Arrow returns from it’s mid-season hiatus, or winter vacation, or whatever they’re calling it, with “Burned.” They open with an arsonist burning a building (and a firefighter), and then cut to Oliver. He’s training, clearly off his game, and getting flashbacks from his clash with the “Dark Archer.” Diggs stops by for some chat/exposition, and we learn it’s been six weeks since last episode, when Oliver’s step father was abducted by Merlyn, Sr. In other flashbacks, Oliver’s mentor on the island is captured by Deathstroke and company.

Dinah’s friend Jo at the legal aid agency is finally more than just background for Dinah’s work, as we learn the dead firefighter was her brother. Oliver, meanwhile, seems to have temporarily retired his hooded persona to try and help his family deal with Walter’s disappearance. As Oliver and Thea discuss possibilities about what may have happened to Walter, the news in the background reports that “the Hood” was having a positive effect on crime, and wonders what’s become of him. Thea remarks “It looks like everyone’s disappeared.” Jo turns up at Laurel’s place, asking for help, having found some irregularities in her brother’s death.

A desperate Laurel, after learning her father can’t help her, steals the phone Arrow left him in a previous episode, and tries to recruit him. Diggle tries to push Oliver into looking into it, but Oliver still seems reluctant to suit up. Elsewhere, Moira is being pushed to take over Queen Consolidated in the wake of Walter’s vanishing. Diggle once again tries to push Oliver into action about the arsonist, this time triggering more flashbacks of Oliver’s time on the run on the island. Oliver tries to confront the arsonist, but he gets away and kills another fireman. Oliver goes off to sulk and have another flashback about fighting on the island.

The investigation eventually leads to a fireman called Garfield Lynns, better known to Batman fans as Firefly. I’m not sure why they’ve started poaching minor Batman foes for this show, but it’s an interesting choice. His background is totally different from the comics, but that seems to be a common choice on this show.

Back at the Queen mansion, Thea finally does something useful, and calls Moira out on her withdrawal over Walter. This was a nice change in having her character do something useful instead of being a background piece or pitiful victim. Diggle does something similar with Oliver, who realizes he now does have something to lose, since he has his family and friends again.

Oliver moves on to the firefighter benefit at his club Tommy has planned. Oliver and Laurel find more clues about Lynns, a bit too late as Firefly shows up at the party. He’s bent on revenge against his old team who he believes left him to die in a fire years ago. There’s something kind of ironic about setting a fire at a firefighters’ benefit. As Tommy searches amid the crowd for Laurel, Oliver slips down to his hidden basement headquarters to make his heroic change.

The Arrow/Firefly fight was a bit disappointing in that it was something that cried out for some trick arrows, but none were used. Arrow tries to save Lynns, but Lynns apparently kills himself. Again, I don’t like the trend of killing off foes as you go for a heroic setting, but maybe he’ll be back. Moira finally snaps out of her funk after her argument with Thea, and goes in to work at the company.

There’s what looks like a touching scene between Detective Quentin Lance and Laurel, in which he tells her to keep the phone that Arrow answers. What we learn later is that Det. Lance hid a transmitter in it, so he can try and capture the Hood. That was a nice surprise, turning a stereotypical father/daughter mushy scene into a view of how obsessed the Detective has become with catching the Hood, as he calls the vigilante.

Which actually brings me to one of the things I really wish they’d fix on this show. Give the hero a name already. They mocked the name “Green Arrow” at one point. He’s been called the vigilante, the Hood, and the guy with the arrows. Could we lat least settle on something to call the guy? I get, sort of, the reasoning that Green Arrow is out because of the train wrecks that were Green Hornet and Green Lantern. But c’mon, give us something to call him.

I’d also like to see more names/characters from the comics. Firefly was a surprise, but he looks to be dead, just like they apparently killed Deadshot after one episode. Deathstroke, so far, seems to be relegated to the flashbacks. Merlyn hasn’t really been called by name in his villain persona. Huntress vanished too quickly, and the hints of Manhunter haven’t gone anywhere.

I’m enjoying the show, but I think there’s room for improvement, and I hope some comes along.

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Wayland Smith

WAYLAND SMITH is the pen name for a native Texan who has lived in Massachusetts, New York, Washington DC, and presently makes his home in Virginia.His rather unlikely list of jobs includes private investigator, comic book shop owner, ring crew for a circus (then he ran away from the circus and joined home), deputy sheriff, and freelance stagehand.Wayland is a four time participant in, and survivor of, NaNoWriMo, having made the 50,000 word goal each time.A black belt in shao lin kung fu, he is also a fan of comic books, reading, writing, and various computer games (I”ll shut Civ down in one more turn.Really).He lives with a beautiful woman who was crazy enough to marry him, and the memory of a much loved, if somewhat goofy, dog named Jamie.

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