Arrow Review: “The Huntress Returns” (Season 1, Episode 17)

Based on that wishful line of reasoning, “The Huntress Returns” is practically a farce. For those of you keeping score at home: this week sees Oliver have a rare moment of blissful peace in his life interrupted by Helena, face the full scorn of the best friend he recently shared his biggest secret with, see said friend tortured by Helena, freeze out his techie confidant for her safety, watch HER get assaulted by Helena, and, finally, get his girlfriend, detective Hall, blown halfway to hell with a shotgun, BY HELENA. Oh, and just for kicks, because Hall faces a year’s worth a rehab, and an end to her aspiring career as a cop, she decides to breakup with Oliver, and move to the other side of the country. As the frog once said, it ain’t easy being green (Arrow).

Structurally, this “The Huntress Returns” is all over the map, no more so then when Helena is caught in a police sting, only to be freed from inside the interrogation room of SCPD headquarters within minutes, as though this were a minor inconvenience for Oliver. The only forward movement between the two has Oliver choosing to take a kill shot at Helena, deciding he does more good taking her out, than letting her go. She, of course, survives, and the two part much as they did last time, with Helena pissed, Oliver heartbroken (over a different gal, though), and Mr. Bertinelli in the wind. Helena, as plot player, doesn’t add up to much right now. But as a catalyst for a major theme in comics, she’s kinda perfect. Oliver can talk all stoically about how the hardest part of his job is lying to those closest to him, but the ramifications of his recent spoiler-spree, regarding The Hood’s real identity, really take the spotlight this week.

Granted, among those harmed, Tommy was in for a bruising this evening regardless, as Helena didn’t know he was in on the big secret. If anything, finding out Oliver’s pseudonym last episode at least gave Tommy the comfort of knowing why it is he’s being tuned up in the secret lair underneath his hip new club. Funnily enough, it’s because of Tommy that I believe Huntress will one day be redeemed as a character. It was actually right around her first appearance that the writers realized that scripting Tommy as a smarmy douche wasn’t terribly endearing, and started laying into his daddy issues for a little pathos. Since then, Colin Donnell has been given a lot more to work with, and it shows. Yes, Oliver might have saved his dad’s life, but Tommy’s bullet point list of reasons why Oliver’s deception is so devastating rings pointedly true when he lays it all out.

As pleasing as it was to hear Tommy call a murdering spade like Oliver a murdering spade (Digg, unknowingly, backs Tommy up in calling Ollie on his shit this week), I had mixed feelings on how the episode left the two. Tommy and Oliver reconciling is a good development, mostly because it has tragedy written all over it. Yet, doing so meant having a ho-hum Huntress A-plot, and watching detective Hall hurriedly written out, likely to never be mentioned again. Arrow is showing more signs that it can drive its characters and plot to interesting locations, but television isn’t about where you’re going, it’s how you get there. Let’s hope the journey through the final seven episodes of this season of Arrow proves to be as rewarding as whatever the destination might be.

• Stray Thoughts

-Ah, the good ol’, “TV Strip Club Where Everyone Is Wearing Clothes.” This episode didn’t even warrant a “sexual content” warning on my broadcast, though I figured censors would have had a bigger issue with the Ollie-Hall free-for-all.

-So, I’m guessing from how desperately the climax cut around Frank Bertinelli’s face, nobody could get a hold of Jeffrey Nordling this week?

-No wonder date #6 is so tense for Oliver. The last three people he slept with wound up drowned on a boat, turned into a homicidal vigilante, or shot through the femur.

-Well, maybe that first one isn’t so dead. The Lances convene to discuss the possibility of Sara still being alive on one of the islands Oliver was marooned on. I’ll reserve judgment on this until we learn more, as right now my reaction is a sustained “whaaaaa?”

-That’s not entirely true. I stand in awe, not “wha,” of Paul Blackthorne’s accent, which grows more and more like Looney Tunes’ Rocky each episode.

-Remember, girls: if a cute boy calls you a stuckup bitch, it’s because he secretly likes you. Oh, and true love means having a relationship in which one partner doesn’t have to apologize for hurting the other. I took effort to avoid making a Twilight comparison when Roy won Thea’s heart with his fists, but the horrendous romantic lessons from this episode made that difficult.

-Serious Beetlejuice effect this episode, wherein characters mention someone, and they are summoned. Oliver saying he has a tech problem, and Smoak suddenly appearing for the first time, counts.

-According to the internet, Steve Aoki is a real person/DJ. Perhaps that justified the endless club party scene for some viewers.

-And speaking of Justified: last night’s episode, also featuring a decoy convoy, and, of course, U.S. Marshalls, was one of the best hours of TV 2013 is going to see. That I didn’t spend this review talking about that exclusively proves Arrow must have at least gotten something right this week.

-Island Update: Oliver and Wilson steal a microchip from the Metal Gear. Manu Bennett blasts fools with duellie pistols. I cheer like an idiot.