Arrow takes a break from being a vigilante; Firefly makes his debut

By Nuzhat Naoreen
Updated January 17, 2013 at 05:50 AM EST
Jack Rowand/The CW
S1 E10
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  • The CW

Sometimes even superheros need a break (and an ego boost, but we’ll get to that later). When we last checked in on Arrow he was nursing his wounds in the hospital after being taken down by the Dark Archer. So what’s he been up to since then? Well, here’s what he hasn’t been up to: crossing people off his list or uttering his infamous line, “You have failed this city.” (The last one I’m thankful for). Instead, Oliver has been doing what I’m sure most of us did during our holiday breaks: Climbing up metal ladders and using tennis balls for target practice. He’s also been spending more time with his family (okay, that we actually have in common) to help them through Walter’s disappearance. His six-week hiatus from crime-fighting turned out to be both good and bad: Bad, because there were more crimes committed in his absence, and good because people actually realized that there were more crimes committed in his absence. In other words, the residents of Starling City might finally be starting to realize they not only need, but actually want, Arrow to stick around. The only problem is Arrow isn’t sure he’s up for the task anymore. His inability to defeat the Dark Archer hurt him not only physically, but also emotionally. His confidence is shot, and I’ve got to say it’s pretty fascinating to watch. After all, we’ve all seen superheroes who think they can save the world, but a superhero who’s crippled by his own insecurities? That’s good TV.

Luckily for the residents of Starling City, it doesn’t take much more than an old flame in distress to propel Arrow back into action again, which is especially good news because there’s a new criminal on the loose and he’s got a knack for setting off sparks. Let’s dig in below:

Though there’s a larger mythology at work on Arrow, the series is also surprisingly episodic thanks to the fact that nearly every episode marks the entry of a new villain. Tonight was no different. While we capped off the midseason finale with the Dark Archer, we pick up with Firefly, a former firefighter turned arsonist and murder.

The episode opens with Firefly dousing a fellow firefighter in turpentine. Shortly after, Det. Lance drops by Laurel’s office to deliver some bad news to her co-worker, Jo. Her brother, a firefighter, was killed while on duty.

After comforting her friend, Laurel heads home to canoodle with Tommy. Apparently, the two have gotten quite close in the last six weeks, but not close enough for Laurel to agree to give Tommy his own drawer in her apartment. Their domestic squabble is interrupted when Jo drops by to talk to Laurel about her brother, who she’s convinced was murdered. Though Laurel doesn’t initially buy it, Jo hands her an incident report which says her brother’s coat was covered in turpentine — which wasn’t available in the factory where he died. She also points out that her brother burned hotter than the fire in the factory. A bit strange, no?

After a little digging, Laurel discovers that Jo’s brother wasn’t the only firefighter to die amidst such unusual circumstances. She tries to convince her dad to look into the case, but he doesn’t bite. While she’s at the precinct, a cop drops by with Arrow’s phone. Det. Lance says the phone is pretty much a dead end, but Laurel, ever resourceful gal that she is, decides to try her luck by calling up Starling City’s very own vigilante.

NEXT: Arrow and Laurel team up…

Not surprisingly, Arrow answers Laurel’s call right away. After shutting down all the lights (creeeppyy), Arrow shows up at Laurel’s apartment to find out what she wants. She tells him about her friend’s brother, and he responds by telling her she’s a hypocrite for asking for his help. Okay, so maybe he doesn’t use those exact words. But he does reveal he overheard Laurel tell her father that Arrow was a killer with no remorse. “So you want one killer to find another?” he asks in his auto-tuned voice. Laurel, who is still a bit too righteous for my liking, doesn’t really answer him. Instead, she tells him that if her friend’s brother was murdered, the killer has to be punished. Arrow says he’ll look into it. Arrow gives in too easily.

Oliver heads back to the lair, where he tells Diggle, who is working out and totally shirtless (because someone has to be, right?), about his meeting with Laurel. Diggle says he’ll look into it, and Oliver surprises him by saying he should pass anything he finds onto the police. Before Diggle can pester him about his duties as a vigilante, though, Oliver goes upstairs to meet with Tommy about their non-existent club (oh, contractors!), and to ask about Laurel’s friend. Tommy takes the opportunity to suggest they throw a fundraiser for the firefighter’s families. It looks like Laurel’s do-gooder ways are really starting to rub off on the former playboy.

Meanwhile, Det. Lance drops by Laurel’s office to retrieve Arrow’s phone, but Laurel isn’t about to give in. To keep her dad from bursting a vein (he really looked like he was about to for a second), Laurel uses the dead daughter defense (“If someone could have done something to give you even a little bit of closure, don’t you wish that they would have done it?”), but Det. Lance isn’t buying it. Now that I think about it, Det. Lance is a bit too righteous for my liking too — but he’s probably supposed to be.

Back at home, Oliver finds his mom in a heated discussion with a Queen Corp. head honcho, who points out the public probably doesn’t have much confidence in the company since its CEOs keep mysteriously vanishing. He wants Moira to step in, but she tells Oliver she’d rather stay at home and spend time with her family. This seems like a good time to point out that Moira passed up an opportunity to watch a movie with Oliver and Thea earlier in the episode. Oliver thinks it’s a good idea for his mom to get back to work, but she shuts down the idea and leaves in a huff.

Diggle drops in and tells Oliver it’s time for his “dentist appointment,” which is obviously code for, “Someone is about to attack more firefighters.” Oliver hesitates, but Diggle says the firefighters “need the man in the hood.” I really wish everyone on this show would stop speaking in over-the-top declarations.

NEXT: Arrow confronts Firefly…

Before Oliver jumps into action, he has a flashback to the island, where we see him hiding out after the capture of his mentor.

Oliver probably should have saved the flashback for later because by the time he gets to the scene of the latest blaze, Firefly has already claimed another victim. Arrow tries to take him down, but Firefly manages to get away, while shielded behind flames.

Cue another flashback: Oliver is momentarily captured on the island, but he manages to take his armed attacker down. They stumble off a hill, and while his attacker hits a rock on the way down, Oliver hits the water.

Later, a dejected Arrow calls Laurel to give her intel on the killer, which includes a description of his car, a scar that he has on his wrist, and his tattoo (of a firefly, naturally). Oliver points out that all the men in Engine Company 15 had firefly tattoos, so it’s got to be one of them. Laurel’s breathy contributions to this conversation are as follows: “You must have gotten pretty close to him,” and, “What should I do with this information?” Okay then. Arrow tells her to do whatever she would have done with the information before she met him. Too dramatic, Arrow. Too dramatic.

Worth noting: When Tommy asks Laurel who was on the phone, she tells him it was a wrong number. Why do I feel like that won’t be the last lie she tells Merlyn Jr. about her encounters with Arrow?

At the lair, it’s time for signature Diggle pep talk. Diggle doesn’t understand why Oliver is backing away from the Firefly case. Oliver tells him he can’t right every wrong in the city. They handle the disagreement like adults with a mini sparring session. After Oliver wins (though, in all fairness, he almost lost), Diggle points out that his problem isn’t physical, it’s mental. The other archer, he says, robbed Arrow of whatever it was in his heart that made it possible for him to jump off buildings and take down bad guys. Diggle should have been a therapist. His fatherly lecture doesn’t have much of an effect (at least not yet), as Oliver cuts him short to run an errand for the fundraiser he’s throwing with Tommy.

He heads to a fire station, where he runs into Laurel. Oliver tells Laurel that he heard she’s been very protective of her drawers recently. Though he quickly amends: “This is not a fancy term for your underwear.” Laurel tells him she’s an all or nothing kind of girl, and that, for her, giving up a drawer, is equivalent to sharing a life, or something like that. Oliver suggests she take it slow, but Laurel says she doesn’t know how to take it slow. She closes her eyes, and she jumps. That’s funny because I’d never peg Laurel as the “close her eyes and jumps” kind of girl. She seems more like the “obsessively analyze all of my decisions” type. Do you agree?

NEXT: Things get heated at the fundraiser...

Afterward, Laurel talks to a fire chief about the recent string of deaths. She tells him that three of the men who belonged to Fire Company 15 all died in the past six weeks, except for one, who died two years ago in the Nodel Tower tragedy. This piques Oliver’s interest. He joins the conversation and asks the chief to explain the Nodel Tower tragedy. “How do you not know?” the chief asks. “I was wi-fi free for a few years,” he retorts. The captain says the tower came down after a gas line blew, killing 34 civilians and six firemen. Turns out the construction company behind the tower used sub-standard materials.

Later, Oliver asks Laurel what the conversation with the fire chief was all about. She tells him it was nothing and rushes off to call Arrow. A few feet away, Oliver picks up the phone. She asks him what she’s supposed to do, and Arrow tells her it’s his turn to takeover. And he’s back (almost)!

Cue flashback to the island: Oliver drags himself out of the lake and realizes he’s killed the man who was after him.

Meanwhile, back at home, Thea tries to get her mom out of the house, but a reluctant Moira tells Thea she just doesn’t get it. Thea points out — and rightly so — that she in fact does know what her mother is going through. After all, she lost her dad and Walter too. Still, Moira is too busy moping and looking through old pictures to care, which prompts Thea to ask her mom to well, start acting like a mom. Their actions seem a bit out of character — since when is Thea the responsible one? — but hey, if it gets Moira to quit sulking I’m all for it.

Back at the lair, Diggle apologizes for giving Oliver such a hard time earlier. Oliver finally opens up and says he was never afraid of death until he realized he had something to lose, including his family, Laurel and Tommy. Diggle suggests he change his perspective: Instead of fearing what he has to lose, he should use those closest to him as a source of strength to survive. Well said, Diggle. After their heart-to-heart, Oliver directs the convo back to the case at hand. He’s got a new theory: What if Firefly (a.k.a. Garfield) didn’t die in the infamous tower fire? What if he was just presumed dead? (We all saw this one coming, right?).

At the fundraiser, we get a weird slo-mo shot of Laurel’s legs (for a second I thought maybe Helena was back). She locks lips with Tommy and checks in to make sure they’re good on “drawer-gate” (okay, I’ll hand it to her, that was cute), only to be interrupted by Oliver.

He pulls her aside to speak to the fire chief, who seems to be having a good ol’ time until Oliver starts asking him questions about the Nodel Tower fire again. He wants to know why Garfield’s coat was found, but not his body. The chief admits that there’s more to the story. Apparently, Garfield refused to leave the burning tower, though the chief had ordered all his men to evacuate. Though Garfield begged the chief to send a unit back in, he refused. The chief says he essentially left him to burn. Talk about killing the mood.

Oliver informs the chief that Garfield is back. For some reason, Laurel doesn’t seem surprised that Oliver pieced all this together, and that surprises me. After all, didn’t Oliver spend the entire first half of this season convincing people he only cared about partying? Wasn’t that a part of the master plan so he could make sure no one caught on to his alter-ego?

While the chief insists Garfield couldn’t have made it out of the tower alive, Firefly shows up behind them and throws a flame into the party. Firefly tells Oliver and Laurel to run and douses the chief with kerosene. Meanwhile, Oliver heads downstairs to change into his Arrow gear. Too bad he didn’t inform anyone, because Tommy and Laurel seem to think he’s in danger and decide they can’t leave the building without him. Inevitably, this puts them in danger. (The next time we see Laurel, however, she’s back at work, so I’m assuming the fallout from their decision to stick with Oliver was left on the cutting room floor).

Before Garfield can set the chief on fire, Arrow shoots the lighter out of his hands. Garfield tells Arrow he’s not afraid to die, and then Arrow responds with this soapy gem: “I know. You’re afraid to live.” Oof.

Arrow wants to help Garfield, but it’s too late. “Thanks,” says Garfield. “But I’m already burned.” With that, he walks into the fire.

Back at home, Moira makes amends with Thea and decides to get back to work.

Meanwhile, Laurel’s co-worker says she wants Arrow to have her late brother’s badge as a thank you. She’s not the only one giving Arrow props. Even Det. Lance says it’s a good thing the hood got involved. More surprisingly, when Laurel hands over Arrow’s phone, Det. Lance suggests that it might be better if she holds on to it. Looks like someone is coming around! Or not. Turns out her dad implanted a speaker in the phone so that the next time Laurel calls Arrow, the cops can eavesdrop on their conversation. Oh, dad!

At his lair, Oliver has another flashback to the island. This time we see him in a military vest of sorts, looking considerably more put together, while examining a map.

Back in the present, Oliver thanks Diggle for setting him straight. Diggle wants to know what’s next. Perhaps more training? Nope, says Oliver, “We go hunting.”

Count me in.

What did you think about tonight’s episode? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Episode Recaps


Billionaire Oliver Queen — under the vigilante persona of Arrow — tries to right the wrongs of his family and fight the ills of society.
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