TV Show Review

TV Review: ARROW: Season 2, Episode 17: Birds of Prey [The CW]

Jessica de Gouw Arrow Birds of Prey

The CW’s Arrow Birds of Prey TV Show Review. Arrow: Season 2, Episode 17: ‘Birds of Prey’ set itself up with a fairly straightforward theme, behind its opening sequence. The Arrow (Stephen Amell) and Canary (Caity Lotz) were watching over Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) at work. Seeing her father getting shot, however, prompted Sara to throw the shooter out a window. Quentin was fine (he wore a vest), the shooter survived, and Canary would suffer some karma for her actions, but the subject of impulse control, where jeopardy of loved ones were concerned, was broached.

So when Frank Bertinelli (Jeffrey Nordling) wound up in custody, and redemption seeker Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) was restored to the D.A. office, for the sole purpose of persecuting him, there was something of a scramble to head off the stampeding elephant headed for the room: Frank’s daughter, Helena (Jessica De Gouw), aka The Huntress. The Huntress, of course, was more than just the product of Frank killing her fiance, she was trained by – and romantically linked to – Oliver. Cue conflict of interest, between Oliver and Sara, over Helena, Laurel, and doing what’s right, versus acts of love/ loyalty/ responsibility.

Never mind the title, or its nod to Canary and The Huntress’ comic roots, this episode was about Oliver, Sara, Laurel, and Helena working out their hang-ups about, and around, each other – as well as themselves.

Points for Laurel eventually getting her back up, in a useful way, with the right person; points for Oliver getting out of a potential identity give-away, courtesy of a ringing cell phone; points for not letting the Huntress singular vengeance story drag on any longer;  points for fight choreography (athletic women in flattering costumes, not pulling punches: what’s not to like?); and points to Arrow adding its own Howard Branden to the mix. Unfortunately, ‘Birds of Prey’ brought more attention to some of Arrow‘s drawbacks, than its strengths.

Roy (Colton Haynes) was once again reduced to a slave to his emotions. Sure, Mirakuru induced Roy’d rage had a lot to do with it; but the character has a history of acting out, when bridled. He’s been bridled. Laurel was set up as bait, by the A.D.A., but was really set up, by the script, to risk her new found sobriety. I’ve managed to suspend my disbelief, thus far, regarding the inability of characters like Laurel to see past a little eye make-up/ domino mask. Laurel’s inability to recognize her own sister, when practically nose-to-nose, however, just killed me.

It’s my understanding that officers of the law – S.W.A.T. in particular – aren’t allowed to draw on a suspect, in the midst of innocent bystanders, without at least making an attempt to get the area clear, or at least getting bystanders out of the field of fire. Get down, stay down kind of thing. Wasn’t done, in this case; so dead cops, and one clear demonstration of why it’s common practice. It’s not just about protecting the innocent; it’s about separating hostiles from non-hostiles, and just getting control of the space. It’s also about heading off potential hostage situations, but: script.

So The Huntress’ latest attempt on her father’s life, when met with an equally ham-fisted sting to get her, equaled a hostage crisis, with Laurel trapped inside. Cue guilt responses from Oliver, Sara, and Quentin.

I must say that this was the first time I found myself rooting for Laurel, since getting on board with this series (I had originally dismissed it as the one-true-heir to Smallville – put your torches away, I think better of it, now). That said, it would’ve been easy to single out her costly stubbornness, in the face of a narrowly focused rescue attempt; but however irritating that was, she was just the only one making things worse, without any skills for an out (hence: karma for Canary).

The Huntress, of course, put a lot of skill, time, and resources into getting herself into trouble over a singular piece of bait; both Oliver and Sara kept getting in their own way, thanks to personal attachments; the A.D.A. screwed the pooch with the trap he set for The Huntress; and there may be hell to pay for how two representatives of the police department took opposite courses in dealing with the fallout.

While all these actors of, and reactors to, rogue action scrambled to make the most out of nothing going to plan, Thea (Willa Holland) was working hard on not accepting Roy’s letter of resignation. Of course he was selflessly pushing her away; she just wasn’t going to play along without finding out what would drive him into driving her away (the effort coming on the heels of an expensive gift didn’t help – mixed signals, and all). That’s how bad boys get saved by the good girl, you see. Of course, the really good bad boys bite the bullet, and do something really, regrettably, dickish, in order to get the good girl running away, for her own sake.

Nobody listens, on this show. The fact that it’s stubbornness borne of conscience/ principle doesn’t mitigate the fact that it’s become an almost clockwork means of ensuring things get worse, before they get better. I should spare myself the eye-roll strain, and just make up drinking games. The formula should be easier to stomach, then (provided I eat first).

The flashback component mirrored the main plot development, in that it was basically a drawn out hostage negotiation between Slade (Manu Bennett), and Sara. After the mostly successful escape from the freighter left it dead in the water, Slade wanted Sara to return one of the escapees. That escapee had the qualifications to get the freighter running, and Sara was apparently a really bad liar, at the time, so if the disagreeable nature of the escapee wasn’t enough, the torture and scheduled execution of Oliver informed her decision.

Frankly, handing over the one inmate that made a point of trying to kill her, first thing out of his cell, seemed like the stuff that moral dilemmas are not made of – unless the idea was just playing keep-away with Slade – but I guess there was a larger point to be made, about Ollie & Sara’s history of being compromised by loved ones under the gun.

The resolution to ‘Birds of Prey’ bothered me, a little. With all the power pout stubbornness that was on display, it was no surprise that Helena got no satisfaction from her father’s passing. The main reason for this, however, seemed like a cop-out, meant only to leave a hole for her to fill – never mind the Ollie “I told you so” line to that effect. Oliver, for his part, and for all his compassion, really didn’t help things. I can see where his open offer of support will enable her enough to show up again, for reasons other than her dad; but I suppose that’s just Oliver.

For all the cues Arrow (and Green Arrow, the source character) takes from Batman, Oliver Queen is no Bruce Wayne. Too much of a bleeding heart liberal, gets too personally attached, not all that up on psychology/ psychiatry. To that last point, of course he didn’t see the potential fallout, that could come from his  talk with Helena, anymore than he would from reaffirming Thea’s faith in his honesty with her.

Thea’s faith in Oliver will likely be tested, now that her distress, over Roy, has led her to accept an act of ‘kindness’ by a semi-stranger. Cue guilt response from both Oliver and Roy.

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

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