Arrow Episode 1.17 Review
I’ll admit that I had to go back and check the credits to be sure this episode wasn’t written by Miranda Lambert. It was chock full of grudges, hurt feelings and psychotic exes. The only thing that was missing was a destroyed truck. Though, I suppose that’s more in the vein of another certain blonde country starlet. Either way, I was entertained. What? I was raised on soaps. Psycho exes just work for me. Don’t judge!
Oliver’s Blast from the Past
Like most stories of women done wrong, it starts in a seedy strip club. There’s a guy named Gus (totally the type you’d expect in a dive such as this) who gets taken to a back room by Helena (you’ll recall her as the Huntress, daughter of Frank Bertinelli). She’s not interested in hooking up for a handful of singles, just the location of her father’s safe house. Gus has no info and Helena wastes little time putting two arrows in his chest. The moral of the story? Don’t work for shady folks. Or, don’t go to strip clubs.
Oliver’s all giddy about his sixth date with cop paramour McKenna Hall, but Diggle delivers the bad news – Helena’s been binging on Taylor Swift and she’s coming for him. Sure enough, when Oliver goes home, there’s his former flame chatting up Thea. She wants her dad’s location and threatens Oliver’s family (a threat she delivers on, but more on that later).
After learning about a transport her father’s going to be part of, Oliver and Helena take off. There’s only one problem – there are two vans for one prisoner. One van holds Frank, the other is a decoy. Unfortunately for Helena, she picks the decoy and gets busted by Oliver’s current girlfriend. In lockup, she sings like a canary (no puns intended) to Det. Lance and McKenna, but not about Oliver’s vigilante work. Instead, about his lousy track record with women. Considering McKenna soon winds up having her career basically ended, I’m going to give the point to Helena on this one.
Oliver busts her out before she can do any more damage and, after finally hitting a home run with McKenna while Helena is torturing Felicity into hacking the FBI database, they have their big showdown at the safe house. Helena kills a bunch of people and shoots McKenna, but manages to get away. With his relationship over, Oliver decides to go it alone. Because, really, being a super hero is just not conducive to a happy relationship, especially when your partner is a cop.
I found myself strangely enjoying the Oliver we saw tonight. I mean, I usually like him, but I had a new view of him this week. Maybe it’s the hiatus forcing me to look at the show with fresh eyes (as fresh as eyes can be when typing up a review at one in the morning), but I felt as if the Oliver we got tonight was slightly removed from his normal angsty, world-on-his-shoulders self. Up until the end, at least, when he realized vigilantism and romance go together like oil and water.
The Helena arc in this episode was really well done. But, I’m detracting points. She injured Tommy! Speaking of…
Tommy’s Twisted Arm
I’m beyond thrilled that the writers did not let the major developments of the last episode slide. Tommy showed up at the club for the grand opening and was none too chummy with his BFF. I guess finding out such a massive secret will understandably put stress on a friendship but, as much as I’m Team Tommy, I found myself siding with Oliver. Yeah, what he did was wrong, but it was hard seeing someone who’s normally so shut down extending himself to someone he clearly loves, only to be shut down.
That Oliver cares so much for Tommy is why Helena targets him. She nearly breaks his arm in an attempt to leverage her dad’s location out of Oliver. But, Tommy’s pain is just beginning. He finds himself between a rock and a hard place. Laurel is having family issues and wants to lean on her boyfriend, but he’s being super distant. Tommy lies about how he got injured, but Laurel sees right through it. Considering Laurel has a history of keeping Tommy at bay, I have a hard time feeling bad for her in this situation. Laurel is a block of ice to Tommy half of the time. She can’t really pick and choose when they have a supportive, intimate relationship and when they don’t.
Tommy and Oliver manage to talk at the end of the episode, but I cannot help feeling that these two are going to find themselves at great odds when Malcolm’s identity as the Dark Archer gets factored in. Personally, I can’t wait for that.
Though I was super excited as of my last review at the notion that Sarah Lance could be alive, after I had a few days to dwell on it, I decided that the show probably would go the way of a fake-out. The next episode, we would see Laurel’s mom delivering some spiel about how “Sarah is alive in our hearts” or be a few berries short of a fruitcake (crazy women is the theme of the episode!).
Color me surprised when they did move forward with the Sarah angle. Laurel brings her estranged parents together over breakfast to discuss her mother’s discovery – a tourist photograph of a girl who may or may not be Sarah. It’s nothing definitive, but I was prepared to be all crabby about a bait-and-switch. Kudos.
Also, Kudos to Paul Blackthorne. I thought he did an excellent job of walking the line between anguished father and hardened cop. It was clear from his performance that his insistence Sarah was dead was his own attempt at not getting his hopes up. I also dug the contrast between him and the Lance ladies, who desperately clung to any reason to keep hope alive. Blackthorne was definitely the MVP of the Lance story this week.
Finally, Thea was awesome again this week. I’m convinced it’s the better balance in the writing (as much as my inner fangirl wants to give all of the credit to Colton Haynes). He made his return as Roy Harper. Most of the story was spent on the rather clichéd boy from the wrong side of the tracks falls for rich girl angle, but we did see Roy protect Thea from a couple of hoodlums and get stabbed in the process.
I know I’ve probably just read one too many Simone Elkeles books, but I really dug Thea and Roy this week. I think Roy brings out something vibrant in Thea that is lacking in her interactions with the other cast. And, I’m willing to wager money that it has something to do with Roy being in Thea’s age group. It’s hard to write a believable teenager when we’re only seeing her with adults in stories that are beyond her character’s years. Really, anything that keeps Thea from whining is fine with me.
The Huntress’ return made for a solid episode. I don’t have many complaints. The acting was good, the story progressed, the action sequences were well-choreographed. In all, I’m liking what we’re seeing of the back half of the season. There are times where I become frustrated and want to write this show off, but then we have episodes like this where, I might not be jumping up and down like I was in my previous review, but I’m satisfied. I was entertained for an hour and didn’t feel like I had brain cells dying. I guess that’s really all you can ask for when you’re watching a show on the CW (is my bitterness over the whole Wade-Zoe debacle coming through?).
Final Grade: A
PS — Roy Harper is totally the real Red Coat from Pretty Little Liars! Didn’t see him in that red hoodie and think I was going to let that reference slide, did you?