I can’t believe how much has happened over the course of Arrow already. We’re 40 episodes in, and have seen the likes of more DC characters than I ever thought would make the trip to Starling City. If you had told me when the show first aired that we’d see people like Deathstroke, Black Canary, the Suicide Squad, the daughter of Ra’s Al Ghul, Solomon Grundy, Merlyn, Clock King, Huntress, and Barry Freakin’ Allen, I would have called you crazy.
Yet, here we are, not even through two seasons, and we’ve already seen all of those people and more. I am impressed with how well the show has balanced its main cast while diving into heroes and villains from the comic books. The very fact that we can have an episode called “Birds of Prey” is awesome, even if it’s only more of a fan-service title than anything else.
The bar had been set pretty high after last week’s Diggle-centric episode, “Suicide Squad,” and while I don’t think “Birds of Prey” was quite as successful, it was another incredibly enjoyable outing, continuing Arrow’s hot streak as we head into the last batch of episodes for the season. Many thought that the episode’s title meant we would get a Birds of Prey team-up this week, but as I said before, I think that was more of a nod to fans than anything else. We did get two members of the BoP team, however, as The Huntress returns to Starling City and faces off against Canary. In other words, some great fights ensue, and Oliver’s “do not kill” rule is put to the test.
The big theme this week was darkness, and how it never truly leaves us but can be channeled for the greater good if need be. We see shades of this in several characters, including Ollie, Sara, Huntress, Roy, and even Laurel. Not all of those stories completely work, but I understand what the writers were trying to do.
It seems Diggle met his screentime quota last week as I don’t think he uttered a single word tonight. He was sidelined a bit more than usual, and instead most of the episode is devoted to Canary, while Roy comes back after a few weeks in off-screen-land.
Helena Bertinelli appeared in a couple episodes last season when Ollie was still coming into his own and walking the thin line between vigilante and hero. To be fair, he still teeters on the edge of those two crime-fighting styles, but has come a long way since training Helena to become the Huntress. Her return this season felt very organic and gave way for an interesting break from the Slade Wilson stuff, which I know they’re trying to make last until the season ends (and perhaps beyond).
In Helena’s absence from the show, several new character dynamics have surfaced, and I felt that a lot of time was spent exploring each of them. Sometimes the show doesn’t quite know which characters to focus on, leaving the less-important players like Thea by the wayside, but those things were handled a bit better in “Birds of Prey.”
The episode kicks off with a bang, as Oliver and Sara are watching over Officer Lance, who’s preparing to lead a raid on a criminal warehouse. A gunfight breaks out, The Arrow and Canary lend a hand in beating up a few thugs, and it turns out that one of the culprits is Frank Bertinelli, Helena’s father. This sends Team Arrow into panic mode, because they know that Helena can’t be far behind.
The Laurel storyline presented the most problems for me this week, and it seems that she, again, is the weakest part of the show. She’s still struggling with alcoholism, attending multiple meetings in one day, but is inexplicably asked to return to work for District Attorney Adam Donner. He personally saw to her charges being dropped and offers her the chance to prosecute Bertinelli. Sara later warns her that she may not be ready (or safe) to return to work, but she accepts the job anyway.