Last episode I couldn’t stand Laurel and Thea was growing on me. Well that has all changed. Another difference between episode 6 and 7? The amount of John Diggle screen time. There was not near enough of it this week in ‘Muse of Fire’! I felt deprived. If a John Diggle drought wasn’t enough, there was no island which meant no Yao Fei! Oh Arrow what are you trying to do to me?!
This episode, I didn’t really like it and I can’t really put my finger on why. It’s odd because I really like certain individual parts but not the episode as a whole. Sadly, I think a contributing factor might be Geoff Johns’ writing. There is no debate that Johns is a great comic book writer. His Teen Titans is among my favorites of my entire collection. I just don’t know how well that style of writing is translating to television. The episodes of Smallville that he wrote (starting in season 8) were obvious within a couple of minutes. The dialogue just doesn’t flow like two people talking to each other as opposed to a person reading word bubbles. That and the scene cuts in this episode were quite abrupt but that could be due to already feeling off kilter with the dialogue.
The episode started off nicely with the banter between Oliver and Thea and I literally laughed out loud when Oliver told her that he sometimes had trouble remembering who is his mother. I may be the oldest sibling but there is definitely another one of us that is the “mom” so I feel you Ollie. I have to ask though, surely I’m not the only one that thought of the T-Mobile commercials with the motorcycle chick? Because that is all I could see when Helena, oh I’m sorry, the “mystery shooter” showed up.
She even looks like Jessica DeGouw! Sadly, I think the T-Mobile chick might have done a better job as Huntress. Ms. DeGouw just was not all that I had hoped for in that role. For one, I’m wondering if she has ever filmed a fight sequence before. Ever. In her life. This week’s episode was a strong argument against that possibility. I am the last person that should be depended on for an informed opinion when it comes to on-screen fighting, but even my untrained self could tell that it was just bad. That and what was up with her voice? I guess she was trying to get that breathy/husky/Eartha Kitt quality that previous actresses have done, but she did not do it very well. More than anything though, I wish they’d decided to make her initial story arc longer than the two episodes because it felt really rushed. One minute Oliver was running after her motorcycle, the next they were going to dinner, then they were fighting, getting caught, crying and then kissing.
I wish they’d let that one slow burn for a little bit longer, let it develop more organically instead of forcing it. Of course we all know that Huntress/Helena is just a bump in the road that is Oliver and Laurel but still, they could have gotten quite a bit more mileage out of this one. I’m hoping that the second of the Huntress episodes is a bit better. Not to mention, I’m of course glad that they brought Huntress in because she has the potential to be a great character (she obviously needs some work in this incarnation) but perhaps they should have waited until they were further into the season so Oliver could have actually had a leg to stand on when he attempted to make the argument that there is a difference between he and Huntress? His “justice” resume is rather sparse as he’s new to the game. I don’t think he’s really in a position to be lecturing others on the subject just yet. If there had been any John Diggle in this episode (I’m still not over it) he’d surely taken Oliver to task over that one. I see him as a “wtf are you trying to pull?” voice of reason in Oliver’s life.
Speaking of Laurel, I think I just don’t like her when she’s the lawyer sent from the gods. This week? I actually found myself cheering her and Tommy on. They were actually cute and somewhat not annoying. Of course Oliver would tell Tommy he was okay with it. That’s like when I tell my sister “sure you can use my chapstick” when I’m really thinking “bitch if you take that chapstick and put it in your purse, I will cut you“. Even though Ollie was out and about with Helena, he’ll come back to Laurel. Only a matter of time. Which brings me to the best part of the episode! John Barrowman, oh how I adore thee.
His conversation with Moira was quite telling and completely vague all at the same time. Apparently he and Moira and Robert used to be thick as thieves (and possibly quite literally thieves) just like Tommy, Oliver, and Laurel are probably going to be here soon. Arrow seems to be quite fond of the foreshadowing and callback and I think this was a clear case of foreshadowing. I think we can all agree the highlight of this episode was when Tommy went to go complain to his dad about taking his money away.
Now I’m sure there are plenty of people who watch this show who have no idea who John Barrowman is outside of this role, I feel sorry for them, but I’m sure they exist. For the rest of us though, the man has one of the most recognizable voices in the world so that “rip the fencing mask off” reveal wasn’t quite as dramatic as they probably hoped. No, I was in full “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE!” mode when I heard him start talking. Seriously though- WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE? So perhaps Tommy Merlyn isn’t going to end up being “the” Merlyn? Perhaps Pappa Merlyn/Well Dressed Man is actually Merlyn? It isn’t hard to make the leap that Well Dressed Man is an experienced archer as well as fencer. Maybe he gave his son and his son’s best friend some lessons when they were younger? Oh yea, that could work.
Second best part of the episode? Walter comes back. Not only that but he came back because he missed his wife, not because his wife had a concussion after being shot at. I’m a big ol’ sap and got a little teary on that one. In just a few short episodes I’ve grown quite endeared to Moira and Walter, hope those crazy kids can work things out.
There was only a few shout outs to the comics universe in this episode. One being the name of Helena’s fiance, Staton. Joe Staton created the Huntress character. That and Helena wears a cross in this episode while the comic book character Huntress has a cross on her outfit. If there were more, I missed them but would love if someone else caught them to let me know!
The episode had some bright spots but as a whole, it was not that great. I’m hoping they are able to tighten up the writing for future episodes because it’s going to be a laborious sixteen remaining episodes if they don’t. I just have to keep reminding myself that this is a new show, it is still trying to stretch its legs and see which way it wants to walk.
We’ll see more of that path next week with “Vengeance”, make sure you tune in and then come back here and we’ll talk it over. Until then Arrow fans!
We’ll go 3.5/5, with extra points from John Barrowman.