Arrow Season 1 Review “Muse of Fire”

Arrow Episode 7 Muse of Fire (3)

Oliver seems to have stumbled upon a kindred spirit in this week’s episode of Arrow, “Muse of Fire.” Like Oliver, Helena Bertinelli, the daughter of a wealthy and corrupt Starling City businessman with mafia ties, has inherited a certain inescapable burden from her family.

Oliver can’t help but be drawn to Helena. Without having to prompt her, she could already imagine his time on the island and understand that while he may have suffered incomprehensible amounts of loneliness and sadness, there also had to be an incredible freedom in being completely released from the roles they were expected to play in society. Like Dig, Helena had no personal history with Oliver, so he had no reason to keep up normal appearances for her and was relieved to be able to talk candidly about missing certain aspects of his time on the island.

Although Oliver refused to see the similarities in what he does compared to what Helena has been trying to do, Helena (like Deadshot before her) believed that they shared a similar worldview. As far as she could tell, they were both willing to kill “the bad guys” for the sake of righting the wrongs their families had inflicted on Starling City. While Helena’s motivation for her crusade lies in hatred and revenge, Oliver’s motivation lies in an inherited sense of guilt, but they’re both leaving lifeless bodies in their wake.

Oliver wants to do the right thing and he believes he actually is doing the right thing, but he can’t see the big picture beyond his guilt and his father’s dying request. He can see why Helena’s actions are not appropriate even if her motivation is understandable, but he can’t look at himself with the same critical eye. Perhaps he’s drawn to her because he subconsciously senses how similar they actually are.

Oliver seems to believe that he’s not a vigilante because he offers these corporate criminals an opportunity to do the right thing before he wipes their bank accounts and kills their cronies. He somehow fails to see the irony in disapproving of Helena’s final blow to Silvati, when he had just broken the neck of one of Silvati’s henchmen moments before. It’s an interesting aspect of his character that I appreciate at this stage of his development because while he may do some heroic things, he’s not exactly a hero yet. In many ways, Helena is Oliver’s mirror and as they continue to spend time together in the future, Oliver may see a reflection of himself that he doesn’t like.

With the right influence, Oliver’s motivating guilt can be transformed into a true heroism. This is where Dig plays a crucial role in forcing Oliver to see the bigger picture and expecting Oliver to uphold justice beyond the hit list. Helena’s hatred leaves her less room for transformation and her view of justice in the name of revenge will likely take her directly down a twisted path of villainy.

While I was totally digging the character stuff that Helena’s introduction brought to Arrow, I struggled a little bit with the delivery. She was fine as the pretty dinner date, but I didn’t believe her as a tough crime fighter. Most of Helena’s lines seemed very melodramatic and her hand to hand combat scenes reminded me of the 1960’s Batman TV series. The choreography was slow and her punches didn’t seem to actually land anywhere. I would have only been moderately surprised if a “POW” or “SPLAT” callout popped up on the screen during the fight. The intense fight sequences on Arrow have been one of the highlights of the entire series and these were the first set of fight scenes that I can recall being disappointed with.

In terms of all the other drama, Thea and her mom had a heart to heart about accepting Oliver for who he is now, while Tommy and Laurel continued to flirt and get cute together. Probably the biggest reveal in these side stories was the fact that the infamous “Well Dressed Man” is none other than Tommy’s father (who, by the way, looks pretty incredible for being the father of an almost-thirty-something) meaning that there are now two men with the last name Merlyn and either one of them could end up being Oliver’s great nemesis. For all we know, Tommy could have even been named after his father.

I loved how this reveal was planted earlier in the episode when the mysterious Well Dressed Man says he was welcomed into the Queen house by Thea. We knew he had to be someone that wasn’t thought of as a threat to Thea, and someone close enough to the family that she didn’t even feel the need to give her mother warning that he was coming upstairs to visit. The minute we heard that familiar voice from under the mask, it fell into place brilliantly.

Overall, this was another good episode of Arrow that was somewhat weighed down by little too much chit chat, a little campy acting, and not enough shooting arrows at bad guys. I missed seeing the flashbacks on the island, but I’m sure we’ll get more of that in future episodes.