In Arrow Season 1 Episode 17 titled The Huntress Returns, Helena Bertinelli coerces Oliver into helping her track down her mobster father.
When the Huntress last appeared in Muse of Fire and Vendetta, it was evident that beneath her desire for vengeance was a conflicted, emotionally tortured young woman. In The Huntress Returns, there’s still a burning rage to end her father’s life but the difference is how Helena revels in her villainy. A self-satisfying smirk is written across her face as she is interrogated by Det. Lance and McKenna and as she kisses Oliver on the cheek after threatening his family in his own home.
After the airing of Muse of Fire, some fans cited Jessica De Gouw’s acting as stiff, however in this week’s episode she is more at ease in speaking with an American accent and is comfortable in her portrayal of a cross-bow assassin.
As an adversary, The Huntress is better utilized in this episode than the throw-away villain of the weeks (eg. Firefly, Dodger). Though at first glance, the episode’s structure is Arrow’s tried and true formula, it does bring to mind how Avenger’s director Joss Whedon constructed his short-lived TV series Firefly.
The structure of a Firefly episode is like a pebble dropped into a pond, with each character reacting to the ripple effect. In this regard, they way each character from Det. McKenna, Diggle, Felicity, even Tommy, is impacted from crossing paths with Helena is preferable to what could have been an isolated story of Oliver dealing with his psycho ex-girlfriend. What would be even better is tying in Thea’s and Laurel’s secondary plot with the main story or saving it for another episode.
Of course at the core of this episode, Oliver is blackmailed into aiding Helena do the one thing he prevented in Vendetta: the killing of her father Frank Bertinelli. If any other criminal was on a cold-blooded killing spree while threatening his family, friends, and secret identity, Oliver would not think twice to put an arrow through them.
In addition to his lingering affections and empathy, Oliver most likely feels responsible for failing Helena and is clinging to the possibility she can be redeemed. However, in the final standoff as she pointing a shotgun in his face, Oliver unleashes what would have been fatal blow if Helena did not catch the arrow. Helena’s devastated expression nicely conveys the realization that Oliver who once believed and cared for her has now given up on her.
Other Quick Observations:
» When questioned by the Detectives on who is the Hood, I was surprised when Helena answered “Oliver Queen … is your boyfriend is he not”. Nice one, confusing for a second or two though. Does it bother you how Helena killed all those agents in the house?
» Because Tommy feels the burden of keeping secrets from Laurel, he better understands the toll on Oliver for not revealing the truth to him earlier. What Tommy should feel is lucky for not having his arm snapped by Helena. 🙂 Will we see Tommy in the not-so-secret Arrow Cave again soon?
» The Lance family members are back on speaking terms. A necessary but largely event-less first step to finding out if Sara is in fact alive. I did feel for Laurel when she wanted to open up to Tommy about everything going on her life. I’m not sure if Tommy’s comment about fighting the blender was supposed to be funny or an unconvincing lie but these two actors have good chemistry with each other.
» The opening of Oliver’s club has been a long time in the making. The first thing I thought when Thea mentioned the valet job to Roy is it would be very convenient if he started working there. But looks like they are going to take a less obvious route to incorporate Roy into the story. When Oliver and Roy first meet it should be written as a memorable scene.
» A less whiny, infatuated Thea is always better than a bitchy Thea. “Stalker, much”. Roy’s fear of needles hints at a dark back story or could be just the producers toying with expectations of comic book fans
» I’ve never cared for Oliver’s relationship with Det. McKenna but when she talked about being with someone you never have to apologize to, I started to root for them just a bit. Then the rug gets pulled from beneath my feet when she gets shot and essentially breaks up with Oliver by moving to Coast City. Is this the last of McKenna for Season 1?
What did you like or didn’t like about this episode? What did you think about the return of the Huntress? What’s the significance to the club name “Verdant” and any thoughts on the island flashbacks?