by Ryan Rigley
After a month long hiatus, "Arrow" returns with a hot new episode firing us up for the rest of this season. "Burned" picks up just six weeks after the events of last month's mid-season finale, with Starling City plagued by a crazed pyromaniac and Oliver Queen lacking the courage to suit up as the vigilante. As he trains in the Arrowcave, it's quite clear that the infamous Dark Archer has broken not only Oliver's ribs but also his spirit.
"Burned" kicks off with a huge flaming building swarmed by firefighters. Danny, the only remaining firefighter in the building, is soon confronted by a mysterious masked fireman who proceeds to douse him in turpentine. The masked fireman watches in ecstasy as Danny burns alive. Later, we learn that Danny is Laurel's friend Jill's brother, which of course drags Laurel straight to the middle of another unsolved murder case.
Reading over the coroner's report, Jill learns that Danny's jacket was covered in turpentine causing her brother to burn at temperatures even hotter than the fire that he was sent to put out. Believing this to be the work of a serious nutjob, Laurel takes the case. Immediately, she goes to her father asking for help. But with his hands virtually tied, Laurel decides to take the cell phone that the vigilante gave him instead.
Calling the vigilante for help, Oliver is forced to take up the hooded cowl once again as per Laurel's request. She tells him that Jill suspects her brother was murdered, Oliver says he'll look into it. After talking to Diggle about the potential case, Oliver pays Tommy a visit in their nightclub which is still under construction. Tommy tells Oliver that he wants to hold another fundraiser, because apparently that's his solution to everything.
Back at the Queen residence, Oliver finds his mother talking to the COO of Queen Consolidated who wants Moira to take Walter's CEO position in his absence. Moira, who is still feeling depressed and quite guilty about Walter's disappearance, throws the COO out of her house and blatantly refuses his offer.
Inside another flaming building, Oliver confronts the mysterious masked firefighter and eventually gets his ass handed to him on a silver platter. Oliver spots the burn marks on the firefighters right hand and the firefly tattoo on his wrist before the crazed pyromaniac tosses down a flash bomb and makes his escape.
At the local fire department, Oliver and Laurel confront the fire marshall about a man named Garfield Lynns who supposedly died in a massive fire two years ago. After Laurel talks some sense into him, Oliver has a flashback about the first person that he killed whilst on the island. Oliver returns to the Arrowcave and does some research on Lynns, coming to the conclusion that he never actually died but was only presumed dead.
That night at Tommy's fundraiser, Oliver and Laurel question the fire marshall about Lynns once again. This time, the fire marshall reveals that he left Lynns to burn in the building because he was scared of the massive fire. Then, as if on cue, Garfield Lynns shows up wearing an open mask displaying his horribly disfigured face. He sets fire to the fundraiser, everyone panics.
Lynns confronts the fire marshall about leaving him to die all those years ago as Oliver runs down to the Arrowcave to grab a few things. Then, just as Lynns is about to burn the fire marshall alive, the vigilante shows up shooting the lighter from his hands with a well-aimed arrow. The vigilante offers to help Lynns but he refuses and walks straight into an open fire, choosing instead to kill himself slowly and painfully.
After having Thea talk down to her the previous night, Moira decides to take the open CEO position at Queen Consolidated. On the other side of town, Detective Lance shows up to take the vigilante's phone back from Laurel only to have her keep it instead. Later, it's revealed that he's placed a recording device on the phone; hence forth allowing him to listen in on his daughter's conversations with the vigilante.
Last night's episode was interesting on a number of levels. First and foremost, we get a glimpse at a side of Oliver Queen that we have to see. After losing the battle with the Dark Archer in the mid-season finale, Oliver is frightened for the first time in a number of years.
Not just for himself but for the sake of his loved ones, proving that he's not just a cold-blooded killer after all.
Secondly, the appearance of Firefly marks the first re-imagining of a DC character to fit within the parameters of the "Arrow" universe. Much like Christopher Nolan did for the "Dark Knight" trilogy, "Arrow" is a show very much grounded in reality. The Firefly that appears in the comics has intricate fireproof armor complete with a jetpack and wings, whereas the Firefly that we see in "Arrow" is merely a disfigured, psychopathic firefighter hellbent on revenge.
There's also the case of the Dark Archer. Never before have we seen an antagonist break Oliver Queen both physically and mentally. The fact that Oliver stopped being the vigilante for six weeks after his defeat at the hands of his assailant really bodes well for their rematch, which was teased at the end of last night's episode. If "Burned" is a precedent for the rest of this season, I sincerely cannot wait to see what else "Arrow" has in store for us.
Previously on "Arrow":