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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Arrow 1x17 - "The Huntress Returns"

The Huntress is back, all right, and she's smashing. And homicidal. Helena is completely far gone when it comes to sanity. She can pull herself together and act like a normal, rational person long enough to, say, chat with Thea in Stately Queen Manor, but she'll quickly crack like an egg and turn all snarly and "I need to kill my father-y". Helena did leave Starling City for Europe when her father was sent to the hoosegow, but upon learning Mr. Bertinelli cut a deal with the feds to get a new life under witness protection, she came back to Starling to end his old life before he could get a new one. First stop, the strip club, naturally, to shove an arrow in her father's lawyer.

The moral quandry Oliver faces in this episode was succinctly laid out by Diggle: If Helena ("your psycho ex-girlfriend" - Dig's words, not Felicity's) wasn't super hot and former groin buddies with Oliver, if he "looked like me," Diggle conjectures, Oliver would have given her the old "you have failed this city" speech and put an arrow in her by now, as opposed to that night when he put an Arrow in her, heh heh. Later, "I'll put an arrow in you," was Oliver's ultimatum to Helena if she killed anyone (besides her dad), which could be a threat or a come on, but for Helena it's probably both. I think she took it as both. She still has the hots for Oliver, and probably vice versa but they're both head-spinningly confused the whole episode. Crazy and well-armed as she is, Helena knows she's no match for a phalanx of US Marshals, so she decided she needed Oliver's help to find and kill her father. Or else. The "or else" part manifested in Helena blackmailing Oliver by attacking Tommy, and then Felicity, and then shotgunning McKenna. ("How many girlfriends do you have?" Helena asks Oliver when Felicity appeared in the Arrow Cave. Speaking of which.)

Oliver's problem is that Helena knows everything about him being the Vigilante and he can't risk her blabbing his name to the cops. Which she totally did in the best scene of the episode, when Helena blundered her father's murder, fell right into the trap Detective Lance laid for her, and was interrogated about who the Vigilante is. "Oliver Queen!" Helena offered gladly, before trying to ruin his rep with McKenna. Ballsy moments like that are what make Arrow so enjoyable. Detective Lance coined the name "Huntress" and unlike when Malcolm Merlyn tried to dub the Hood "Green Arrow, Helena Bertinelli didn't think it sucked. Unfortunately for Helena, Lance already closed the book on investigating Oliver as the Hood so he didn't buy that, and McKenna has no patience for questioning Oliver's integrity. She's a really good girlfriend. Oliver's also a pretty good ex-boyfriend in his own right when he busted Helena out of police custody, but only to give her a new passport and money to send her packing out of town. But Helena Bertinelli only lives to kill her daddy and she wasn't going to leave until she gave it another whack.

Helena officially became a federal public enemy when she killed at least a half dozen US Marshals while storming through the safe house hunting her father. (It hurt the episode's verisimilitude that they didn't get Jeffrey Nordling back as Frank Berintelli and it was just a stuntman whose face we never saw playing Frank running away from Helena). McKenna was the only cop in the vicinity in the same way the USS Enterprise is routinely the only starship in the system when there's a crisis and found herself in the middle of a shotgun vs. bow and arrow Mexican standoff between the Huntress and the Hood. The coolest thing in the episode was when the Hood finally tried to put an arrow in the Huntress and she totally caught the arrow! Then Huntress and Hood engaged in a sexy acrobatic and leather fight before McKenna got in the way and took a Huntress shotgun blast in the chest. Luckily, this was the one time McKenna decided wearing a kevlar vest was more important than showing her cleavage. McKenna survived, the Huntress got away, hey.

Though the Huntress dominated Oliver's attention for the episode, lots of other stuff was going on in typical hyper-busy Arrow fashion. I counted six subplots:

1) Tommy nursing hurt feelings about Oliver lying to him about being the Hood (and also hurt feelings from when Helena snapped his arm while blackmailing Oliver).

2) Detective Lance resisting the idea that Sarah might be alive and living on one of the islands near the Island after Laurel and her yet unnamed mother present a tourist-snapped photo of a woman who could be Sarah.

3) Tommy acting distant, evasive, secretive, and weird around Laurel because of having to keep Oliver's secret and not "being there" for Laurel as she deals with her family issues. Tommy is quickly understanding the burden of lying to the people you care about to keep such a big secret.

4) Oliver and McKenna's ongoing love affair and their post-McKenna getting shotgunned breakup, which was a really weird breakup. McKenna's femur is shattered and will take a year to rehab. Therefore, she's not only quitting the SCPD but moving to her sister's in Coast City. Oliver correctly pointed out he's a billionaire and can go to Coast City any time, but she says, no we gotta break up because his nightclub and all.

5) Oh yes, Oliver's nightclub, Verdant (subtle), finally opened, with guest DJ Steve Aoki making a cameo. Which also ties in to:

6) Thea trying to give poor old' Roy Harper, the criminal boy in the red hoodie, a leg up. Thea, who now spends her time working in the Glades with Laurel, can't seem to stop running into Roy. Roy keeps dissing her about being rich. Thea actually got Roy a job as a valet at Verdant but Roy blew the job off. He's too good to park cars for rich people. But he's not above acrobatically saving Thea from getting mugged. (Hey, remember their meet-cute? No one mugs Thea Queen but Roy Harper!) Roy got stabbed and ended up in the hospital (I wonder if he's on the same floor as McKenna?). It turns out Roy's afraid of needles so Thea plants one on him to distract him and awwww.

All that stuff happened in the episode and there's still the stuff that happened five years ago on the Island. This time, the dynamic duo of Oliver and Slade found Fyers' missile launchers and decided to kill some thugs and steal the motherboard. Their brilliant plan: to exchange the motherboard for a way off the Island. Congrats to Manu Bennett and Colton Hayes, by the way, for being promoted to series regulars in season 2. Deathstroke and Roy Harper aren't going anywhere.

Lastly, this week's DC Universe reference (besides Coast City) was a headline Diggle was reading that the President of Bialya was assassinated. Cue me immediately saying "Ruman Harjavti?!" This probably means meeting the Queen Bee is in Oliver's future.