Ladies and Gentlemen , it’s the HUNTRESS EPISODE! Hooray!
All I wanted from this episode was for Helena and Laurel to be on the screen at the same time. All L wanted was for them to make out. Denied that, she said she would settle for a bare midriff.
Whups, I should start from the beginning, shouldn’t I?
BTW, the title is from a speech in Henry V. I’m not a particularly diligent Shakespearean scholar, so I don’t know the significance. Anyone wanna fill me in?
The beginning is getting boring now: the initial voiceover is now the same as previous episodes and I no longer care. Stranded on an island, blah blah, VENGEANCE, blah.
Ollie is on a motorbike, driving around, bein’ Ollie Queen, when Thea calls him to remind him he has a lunch date with his Mom. (Thea is in her school uniform and at Queen Manor, which makes me wonder what time it is that she’s calling him to remind him about lunch. Maybe she came all the way home for her own lunch? Maybe she had a half day today? I think about these things! L believes that the school uniform is specifically there to make her, L, happy, and who am I to disagree?) Ollie resents being harangued by these women for quality time. Do they think he’s their long-lost son/brother miraculously returned from the dead or something? GAWSH.
He bikes over to Queen Consolidated, where Moira is coming out of the building being pressed by a man in a natty suit over a ‘proposal’ she has rejected, for reasons she thinks should be obvious. Natty suit man’s name is Mr. Capone. I WONDER WHAT BUSINESS HE COULD BE IN?
Just as Ollie waves ‘hello,’ another motorcycle turns up, this one being ridden by a person in all black leathers and a face concealing helmet. The biker pulls a gun, Ollie yells a warning, but it’s too late. Mr Capone is shot dead and Moira falls with him.
The Rule of Motorcycles:( which I’m sure has been codified on TV Tropes, but which I first heard pre-TV Tropes from my dad) When a person is seen riding a motorcycle, wearing figure-hiding black leathers and a face-covering helmet, that person is always later revealed to be a woman. This is true for Midsomer Murders, for Capital Scandal, and for every single other occurrence of a mysterious motorcyclist I’ve ever seen. Could it be true of Arrow? Only time will tell!
Ollie checks on Moira long enough for her to struggle to sit up and give some maternal “I’m fine!” platitudes. then he yells CALL 911 to the building Security and runs off after the biker-assassin. Runs. On foot. He even manages to keep pace with the bike for a good few minutes, throwing a metal rod at the wheel before a truck cuts him off. Curse that truck! If it hadn’t got in the way, Ollie’s magic running feet would easily have chased down a motorbike!
Ollie gets to the hospital after Thea has already arrived from home, been filled in, and tried and failed to reach Walter in Melbourne. Moira has a grade 2 concussion, and is ready to be discharged as long as someone stays with her to monitor her well being. She’s certainly not too injured to tell Ollie he was an idiot for running after the motorcycle. And Thea is even more annoyed with him for leaving his mother alone in the street while he tries to be a hero. Ollie says he went to get a licence plate, and Thea is having none of his lies.
In the hospital corridor, Ollie runs into Quentin and Quentin’s partner (at this point I feel that looking on IMDB for this guy’s name would be cheating). Ollie informs them that Diggle (his ‘head of security,’ although I still think that someone ought to let Diggle hire some security to be head of) is on his way, but can he have some policemen to guard his mother?
Um, no, says Diggle. Capone was ‘mobbed-up-to-the-eyeballs connected,’ he explains. Moira wasn’t teh target. Ollie flounces off without saying anything else.
I just want it on record that Katie Cassidy clearly dressed for the lesbians today in her tiny little short shorts and her silhouette perfecting bra. Laurel’s working late, and Tommy shows up carrying take out sushi, at exactly the same time as her pizza delivery. They discuss the contents of both orders and sushi wins, the bag being torn open hungrily by Laurel.
Note for Non-Comics Readers: Dinah Lance loves good food. Oh boy, does she love good food. I don’t usually comic scans into my Arrow posts but this deserves it:
Birds of Prey vol 1 #55
Tommy is here to ask Laurel out. Because having Laurel actually involved in plot these days is so episodes 1 through 5. Now she has to be an object for Tommy to pursue! I have spent the last few episodes narrow-eying Tommy and demanding to know what his game is. It turns out, it might just be to date Laurel. It’s just that his lines are so freaking corny.
Oliver deals with the frustration of having his mother shot at by hiding out in the Arrow cave, being shirtless and beating up a dummy. Diggle, who is also in the Arrow Cave, and not watching over Moira, suggests a day off with his family might be in order, but this is how Oliver Queen deals with things, dammit! Well, beating stuff up and Googling. He explains to Diggle that Capone works for Bertinelli construction, run by the mob boss Frank Bertinelli. Apparently Capone wasn’t the first of the crew to be hit, so Ollie has the great idea of going undercover in the mob to find out what’s going on.
Um, says Diggle, ever the voice of reason and why the hell aren’t I getting a Diggle show?
“Your mother is shot at, nearly killed, and the way you process this emotionally is to go undercover with the mob.”
“I’m not trying to process this emotionally.”
“Maybe that’s your problem, man.”
Diggle suggests being their for his family might be a good idea. Ollie dismisses this thought as ridiculous, because he’s no good at being there for anyone. I suggest to the screen that maybe if you’re not good at being there for the people who need you, then you might want to get some practice. But no! Running off after the ‘mob assassinations’ tangent is a much better idea, says Ollie!
“When I find out who this guy is,” he says, “he’s a dead man.”
GOSH. What a subtle way of highlighting gender assumptions, writers! Because now we’re back with the biker, who may or may not have been biking around evening, and has now arrived at a garage. Where the biker has a pinboard of photographs, some of which have big Xs drawn through them in Sharpie! Out comes the Sharpie, and a big X is drawn on Capone’s face!
L and I agree this is amateur work, because it doesn’t have red string arbitrarily making lines between the photos.
Anyway, off comes the helmet and SURPRISE.
It’s a woman!
NNCR: Alright, it might as well go here. This is Helena Bertinelli, who was the Huntress in DC comics during the 90s and 2000’s. The daughter of mafia boss Franco Bertinelli, Helena was a child when her entire family was killed in front of her. She grew up to become Huntress, starting her heroism career by killing the heads of the families that had her killed. She starred in a few Batman minis, and really came into her own in Gail Simone’s run on Birds of Prey, alongside Dinah Lance.
As Arrow only likes putting its men in ridiculous costumes, we’re going to have to improvise a little.
Thea is off out clubbing, but she is ambushed in the hall by Ollie, who tells her he has a Very Important Thing and she has to stay home and watch their concussed mother, sorry. They are interrupted by Tommy, who lets himself in the front door to talk to Ollie. Hey bro – firstly, your Mom okay? Good. Secondly, is it cool if I date your ex? Because I kind of already asked her out? Yes? Great, see ya!
“If you hurt her I’ll snap your neck,” says Ollie, which seems fair.
Thea and Moira hang out in Moira’s bedroom, watching TV and discussing Ollie’s douchebaggery. Moira asks Thea not to be too harsh on him. They both know he’s lying to them, but Moira takes the opinion that everyone has their secrets, and besides, he has Post Island Stress Disorder, and maybe the ladies in his life just have to be patient with him.
Moira is shaping up to be a great Mom, really.
Frank – who (shock! Intrigue!) is recognizable as the biggest face on Huntress’ pinboard – introduces Ollie to “Nick Salvati, my associate,” and I wonder if ‘associate’ ever means anything that isn’t ‘he kills people for me.’ Salvati is being played by Tahmoh Penikett, prompting L to squeal “It’s Helo, it’s Helo!” And from then on in our heads such is he named.
As Ollie stands in the entrance hall, Helena walks across the upper level, and their eyes meet briefly. With music.
Later, Frank introduces her to Ollie, and we see that she is wearing an absolutely stunning dress in purple with a large silver crucifix.
NNCR: This is an obvious homage to Huntress’ costume. Helena is Catholic and her faith plays a huge part of her character. This is just one of the reasons I ship her with Renee Montoya, the Question.
There’s an awkward “I’m heading out,” “Take a goon,” “I can take care of myself,” moment between father and daughter, made all the more awkward by the creepily intense stare Ollie is giving her. (Seriously creepy you guys. I can’t even.) But it’s interrupted by Helo telling Frank that ‘that meeting he requested’ is happening right now this instant. So he’s got to skedaddle.
But on his way out, he tells Helena to take Oliver out for dinner, because um, that’s how rich people do business? I don’t know, and both Ollie and Helena thinks it’s weird too. But to dinner they go! But not before Ollie pulls his very best -_- face. Which I failed to cap, sorry.
The meeting it turns out, is with China White, who is reduced to acting as a translator for another Triad member, who simply say they’re not to blame for all of his people who have died recently thank you very much goodbye.
It’s interesting how the show feels perfectly comfortable with having the Triad and Bratva appear and be specifically named, but Franco Bertinelli becomes Frank, and the ‘mob’ in this episode never gets called the mafia, despite the comics being very explicit on that front, and TV!Helena speaking Italian.
If it’s not the Triad, then Bertinelli wants to find out who, and make them pay. This is being recorded by a bug and feeding right back to Quentin and partner, who are distinctly worried this might end in a gang war in Starling City. We never saw the bug being placed, and I don’t think it’s ever mentioned again in this episode. It’s just there.
They mention that Bertinelli is about to start extorting more money out of the people who pay them protection money, but I’m not sure how they got to that conclusion. Sssssh, don’t question exposition scenes. Quentin doubts that the killings are mob related, as the shootings have been haphazard with plenty of misses. Amateur, basically. Still, if they don’t stop it, they’re looking at a mob war.
Ollie and Helena have gone to dinner at an Italian restaurant, where Helena gets special attention from the proprietor because of her father. Helena joins the long long line of people this episode to ask after Moira, in what’s actually quite a subtle writerly dig at how Ollie is here and not there with his concussed mother. They are awkward and stiff and Helena dives straight into asking about the Island because why not?
She wants to know if he ever felt relief to be away from the ties and responsibilities of the World. It’s obvious that Helena feels restricted by her place in life and disapproves of her father’s way of doing things. Ollie says that yes, some days he felt free and those were the best times of the five years. they start bonding over feeling restricted by familial expectations.
But Ollie and Helena aren’t the only couple having dinner! Laurel has dragged Tommy out to curry, and he turns out to be a wuss when it comes to spices. Tommy breaks out the smarm again and says that he wishes he could date Laurel from the beginning. Colin Donnell is playing this pretty well: I’m buying this as sincere. Even though as a plotline this ‘set up Tommy and Laurel’ arc to be pointless, I am beginning to think they’re cute together. But Katie Cassidy is always cute.
But then the waiter returns with Tommy’s credit card, saying it has been declined. Oh no!
The Italian place has closed, but Ollie and Helena are still sitting and talking. Ollie is saying that he gives people the answers they expect when they talk about the island, because he doesn’t know how truthful he can be. Helena is listening intently to him, and calls what he’s been through a ‘crucible’ that changed him.
He finally asked about the crucifix and she explains it was a gift from her fiance, whose death was her own crucible. Basically, they’re bonding over traumatic experiences.
“It’s nice to be with someone I can be myself with,” says Ollie.
Talking of which, Diggle then calls him up., telling him that he has to get moving because ‘something’s come up.’ Ollie makes his excuses and leaves, but not before Helena tells him to be careful with her father.
Moira is still in bed, reading when there is a knock on her bedroom door. It’s John Barrowman, at this time of night, come to intimidate and threaten her, because apparently he’s got experience with people having near death experiences and bailing on his sinister plans straight after. So he wanted to check Moira was still on board. We also find out that John Barrowman, Moira and Robert were friends for a long time before the accident.
On the phone to Ollie, Diggle explains that the something that came up was Bertinelli’s enforcers going after everyone who owes them money. Ollie would like to know what that has to do with getting revenge for his mother, and Diggle implies that maybe saving lives could be on the agenda tonight? You know, justice, not revenge? He drops the name “Russo’s” as the next target. Which coincidentally is the restaurant Oliver is standing outside of right now.
Diggle is less than impressed when he hears Ollie ditched both the mission and his bedridden mother to go on a date.
Anyway, Helo and associates walk into Russo’s and demand more money from the owners, and L is particularly unimpressed at Helo’s villain chops. “He needs to play good guys and cops,” she complains.
They’re about to break some fingers when they’re interrupted by Maninnahood, who presumably had his gear in the car he drove here with Helena in? He fights a bunch of people, and Womaninnahelmet marches in, shooting her gun at people. Ollie drops what he was doing and fights her instead, in a pretty evenly matched combat until he breaks the visor of her helmet and reveals her face. She stares in his eyes for a second (remember Ollie doesn’t wear a mask, just green eye make up) and runs off.
Back in the Arrow Cave, Ollie wants to know why Helena would be going after her own family, and Diggle notices that the man’s clearly showing signs of the feelings towards her, which as he points out, is crazy even for Ollie, because of the shooting at Moira and the murdering people in cold blood.
Apparently Diggle has forgotten that this is also Ollie’s hobby.
That’s not the only thing he’s forgotten, because when Ollie says “I know what I’m doing,” Diggle says that now “I know what your family feels like when you lie to them.”
Diggle, Oliver lies to you every damn episode. Where’s your head at, today?
Quentin is looking at the security footage from the fight, from the single camera that precludes getting a shot of Helena’s reveal. He does, however, spy Oliver and Helena having dinner earlier that evening, so he goes over to Queen Manor to warn him away from Helena and then leave.
I’m not sure what’s going on there, really.
That same day, at Tommy’s house, that worthy would like to have a few words with his dad about the fact that all his accounts have been frozen and he can’t get at any of his money. I’m not exactly sure what’s going on here, either. Do rich people in their twenties have all their personal credit cards and bank accounts managed by their parents?
His dad is fencing at the start of the scene, but he takes his mask off at a key moment and dun dun dun!
JOHN BARROWMAN IS TOMMY’S DAD. And he cut Tommy off for no better reason than he got sick of Tommy’s playboy ways and felt like being spiteful. So huh.
I guess this means that they are doing a Harry Osborn thing with Tommy being the son of the villain and a point in the love triangle without doing any real villainy himself. I expect Barrowman will not make it past the first season, setting Tommy up for archvillainitude in later seasons. Anyway, the fencing is interesting and suggests BarrowMerlyn has fighty skills and will be using them against Ollie in the future.
That evening, Helena is hanging out in her leathers behind a church, at the grave of her fiance. There she is joined by Ollie, who followed her from her house, and admits so boldly like it’s not creepy!
NNCR: The name on the tombstone is Michael Staton. I don’t know about the first name, but Staton is a reference to Joe Staton, the penciller on the 1989 series that introduced Helena Bertinelli to the DCU.
Ollie says that he’d like to know how her ‘crucible’ changed her. Helena says… no wait, I’m going to quote this wholesale.
When you love someone, as much as I loved him, with all of your heart, you can’t just turn that emotion off when they’re taken from you. You still feel things as deeply, and if it can’t be love that you feel, then it becomes hate.
Yes, she says that.
“Sometimes I think,” I say to L at this point, “that TV writers just don’t understand how human beings work.”
Anyway, it doesn’t matter what, because Helo and goons show up and kidnap them both.
Cut to an empty warehouse, where Ollie and Helena are sat in chairs with their hands ziptied behind them. Helo knows it was her who hit Russo’s, because he found her crucifix – and maybe because she was unmasked? Apparently only Ollie saw that. Ollie offers money to get them out of the situation, but it’s not about him for once. Now it’s time for Helena and Helo to yell at each other.
Frank had Michael murdered because, Helo explains, Michael was talking to the FBI. They found a laptop in his bag containing evidence needed to convict Frank and Helo. But it wasn’t Michael’s, Helena says, but hers. She was the one talking to the FBI.
Helo admits that he killed Michael, on Frank’s orders, and is about to shoot Helena When Ollie, who had broken his bonds, barrels into him. As Ollie fights the two henchmen (including using one as a human shield to take the bullets from the other) Helena beats the everloving crap out of Helo. Ollie kills his guys just in time to look over and watch Helena snap Helo’s neck with her bare hands.
“…Helena,” says Ollie, despairing like a guy who hasn’t been murdering people will nilly for the last seven episodes. Like a guy, in fact, who hasn’t just killed two NPCs with his own bare hands.
“I didn’t have a choice,” she says, “no one can know my secret.”
DIRECT CALLBACK TO THE PILOT.
Quentin and partner are looking at the evidence from this fight – one GSW to the chest, two broken necks. Partner says it’s been a while since the Hood broke necks, and no arrows were found, but Quentin hopes Bertinelli blames the Hood over other mobs, else GANG WAR.
I wonder if the ‘it’s been a while’ comment means that Ollie has been killing less. Becaue it plays into the arc that I’ve been expecting since Deadshot – a man starting out as a ruthless killer, and mellowing out into a more non-lethal Justice League-y vigilante. The deaths of killers-for-hire Deathstroke and Deadshot, and the appearances of Kate Spencer and Helena Bertinelli, who have similar themes in their own comics, would be perfect in that case.
Quick Tommy/Laurel scene: he’s sad (and homeless!) now that his daddy cut him off, so she invited him in and they eat the delicious pizza from two nights ago. Losing access to your fortune is a chick magnet!
And in Moira’s bedroom, who can this dark shadow be approaching her bed?
Oh, it’s her incredibly sexy husband, who spent three days (as documented by Laurel and Tommy’s dinners) flying in from Melbourne. Hey Walter, next time why don’t you go over the Pacific?
While they’re having hot person-of-a-certain-age reunion sex, Ollie and Thea chat in the hallway. Thea apologizes for being a bitch about the whole lying-to-her abandoning-his-mother thing, and he accepts the apology. But, uh, doesn’t apologize for lying to her or being a terrible son and brother. One thing at a time, Ollie.
Thea repeats her suggestion that he find someone to talk to, if he doesn’t want to talk to her, or Moira, or Laurel, or Tommy, or Diggle. I suggest Diggle, because the man’s sensible and has been through some stuff and understands the difference between justice and revenge and also already knows all Ollie’s secrets.
Ollie, however, is not thinking with that head, and where does he go? Yep, that’d be Helena’s city apartment.
And I don’t mean, he shows up at her door and knocks, because that would be normal. Instead, Helena comes out of the shower in just her robe and wet hair, and finds him standing in her living room. She takes it in stride, because she knows who he is, having seen him fight and also, he doesn’t actually wear a mask.
He tries to give her a lecture on the difference between justice and vengeance, but it doesn’t work so well because this is Oliver bloody Queen and he’s been blurring the line between justice and vengeance for seven episodes. Maybe if Diggle were here, it’d make sense, but this episode has been thin with the Diggle and his words fit poorly in Ollie’s mouth.
Helena doesn’t buy it, of course, because she’s out getting justice for her fiance while Ollie’s out getting Justice for his own Daddy issues and they’re pretty much doing the same thing, fighting the same fight.
“I’ve been alone in my head for so long,” says Helena
“It feels good to tell the truth,” Ollie finishes.
And I lift up my hands and make the NOW KISS gesture at the screen.
What can I say? I ship it. And not because I don’t ship Laurel and Ollie, cause I love her, but Ollie and Helena are broken in the same ways, and it’s so intense and needy. And I love superhero romances between heroes, where there’s no secrets and they understand each other. Actually, romance that comes from understanding is one of my big romance kinks. This is why I like Green Arrow/Black Canary in comics, because they both know each other. Ollie/Laurel while he’s lying to her? Not my thing.
Besides, while I love Helena, at this point in her story she’s broken and rebounding, and can only relate to someone broken and hurting. While Laurel is sweet and good and strong and needs someone who’s at least a little bit better adjusted than Tommy. So let Ollie and Helena work their things out and have hot, passionate sexytimes. Laurel will be there when he deserves her.
And maybe I can start a letter writing campaign to introduce a lesbian latina cop in future seasons.