Arrow returns with “Burned.” It’s a very weird episode, but as far as Arrow episodes go, it’s not that bad. For the most part, the episode only focuses on Oliver and Laurel, with bit of Tommy here and there. That’s definitely in its favor, as Laurel in particular shines as one of the best things about Arrow.
Laurel is, somehow, the most competent vigilante and police officer Starling City has, despite being a public defender. She does most of the legwork in uncovering the fact that the recent firefighter on-the-job deaths were actually murders. Not to mention the fact she manages to track down Arrow using his phone, which the police had written off as a “dead end.” For this record, she did this by simply calling the number. That sort of detective work is apparently beyond her father. Despite being one of the only competent characters, her role is still mostly calling Arrow for help and doing all his legwork. Why isn’t Laurel the Black Canary already? And why isn’t this show about her?
Oh, that’s right, because it’s about Oliver. Oliver spends most of the episode moping about how he supposedly failed the city in “Year’s End.” For the record, Oliver did fail the city, but not when he lost to the other archer. No, Oliver failed the city when he kept the List to himself. Not to mention when he ignored other crimes in favor of the List. He failed the city when he stopped the contained war between the mob and the Chinese Triad, letting them to live to fight another day and catching citizens in their crossfire. And he certainly failed when his moping got another firefighter murdered before he mostly handed the reins back to Laurel. None of these many, many failings seem to register to Oliver, though. Instead, he’s focused only on that one fight he lost, even though he succeeded in freeing the hostages.
Luckily, Oliver can’t even brood right. A few well-timed speeches by Diggle, and Oliver’s right as rain by the end of the episode.
In keeping with the theme of Oliver’s uselessness, Tommy continues to be a much better at being a playboy billionaire on a redemption arc. Tommy decides to throw a benefit for the city’s firefighters, especially the recently murdered ones. It’s only a minor part that serves mostly as a plot device to get all the firefighters in one place. But, it’s hard to overlook as it’s Tommy who throws yet another benefit to help Starling City, while Oliver, the city’s supposed protector, only ever throws parties for his benefit.
“Burned” isn’t a bad episode. Actually, considering the most recent episodes of Arrow, it’s rather good. The tension and action are shockingly well-done, and the characterization of Laurel and Tommy continues to be excellent. Oliver also does eventually step up as a hero in the very end, which is definitely a point in his favor.