Arrow Season 2 Episode 17 (TV Show Review)

Last week I mentioned that this week’s episode of Arrow, titled Birds of Prey, was one of my most anticipated episodes of the season because it was going to bring back Helena Bertinelli aka The Huntress and put her up against Sara Lance aka Canary. The Huntress has been one of the show’s more enduring supporting characters and her mission to hunt down her father for the murder of her fiance has been something that has in turn driven Oliver as well, because of how the show has played Helena as a darker version of him, and this is another thing that the new episode does.

Up until now, the show has done great in treating the supporting characters well. Sometimes things don’t pan out as I expected them to, or quite how I wanted them to I suppose, but in the main, and in the majority, they have a good record. Given how the first season played out, and how the island sequence is still all in flashback, there is clearly a lot more setup going on still, and it is proving to be quite fun. The island sequences are better than ever, putting all characters firmly in a morally gray area, rather than keeping them in black and white.

Arrow Logo 0001The story this week is that during a routine SCPD raid against a criminal organisation, in this case said organisation being led by Hugo Mannheim no less, the cops end up arresting former Italian mafia boss Frank Bertinelli, with some help from Arrow and Canary who are keeping an eye on Officer Lance following Slade Wilson’s open declaration of war against their families. Of course, with Frank Bertinelli in the picture we end up getting his daughter as well, which is inevitable. She’s been gunning for him for a long time, and she has gone as far as Pallermo in the Western Mediterranean to hunt him down. Realising what’s coming, the heroes decide to prepare in advance and do their best to dissuade Helena from doing what she wants to do, killing her father.

The episode is a darker reflection of what the two lead heroes have gone through till now, with the threat of losing their loved ones hanging in the balance thanks to Slade Wilson’s ultimatum. Helena is out for revenge and she isn’t going to let anyone or anything stop her from doing what she wants. The writers of this episode make it quite clear that even though Team Arrow is, well, a team, the Huntress on her own is pretty formidable too, especially in combat. The latter she proves twice in this episode when she goes up against Canary herself.

Which brings me to my next point. The show has had a very good track record with respect to its fight scenes. Stephen Amell, being the fitness geek that he is, does pretty well in his scenes and martial artist Caity Lotz is no different either. This week they both go up against Jessica de Gouw’s Huntress, although Caity is the one to get any physical action scenes with Ollie’s psychotic ex-girlfriend, as Felicity puts it early on. When the two women fight for the first time, it was a bit too obvious that the fight was choreographed since they were moving slowly and acting out the scene. And this bothered me since the show is usually not like that. But then, as that fight went on and then we got to the rematch later on, things were much better. The action scenes definitely improved I think, and that is to the credit of the stunt directors.

Another great thing about this episode was the side references. We already have Hugo Mannheim, one of the most notorious criminal lords in the DC universe, mostly a Superman mid-level villain. And then we had “Gail Street and Simone”, which is a clear reference to comics writer Gail Simone who has a long and storied history with the Birds of Prey, having written several of their adventures over the years, and the one to actually bring Black Canary and Huntress together as friends under Oracle’s guidance and leadership. I take that as a very positive sign since while Canary and Huntress in this episode are clearly antagonistic to each other, they do end up becoming friends at some point. With the season’s tag of “City of Heroes” it would be too good of an opportunity to pass up.

And that brings me to another point where the show missed out on, for now. With Helena in the city, Ollie prepares himself as the Arrow by making non-lethal arrows, which Sara calls “baby arrows”. She gives him a very stern talking to in that regard, since he is pretty fine with getting Diggle to take a headshot at Slade when his family is threatened, but when Laurel is in the danger zone, he goes for “non-lethal”. And this was a perfect opportunity for the writers to insert a gag about boxing glove arrows. And they missed it! Totally unconscionable.

That aside, there were several other good moments here.

We had some more bonding between the Lance sisters in this episode, and it managed to heal some more of the rift between the two of them. This is something that they both needed, and the episode gives them that opportunity. Laurel in particular has needed something therapeutic like this for a long time, and it is time for her to get that. She’s already started to mend fences with Sara and she’s started going to Alcoholics Anonymous, both of which are big steps for her.

Roy got some development in this episode. He’s been struggling with his mirakuru-induced rage since he got the drug in his system, and in this episode we see how that struggle has taken him nowhere thus far. He is still a danger to the people around him, and this is stressed at least twice in this episode. And this is where Ollie steps in to offer some unwelcome advice. Some good character drama there.

Then we have the whole snark that Felicity is so awesome for. And Diggle too. They don’t get to do all that much in this episode sadly, but they are always there in the background, and they have the rest of the team’s back, highlighted in the final scene with a distinctly unhappy Roy.

If there is something I am missing from this episode, it is that we haven’t seen anything of Moira Queen for a while, or her mayoral aspirational rival Sebastian Blood. I mean, we saw Moira a while back when Slade revealed himself to Ollie, but that’s really it. And Sebastian has been absent for a while. While I love the deep focus that the show has taken on, I am missing these other subplots and want to see them all developed further.

And as for the island sequences, we are finally beginning to see how Sara is going over into the morally gray, firmly and decisively. We are seeing how Slade has lost it with Oliver and has begun torturing him for the death of Shado, the woman that they both loved and neither could save. It has poisoned their relationship, and while it is very depressing to watch their friendship ruined so, it is also quite fascinating since Manu Bennett is so damn excellent in those scenes.

For Jessica, after seeing her on the British show Dracula for its 10 episodes, and now here, she’s certainly come a long way. Her easy familiarity in her role as the Huntress is great to see and she definitely aces all her scenes. Especially at the end when this particular chapter of her life closes out and she shares a private moment of reconciliation with Ollie and she finally begins to open up about how she feels. She reaches out to him, and it is great since it means that she just might be ready to become a hero like him, to get over her personal demons, as he has tried to do all season long.

Overall, I enjoyed this episode, although it wasn’t without its faults, such as the SWAT captain who went all gung-ho on Team Arrow during the climax. No setup or explanation for any of that. It just happened.

Now next week’s episode, that’ll be something. And it is titled “Deathstroke” too! I’ve seen the teaser for it and my god, it is awesome!

More Arrow: Reviews of all the second season episodes can be found here.

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Posted on March 27, 2014, in Arrow, Review Central, TV Show Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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