Thursday, March 2, 2017

Arrow 5x15 Review: “Fighting Fire with Fire” (Burn, Baby, Burn)


“Fighting Fire With Fire”
Original Airdate: March 1, 2017

We all make small choices throughout our lives that inevitably define who we are. These choices might seem insignificant, but if we’re not careful, they turn into avalanches and sweep us up under them. There’s a cliché that people will always use whenever you’re teetering on the edge of bad decision-making — “you’re on a slippery slope.” They tell you this as a warning, because they know that it just takes one wrong step to fall and fall hard. This week’s Arrow focused a lot on the choices that we make: the conscious ones that define us. Mostly, it focused on “bad” decisions — or dark ones, at least — that lead us down paths we might not have otherwise chosen. It also marks a fork in the road for Oliver Queen as he struggles to keep up his superhero alter ego in the face of impending impeachment hearings. Elsewhere in the episode, Curtis tries to reunite with Paul, and the Vigilante tries to take down Mayor Queen. A lot of people try to do a lot of things this episode. Oh, and we get the reveal of who’s behind the Prometheus mask (yawn).

WOULD THE MEN ON THIS SHOW PLEASE STOP PATRONIZING THE LEADING LADIES?


Let’s get my big qualm with this episode out of the way: Oliver telling Thea and Felicity to restore Susan’s career and make amends. I mean, gag me with a spoon. First of all, from a realistic standpoint, even though Thea’s methods weren’t exactly perfect, they were effective in revealing who Susan was. Again: if Susan actually DID really care about Oliver, why did she still have all of that intel on her laptop? Given the chance for fame and notoriety and prestige, Susan would have turned all of that intel against him. Or, conversely, had she been burned and had credibility, she would have turned all that intel against him. I really don’t understand why the writers are making Oliver this dense or insistent that Annoying Reporter Chick actually means something to Oliver. Heck, I would take a reincarnation of Laurel at this point over Susan.

(Yes, you know it’s bad when I’d rather have Oliver/Laurel than Oliver/Susan. At least the former pair had some history — it would make some semblance of sense that he would do stupid things for her. Some. Not much, but some.)

The problem doesn’t just stop with the fact that Oliver is blinded by his “feelings” for Susan to see that Thea actually protected him well. Oliver, THE WOMAN KNOWS YOU ARE THE GREEN ARROW AND WAS BUILDING A CASE AGAINST YOU. SHE DATED YOU TO GET MORE INFORMATION. SHE MADE A VERY POINTED COMMENT ABOUT YOUR BRATVA TATTOO. DO YOU NOT REMEMBER ANYTHING? HAVE SEASONS OF CAR CHASES AND STUNT SEQUENCES FINALLY GIVEN YOU A CONCUSSION?

No, the real problem is what happens next: Oliver approaches Thea and tells her to make things right with Susan. She went too far in getting her fired (I mean, did she though? Did she really? Susan isn’t exactly a world-class journalist.), and needs to make amends. Thea, rightly, refuses to do so and won’t apologize anymore for what she did. Brava, Thea. Even though your brother is essentially trying to force your hand, at least you didn’t back down.

So then Oliver goes to his second option: Felicity. And when Felicity points out how awkward and uncomfortable and — frankly — inappropriate it is that Oliver is approaching his ex-fiance to help make things right with his disgraced former journalist girlfriend, Oliver still pushes the issue. Felicity tells HIM to fix his relationship with Susan and his mansplained response is that Susan won’t talk to him. What kind of jerk approaches his ex-fiance in order to try and restore the reputation of a woman who — objectively — doesn’t deserve to have her reputation restored in the journalistic community. (Also, Arrow, NO ONE BUT SOMEONE WITH PRESS CREDENTIALS WOULD BE LET INTO AN IMPEACHMENT HEARING. NO ONE. NO BLOGGER WOULD BE LET IN. NOT EVEN PEREZ HILTON.)

This episode pretended to be about the moral high ground: Oliver and Diggle are worried because Thea and Felicity seem to be slipping into some questionable things in order to protect the people they care about. (I’ll get to the Diggle conversation soon, don’t worry.) But the problem is that Oliver has no leg to stand on if he simply glosses over what Susan did — or would have done — to him, had Thea and Felicity not intervened. It’s not okay if Thea and Felicity protect him, but it’s totally okay if Susan hides the fact that she’s using her relationship with him to figure out whether or not he’s the Green Arrow? Sure, Jan. Sure.

Speaking of Diggle and Felicity, this week saw the former lecturing the latter about her involvement with Pandora/Helix (which Felicity officially joins at the end of the episode because glory be, if she’s going to go down a dark path, I want her down it on her own). She essentially tells him that if it wasn’t for Pandora, he would still be imprisoned. Even though I’m using the term “lecturing,” their conversation isn’t inherently antagonistic. I just was a bit overloaded by all of the men telling Felicity what she should do in the episode. Diggle makes a valid point though, when Felicity tells him that he’s one to talk: he and Oliver and everyone else have all played with fire before in order to get the job done. Diggle tells her one very important thing though: they’ve all risked getting burned in doing those things.

Diggle also sweetly tells Felicity that her superpower isn’t about her hacking skills: it’s about her empathy. The team needs her to stay burn-free because she’s the one who deeply cares for people in ways that others on Team Arrow can’t always do. They don’t want to lose her to the darkness, because then that empathy would be lost too.

And I get that. I get that Diggle is trying to be helpful in pushing the topic, and ultimately this conversation wasn’t bad or — as I said — antagonistic. It was just Diggle doing what he would do with anyone else on the team. But it just felt a bit too much in an episode where Felicity was already being pressed by Oliver to help. Funnily enough, Felicity takes what Diggle told her and turns the lesson on its head at the end: she decides to join Helix. When Felicity approaches Kojo, she tells the woman that she watched someone close to her almost die, but be saved because he had back-up.

She needs back-up, and Kojo is ready to provide that for Felicity.

I kind of love this darker trajectory that we’re seeing Felicity on. And what I really love is the fact that Felicity is on it by herself. You do you, Felicity Smoak. You do you.

MAYOR QUEEN VS. GREEN ARROW


So, in this episode, Oliver chooses a scapegoat for Billy Malone’s murder. If you’ll recall from last week’s episode, there was a leak that Mayor Queen covered up the murder in order to protect someone. We know, of course, that he’s protecting himself because he’s Green Arrow. Thea’s suggestion is to throw Billy under the bus — after all, he’s dead and Mayor Queen can say that he was protecting Billy to maintain his legacy. Oliver refuses to do this, of course.

Instead, what Oliver ultimately decides to do is throw Green Arrow under the bus instead of protecting him. In another episode, it would have been a really good scene that fixated on the fact that after all of these years, Oliver’s finally had to make a choice as far as his identity, and he’s literally had to turn himself into an enemy for people to hate. But in “Fighting Fire With Fire,” it’s a rather bland coda on an episode in which we already know Oliver and company (not to be confused, again, with the adorable animated film) will figure out a way for Oliver to maintain both identities.

I find it odd, too, that Thea told him how great Oliver was doing as mayor and that seemed to lead him to believe that he could continue making more of an impact as mayor. Maybe the show needs to do a better job of portraying this narrative, but I don’t feel like — as a viewer — I’ve seen enough about Oliver caring about his mayoral position to justify him sacrificing Green Arrow in order to keep it. I’ve seen a lot of his office and random snippets of him doing things, sure. But we really don’t know, apart from Thea’s little bit of dialogue, what Oliver has actually done to make Star(ling) City better. If the show wants to convince me that Oliver is actually a good mayor and cares about his job, they need to show it and not tell. (Classic rule of storytelling, y’all.)

Honestly, I really don’t see why I need to care about how Oliver will manage to hunt for the Green Arrow as mayor and still act as the Green Arrow. The solution will probably involve kidnapping Vigilante and dressing him up in the hood. Who knows, at this point.

OH, YEAH, A BIG REVEAL...


So we got the reveal of who Prometheus is when he went toe-to-toe with Vigilante (who spent the episode trying to kill Oliver. Prometheus wasn’t a fan). And the man behind the hood is... Adrian Chase.

Yawn.

Honestly, I haven’t been piecing together clues throughout the season about who Prometheus could be, but this still feels disappointing. A character brought in during the fifth season who we barely know anything about is this season’s Big Bad? Normally that wouldn’t be problematic, except for the fact that Prometheus is operating on the fact that he has intensely close connections to Oliver. We’ve seen zero evidence that Adrian Chase is even evil before this episode (a bit sketch at times, but not flat-out evil), and suddenly in the episode he’s being creepy around Tina and Susan.

(Which, aside: those whole “menacing” moments were super weird and campy. Adrian Chase has a normal male voice but suddenly his tone became slower and more deliberate in an attempt to be sketchier. It was odd. I don’t know if it was the actor’s choice, but it came across as really campy and though I can’t quite explain how, just re-watch those two scenes in particular.)

So yes, apparently when we get to our next episode, Prometheus will have kidnapped Susan Wells. And we all definitely care about her fate. Totally.

I have nothing else to say on the Prometheus front except the fact that I was really bored by this reveal and found the fan theory that it was Tommy to be so much more exciting. Quite frankly, not much on Arrow excites me anymore which is majorly disappointing. I’m holding out hope for the rest of the season but that seems to be pretty fruitless at this point in my journey. Sigh.

Other bits & pieces:
  • I don’t pay attention to the flashbacks anymore, either. Yay!
  • “That was... that was too harsh, wasn’t it?” On the plus side, the Rene/Curtis bonding we’ve had recently has started to grow on me. This episode was just delightful for them. Less delightful? The fact that Paul wants a divorce from Curtis. Ouch.
  • I really want Felicity’s pink dress in this episode. Alas, it’s $295.
  • Seriously, you can’t get into an impeachment hearing on blogger credentials. Geez.
  • “Good man.” “Good woman.” Bless Tina.
  • “It’s not blackmail, it’s politics.”
  • “Do you know what your superpower is?” “Computers?” “Empathy.”
  • Thea left the mayor’s office at the end of the episode and I’m really distraught about it.
  • I love that there are very few sets in Vancouver so the restaurant where Curtis and Paul meet is VERY clearly just the set of Jitters, redressed. They didn’t even try really hard.
What did you all think of this week’s episode and the Big Bad’s reveal? Sound off in the comments below!

2 comments:

  1. I was going to copy and paste everything I agreed with you, but it would be all the entry, so..... there´s no point.
    I don´t understand how Oliver can be sooooo blind, I don´t, I´m hoping he´s planning something nobody can know or that he is a robot disguised as Oliver (like in agents of SHIELD).
    I´m thinking the vigilante is Susan, and they did the same you said about Chase, suddenly they addapted everything to click. If you pay attention you can see in this episode the vigilante has a woman´s body. I never noticed that before.
    And that´s all, I get really bored watching Arrow lately but I can´t unhook myself... so let´s hope they improve the show a lot, or that the sixth season is the last one.

    As always a pleasure to read you and know someone shares my opinion about this.

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  2. I think there's a double standard with Arrow fandom, because Thea and Felicity don't have the right to act behind Oliver's back, and if was the another way around, Oliver would be crucified, Thea should have told about Susan to Oliver, and let him decide, it's his secret and he handle the way he wants. Doing something out of love for someone we care about it, It's not a excuse for break someone trust, especially if Oliver was much criticized for this same thing a few season back. Oliver has a "right" to ask Thea and Felicity to fix what they did.

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