Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Arrow "Burned" Review

The first season of Arrow, when completed and viewed in a marathon session by new viewers during a summer's weekend, may feel like they're watching an extremely long first film for an Arrow franchise. Tonally, Arrow's similar to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. Oliver survived on an island for five years like Bruce Wayne survived in the League of Shadows. Oliver and Bruce Wayne left for home when they were ready to save the city corruption destroyed. Thorough and dominant ass-kickings to both by the villain of the movie (or show) sent the heroes into a prison of self-doubt. Bruce Wayne recovered and defeated Scarecrow. Oliver isn't there yet. Though Arrow matches the tone of the Batman trilogy, the structure's similar to Marvel films. Superhero films, regardless of realist grit or popcorn comic book fun, follow the same beats. The hero takes down criminals, is beloved/hated by the city he's protecting, the hero gets his ass kicked, and a butler or bodyguard or spy tells them to buck up, and the bucking up begins. Season 1 of Arrow is following the structure of a movie.

"Burned" picks up six weeks after The Dark Archer kicked his ass and shot two arrows in Oliver's back. The Man in the Hood hasn't been seen in six weeks. The town misses him. Pundits discuss whether or not his absence is good for the city. The vigilante cut down the numbers of muggings and other violent crimes while he patrolled the streets and stopped the bad guys from doing bad things. Diggle thinks Oliver needs to put the hood on again and continue the work he began in Starling City. A bad night against another archer shouldn't stop Oliver from completing his father's work. Oliver continues to work out in sequences designed to cause teenage girls to faint. Oliver experiences conflicting emotions while mid-ab workout. His commitment to his family is unwavering. Walter's disappearance made the Man in the Hood less necessary. Oliver wants to stand by his family during another difficult time. Diggle doesn't push, but his annoyed expression suggests he'll push again.

The Man In The Hood is Starling City's answer for solving crimes and bringing criminals to justice when the cops can't, or won't, pursue a lead. The death of Jo's brother, Laurel's co-worker, in a fire is the beginning of the vigilante's return to the streets of Starling City. Jo believes her brother was murdered. Laurel asks her father to investigate the possibility of the death-as-homicide. Laurel's father will not, but he tells her about the vigilante's phone number and expects her not to call him immediately after he leaves. If the cops won't help her friend, the vigilante will. He's saved her before; however, the vigilante's a killer in the eyes of Laurel and her father. The memory of the vigilante wailing away on a bad guy in a factory is ingrained in their memory. Laurel remembers that he helped, so she asks him to help her again.

Oliver dons the hood but can't stop the deranged, burned former firefighter from sending another brother into the flames of a burning building. The murderer kicks Oliver's ass in the flaming building. Oliver stares at the murderer, eyes glazed over and slightly out of breath. The vigilante's return lasted less than an act. Oliver calls Lauren to tell her what she can do to stop him, because he believes he can do nothing for her, for Jo, except fail. Diggle tries to pick his boy up, but his boy is down. Oliver cannot let go of failing Laurel, though. Tommy suggested he and Oliver throw a fundraiser for the family members of the fire department. Oliver runs into Laurel outside of the fire house. Laurel goes on about the similarities between her and Oliver. She dives and goes for things without thinking, just like Oliver, which is why they clicked but also why they didn't work. Oliver watches with a look of consideration on his face like he wants to tell her he's helped her. Laurel should connect the traits of Oliver she outlines with the traits of the hood that helped her.

Oliver sadly walks away from Laurel, but he returns to the firehouse in time to hear Laurel interrogate the chief about the targeted fire house (a former fire house actually, broken up by a terrible fire two years ago). Oliver hears about the fire and the presumed dead firefighter and goes to work. Laurel turns away from him to go to her car after leaving the fire house. Oliver can't stand to stand idly by and watch Laurel do it alone. Oliver calls the vigilante phone and tells her he'll take care of it. Laurel doesn't look behind her, or she'd see Oliver standing still with a phone to his ear. Oliver stopped saving the city for six weeks because of the fear of death. Death itself didn't scare him, but the thought of leaving the people who love him for a second, and final, time did.

Walter's disappearance shook up the Queen household. Thea wants her mother to be her mother rather than the broken shell of a woman she is without Walter. Neither child knows that Moira knows where and with whom Walter went. Secrets are a thing in the Queen family. Change, or courage, as a theme touches the three storylines. A flashback of Oliver on the island shows his first kill, the start of the transformation of the scared boy into the man with a hood and a bow-and-arrow. Oliver didn't fight a gang of soldiers. For awhile, Oliver hid in the woods, shaking, unable to hold his weapon still in his hand, looking to the vastness of the sky for something to not be scared about. A solider walks by, Oliver attacks, kills him and survives a fall into a shallow pond. Upon awakening, he dresses in body armor, gathers a map, and embarks on saving his guide. Thea wants her mother to assume her powerful authority in the household and in the office. Moira's change in behavior scares her daughter. Moira needs to courage to be active and to stand up to Tommy's father. Of course, Oliver needs courage beat the bad guy; but he needs the confidence to believe he'll beat the bad guy and that there isn't a chance he'll die and leaving a gaping hole in the lives of the people he left behind.

Oliver's journey of self-doubt is resolved in a confrontation with the murderous former firefighter. The terrible fire two years ago left him with severe burns. The fire chief ordered the building be abandoned. The badly burned firefighter wouldn't give up the fight. The building collapsed and half of a fire company was killed. He wanted revenge. Oliver told him he could choose a different path; that he could turn from the flames and reform his life. The murderous firefighter opts to commit suicide by burning himself alive. Oliver faced the fire, fought it, and became a hero. That's what the pundits say after the vigilante saved the fire chief. He's rising like a phoenix.

Other Thoughts:

-Diggle is insanely ripped. The actor is a slightly less bulky Dave Batista. A vein is visible from his pectoral
muscle to his forearm. That is all.

-Willa Holland's high cheekbones, I think, are her stand-out features. The girl's already impossibly attractive. I'd like to know just what makes her impossibly attractive. The high cheekbones are a start and the way her hair is styled.

-Laurel's father let her keep the phone so he can find out who the vigilante is while lying to his daughter. I can't wait for the emotional fallout in February sweeps or an episode in March.

-Tommy's experienced a tremendous transformation. Oliver commends his friend for it. Who thinks Tommy's a villain for May sweeps?

-Moira Kirland and Ben Sokowski wrote the episode. Eagle Egilton directed it.


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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.