Talk about hitting a guy where it hurts…
It’s kind of weird, but for two weeks in a row I’ve found myself rooting a bit for the bad guys. Oliver Queen still has a lot to learn about this whole vigilante business thing and leading a team of misfits, and coming across two foes that have spent a lot more time doing their homework proves to be a good but very harsh lesson for our hero. Both Helena and Slade have rolled into town with a single mindset in their quests. Both though have proved to be vicious foes for Oliver and suddenly the green one doesn’t seem to be on top of his game. His growing team has plenty of kinks to work out too. In other words, plenty of great drama for us!
Let’s start first with the return of The Huntress in “Birds of Prey.” I’ve always been a fan of Helena Bertinelli, even if she’s decided to use her powers for evil instead of good. She still wants Daddy dead and she doesn’t care who gets hurt along the way in accomplishing her vengeance. You know, unbalanced psycho syndrome. This time, she crosses paths with the new hero in town, The Black Canary, and those two have some wicked standoffs. This show has always had excellent fight choreography, and it soared to new heights pitting these two women together. I could honestly watch an hour of that stuff. Bravo to Caity Lotz and Jessica De Gouw making those intense scenes work so well.
Helena, as diabolical and well executed as her plan was to bring out her Father, has one major weakness. Her rage, her blind desire for vengeance makes her become her own worst enemy. Her blindness makes her underestimate people like Laurel, who isn’t going to back down from a terrorist who would harm others just because she has major daddy issues. Of course Laurel’s efforts to talk some sense into the completely psychotic Helena doesn’t do anything, but you’ve got to girl the girl credit for finding her spunk again. I especially was proud of her when she used blackmail of sorts to keep her job in the DA’s office, which is a nice twist considering she was hired back to play nothing more than unwitting decoy for Helena by being assigned to prosecute Frank. With moxie like that, she’ll be running the place in no time. Good for you Laurel, hitting embarrassing lows has done some wonders. I know, she would have fallen off the wagon if “The Black Canary” (come on, you can’t see it’s Sara?) didn’t intervene, but that’s what makes her human, right?
Helena also didn’t anticipate the worst possible outcome, what happens if Daddy gets killed but not by her hand? Suddenly her purpose is gone and she becomes lost and alone, not to mention imprisoned (Suicide Squad anyone?). All of that anger, training, nights wishing her father was dead amounted to nothing. She has nothing left. It was the kind of outcome you don’t see often with these villains, which tells us the Helena Bertinelli story is not done. Given Oliver’s outreach of support and sympathy, her skills will be useful on Team Arrow someday. Suddenly I think back to the end of The Princess Bride, when Inigo Montoya didn’t know what to do when he suddenly found himself out of the revenge business. Hmm, piracy. Somehow, I don’t think this girl is staying on the straight and narrow either.
So, after his encounter with Helena and seeing her downfall, Oliver learns from this, right? Hee, what show are you watching? It’s Oliver Queen against Deathstroke and Oliver gets his clocked cleaned, just because his simple minded act to get vengeance on Slade Wilson has turned him into as careless a fool as Helena. Not just that, he’s destroying other lives! Case in point Roy, who he forced to break up with Thea because heroes are vulnerable from the people they love. Psst, Ollie, that works for family too. Thea isn’t any safer being related to you. It’s actually worse. So yeah, Thea gets kidnapped by Slade Wilson, Roy goes off the rails, blah, blah, Team Arrow is down one guy and he’s one out of control pissed off super strength human on the loose. Not good.
Oliver is so blinded by rage over the disappearance of his sister that he becomes exact what plagued Helena the week before, his own worst enemy. He overlooks the extremely obvious, everyone near him is out to screw him. Like temporarily handing control of the company over to Isabel, aka the most untrustworthy, manipulative bitch ever! Even Moira knew she was up to something! Yep, you got it, he loses control of the company permanently. Take that you slacker CEO. While I thought the twist that Isabel was working for Slade all this time was clever, it also wasn’t too surprising. There’s no way Slade was going to employ a sweetheart!
Then Ollie’s other stupid mistake was going off all vigilante on Slade’s men when it was all a diversion for Slade to put the rest of his plan in motion. Tell Thea a deep dark secret kept from her by Oliver. Check. Capture a prison bus of prisoners Ollie put away to build his army. Check. Oh, and show up at Laurel’s house and drop the bombshell that Oliver is the Arrow. Check?
I know, I won’t let this go, but HOW DOESN’T LAUREL AND QUENTIN KNOW OLIVER IS THE ARROW?? Captain Obvious has been sailing around them non-stop for some time right now. Laurel, I kind of get she was blindsided by the news. She isn’t as astute as her old man, probably because she’s too focused on everything Laurel. But Quentin honestly doesn’t know? I hope that was a lie to protect Oliver. He has to know when his kid (Sara) is lying. Parents have that kind of instinct.
When it’s all done, Oliver goes back to the Arrow cave licking his wounds, realizing he has become his own worst enemy. And you know who’s there to pick up the pieces? His ever faithful, ever loyal team of Felicity and Diggle. No matter what he does, they will always be there for him. Aww. With friends like that, who needs your own worst enemy?
One thing I didn’t like was Sebastian Blood throwing his temper tantrum like a two year old, “You promised I’d get to be mayor!” So much for diabolical villain and more for whiny brat. I was hoping he was a stronger character than that, but he’s turning into a one-dimensional kind of guy too. He’s losing the mayoral race now to sympathy voting gaining Moira, who played the heartbroken mother of a kidnap victim quite well, something Slade put into motion! If Moira becomes mayor, that town is going to unravel like a cheap suit. Does that mean they can behead her if she tells them to eat cake? Please? Sorry, I digress (my Moira hate is showing).
Over the two weeks the island drama slowed to a crawl as well. Slade offered Sara an exchange of Hendrick, who knows how to fix the engine, for Oliver and Ivo. She agrees, mostly because the trade is a no-brainer since Hendrick is a jerk that tried to kill her, but she tires to wire the dude with explosives first. Guess what, the Mirakuru gives you a super heightened sense of smell! He can smell the bomb. He decides to take his wrath out on Oliver, because he’s psycho, but this time he’s channeling the voice of a mean spirited dead Shado. No, he’s not crazy at all. He decides to leave Ollie and Sara on the island, fix the ship, and then pay Ollie’s family a visit. IN RED.
As for technical notes, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give a shout out to our favorite TV director Guy Bee. He gave another artful performance behind the camera in “Deathstroke.” He brings some amazing touches to Arrow and Supernatural that no other director does, and it usually results in some nail biting, amped up tension. Just the way I like my CW dramas!
What’s our take away from this interesting two weeks of “Let’s beat up on Oliver Queen?” Ollie’s got a lot to learn in being the leader that he needs to be. He knew Slade was setting a trap and walked into it half cocked anyway. He is slowly pissing off those that believe in him (aka Roy, maybe Quentin, Laurel and Thea). When Moira and your prickly relationship with her is all you have left, life really sucks. However, he still has his constants, aka Digg and Felicity, and Sara still cares so all hope is not lost. I don’t know what you’ve done to deserve them Ollie, but it’s time you man up and remember that you’re all in it together.
The theme of consequences from keeping secrets becomes the dominating theme now. It’s because of what happened with Shado and Ollie’s not telling Slade about what happened that he’s in this mess. Now he’s caught in a lie with Thea and Laurel, and he’s sure to lose Quentin’s newly earned trust as well, so lord knows it’ll all implode from there. Should Ollie have told them the truth though? Was he truly trying to spare feelings and/or protect those he cares about or were his motivations selfish? Slade even gave himself up as the kidnapper to prove a point, that lies will be Oliver’s undoing. Exposing those lies will lead to Oliver’s ultimate suffering. But wouldn’t the truth have done the same? All those questions are a balance that Oliver still hasn’t quite found, and that’s something he’ll probably wrestle with as long as he puts on the hood.
The phrase, “Work smarter not harder,” comes to mind. Ollie needs to start using his team more if he’s going to overcome this latest attack from a foe that’s had years to plan this. He needs to trust others. He needs to stop dictating to others what they must do (aka Roy) and focus on himself. Hopefully this is all a push to turn him away from a vigilante and more toward being a hero, but there’s still a long way to go. What’s a good hero story though without the saga of personal growth?
Only five more episodes until the end, and I’m sure there’s plenty of more challenges in store for Oliver in this explosive season two. See you back here on April 16th for more action!