It’s almost saved once the two pull off a hit on a drug runner using Oliver’s tactics, and you can tell they’re on the same page when their kiss looks like two identically poled magnets being forced together (I get that very slowly kissing is hot and what not, but space shuttles have docked faster than those two locked lips). Again, it’s a fun sequence getting to see the two work together, while knowing all the while that they’ll be split by episode’s end, based on the history of Huntress, and guest stars on TV. Digg is distrustful of Helena getting so close to the operation so fast, and believes Oliver’s hopes to end her bloodlust are a risk to his own personal redemption. Seeing Amell lighten up just a tad despite Digg’s warnings while helps show minor development in the Arrow persona, but Oliver’s inevitable heartbreak is far more interesting.
Unfortunately, getting there becomes another exercise in ridiculous character behavior. Running into Tommy and Laurel in the fanciest, brightest lit restaurant in town, the four do a double date that drags out the personal history almost immediately. While Helena is busy being the goth girl who’s new to the party, Laurel and Oliver rather harmlessly share a few laughs, and everybody freaks the hell out. Tommy and Helena bolt, both acting out at the drop of a hat for purely forced reasons. Tommy’s frustration is slightly more understandable given his need to ask for a job from the guy his girlfriend might be sweet on, but it happens so quickly, and his apology to Laurel is so abrupt, that it just feels like the first of many coming moments where his jealousy of Oliver will provide groundwork for his eventual face-heel turn.
Helena on the other hand finds such reason to feel betrayed by Oliver -a man who, despite their connection, she’s known for maybe three days at this point-, that she uses it as an excuse to forsake his lessons entirely, and go on a murder spree, offing the head of the Triads, and forcing their wrath down upon her father. For the back half of the episode, Helena is just a big ball of misty-eyed rage and petulance, a mix that brings Jessica de Gouw’s native accent to the surface more than any sort of pathos. After one of the lamest death fake outs in recent memory, Helena and Oliver part ways, with her holding Oliver’s identity as leverage in case he comes after her. She rides off in an appropriately bratty huff, and Amell force-feeds us a line about how “we haven’t seen the last of her,” and things end on a note that’s far less impactful than it should be.
Like so many of Arrow’s missteps thus far, my frustration with how the Huntress arc has turned out is the result of all the pieces required to make something really good being available, but horribly mismanaged. De Gouw’s readings could be flat at times, but she was confident and kickass when in costume, and seeing another side of Oliver was important, especially now that his post-fling depression sets up some interesting new angles for the future (even though his palpable heartbreak just underscores how stupid it is that everyone automatically assumes he’s in love with Laurel). So yeah, I’ll probably be excited when Huntress comes back to town, because there’s a lot more to this character and her relationship with Ollie that has yet to be touched. But I can only hope that by then, the writers have figured out a way to balance the classic comic book conflicts with the network romantic drama, because when the former is squandered by forcibly combining it with the latter, Arrow isn’t nearly as enjoyable as it could be.
- Stray Thoughts
-Barely touched on the side characters, but their stories continue to move in inches. Walter is back, and I really enjoy how they’ve flipped the usual “wife is suspicious of husband’s secrets” trope. It’s the exact same mind you, but Walter’s impotence is kinda endearing. His threat to “suspend” Felicity is hilariously unconvincing.
-Felicity is basically a cog of the plot, which is fine, so long as she’s got funny things to say when she shows up. Her quirky kangaroo fear is fine, but lord if her need to awkwardly sexualize every situation doesn’t get old fast.
-I’m worried Carly has some sort of condition where she has to mention that Digg is her ex-brother-in-law every time she talks to someone. There’s a shot of her when Oliver is talking about finding a new love, but if that’s all she’s good for, I’ll be extremely disappointed. On the plus side, Digg and Ollie would be semi-legit bros!
-China White shows up with the Triads, but I can’t say I know her fate at episode’s end. She just sorta, drops, after Ollie shoots at her. I’ll assume she gets away. It’s arguable that’s secretly the most important part of the “no kill” policy: making sure the villains stick around till they’re needed next.
-For a major crime lord, Mr. Bertinelli should probably get updates about his illegal operations from sources other than just the nightly news.
-Ab-tastic Workout of the Week: Two for the price of one, a return of the jumpy bar thing, and upside-down pushups. Seeing as De Gouw is from Australia, she’s probably not all that impressed.
-Awesomely Specific Arrow of the Week: Flashbang arrow. Great for fireworks, and blinding bad guys.