Arrow: Muse of Fire

Oliver: "I don't understand. Why is she targeting her family?"
Dig: "I don't know. And here I thought you had parental issues."

This was very much an episode about family, which is starting to be a recurring theme. We also had the introduction of a big name DC character that isn't a villain -- Huntress.

Huntress is one of my favorite DC characters (don't ask me why, she just is), and hearing that she was going to be on Arrow was one of the primary reasons I decided to review the show. In fact, this was the episode that I was actively anticipating before the series even aired. So did she live up to my expectations? Honestly, I'm not quite sure yet, but her start was pretty well done.

Huntress has as long and varied a history as any character in the DC universe. There have been three distinct versions of the character, one of which was actually Batman's daughter (Helena Wayne) who was eventually erased from existence (sort of). The Helena Bertinelli version of the character has been around since 1985, and has been involved with the Batman extended family pretty heavily. She had a romantic fling with Dick Grayson (the first Robin, although he was Nightwing when they were involved), partnered with Tim Drake (the current Robin), and even donned the Batgirl cape and cowl. She was a part of the Justice League although she had to resign, and was a member of the Birds of Prey which was led by Barbara Gordon (the first and current Batgirl). That all just touches the surface of the character's history, which is long and complicated. One thing about the Bertinelli version of the character that has been consistent, though, is her tendency to be excessively violent.

So when the character was introduced doing a drive by on a motorcycle, I thought, "Wow, they're starting Huntress out the right way!" The other thing that stood out to me is the fact that she isn't quite the Huntress yet. Instead, the writers have opted to have her future persona shaped by Arrow. This works as an interesting alternate origin story. But I'm not sure how I feel about it, since Oliver taking the high road felt a little off. Sure, Oliver isn't exactly going out and gunning people down (Arrowing down doesn't have quite the same ring to it), but he hasn't behaved much better so far. Her back-story is a little different from the comics, too, but I think it works rather well here. As for the romance between Oliver and Helena, I'm all for it. Especially if it means they keep her around for a while. I'm not counting on it, though, since she seems like more of a guest star, unfortunately. Maybe they'll end her arc with her leaving for Gotham.

There wasn't really a B-story this time, which was nice because the story was focused on Huntress. We did get some bonding between Tommy and Laurel, and they have finally clicked as couple for me, and which has nothing to do with Tommy losing his trust fund. Thea and Moira spent some time bonding as well, although those scenes were not quite as successful. We also got an interesting exchange between The Well Dressed Man (aka John Barrowman) and Moira. I liked that she stood her ground and seemed to stick to her morals, it gave Walter's return some nice dramatic weight, as though she earned him back, somehow. So maybe I'm wrong. Perhaps it's Moira instead of Walter who's on the short list of characters who are going to die early on in the series.

One more thing that might be a minor spoiler, so skip this paragraph if you're a spoiler-phobe. Since I'm not a fan of the Green Arrow comic book, I've been completely in the dark about who John Barrowman is playing. But with the reveal that he is Tommy's father, I did some very minor research into the comic and found that Tommy's last name is the same as Green Arrow's arch-nemesis, Merlyn. This is based on total guess work, so I could be completely wrong.

Bits:

Poor Diggle. Is he going to have to mentor two violent vigilantes now?

Dueling motorcycles, both in black leather. I appreciate wanting to keep Helena's reveal a bit of a secret, but the stunt rider was very obviously male.

So China White's appearance this week was just a cameo. That's interesting. I really like that they are setting up long term antagonists like this.

Frank Bertinelli, Helena's father, seemed all nice and charming at first. I was almost wondering if he wasn't a mob boss this time around, but then he went to meet with the Triad.

The cross and the purple dress were nice subtle nods to Helena's comic book costume.

At the romantic dinner between Oliver and Helena, she raised an interesting question: did Oliver ever feel free on the island? He responded that those were the days that he actually misses. It was a nice peek at the real Oliver, so maybe this romance will bring more of him out. I also thought they had pretty good chemistry.

Helena's fiancé was named Michael Staton, born in 1981 - died in 2009. Helena accidentally caused his death when a laptop she was using to inform on her father to the feds was found by her father's henchmen and they assumed it was Michael's.

Nice dueling fight scene, but poor Tahmoh Penikett died too quickly. Ah well, one episode was better than none. I think I've seen him die more times than Michelle Rodriguez, Liam Neeson or Sean Bean.

Quotes:

Laurel: "I hope sushi was all you had in mind."

Oliver: "And oh, Tommy, if you hurt her I'll snap your neck ... just kidding."

Oliver: "I know what I'm doing."
Dig: "Now I know how your family feels when you lie to them."

Quentin: "Her family is bad news on a good day."

Helena: "You should stay away from me."
Didn't Oliver use this line on Laurel earlier this season.

Thea: "Look, I'm sorry if I was a bitch with you earlier."
Oliver: "There were a few times, could you be more specific?"

Helena: "Sometimes revenge is justice."

This entire episode was a set up for part two, and although it was good it did feel a bit incomplete. I'll save my rating until after next week's episode.

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.

16 comments:

Billie Doux said...

I liked her, too. She could be cool. And your theory about John Barrowman's character makes me happy, because I want lots and lots of John Barrowman.

Terrific review, J.D.

PlatinumRosebud said...

Nice review, J.D.
I agree with you on the great chemistry of Ollie and Helena.
Jessica reminded me of Jen Garner.
I hope she stays long in the show.
More screen time for John Barrowman, pls!
Golly, Digs will have his hands full with his two masked crusaders. :)

ChrisB said...

I liked the character and I liked the chemistry she had with Oliver.

John Barrowman looked odd to me somehow, as if his make-up had been done badly or something. It was all I could focus on in the scenes he was in.

Austin said...

ChrisB, that's what I was thinking. And then when he was revealed to be Tommy's father, I kept thinking he looked more like his older brother (especially since the camera was so close up to them). I wonder what the age difference is between the actors is.

Note: Whenever you post, am I the only one who has trouble reading the words that prove you aren't a robot?

ChrisB said...

Austin -- I agree. The age difference between the two actors is only fifteen years, but they certainly look a lot closer in age when they are together.

drnanamom said...

Thanks for the review J.D. I enjoyed this episode and am glad that Oliver has found someone to talk to who isn't Laurel. I'm not sure I like the Tommy/Laurel pairing or maybe I'm just not keen on Laurel - not even sure why. I really like the way you situate this series in the comic book universe. It adds depth and context and I don't know that universe very well - just well enough to follow what you talk about. Thanks! I hope the huntress stays around and I am voting with the rest of the John Barrowman fan club for more of him.

Katie Hart - Freelance Writer said...

I've known since the show started about that name being attached to a major villain, so at least this week's reveal gives some hope for Tommy's future. My review of the episode is here.

garyb said...

Hi, the current version of Huntress has returned her to the variant where she is the daughter of Bruce Wayne and Cat Woman, but has been stranded on "our" Earth. Huntress and Power Girl are featured in the "Worlds' Finest" comics.

The short lived TV series "Huntress" featuring Ashley Scott as Huntress is available on DVD, about $9 at WalMart.

Yea, I guess I'm a Huntress fan.



garyb said...

oopsies, the series with Huntress was 2002's "Birds of Prey" which also featured Dina Meyer as Oracle (Bat Girl) Rachel Skarsten and Shemar Moore. 13 episodes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birds_of_Prey_(TV_series)

J.D. Balthazar said...

Little bit of trivia about the Birds of Prey series, Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) did a cameo as the voice of the Joker for the first episode. Which is also the only episode I remember seeing.

Anonymous said...

Ah Birds of Prey .. I knew I wasn't the only one who saw that show..It wasn't as good as the long-running comic but not that bad. It featured my favourite Dc villainess Harley Quinn. Wouldn't mind seeing her on "Arrow" though maybe she's too cartoony and would need too many changes to be more "gritty. Love Huntress and she's certainly dark enough for this show.
Anna

Anonymous said...

why has my comment been deleted?

Josie Kafka said...

Anonymous, when did you leave your comment, and what was it about? Our spam folder has been eating some comments lately, but I just checked and it is empty right now.

Billie Doux said...

What comment would that be, Anonymous?

Anonymous said...

Well, it was this one but don't remember very well how I wrote it :

"I didn't like this episode very much because I expected from a show like Arrow to be based more on action and mystery and less things like romance."

Marianna said...

I like Huntress so far. I've been getting sick of Laurel. I think it's because she's too perfect. In my opinion characters should be flawed.