Arrow "Muse of Fire" Review: And the Well-Dressed Man Is...

By Noel Kirkpatrick

Nov 29, 2012

Arrow S01E07: "Muse of Fire"

Damn you, Arrow. Knowing this episode was next, I did my duty as a reviewer and refreshed myself on a lot of Helena Bertinelli’s history and whatnot over the Thanksgiving holiday. Had I been aware that I should’ve brushed up on my on Merlyn the Archer knowledge instead, I WOULD HAVE DONE THAT.

So I guess we should talk about that first, then? The whole John Barrowman’s Well-Dressed Man being Tommy’s dad thing? I'll admit that my jaw hit the ground a bit at the reveal, and I’m big enough to admit that I’m a smidge disappointed he’s not Maxwell Lord (kudos to those 54 of you who thought he was either an original character or some other DC Comics character in the poll a while back). However, I’m also rather excited about the narrative avenues this opens up for the show.

When Arrow started, I purposefully sat on the Merlyn thing since I knew some folks might be interested in seeing Tommy fall from snarky rich dude to master archer and rival to Oliver, and that Merlyn—unlike, say, Deathstroke—wasn’t as widely known outside the comics fandom, so it would be a pleasant arc for viewers fresh to the property.

But now there are two possibilities for the series to introduce a major Green Arrow baddie in its own way, two characters who may develop (or who already have) reasons to go after the Hood on their own terms. This was a clever reveal that will pull the rug out from under folks who just watch the TV series and folks who know the comics fairly well. I can dig that.

While John Barrowman being Tommy's dad was the big reveal in the episode, the real meat of the hour was the introduction of Helena Bertinelli, otherwise known as the Huntress in the comics (though not in the current DC continuity, but that doesn’t really matter). In those pages, Huntress has always been a bit more violent, a bit more volatile, a bit more willing to kill than other heroes since her mission was always to exact revenge for the murder of her mob family at the hands of families in the mafia. As a result, Helena moved between being a murderous vigilante and a hero respected by the cape-wearing community.

On Arrow, Helena’s operating in a similar vein, targeting her own family this time to get revenge for the death of her fiance. It’s a nice-enough modification that keeps the character true to the source material while still offering a new interpretation, something I’m always happy to see.

This interpretation also forced Oliver to confront his personal sense of his mission, his own methods for cleaning up Starling City. Diggle was not wrong when he called Helena a “killer” and a “bad guy,” and so Oliver must reconcile her extreme behavior, his attraction to her, and the fact that there’s a person who understands, on some level, his mission, someone who understands him.

It’s that understanding that makes their dynamic interesting. Both Oliver and Helena are able to be themselves around each other and allow their emotional scars to show, to “tell the truth.” But it’s also the reason why Oliver no doubt thinks that he can guide her onto his path. Their shared pain connects them, and while we don’t know who taught Oliver to channel that pain (no island flashback this week, in a break from the typical episode structure), it’s clear that Helena didn’t have that, and it’s the reason she got lost in her quest for revenge.

This is also likely the reason Stephen Amell and Jessica De Gouw have a bit more chemistry with one another than Amell and Katie Cassidy do in the bigger romantic moments. The restaurant sequence especially clicked for me, though I feel that De Gouw struggled to find some footing during the final scene in her bedroom. I’m not sure exactly what went wrong there, but it felt just a tad overbaked.

That portion of the episode did have some stumbles, though. Having Helena quote Oliver lines from the pilot episode felt a touch heavy-handed, even with my high tolerance for that sort of melodramatic repetition. I likewise wondered why Helena, who couldn’t shoot straight according to Quentin, could hold her own in hand-to-hand combat. Seems like a weird disconnect in what was likely self-taught training. I just assumed that learning to shoot would likely be easier than developing crazy island fighting skills.

Tommy and Laurel continue their courtship, and it’s cute. Tommy’s trying really hard, but I can understand why since he’s clearly very into Laurel. Arrow has sort of struggled with the show-and-not-tell aspect of their past relationship since we don’t get flashbacks for them (thank goodness for that, since it would clutter up the episodes), but I do like how the show is trying to shift past that problem with Tommy wanting this to be sort of a do-over attempt. We’ll see how things go now that he’s completely cut off from all that Merlyn money.

There were some nice bits with Moira and Thea, and Thea and Oliver, and Moira and Mr. Merlyn, so those elements of the show are coming together, though none of them were the focus of the episode. But they didn’t feel completely extraneous to the episode either, like Quentin’s unnecessary drop-by warning to Oliver about Helena, since Diggle had basically said the same thing. They were good character moments, and I’m happy to see Arrow better integrate those.

Notes & Quotes

– Of course, the Tommy/Tommy’s dad thing also could end up mirroring the Lex/Lionel thing from Smallville, which I’m sure that some of you will have strong opinions about.

– How did Quentin have a bug on Frank? Are the feds sharing information with the Starling City police? Did I miss a beat somewhere? That seemed sloppy and sudden.

– What was with the muzak during Tommy and Laurel’s date? After the solid music choices for Oliver and Helena, it was jarring.

– I’m always happy to see Tahmoh Penikett, but did he have to go so soon?

– “The rich man’s Lindsay Lohan.”

– “He seems like a real stand-up mobster.”

– “You're supposed to be going undercover, not speed dating.”

What did you all think about the episode?

  • Comments (99)
Add a Comment
In reply to :
  • bluemystique Dec 03, 2012

    I wasn't wholly impressed with Helena as a character, because I felt we were being spoon fed the similarities and differences between her and Ollie etc. But I did like that she has a better chemistry with him than Laurel. I believe the attraction between them...even though I felt it ending with a kiss directly after her speaking of her love for her dead fiance was too much. They have a better chemistry that flows better than Ollie and Laurel.
    -Laurel and Tommy are cute together. Or something. I don't know. Since I'm at best indifferent to both of their characters the majority of the time, there is something quite solid and pleasant about them sharing screen time with one another. It works. Unlike when they're onscreen with anyone else.
    -Finally Moira voiced that she's trying to accept that Ollie isn't the same person. Finally. I felt like for so long this was being glossed over and it was bugging me. I'm glad she had that talk with Thea. Maybe now we can get over this "business as usual" attitude that they seem to have in regards to him.
    -It was a solid episode. Sort of light on the action, and it only took minute steps forward in the plot. I mean we had the reveal about Tommy's dad, and the Helena thing...but it still felt like it didn't really move forward.
    -Oh and Diggle is the best.

  • sincubus00 Dec 02, 2012

    Ok, its official, "Arrow" is Batman-Light (As it has always been)

  • ben45tpy Dec 01, 2012

    OK I'm out, this show is just not interesting me at all.

  • Aesandil Dec 01, 2012

    Jessica De Gouw failed to impress me at first, but luckily in this case the initial impression was plain wrong. The scene in the restaurant clicked really well on an emotional level, and she shared a nice chemistry with Amell. The ending was predictable, but I didn't have any problem with it.

    I'll admit to feeling somewhat bugged when Noel spilled the beans regarding Merlyn's possible future. But then I realised that the Canary reveal didn't bother me as much, so why should this.
    So while I like the comic book references, I must say that it wouldn't hurt to hold on to some of them for a little longer. After all, the show probably won't get there anytime soon.

    Ditto on Tahmoh Penikett being grossly underused.

  • apostrofa Nov 30, 2012

    I have only one thing to say. Tahmoh Penikett did go waaaaay too soon. I love this guy with all my heart. Damn you, TV Gods, Penikett deserves his own series and one that will last longer than Dollhouse and have a larger audience. And if he is going to be stuck in guest star or supporting roles, you gotta give us more of him. Or, at the very least, you gotta give more of him to me. :P

  • Acrobit Nov 30, 2012

    It wasn't an awful episode, but it was pretty boring. I dunno, without a buttload of action, I'm finding this show less interesting lately. I don't care about Tommy and Laurel, because I don't care about Tommy, I really don't care about Laurel, and we all know how they'll end. With the comic book info thrown in, if Tommy's going to end up as rival to Oliver (and how is possibly going to sell that...?), it's going to be over a girl, and a very uninteresting one. It's all so tired.

    So on to the girl who's meant to be interesting. I guess any woman on television is attractive to someone, but I don't see it with Helena. My GF says I'm too hard on women because I've lived most of my life near Hollywood, but I think I'm fair here. Attractive is one thing, but pretty is literally supposed to me better looking than average. She's not...bad, but I can't see the va-va-voom or anything else. Anyway, as far as her character goes, there's a ratio between attractiveness and maintenance, and she's just way in the red.

    The worst part with the two of them is while they were fighting in the warehouse, Oliver killed a goon who was no longer struggling *just* as he's judging Helena for killing the guy that murdered her fiance. If Oliver's such a good shot (and he is), he hasn't had to kill any of those guys. Unless it's okay when a guy does it...

    Part two of Diggle's the Sidekick. When he finally (but kinda quickly) joined up with Oliver, he said he wouldn't be the sidekick, and I was doubtful. I said something to the effect of "as long as he's not holed up in the batcave all day while Oliver's in the field..." and "as long as Diggle has his own projects and Oliver helps him with those, as well". So, oh well.

    Last week, I liked that Oliver stepped up and spent some quality time with his mom (even though she's kind of the bad guy), but they're still giving him shit over it this week. What is she, 90? They act like she's a little old lady complaining at him from her rotary phone.

    Imaginary 90-year old mom: "Ya never call. I'm just witherin' away in the dark over here."

    Oliver's got things to do, and so does she. Oliver running off after the attacker looks bad, but where else would anyone really think he was going? She nearly gets killed and he runs off to stock the club he doesn't run? I get that Thea's a little shit during most of the episodes, and then mellows out and they hug it out, but how many times are they going to do the same things? It's not progression; it's lapping.

    The ridiculousness of China White has already been covered by most, but all I really wanted to add was that maybe they should've just gone with white (grey) contacts and a thin white streak. No assassin wants to stick out this much. Guess that's it.

    And Tahmoh Penikett (Helo from BSG and...that guy from Dollhouse. Thx to Noel for teaching me his name.) was completely wasted here as a two-bit thug. Just an utter shame is what that was. The worst part is that he can fight so well. They should've made that better and last longer. A job's a job, but still. If anything, he could've played a thug for Barrowman. At least he might've gotten a few more episodes out of it.

  • noelrk Staff Nov 30, 2012

    I'll admit I'm not sure how, exactly, to respond to your De Gouw's appearance comment...While certainly a degree of physical attraction helps sell Oliver and Helena's budding romance, it's more founded on their mutual emotional scars than it was their visible appearances...As for your evaluation of De Gouw's looks...okay? I don't know that I really gave it a great deal of thought while watching the episode, and when I do think about it, she mostly just looks like Liv Tyler to me, so take that for whatever it's worth....?

    I disagree with your assessment about Oliver leaving Moira in the opening. I mean, no one knows he's fast enough to catch the motorcycle, so why would they assume that him leaving her next to a corpse is okay? As far as they know, he wouldn't be able to catch it, so why bother? Why not stay with her? It's incredibly flimsy, and it's showcasing more that he's not good at keeping his identity hidden, and that he's really bad at lying (still).

    And so, looking after her following the accident...yeah, I'd be giving them both failing marks. You factor in the lack of Walter in the picture up to that point, and someone staying with her is just plain supportive, regardless of if you also just split a really good burger.

    I can see your point about "lapping" but I'm not in full agreement. I like that Thea and Moira are talking about these things, because it's helping to understand their new family dynamic and also work through Oliver's behavior with one another. Is it the freshest of material? No, but it is important in understanding them.

  • HawkeArrow Dec 04, 2012

    I sorta agree there, while I found both the actors playing Oliver and Helena lacking in chemistry, I did feel their emotional bond, they get each other right now. And a lot of people are confusing this connection with real chemistry.

    The last scene with the kiss was particularly terrible, no sexual chemistry there but the diner scene had an emotional kind of chemistry.

  • noelrk Staff Dec 04, 2012

    Yes, the last scene was a disaster through and through.

    I like your refinement about emotional bond vs chemistry. It's a good thing to point out. I'll make sure I try and to think through that slippage in the future. :)

  • Acrobit Dec 01, 2012

    Liv Tyler? Really? I guess's similar, so there's that.

    Anyway, it wasn't about Helena being attractive to Oliver, as he's not that playboy anymore, and when he's into someone it isn't about her looks--ZZZ. All leading guys are this way now. Whether the actress or her character is hot, that's not why he likes her. That's fine; it makes sense for the demographic. I just meant attractive to the audience. Whether--as a whole-- we're looking at her and we're saying "Yeah, I see it," or "ehh, whatever he's long as she doesn't compare to the main actress." 99% of the time, we get the latter.

    As for Oliver leaving Moira (thx again for the name), sure, no one knows he could actually pull off chasing down the killer, but that doesn't have anything to do with him trying. If someone almost kills someone you love, but doesn't succeed, and they don't need immediate medical attention, it makes perfect sense for a guy to at least run after the attacker to try and get a license plate number. Of course, it's also dangerous, but so is not trying to catch them at all and leaving them free to try it again. Moira's a public figure, so there was reason to think she might be the target. *That's* why you bother. Again I ask, what else would anyone think he was trying to do? The first thing to occur to someone isn't that he's a super-conditioned superhero.

    So yeah, he should've at least stayed with her that night for support, if not the moment it happened (which, I agree, still looked bad). But this goes back to the lapping I was talking about. Is he going to spend ten minutes of every episode taking care of his mom? Do we want to see that? She's still a bad guy, whether Oliver knows it or not. And another five listening to his sister complain about *his* feelings? Another two with Diggle complaining about Oliver's family complaining about his feelings? Laurel, when they get together? It's one thing if his actions from the previous week make a dent for the future week; that would be progression.

    He's home. Maybe they could consider being cool? Personal space? Breathing room?

    (And points for fixing the typing window. Thx guys.)

  • cello Dec 02, 2012

    On Helena's appearance, I must echo Noel in his befuddled "...okay?"

    I would have just let your comments be, but the bizarrely long paragraph about your qualifications to judge the prettiness of woman (hollywood, "she's not... bad," va va voom... whaaat??) just really irked me.

    Can we stop measuring how interesting or plausible a woman character/actor is based almost solely on her level of attractiveness? Not saying that audiences don't like eye candy (whether they're men or women) or that we can't express our subjective attractions. I just find it so exhausting how much pressure female characters/actors are under to prove that they in your words "make sense" based on their looks, especially when compared to their male counterparts. I'm sure we don't determine the character worth of Oliver Queen based on Amell's abs... so c'mon, let's afford the same dignity to the women in this series, too.

    (P.S. what does the "ratio between attractiveness and maintenance" even mean?)

  • Acrobit Dec 02, 2012

    @ JohnnyCanucks: I think Laurel's pretty, but as I find myself more annoyed with her character, she becomes less attractive to me.

    To me, that's how it's supposed to work; looks are just a starting point, and who they are makes them more or less attractive.

  • Acrobit Dec 02, 2012

    To answer the obvious question: "Who are you to judge whether or not someone's attractive?" - No one at all. Just someone watching the show, like everyone else. Now, you're right, it shouldn't matter what these people look like; they're actors filling a role, so virtually anyone should be able to fill their roles. But *does* virtually anyone? Nooo. Is it random hot guy casting that put Tommy and Oliver's actors together? Stefan, Damien and Matt? Laurel and minority co-worker? Beauty and minority co-worker? The guy from Twilight and the human guy from Twilight?

    It's not that I'm saying that pretty people need more acting roles, I'm just asking if it's necessary that 'the other person' doesn't compare with the main person. They don't have to both be pretty; they can both be w/e. If the two leads are destined to be together (even for a season or so before something breaks them up), then why does it matter what their competition looks like? They're going to choose each other on their other qualities, right? To me, it's like a woman in the crowd wearing white at someone else's wedding: her wearing white shouldn't take away from anything the bride is doing, but it does. I admit that I'm being an ass, but these shows are being both cynical and manipulative.

    But once again, I never said there was no reason for Oliver to be attracted to her, all that makes perfect sense. And I'm not saying anything ends with a person's looks. If it matters at all, after five minutes of Helena, I would choose her over Laurel in a heartbeat, but I find that sad not because Laurel's supposed to be the more attractive one (I'll explain next), but because Laurel's so very uninteresting.

    We know where this story goes, if not how exactly it ends. Oliver, while at first enjoying the solace he's found in a kindred spirit, realizes that he needs someone who resists his dark side, not adds to it. Someone who makes him a better person. Oliver rejects Helena (unless she dies) and heads back to Laurel's direction, and Laurel rejects Tommy (it'll likely be his fault; Laurel's already unpopular enough without breaking Tommy's heart for no good reason) and heads back to Oliver. Helena vs. Laurel, and Tommy vs. Oliver. Helena and Tommy are placeholders to make us wait for the reunion we're supposed to want. It may take a year or two, but it's inevitable. The journey not the destination, right?

    Most of the length of my paragraph about judging her looks was saying why I wasn't qualified, and that I might have a bias, though I don't think so. I don't say anything that diverse people haven't said. I notice that you didn't say you disagreed, only that it's rude to talk about it. As for Amell and his don't think they played a role in him landing this job? That a young Adam West or someone else abdominally-challenged was just as likely to be the leading man on a CW show? Stefan, Damien, Tyler, Tyler's dead uncle who's now on that NBC show, the Beast (can't remember his name), Dexter, the Haven guys , the Twilight guys, they all came from a binder of men. Buff pretty men. A friend in high school almost killed himself 'losing water weight' for spring break seven years ago. Women have it worse, certainly, and it's fairly recent, but men are catching up.

    So, I'd be fine with it not mattering...if it didn't matter to these shows. It shouldn't matter, but why does it matter? I don't think it does anyone a service to ignore that they're choosing opposing character roles...on looks. If me saying that someone was cast because they weren't as attractive as another character was bad (again, I accept that), then what does that say about shows if they're actually doing it? How should that make an actor/actress feel?

    Finally, the attractiveness / maintenance ratio is simply that a person is more likely to put up with more negative qualities from someone they find more attractive than someone they find less attractive. Could be anything: stupidity, greed, selfishness, laziness, childishness, giving up friends, etc. It's defined by Barney from HIMYM (yeah, I know), but there were episodes on the first seasons of Suburgatory and Apartment 23 that covered this exact thing from the female perspective. Obviously, not a good thing, but it's natural, and very common.

  • JohnnyCanucks Dec 02, 2012

    I agree with most everything you say from the perspective of TV/Movie actors or actresses. My 2 cents as a comic geek would be that Helena Bertinelli was stunningly beautiful as Huntress in the comic and I was just not seeing the TV version in that costume. However full credit to the producers for going their own road on this one.

    Also, next to the actress who plays Laurel few women could measure up. She is stunning IMHO

  • GoKuVeGeTaGoHaN Nov 30, 2012

    I'm just glad to see Huntress on TV again :)

  • katpup Nov 30, 2012

    I liked the Lex / Lionel dynamic, but Lionel was a much more likable guy. You could sympathize with him(sometimes). Mr. Merlin is, of yet, just a mean little prick. Makes the whole father son relationship a little cut and dry.

  • 134sc Nov 30, 2012

    I agree to an extent. From seasons 5-7 Lionel could be a sympathetic character. In the earlier seasons tho, Lionel was not a likeable guy.

    How about John Glover on Arrow? I think he would fit perfectly into this world. He would play a great villain

  • noelrk Staff Nov 30, 2012

    I would be all over John Glover showing up.

  • Kam456 Nov 30, 2012

    another solid episode. One of my fav's at the moment.

  • JT_Kirk Nov 30, 2012

    Man, did they milk the hell out of him being Tommy's dad. How long does someone on TV stand around in a friggin' fencing mask before it becomes an obvious cheap out reveal coming your way? It was apparently about half the ridiculous length of the shot as they had it here, and then to follow it up with mega-arbitrary actions just cemented silliness. I'm glad he's not Maxwell Lord but Merlyn the evil archer, this is smaller and easier for a show like Arrow to handle than to write off stuff like Checkmate and mind control powers and all that comic book stuff - look at how watered down they ended up having to make Lex Luthor on Smallville.

    Quentin's comment about Huntress not shooting straight was dumb, dumb, dumb, that's where the problem came in. She's shooting from a motorcycle, it's going to be hard. If they had written the line as just "too many bullets to be a pro" it would have worked fine, instead they went the nonsense way and it sets the character up as lesser-than right up until she becomes a super badass out of nowhere.

    For me, the stuff with Tommy and Laurel detracted from an interesting plot, it felt like an entirely different show where pretty but generic people have pretty and generic lives made of gossamer fluff. Perhaps the writer on this episode wanted to have the contrast between Ollie and Helena's meal played against Tommy and Laurel, but I didn't feel any connection, it was just a thing that happened without connection to anything significant.

    Speaking of disconnects, I know you liked Thea and Moira in this one, but those were elements that felt so heavy-handed to me and ultimately went nowhere for our protagonist. If the show is supposed to be Dynasty or some other family soap opera, then it'd be understandable (and not a show I'd have chosen to watch in the first place) but since this is Arrow and these characters and events only affect Ollie in little pieces here and there to make him brood, it's not clicking for me at all, especially Thea who just felt out of character here all caring for Moira and Ollie.

    Oh, and disconnects also could refer to the necks from spinal cords, that scene made no sense - Ollie kills a guy and then freaks out literally a quarter second later when Helena does the same thing? I rewatched that scene twice because it was so poorly expressed through a quick-cut edit, and eventually just gave up and played it through to find out he was miffed, but still don't really get why.

    I don't get why they didn't put Helena in the costume, there's already pictures out there of her wearing a domino mask, so since they skimped on how she became what she is, why also skimp on her leading this double life? It's bad enough the casting feels super generic and puts so little effort into getting the characterizations pushed out of the actors (I'm not blaming the actors, almost everybody on the show might feel like a Canadian miscast but most of them are bringing something to the table, just not consistently thanks either to soft scripts or distracted directing), but why take even more away from the show when it doesn't have to? Hell, I was annoyed enough in life by Batman Year One ending with "Batman"'s costume being a motorcycle getup, did we really need to repeat that? Is there really a huge story arc to build Helena into the Huntress from here on in?

    Anyway, not the worst episode, it was good to see Ollie have feelings regarding the roles he's taken upon himself, Diggle is still playing "Urban Alfred" but at least he seems to be having fun, this felt like an issue of a comic more than a CW ripoff of Revenge, but obviously it was not without faults.

  • Aesandil Dec 01, 2012

    Man, you do like your complaints. I usually disregard some of them as a plain ol' grumbling (honestly, the tiresome and overused casting gripes?), but there are also a few that always strike true.

    I pretty much agree with most of your points about Helena. It doesn't seem like they had a clear plan on how to handle the character. Lack of costume, albeit odd, might yet be explained. Making her seem inadequate at shooting and then allowing her great close-combat skills certainly felt at odds. And the final scene in the warehouse was absolutely senseless for the reasons mentioned.

    As for the rest - a matter of perspective it seems. I like Thea and Moira stuff just fine, Tommy and Laurel a bit less (but it's not grating). Merlyn's father reveal was okay, I thought. After all they didn't make him stay masked for long, painful minutes.

    And since no one seems to notice - we should give writers some credit for not making Helena & Ollie bump into Laurel & Tommy while in the restaurant. How many shows wouldn't be able to resist and play off such a 'coincidence'?

  • JT_Kirk Dec 01, 2012

    I didn't start typing that post with the intention of complaining, Noel reviewed and asked what we thought which spurred my train of thought. I did say it wasn't the worst episode though.

    As for casting though, c'mon, if you transplanted Ollie, Thea, Moira, Tommy, Laurel, and now Helena to TNT's new Dallas or any other show of that ilk, would you even be able to pick them out of those crowds?

    Thea barely seemed like the same character this week, now she's angry because she cares too much, and despite being a shallow nightmare of a teenager she's a caring-machine. And Moira, what is her motivation? She's lightly mysterious and lightly evil or maybe just being manipulated and holding her own, but who is she as a character, and what is her value to our protagonist's life aside from nagging and scolding and being disappointed? That's why I can't get into her.

    Ha, ok, I'll give you that THIS episode didn't fall into that trap of having the two couples meet by accident. It'll happen though, I betcha.

  • Aesandil Dec 02, 2012

    I'm probably biased when it comes to reading about various casting gripes, because it seems to be one of the favorite subjects of many commenters - for pretty much almost any show out there. I still remember how much beating Olivia from Fringe took for the most part of season 1.
    Granted, it's a highly subjective topic. I do feel, however, that too often (and too quickly) a character or an actor is deemed "bland, generic, boring, etc.", with such approach not giving much of a chance or allowing to notice any of the finer details.

    As for the Arrow crowd: I (mostly) agree about Tommy and Laurel. They are likeable enough, but have yet to grow any distinct personalities. I also feel that Quentin should be on this list and above everyone else.
    Oliver, on the other side, works for me pretty well. He makes bad calls, he is confident yet liable to occasional hesitation, his masked life seems to tear at him more than he thought it would. I do find enough layers to keep things interesting, and the character still grows.
    Thea looks pretty consistent to me. It is not the first time she shows that she cares (the talk at their father's grave, noticing Oliver's scarred torso) - in her own, sometimes misguided way. She also clearly wants more attention, to the point of being downright annoying. And she is too hard on Ollie because he isn't behaving "as expected". Nothing terribly outstanding, mayhaps, but I can roll with that.
    Moira, aside from overstepping the line of the caring and nagging mother that you mention of, does seem rather honest in her emotions (towards Walter or Oliver). She clearly was involved with the wrong crowd (still is, in a way), took part in some despicable things, and now might be on her way towards regretting or wanting out. Or it is all a fasade. She isn't always scolding or being disappointed, either - vide the dinner with Oliver in one of the recent episodes. I would say that the worry towards her son is genuine, and that she's been trying to make some effort to understand him in this episode (the talk with Thea in the bedroom).
    Helena is fairly new, so it is pretty much wait and see for me. Fairly poor first impression that changed into a fairly good impression by the end of the episode.

    And we shall see about them falling into the familiar trappings! The few times I'd been expecting it so far, they managed to avoid taking the cliched route.

  • Aesandil Dec 03, 2012

    This comment has been removed.

  • JT_Kirk Dec 02, 2012

    My point was more about just being able to drop them into any CW cast or other youth-skewed soap (like the new Dallas) and not being out of place in those.

    Laurel I think is partly about the writing and makeup/look, they cast someone to be young and act like a light teenage-type character and then wrote that character to be a passionate lawyer with deep-seeded complicated feelings, so it doesn't really work, they cast and do makeup and hair and costume to say "youthful, bubbly, light, talks with girlfriends about highschool-esque silliness" but they write the character with all manner of complex, mature stuff which doesn't fit that at all. The casting directors go for someone who fits The CW's type rather than the content's needs. Look at Lois Lane on Smallville, Erica Durance, who took years to actually fit into her character and get working, for a long time it really wasn't Lois Lane at all, it was just "pretty youthful girl who interacts with protagonist" which hamstrung Durance's acting voice.

    Det. Quentin Lance played by Paul Blackthorne (The Dresden Files is one of the most underrated shows of the last 10 years IMO) is just on an entirely different show, his character is written as more aggressive and more comic-booky and he plays that with teeth, and they even shoot his scenes from different angles. It definitely doesn't fit quite right on Arrow, yet it's anything but generic.

    Ollie seems to have two modes: small voice like that of a young man or even a boy, and brash over-the-top confidence and conviction with little backing it up. That could be chalked up to writing, but it's expressed through the acting either by choice of the actor or the director. Stephen Amell may have a big boy voice somewhere inside him, but it hasn't yet come out here in his performance despite the character being transformed by 5 years on a brutal island.

    It's good to have something to discuss though in the genre world of TV again, no matter what side we're on though, so thanks for the thoughtful reply.

  • JT_Kirk Dec 02, 2012

    This comment has been removed.

  • noelrk Staff Nov 30, 2012

    I'm ready for us to come to blows over this. *laces up gloves*

    I was fine with the fencing mask reveal. Was it milking it? Yes, absolutely. Did it bother me? Not in the least. It was the sort of reveal I'd expect from the pages of a comic, which is probably exactly why I wasn't bothered by it. Sometimes that impulse doesn't play well live action (see Helena repeating Oliver lines to him), but in this instance, I liked it.

    Certainly they're not prepared for Checkmate and all that, but given the nature of this conspiracy in Starling City (Tempest, I think they're calling it?), it wasn't outside the realm of possibility for them to be laying that groundwork. I was mostly just sad about being wrong!

    The Helena stuff may just be an issue of pacing since next week is where those mask photos came from (and was included in the promo). I'm treating this week and next as an unofficial two-parter, and we'll see how it all goes. I was generally okay with the Helena stuff, though, apart from the inconsistencies I mentioned and that last scene. We'll see where I fall once this little story is finished.

    I don't think you're ever going to come around to the show's family melodrama impulses, which is fine, but I also don't think they're ever going to go away. These scenes don't need to connect to Oliver immediately, and even then, they don't always have to be connected to Oliver. Thea and Moira are characters with their own motivations and and arcs, and while the show is *still* trying to figure out Thea's place, I didn't have an issue with her trying to take care of both Moira and Oliver. She doesn't want that family dynamic to go away again, but none of them, her included, is making that job an easy one. The show's not doing the best job dramatizing that conflict and everyone's place in it, though given released future episode summaries, that may be changing a bit, and hopefully for the better.

    On a lighter note, you really hate Canada, don't you? ;)

  • JT_Kirk Nov 30, 2012

    Comic pages can play with something like that, they can take their time and let the reader fill in the blanks between panels. On TV there has to be more thought to pacing, and I'll slug it out to argue it was at least a whole beat too long. Not sure how punching each other will prove or disprove the shot's unnatural, awkward feeling though. ;-)

    Smallville did Checkmate already, DC / Warner Bros seems to want to stay far away from the Marvel unified screen universe type of thing, so the rule of thumb is to err on the side of the opposite. It's not that I wouldn't like seeing them do larger stuff, but it's become apparent they're unwilling to go there so now I keep hopes in check.

    Good idea, CW should also have treated it as a multi-parter and marketed it as such. Ha! Like they do marketing for this show.

    The problem I have with the soap stuff is that it's soap stuff, characters are living these ridiculous soap opera rich people lives that are shallow and have all these brash things happening yet it never seems to come from who they are, it's only lines on a page, and it rarely interacts in a strong way with our protagonist. If you took Ollie out of this show, you'd have a very generic CW-style teen soap and not even a compelling one - no vampires or witches in the bunch! Since Ollie's interaction is to duck out and brood when scolded about it, he's not part of that world. I've seen DC pull that crap before in comics too, and those books usually tank or get revamped after a year because nobody wants to read comics for the rarely-connected C-plots that ape cheap tv soap plotlines.

    I don't hate Canada, I hate crappy US shows that are Canadian productions which don't try very hard. I love Psych, it's shot in Canada. Watched BSG, all the Stargate series, Mutant X and Andromeda, Blade, Dark Angel, The Dead Zone, Viper, Kung Fu The Legend Continues, Eureka, X-Files and its 2 spinoffs, they were all Canadatastic, yet they all tried harder.

  • HawkeArrow Dec 04, 2012

    JT kirk I have to agree with you about what you said about Laurel earlier. You hit the nail on the head when you explained the disconnection between the writing and how the character looks. They are writing a mature and proffesional character here but the make up on the character and how she is screams sorority girl , its mismatched. Im a fan of the character, I think she could be brilliant but there is something missing. There is a disconnection with how the character is portrayed.if the worst comes to the worst they will have to recast.

    But like you said Erica durance did get better over the years, so will see if the actress gets better too. ,

  • noelrk Staff Nov 30, 2012

    I'll give you an unnatural awkward feeling. *unlaces glove, puts a horseshoe in there, relaces* I don't think we need to slug it out over a beat. Perhaps just a thumb wrestle.

    But Oliver's not part of that world for a reason within the narrative (trauma, inability to fully connect, etc), and so those aspects not always reaching him make sense on some level. He's not able to deal with his pain, let alone with theirs, and ducking out when confronted feels motivated, at least for me.

    The range of your shows as "trying harder" is a little unfair considering that some of them probably had more money (X-Files included in that list is TOTALLY cheating!) than Arrow is likely operating with, especially the context of how little the CW may be able to put up and how much Warner Bros Television is *willing* to put up. It took Supernatural, what, three seasons, to start getting real money from them?

    You'll appreciate, then, that while I didn't mention it above, I did wonder why Nick decided to kill Helena and Oliver to the same warehouse that Oliver confronted the German arms dealer in a few episodes ago. ;)

  • JT_Kirk Dec 01, 2012


    Of course you're right that Ollie is disconnected partly from that world of his closest friends and family, my point is what about their stories is so important to the overall story of our protagonist that it justifies this much time expended telling them? That's what I'm not seeing, a connection to that world. When we got a glimpse into Diggle's story it was a direct connection to Ollie's story and even weaved back into that directly; but there's so much about Moira and Thea and Laurel and Tommy's stories shown that is just melodrama filling time and wouldn't make the editorial cut if this were a comic (unless it was a terrible one, which there are plenty of, but why would we still be talking about it at this point?).

    Not all the shows I cited try harder, they're just the gamut of shows I have seen in the last 20 years that were shot in Canada - some worked the Canadianness into the shows, some just let it overwhelm. X-files started as a tiny-budget earlish Fox series, the big money didn't come until later as it went into seasons 3 and 4 I think. Arrow seems to put a lot of resources into looking the way it does for a budget adventure show - sets, CGI worlds, stunts, cinematography, even costumes, makeup and hair aren't cheap, they just all look very... CW. I wonder how far back that warehouse goes, maybe Clark Kent as "the blur" fought crime there as well. They should really tear those warehouses down, they fester crime. It was kind of you not to point that out.

  • See More Comments (30)