‘Arrow’ Review: “Burned”
‘Arrow’ lets loose another episode with its tenth outing of the series, mid-season premiere “Burned,” as Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) finds himself shaken after his confrontation with the Dark Archer, and hesitant to take up the mantle when Laurel begins investigating the mysterious deaths of several firefighters, while Thea attempts to console her mother over Walter's disappearance.
Last month’s ‘Arrow’ episode “Year's End” saw Oliver confronted by a Dark Archer taking deadly measures to get his attention, while the Queens held a Christmas party and Moira tried to push Walter off his investigation. So, what does the tenth episode of ‘Arrow’ bring? Does it hit the same bulls-eye as the first nine episodes?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Arrow’s mid-season premiere, “Burned!”
As firefighters attempt to control a blaze at an abandoned warehouse, one still left inside asks for assistance from a masked firefighter appearing nearby. Instead of assisting however, the masked firefighter douses the man’s uniform with a flammable liquid, burning him alive as the fire continues to rage!
Elsewhere, Oliver resumes his training while the memories of being beaten by the Dark Archer send him off his game. Diggle reminds him there’s been no word of Walter’s whereabouts, but Oliver has other names on the list he could tend to. Oliver declines, remembering how helpless he once was to help Yao Fei back on the island.
The next day, Laurel watches as news of her co-worker Jo’s brother burning to death is delivered, while over at the Queen Mansion Moira sulks about Walter. Downstairs, Oliver and Thea watch a news report detailing how the vigilante has been missing for weeks. Laurel arrives home to find Tommy waiting for her, shortly followed by a visit from Jo, who believes -- based on the coroner’s report about the fire -- that her brother’s death couldn’t have been accidental.
Quentin largely dismisses Laurel’s request to investigate the matter, in the process alerting her to the vigilante’s mysterious phone, which they’ve had no luck tracing. Laurel borrows the phone to enlist Oliver’s help, who first questions her on her earlier words that the vigilante was nothing more than a remorseless killer, but ultimately accepts the case.
Oliver asks Diggle to look into the matter, but Diggle’s questions of Oliver’s sudden reluctance are interrupted by the sound of voices upstairs. Oliver investigates to find Tommy cracking the whip with the contractor, wondering why the nightclub hasn’t gotten off the ground. He suggests they throw a benefit for the firefighters, an idea Oliver concurs with.
Oliver returns to the mansion to find his mother arguing with the company’s chief operational officer about taking Walter’s position, though she refuses to leave her family and home behind. Diggle interrupts with news of another fire in progress, matching the conditions of the previous fires, but Oliver hesitates, in spite of Diggle’s urging. Finally relenting, Oliver lapses into another memory of trying to survive out on his own on the island, stalked by the mysterious soldiers at every turn.
At the raging inferno, yet another firefighter is attacked by a masked figure who dangles him off a ledge and drops him into the fire before Oliver can intervene. Oliver attacks but is soundly beaten by the figure, who seems to bear considerable scarring and a firefly tattoo on his right hand. Afterward, Oliver sulks in his lair remembering how he only bested the Island soldier by accident. He calls Laurel to give what little information he ascertained, leaving her on her own.
Diggle suggests that the Dark Archer got in his head, taking away what allowed Oliver to be fearless, to which Oliver scoffs. Dismissing his claims, Oliver runs an errand to the firehouse for Tommy, running into Laurel in the process. Oliver listens in as Laurel asks the chief about firefighters from a Firefly company that now seem to be dying off, the first of which was Garfield Lynns in an infamous tower blaze that killed 6 firefighters. With the chief unwilling to help, Laurel calls the vigilante (from 10 feet away, heh), who agrees to take matters into his own hand.
While back at home Theo chides her mother for her shut-in behavior, Diggle apologizes for being so hard on Oliver. Oliver confesses that his battle with the archer made him realize how much he had to lose, but Diggle insists that letting people into his life should be a source of strength instead, something to live for. Looking over the reports from the infamous blaze Laurel found, Oliver realizes that Garfield Lynns might not have actually died in it.
At the fireman’s benefit, Laurel and Oliver confront Chief Raines about the blaze, forcing him to admit that Garfield Lynns’ body was never recovered, and it was the Chief himself who pulled all the men out of the fire, refusing to send them in to help Garfield. As they speak, Garfield stalks through the party, and makes his presence known with fire and incendiary grenades!
Oliver rushes downstairs to change, while Garfield scolds the chief for his actions and people flee the scene. Just as Garfield goes to burn the chief, Arrow blocks his lighter with a shot, and sets the chief free. Arrow attempts to coax Firefly into abandoning his suicidal vengeance, but the disgraced firefighter declines, walking right into the flames to end his life.
The next day Oliver smiles as the news once again praises the vigilante, while Moira finally gets it together to go to work. Elsewhere, Quentin shows up to apologize to Laurel, taking back the vigilante’s phone, only to give it right back noting that the figure seems to protect her. Later however, we see that Quentin slyly put a device on the phone that will allow him to hear future conversations between Laurel and the crime-fighter.
Back in his lair Oliver trains once again, remembering how back on the island he took the dead soldier’s uniform and accessories. He thanks Diggle for his support, and vows to get back to hunting the names on the list. Roll credits!
As excited as we were to have 'Arrow' back, especially with the wealth of DC characters soon to enter the fray, the series feels a bit off its game, like Oliver himself. Most of the action beats and emotional relationships ring true, but the presentation of DC comics villain Firefly somewhat peters out where more could have been done. Not only could greater effort have been put into adapting the admittedly over-the-top character, but the villain simply abandons his motivation and ends his own life, without any real effort on Oliver's part. We're confident the next run of episodes will be better, though it seems "Burned" brings 'Arrow' back a bit shaky.
What say you? Did you feel that ‘Arrow’ hit the mark with its tenth episode? What did you like about “Burned?” Join us next week for another all-new ‘Arrow’ episode recap of “Trust but Verify” on The CW!