Synopsis: Arrow – aka Oliver – loses a fight to Dark Archer before the holidays and now, to make matters worse, to Firefly [played by Andrew Dunbar] after the holidays, causing him to engage in bouts of doubt, pity and self-loathing – only to have Diggle set him on the straight and Arrow. [Pun Police put on notice]
Details: Half of this episode for Arrow/Oliver is like a football team’s season. The team is doing well at the beginning of the season, steamrolling all its opponents, but then it finally comes up against a more competitive opponent [Dark Archer – Malcolm Merlyn, or Eddie Haskell’s dad] and loses its first game. Then, still harboring a fragile psyche from the unexpected loss, goes out and inexplicably loses the next game too! Well, “inexplicably” if you haven’t bothered to assess the psychological damage of the first loss. Such is the case with Arrow/Oliver in the first episode back after the holidays.
Coming off a loss to Dark Archer – which was even more painful considering Dark Archer was really an old guy in a costume who happened to be fitter than the young guy in the costume – Arrow/Oliver is still in recovery mode and rusty [as evidenced by a scene showing Oliver failing to impale a test tennis ball with one of his arrows] when Firefly [played by Andrew Dunbar – you know him from “Stargate Universe”] rears his ugly head – and we do mean “ugly” since he’s had part of his skin on his face melted off in a previous fire. After a brief but thoroughly uninspiring pep talk from Diggle the Sidekick, it’s no surprise that Arrow gets his butt kicked again in his initial encounter with Firefly – a former firefighter who was left for dead in a fire by Fire Marshal Bill and has come back for revenge by killing firefighters, one of whom was Danny the Firefighter, the brother of Joanna, one of Laurel’s colleagues in the law office where you never actually see them doing any work.
In between that are a couple of time-wasting scenes involving Thea, Moira, Laurel and Eddie Haskell [aka Tommy Merlyn] where nothing really gets accomplished except Thea possibly progressing to have her character be less annoying and snippy and Joanna asks Laurel to help her track down Firefly. Laurel does this by nicking the smartphone of her dad – Angry Police Chief Wiggum Detective Lance – that is his direct link to Arrow and calls Arrow, successfully getting a personal visit to assure that he will go after this Firefly dude.
Flashback #1 intervenes here and picks up where the last flashback left off – with Ollie being hunted on the island by one of Deathstroke’s men – and then segues into Arrow’s initial first-encounter loss to firefly before going back to flashback #2, where it’s revealed that Ollie was lucky in killing the guy hunting him as they both fell off a cliff and the guy had the bad luck to fall on a rock [bad form, old chap] while Ollie fell in the water. After the first loss to Firefly, Diggle the Sidekick gives Arrow/Oliver a more inspired pep talk punctuated with a little fisticuffs to get the testosterone flowing. Right about now, you’re thinking there is going to be a big Firefly showdown a’coming and then, instead, you get an awkward scene with Laurel and Oliver followed by, Laurel and Oliver confronting Fire Marshal Bill and a scene with Thea and Moira for any of the 12 women watching this show – yaaawwwnnn – time for a visit to the kitchen for beer or bathroom for a potty break.
We finally get back to the action, with Oliver hosting a fundraiser for the slain firefighters at his fancy but unfinished night club that Eddie Haskell/Tommy oversees when Firefly crashes the party and reveals to Fire Marshal Bill [because Arrow/Oliver has already figured it out] that he is really Garfield “The Cat” Lynns, that firefighter he left for dead in that big fire, remember? Of course, Fire Marshal Bill is astonished – shocked! – to see The Cat/Firefly and meekly allows himself to be sprayed with turpentine while Oliver runs off to change into his Arrow gear – getting back just in time to shoot a well-placed arrow and knock Firefly’s lighter out of his hand [A lighter, really? We were kinda thinking Firefly – being an ex-firefighter and all – might have a blowtorch or something more sinister than a Zippo].
After this, Arrow offers to help rehabilitate Firefly, but Firefly refuses his offer and lights himself on fire with Arrow doing nothing to stop him and merely walking off into the next scene. Lame. Joanna takes a leave of absence [who cares?] and Laurel returns the phone she stole to her Angry Police Chief Wiggum dad who is really using her and it as bait to try and trap Arrow/Oliver.
Flashback #3 briefly shows Oliver assuming the identity of the slain DeathStroke lackey on the island and then we jump back to Oliver in present-day getting back onto the computer and preparing for his next big challenge while you, as viewer, wonder who you obviously must have wronged to have deserved this kind of ending.
The Poop and Skinny: Mrs. Arrow [aka Helena the Huntress] seems to still be on vacation in the Bahamas or Bermuda or some other tropical locale where she can relax and try not to kill anyone, leading one to wonder how it would be to have a brain that allows you to move on from one heavily emotional situation to another in your life like Arrow/Oliver seems to do in every episode. Well, that’s why it’s not real life folks!
The flashbacks are back [audible groan] but the voiceovers still appear to be permanently gone, so there’s that – and it’s good news as it looks like the police department finally paid their electricity bill [or at least part of it] – at least there’s that.