Arrow Season 2 Review “Birds of Prey”

It’s been said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. It’s unfortunate, but oftentimes true. Sometimes our best efforts to do something good turn into the worst situations imaginable. In this week’s Arrow, some of Oliver’s best intentions came back to wreak havoc on Starling City and in the lives of the people Oliver cares about the most.

Helena aka The Huntress reappeared in Starling City after her father popped back up on the grid. He was swept up in a police raid as he was trying to collect on a debt, and as soon as Oliver saw Frank Bertinelli, he knew Helena wouldn’t be far behind. He wasn’t wrong. As Frank was being escorted into the courthouse, Helena showed up to complete her mission. Unfortunately for her (and all the innocent people who happened to be in the courthouse), the whole trial was a trap to catch her. So she took hostages to use as leverage. Of course, one of those hostages was Laurel. Oliver tried repeatedly to talk Helena down, but she said the only way the hostages would get out alive was for Oliver to trade her father for Laurel. Oliver said he wasn’t actually going to turn Frank over to Helena, but we never got a chance to see what Oliver’s plan really was thanks to an overzealous, vigilante-hating SWAT commander. Ultimately, Frank got killed in the crossfire, Helena went to prison, and Team Arrow lives to fight another day.

I can’t say that I’m a big fan of The Huntress. She isn’t that interesting to me, but I didn’t mind her being around because she peeled back layers about Oliver. Their interactions gave insight into Oliver’s headspace and emotions. When he first met Helena last season, I felt like Oliver was revealing entirely too much of himself to her way too early. But at the time, he was desperate for a connection. He was living a double life, lying to everyone he cared about, and carrying the weight of a multitude of sins. He was in pain and there was no one in his life that he felt could understand. Until he met Helena. Oliver tried to mentor her, but he wasn’t so much mentoring her as trying to work through his own pain and loneliness. He had the very best of intentions. At the end of this episode, though, Oliver came to realize a truth that he couldn’t accept before. He wasn’t ready to mentor anyone. He was in pain himself, and he couldn’t help himself much less help her. Even in this episode Oliver was still trying to appeal to someone who isn’t there anymore. Helena chose her path. She chose darkness instead of light. She chose vengeance instead of forgiveness. She chose death instead of life. Oliver insists upon looking at Helena just as someone in pain, but she’s not. Not anymore. If Oliver had gotten to her before she chose the path of vengeance, then maybe he could’ve saved her. But now, there’s nothing left to save. Her pain and anger consumed whatever good there was in her, and all that’s left is The Huntress. Oliver can blame himself for creating her if he wants, but that’s not really his cross to bear. She was who she was long before he met her. He may have inadvertently made her a more efficient killer, but he didn’t turn her into a killer. She did that herself.

Oliver might have better luck with Roy. After Felicity tracked down the car that they thought Helena stole, Oliver, Sara, and Roy went to try and stop her. Oliver hasn’t really been letting Roy go out in the field because Roy can’t seem to control his rage. It looks like it’s a good thing Oliver’s been keeping the leash on. Roy looked like he was about to rip Helena’s decoy apart until Oliver pulled him back. Roy already had massive anger issues before the mirakuru, and the serum isn’t helping matters any. The show hasn’t really spent very much time on Oliver’s training sessions with Roy, so we don’t really have any idea of the methods Oliver has been using to try and mentor Roy. One would assume he’s trying to go through the same type of training Shado went through with him, but this is a different set of circumstances. What worked on the Island won’t necessarily work here. Not to mention that Oliver didn’t have the mirakuru coursing through his veins either. If Oliver is going to truly mentor Roy and teach him how to control his rage, he’s going to have to stop trying to control Roy. He’s going to have to teach Roy how to pull himself back. That’s going to take time. It’s also going to take Roy being a better student and Oliver thinking outside the box on how to help Roy. I have a feeling that Roy’s rage is going to be uncontrollable once Slade makes it known that he’s got Thea. That could be very deadly…and very interesting.

Laurel was more front and center in this episode, but surprisingly, I didn’t mind quite so much. Her inclusion in this particular story made a decent amount of sense, and it didn’t feel like she was shoehorned in. Right off the bat I will say that it bothered me for Laurel to be so much the damsel in distress. One of the things the show went to great lengths to showcase last season is that Laurel is capable of handling herself. I’m not saying she was a part-time ninja or anything, but she was more capable last season than she was in this episode. Did the part of her brain that knew how to fight get drowned in pills and booze or something? Despite that quibble, Laurel proved herself more useful than she has in a long time. She attempted to help rescue the hostages, and she also tried to talk Helena down by connecting with her over losing someone you love. In the end, it seems that Laurel simply being available for Helena to use as a bargaining chip was what saved the hostages. I’m still not entirely clear why ADA Donner concocted the plan he did to catch The Huntress. It doesn’t make any sense. He knew that The Huntress was coming for Frank Bertinelli either way, so why put all of those people in danger? Why set Laurel up like that? None of that makes any sense, and it just seems like it was the method the writers chose to get rid of Donner and put Laurel back in the DA’s office. I will say that the scene between Laurel and Canary when Laurel was about to take a drink, was actually a really nice moment for both characters. It gave Laurel an opportunity to (unbeknownst to her) tell her sister how she really felt, and it gave Sara the opportunity to help her sister be strong. What’s the most interesting about that whole scene was that Sara let Laurel make her own choice. If she had wanted to, Sara could’ve just snatched the bottle out of Laurel’s hands, but that wouldn’t have really helped Laurel. By simply asking Laurel to be strong and allowing Laurel to make the choice for herself, Sara helped Laurel help herself. Maybe Oliver should take note so he can figure out how to help Roy help himself.

One thing that absolutely did not work for me was the filming. Most of the fight scenes were filmed and cut in such a herky jerky manner that it became distracting. Not to mention the excessive use of the shaky cam. It’s no secret that I’m not a shaky cam fan, but I feel like a little shaky cam is appropriate in some instances. However, it was completely too much in this episode. The fight scenes were so poorly shot that I could barely see what was going on. I already have a thing about women having their hair flowing loose during a fight, but that’s a whole other story. With all of the flowing hair, shaking camera, and weird camera angles, I had a really hard time figuring out who was fighting and where they were in relation to everyone else in the scene. All of these actors seem to put a lot of time and effort into learning how to do much of their own fight choreography, but it is completely wasted if it’s going to be filmed as poorly as this episode was.

Despite my aggravation with the filming, I enjoyed the substance of this episode. It was tight storytelling and nicely wrapped up a lingering storyline from last season. I am kind of concerned that The Huntress is going to prison knowing Oliver’s secret. What’s her motivation to keep her mouth shut? I’m really liking Det. Lance a whole lot more this season too. He’s fully accepted that The Arrow is not the enemy, and he truly is a (sort-of) member of Team Arrow. I also found it quite amusing that Oliver has Det. Lance in his phone as ‘Mom.’ It looks like things are about to come to a head with Slade Wilson, and I am excited to see how that plays out. So what did y’all think of this week’s Arrow?

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