie holds Lynns at arrow point, and Lynns – ah, I’ll mention this in the Issues section. At the end of it, Lynns commits suicide by burning. Not five minutes after he explained how much being burned alive freaking hurts.
The next time we see Joanna, she’s packing a box to take a hiatus to spend time with her Mom. So I guess that’s another character who’s already off screen too much, who we’re never going to see in a while. Basically, she’s been put on a bus.
Stupid show and their stupid wasting of a character. I hope Annie Ilonzeh is off to brilliant things.
Ollie’s Gots Issues
Aware that the last few episodes have been light on the manflesh eyecandy, Ollie makes his first entrance with an extended topless montage of him working out in the Arrowcave. This includes that thing with the bar and the jumping pull-ups that I can watch all night. All the while he’s flashing back to having the snot beaten out of him by John Barrowmerlyn last week. He ends the sequence by shooting at a tennis ball in the air and missing, just to let us know he’s off his game.
Diggle interrupts PT time to check on Ollie, and Ollie ignores the “how are you?” opener to talk about Walter. Diggle’s been following up with a bunch of leads and Walter is indeed missing. “Either he doesn’t want to be found,” says Ollie, “or someone doesn’t want him to be found. Diggle is apparently shit-hot connected. I don’t know where this came from.
Walter has been missing for six weeks, with no contact from putative kidnappers. It seems he’s probably dead. More on this in “the grown ups plot,” because Diggle is more interested in his job as Ollie’s caretaker. He wants to know when Ollie’s going to get back on to The List. Ollie says his family needs him right now. Diggle continues to poke gently at Ollie during the episode, suggesting that putting on the hood might be good for the city, and good for Ollie.
This is a total 180 on Diggle’s position from earlier episodes, and it bothers me. I wish he had some consistency, and wasn’t just there to worry about his own white best friend. Or maybe Diggle’s now just loving the whole idea of Hood-erizing. In which case, Diggle should put it on himself. #showsIwouldratherbewatching.
When Diggle sends Ollie to the Stagg Chemical blaze in costume, Ollie takes the opportunity to sulk about it. After having his ass handed to him in hand-to-hand with Firefly, he spends more times sulking alone with his bow.
Ollie and Diggle get more subtexty as the show goes on, with Ollie choosing to remark on the large and sexy biceps on topless Diggle. Sorry about the face in this cap, by the way. It wasn’t what I was trying to capture. Anyway, when Diggle is suggesting that Ollie might not be up to 100%, he attempts to prove it by throwing a punch at his face. They fight, Ollie wins by throwing Diggle against a desk.
“What did that prove?”
“This is one sturdy desk.”
Anyway, Diggle finally tells Ollie that he needs to deal with some stuff – not Walter going missing, but the thing of having had his ass handed to him by John Barrowmerlyn (The Other Archer). Diggle says he knows what it’s like to “stare death in the face and be the one who blinks,” but Ollie, offended that the show might actually mention some sort of backstory for Diggs, tells him he’s WRONG. It’s not that he’s never been close to death, it’s that he’s never been afraid of dying, because on the island he had nothing to lose. But now he has family and Laurel and Tommy, and he doesn’t want to leave them alone. Does Diggle suggest that Ollie do what Diggs has been saying he should do since the beginning and hang out with his family more? Hell no, Diggle loves the Hood stuff. (Diggs should do the Hood stuff)
No, sorry, what Diggs actually says is that staring death in the face with something to live for is better than not having that. It’s standard awesome hero stuff and I love Diggle’s words, I just wish I had more Diggle action.
Shooting Lynns’ Zippo out of the air was the second time Ollie fired a bow this episode, and the only successful shot. It’s symbolic, see? When facing Lynns down, the firebug says “I’m not afraid to die.” Ollie counters with “No, you’re afraid to live.” I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE.
Ollie also asks Lynns to let him (Ollie) get him (Lynns) help. And we’re reminded that Ollie’s never seen a therapist, sigh. After the fire, the ArrowCave is untouched, and I guess no one involved in the rebuilding will even look in the basement – actually the warehouse looks fine from outside too. In the last scene, Ollie has a smile on his face, and no shirt on his back. He thanks Diggle, “you know what for,” and picks up his List, announcing his intention to go hunting.
Basically, the whole Ollie-Issues side of the plot is about getting back on the horse after a fall. I kind of wish they’d drawn it out longer so Laurel and Diggle could have a ride, (not like that, but damn,) but eh. This is the all-Ollie-all-the-time show, not the other-people-get-development show.
Early in the episode, Ollie is watching TV and an anchor lady quotes figures that show that violent crimes in the forms of assaults, muggings and murder all dropped significantly in the four months ManinnaHood was active, but he’s been missing for 6 weeks. I really like this touch – artificial as it is, it seems that Maninnahood really was making a difference.
During his bizarre and focused murder spree. Sssssssssssh.
(Walter Steele goes missing and Maninnahood stops vigilanting. NO ONE JUMPS TO THE OBVIOUS CONCLUSION and I am sad.)
At the end, the same anchor lady is talking about how he probably saved a bunch of lives in the club fire. For the first time publicly, she uses the term “hero.” I guess he’s stopped killing people – it was a character arc I predicted, but I think it could have been better handled. Now to see if he’s going to consistently not murder people for a while.
Then we can bake him “not a murderer (anymore)” cookies!
On the Island of Low Saturation, after Deathstroke and Fyers ambushed Yao Fei, Ollie ran into the woods. There, he huddles wet and alone, and defies the rain to make a small fire, which serves only to attract the attention of one of Fyers’ black clad mercenary types. Grasping a knife in his hand (which he may have picked up from the mercenaries earlier, may have been Yao Fei’s, watch how I don’t care), Ollie hides behind a tree and then jumps out at the mercenary. They fight, badly, and end up rolling down a hill, dropping Ollie into a river. Mercenary lands on a boulder, back first, which kills him. Ollie takes the opportunity to steal the guy’s mercenary clothes, including a bulletproof vest, in the pockets of which he finds keys and A MAP. Presumably of the island. It’s also labelled in Russian. DUN DUN DUN.
The Grown Ups’ Plot
Featuring Thea! (Because 33% of the grown ups on this show are missing, and another 33% are John Not-appearing-in-this-episode)
Moira is spending a lot of time in her room looking at photos and being sad. Ollie pokes his head in to invite her to eat Big Belly takeout and watch movies with him and Thea, but she turns it down. Downstairs, Thea says “I’ve seen this movie before.” Not the DVD, but with Mom – I mention this because I think that’s some nice dialogue.
Spending time at home, then ceasing to go out is how Moira deals with loss. Thea saw it with Robert and Ollie, and now she’s seeing it with Walter. The first time, it was Walter who got her out of it, by showing up “British and stern-like,” and informed his friend they were going out for lunch.
Even when he’s not on screen, Walter persists in being the best character on the show.
Thea suggests Walter’s maybe left them to have an affair, and she does it desperately, hoping against hope she hasn’t lost another father figure, and I just want to hug her forever.
Later, Ned Foster, the COO of Queen Consolidated drops over to Queen Manor to point out that having two CEOs disappear in five years might make bad press, and would Moira consider chairing her own company? She turns him down, citing the need to be at home with her family.
Ollie tells her that he and Thea are fine, but this sounds like something everyone needs her to do. So Moira snaps.
“Maybe I don’t care what everyone needs.”
And she storms out, leaving Ollie to reassure Thea weakly that she’s going to be okay. Which, yeah. It’s okay, Moira, to go through some shit when your second husband in five years goes missing. (It’s not okay to put your daughter through this shit a second time, though.)
Thea tracks Moira down to her room and announces a mother-daughter outing to get Moira out of the house. Moira turns her down and tells her not to presume to know what Moira is going through. Because GOSH it’s hard when you had your husband kidnapped. Thea, not knowing this is all Moira’s fault, points out that she’s going through it too. She gives a speech about not getting to worry about Walter because she’s too busy looking after her grown mother. And I get EVEN MORE Canary feelings.
NNCR: Eh, you probably don’t need to know why I get Canary feelings about a teenage daughter looking after her stubborn, mourning mother.
After Ollie’s club burns to the ground (“It was under construction before. Now it’s more under construction.”) Moira surprises her kids by wearing a natty skirt suit and announcing that she’s off to do Walter’s job. Because Thea convinced her, and Thea is awesome. Moira promises her kids that Walter will be back, and she’ll know, I guess. Ollie’s cheerful and oblivious to what Thea considers to be a pretty quick change of heart. But that’s Ollie.
In summary: Thea is fantastic, but I miss Walter.
Laurel and Tommy Need Their Own Show
Laurel returns to her apartment the day of hearing the news about Danny to find Tommy, who obviously has a key and permission to come and go, because his presence is unsurprising a comforting. What he doesn’t have is a drawer, and apparently they’ve been talking about this. Rightly, Tommy suggests they put the issue aside while dealing with the issue of having a best friend in mourning. Laurel just doesn’t think they’re there yet.
Tommy is working as manager of the Arrow Club,* unlike his best friend and putative owner of the club. Ollie just lets him get on with it. It is Tommy who suggests throwing a fundraiser for the fire department, and Ollie is more than a little surprised. “What happened to Tommy Merlyn?” he asks.
“That guy needed a swift kick up his ass.”
*Not its real name
Laurel finds Joanna throwing herself into her work, and suggests it isn’t healthy. Sure, that’s exactly what Joanna herself did after Sara’s death, but that wasn’t healthy either. Quentin interrupts them to confront Laurel about the phone; about how stealing evidence is bad and wrong, but also about how he disapproves of her choice in masked vigilante boyfriends who murder people. He demands the phone back, but Laurel lies and says she’s already returned it to Maninnahood. Laurel asks Quentin if he would have followed a lead that might have given him closure on Sara’s death. He says no: Not if it involved lying to the people closest to him.
When Laurel runs into Oliver at the fire station, he is checking on the guest list for the gala, and she is apparently clearing out Danny’s locker for Joanna, but actually she’s advancing the plot (see above). Ollie uses the opportunity to ask about the Tommy-Laurel drawer discussion, and she explains why she is being protective about her drawers.
“I’m an all or nothing type of girl. First it’s a drawer, then it’s a closet, half my rent, half my life. Am I really ready to do that with Tommy?” (“You could take things slow.”) “I don’t take things slow, remember? I close my eyes and I jump, just like you. I think that’s why we spooked each other. Our feelings, our fears, they control us. It’s not the other way round.”
NNCR: YES. THIS. THIS IS DINAH. THIS IS BASICALLY HER. ALL THE CANARY FEELS.
Anyway, by the time the gala rolls around, they’ve apparently settled and are good on “drawer-gate.” presumably because Tommy respects Laurel’s boundaries and that was such a non-issue it was adorable, I swear. Later, they end up together in a burning building and it remains cute.
Afterwards, Quentin finds Laurel to apologize for yelling her about Hood. After he saved the fire chief’s life, it was probably a good thing she brought him in. He calls her out on still having the phone and he takes it off her. Then he turns his back, plays with the phone for five seconds and turns back to her. This is totally not suspicious at all, nope. Giving it back to her, he spins a tale about the Hood saving her life, and she might as well have the Arrowphone for emergencies.
But NO. For it turns out Quentin actually had the same Some Forensics Guy from the department do some tech magic. When Quentin fiddles with the phone, he hid a transmitter in the speaker, and the next time Laurel phones the Hood, they’ll be able to monitor the call. GASP. And after you gave the speech about lying to your people, Quentin, for shame. Even Some Forensics Guy thinks it’s cold. I don’t care about Some Forensics Guy, so whatever.
Um. This post didn’t turn out any shorter, did it? I’ll have to work on that. But… thoughts on the new format? It may work out for me, but I have no idea how it works when read.