Writers: Ben Sokolowski and Moira Kirland
Director: Eagle Egilsson
THE ONE WHERE: Six weeks after Walter’s disappearance, Oliver is coaxed out of retirement by a vengeful pyromaniac targeting Starling City firefighters.
THE VERDICT: “They need the man in the hood…” Arrow returns from its mid-season hiatus with an episode that’s as much a restatement of core principles as a subtle repositioning of the character. Oliver very much reclaims his mojo in this one, but his moral code is now far removed from the kind of brutal ethics we saw in the earliest episodes. He shows a surprising amount of compassion towards Lynns, for instance – “Let me get you help,” he offers, now capable of glimpsing a little of himself in the man’s consuming need for revenge. The way Starling City views the hooded avenger is also shifting: TV’s calling him a hero, while Jo thinks of him as “a guardian angel”. It’ll be interesting to see if these developments serve to blunt a little of the show’s edge. Firefly makes for a visually arresting villain in his eerily blank, reflective helmet and there’s a distinct hint of Two-Face when his scarred features are finally revealed (good prosthetics job here). His back-story is pure Towering Inferno – damn those crooked construction companies using substandard materials, it always ends in tears – and the Backdraft -on-a-budget spectacle of the inferno scenes definitely lift the episode visually. Magnificently named director Eagle Egilsson does some good work in this one; there’s a subtly effective shot of Laurel’s reflected face filling the screen of the hotline phone, and some slick editing as Oliver’s punishing rehab routine is intercut with flashbacks to his recent failures.
TRIVIA: Garfield Lynns AKA Firefly was originally a second tier Batman villain, first bedevilling the Dark Knight in the pages of Detective Comics 184 in 1952. This iteration of the character wasn’t a firefighter – he was a poverty-struck visual effects technician from the theatre world who applied his pyrotechnic talents to crime (“I am merely Garfield Lynns, world’s foremost lighting effects genius,” he seethed. “Yes, I exist on a meagre salary while those idiots in the audience come here in their limousines, their fur coats… flashing rare gems!”). Only in later stories did Lynns suffer disfiguring burns, a consequence of trying to create the greatest fire Gotham City had ever known. That’ll teach him to play with matches, eh, kids?
DID YOU SPOT: The name Nodell Tower is a tip of the hat to Martin Nodell, creator of the Golden Age Green Lantern. He later worked on Captain America, the Human Torch and Sub-Mariner.
Oliver (after smackdown with Dig): “So what did that prove?”
Dig: “That this is one sturdy desk?”
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Arrow airs in the UK on Sky1