‘Arrow’ Season 2 Recap, Episode 17: ‘Birds of Prey’
The CW’s superhero series Arrow re-imagines Green Arrow for a TV audience as a tough, often ruthless vigilante bent on setting things right in his home of Starling City by punishing the wicked. ComicsAlliance’s Matt Wilson will be following along to see how he fares.
This week, The Huntress returns (ugh) and kidnaps Laurel (double ugh). Also: Heroism is sort of weirdly defined.
The opening shot of this episode is of a group of cops gearing up with AR-15s to take down a solitary mob enforcer who Officer Lance refers to as a “goombah.” We’re in for a long one here, folks.
Arrow and Canary watch as the police find themselves immediately involved in a huge gunfight, one in which they seemingly forget that they had automatic weapons all of two seconds ago and start firing nothing but pistols. The superheroes swing in and beat the tar out of the bad guys, but in the scrum Officer Lance takes a bullet to the vest.
Canary runs over to help, but her dad tells her to go catch the bad guy, and she does just that, eventually tossing him out a window. Seems like literal overkill, but she used to hang out with assassins. Hard to quit old habits.
Meanwhile, Arrow’s outside, running down another guy who turns out to be Frank Bertinelli, a.k.a. Huntress’ dad. He asks if the Huntress sent Arrow to kill him. The cops put him in cuffs and take him away.
Officer Lance briefly confronts Canary about the whole throwing-a-dude-out-a-window thing, but it looks like they’re just going to have to agree to disagree on that one, because the topic quickly changes to the inevitability of the Huntress rolling back into town. There’s a weird transition to an explainer scene in the Arrowcave about just who the Huntress is, if somehow you were spared the torture of seeing her two-parter last season. Turns out she’s been in Italy for the past little while, interrogating mafia dudes to find out where her dad is. Not sure why she’d immediately go to Italy for that, but for stuff relating to the Huntress, this actually makes decent sense, so I’ll move on.
Laurel’s at an AA meeting, confessing to the group that she has no idea what to do with herself now that she doesn’t have a job. As if he could hear her, not-the-DA calls Laurel up and asks her to come to the courthouse, which looks like it doubles as a fairly nice restaurant in a sitcom on the weekends.
Not-the-DA very suspiciously gives Laurel her job back after he fired her pretty definitively for being a pill popper, and he waves away her impending disbarment with a simple, “Oh, I have a friend.” Exactly nothing here is passing the smell test, but Laurel eats it all up because she really wants to go back go work.
Not-the-DA wants her to prosecute Bertinelli because she has some experience with RICO cases from when she was with CNRI. That sure is convenient, huh? That she took on a bunch of racketeering cases when she worked for her agency that gave legal help to impoverished people. Maybe she helped out some down-on-their-luck mafia dudes. (More likely, she helped people sue gangsters who were shaking them down, but it’s still kind of a stretch.)
Verdant. Roy proves he’s a sweetheart by buying Thea a gift (a bracelet) for no reason, but then he doesn’t hang around to actually spend time with her or anything. He struts over to Team Arrow, all of whom are assembled in the club, right there out in the open, discussing their game plan for the Bertinelli situation.
Your SECRET HEADQUARTERS is right downstairs, folks. Team Arrow just does not give a f**k about secrecy anymore.
Smoak reveals that Huntress rented a car under her dead fiancé’s name the night before and is driving it straight for Starling City. Because Team Arrow has given up completely on subtlety, they don’t realize this could be a trap. Nobody in this episode seems to be aware that things could be traps.
Team Arrow’s master plan is apparently to go stand in the road and wait for Huntress, because the next time we see Arrow, he’s standing in the road, where he stops Huntress’ rental car. Huntress tries to escape, but Canary’s there waiting for her. Roy approaches and hand with a gun peeks out the window, leading Roy to yell, “Gun!” and put his hand over the barrel. He could have broken the guy’s wrist or bent the gun or anything, and that’s what he did. The shooter shoots and messes up Roy’s hand pretty badly.
Roy pulls the guy who is definitely not the Huntress out of the car and flings him into a fence. Roy bears down on the dude while Arrow tells him to stop. Arrow eventually gets Roy to stand down by threatening him with shooting (it’s kind of the only thing Arrow does to Roy) and shouting, “Speedy!” Arrow asks the decoy where Huntress is and the guy says he doesn’t know. Someone just paid him off to drive the car around. Meanwhile, Huntress lays under a blanket in some whiny college dude’s backseat and threatens him with a gun.
Team Arrow reassembles back in the Arrowcave (What? You didn’t want to meet on a f**king city bus or something?) and finds out the details of the Huntress’ carjacking. Ollie goes over and talks to Roy, who’s stewing in the corner. Roy says he would have backed down from the dude earlier, but Ollie says Roy wouldn’t have if he hadn’t mentioned Thea. Turns out, Roy thought Ollie said “Speedy” because he was a big fan of old Denny O’Neil comics.
Anyway, Ollie tells Roy to break up with Thea because he’s too dangerous. Maybe they’ll change their superhero names to Pot and Kettle after this.
A news report from Starling’s Only Station announces that Laurel (who was on a “sabbatical” from the DA’s office) is going to be the prosecutor in Bertinelli’s case. Everyone flips out, to the point where Sara goes to visit Laurel at work and tell her that Bertinelli is a dangerous guy with a dangerous daughter. (What she should be asking is, “Hey, isn’t it a little weird that you got your job back so fast after being fired for stealing pills from your dad?” but again, people all seem to have blinders on this episode.)
Laurel seems to be under the impression that she’ll be able to lawyer her way out of being murdered by a gangster, by the way.
Flashback Island. While in the midst of having Ollie beaten and forcibly tattooed, Slade has discovered that the Amazo’s engine has been damaged and won’t work, so he calls up Sara and her gang of prisoner friends. He demands that she send him the prisoner we met a few episodes back, Hendrick, who seemingly knows some engineering. Slade sort of kind of offers Ollie in exchange.
Arrowcave. Ollie’s prepping a set of non-lethal arrows when Sara storms in and says Laurel’s headed to the courthouse. Ollie gets up to go there, too, but Sara suddenly adopts a vocal affectation like she’s in a movie from the 1940s and tells Ollie he’s being a wimp using “baby arrows.” (She actually does have a point about Ollie being pretty inconsistent with his no-killing rule, considering he’s more than down to kill Slade.) Ollie offers some s**tty reasoning about having failed Helena and tells Sara she’s not thinking clearly and has to stay behind.
Real question: Why does anyone ever listen to bossy-ass, holier-than-thou Ollie? Why is the title character on this show its least likable person?
To Team Arrow’s credit, when Sara asks Dig and Smoak what she should do, they both say Sara should go deal with the Huntress herself.
At the courthouse, the interior of which looks a lot like a bus station, Helena attempts that ambush killing of her dad we all knew was coming. Bertinelli’s ready for her. He loudly says, “What are you waiting for?” twice and cops rush in.
Well, would you look at that. The cops were at this COUNTY COURTHOUSE all along! How could anyone have ever suspected?
It does appear that the Huntress was at least somewhat ready for this. She calls up her own gun-toting thugs to pop up and start shooting at the cops. They take over the lobby and the Huntress demands that her goons take hostages. Laurel gets trapped inside, but she isn’t a hostage.
Outside, more cops around the building and the camera gets shaky to show that it’s crisis time. Day turns into night and we get even more shaky camera inside an impromptu police crisis center. Not-the-DA grabs a police by the lapels and says, “This is not the way this was supposed to happen!” and “There were NOT supposed to be any casualties!” like someone’s piping cliches into an earpiece he’s wearing.
Officer Lance barrels in and starts yelling about how this plan put innocent lives at risk. The police captain says, “I was following orders.” OK, look. I apologize for everything I said about the Harley Quinn appearance last week. Compared to this, that was goddamn David Mamet.
Cops pull Lance and Ollie outside the tent, and Officer Lance immediately calls Arrow on the Arrowphone. Ollie’s phone starts ringing, and he holds it up to Lance, saying, “It’s my mom.”
The second Ollie puts his phone up to his ear, Arrow starts talking on the Arrowphone. There’s a good chance Quentin Lance is the dumbest person on Earth.
That call quickly ends and Ollie calls the Arrowcave to ask for his costume and about Sara. Canary, as you might suspect, is inside the courthouse, helping Laurel beat up some goon. Instead of instantly recognizing her sister by her chin alone, Laurel asks if Canary’s one of the good guys. Canary turns on a voice modulator and says she’s friends with them.
Verdant. Roy bumps into a guy and then pretty much breaks his shoulder for no good reason, almost certainly prompting a lawsuit that will shut the club down for good. After that, he walks over to Thea and tries to break up with her. Thea says no that seems to be that.
Back in the courthouse, Laurel and Canary hide in an office while Laurel figures out she was pretty much bait this whole time. She decides the best way to handle this is to fall off the wagon, and you know what, it’s hard to blame her.
“What about your sobriety?” Canary asks, and somehow it’s not the worst line in the episode because that police captain was “following orders” earlier. Laurel asks how Canary knows about that, and Canary points out the gigantic AA chip on Laurel’s keychain. Piano music. Laurel doesn’t drink.
Canary and Laurel head back out into the hallway. Canary calls Arrow to say she’s got Laurel and is on her way out, but Laurel puts a stop to that right quick, asking why she’s the only hostage they’re saving. “What is so special about me?” she asks. She’s about on par with her dad on the whole why-hasn’t-she-figured-these-identities-out front. Laurel insists on staying and helping the other hostages. Canary tells Arrow she’s going to stay and help, but Arrow says he doesn’t want Canary engaging with Huntress, because she’ll probably kill her. “You’re not a killer,” Arrow lies.
Flashback Island. Sara also lies and says Hendrick didn’t survive the siege of the Amazo. Slade calls her bluff and has his goon zap Ollie with a car battery. Slade threatens to kill Ollie if he doesn’t get Hendrick. Hendrick is not crazy about going back, so he pulls a gun on Sara. Middle management, am I right? The other prisoners, namely Knyazev, distract Hendrick long enough for Sara to conk him on the head and knock him out.
Back in the present, Huntress tortures all her hostages by mumbling at them about how she almost got married. It seems harrowing. Just as she’s about to kill a hostage, Canary tosses in one of her Canary Cry devices and breaks all the windows in the room. Huntress and Canary tussle (with real punches instead of hair pulling, which is a relief) while Laurel starts freeing hostages. Huntress wins this round. One of her henchmen grabs Laurel and Canary goes flying out a window.
She pulls off a pretty cool move where she catches herself with her crazy flip-blanket thing and lands safely. Arrow meets her and Laurel becomes an official hostage. Arrow calls up Huntress and tells her this whole thing isn’t going to end well; Huntress offers to trade Laurel for Bertinelli. The overarching theme of this episode is “trading people."
Verdant. Thea heads to the storeroom to get some vodka and finds Roy kissin’ on the floor manager who we just saw for the first time ever this episode. Clearly, he’s trying to manipulate her into breaking up with him, and it works. She throws the bracelet Roy gave her on the floor and storms out.
At Police HQ, a group of cops is taking Bertinelli to a safe house. Again, nobody can ever tell when anything is a trap. Officer Lance is just making it easy for Arrow and Canary to apprehend Bertinelli to take him back to Huntress. Arrow emphatically says no one is going to die tonight, though.
Courthouse again. Laurel is trying to tell a hostage who clearly doesn’t want to hear it that she’s going to be OK. Then she pipes up and starts talking directly to Huntress about that time they had dinner together last season. Laurel tries to bond with Huntress over their dead exes, and Huntress replies with more mumbles. It’s like they told Jessica De Gouw to try talking really quietly to hide her accent. It worked, but I still can’t understand a damn thing she’s saying.
Arrow calls Huntress to tell her they have her dad, and the shaky cam kicks into high gear. The police captain briefs his team to shoot anyone with a mask, and they all rush into the courthouse. When they think they’re found Huntress, they find it’s actually one of the hostages dressed up in her costume. Outside, Huntress, disguised as a cop, leads Laurel away at gunpoint.
The camera is shaking THE WHOLE TIME.
The police captain gets a call from an officer who tells him they’ve traced Laurel’s phone to “a machine shop at Gale Street and Simone.” That’s cute.
At that machine shop, Canary and Arrow meet up with Huntress for the trade. Huntress and her dad exchange some tough talk that I guess I’m supposed to care about. Huntress gets set to kill her dad. Arrow tries to stop her, but she basically says she’s gone off the deep end and is beyond help (it’s a pretty fair character assessment).
Everything gets interrupted with gunfire from a mystery shooter, but all that really succeeds in doing is setting up Huntress and Canary for another fight. (Oh, and Bertinelli dies, but who cares.) “Last time we did this, I threw you out a window,” Huntress says. Does she think Canary forgot what happened an hour ago, at most?
This time, Canary handily wins the fight.
Just as she’s about to land the killing blow, Laurel pops up and tells her to stop. She does.
Elsewhere, Officer Lance punches out the mystery shooter. The show never reveals who he is, because I guess it cares as much about Bertinelli’s death as I do.
Ollie goes to talk to Huntress in a police interrogation room. He says he was able to get in there because his family makes a donation to the police retirement fund and occasionally he gets a favor; you’d think they would have cashed that favor in when his mother was being arrested for murder or he was suspected of vigilantism, but nah. They used it for this.
Huntress says she doesn’t feel any retribution or satisfaction now that her dad’s dead. Ollie takes that opportunity to remind her that she’s a crazy murderer that can’t be helped. Weird response, Ollie! Then he tells her she’s not alone and a cop takes her away. I don’t know that I’ve ever used the phrase “character assassination” to refer to a fictional character, but Arrow pretty much did that to Huntress.
Flashback. Slade reveals the tattoo he put on Ollie’s back (to the audience, not to Ollie; it’s on his back). It’s the tattoo Shado had.
Sara calls and seems to indicate she’s going to hand over Hendrick.
In the present, Laurel goes to see DA Manhunter. The DA says not-the-DA has been fired and wasn’t authorized to rehire Laurel. Laurel pulls out some fancy extortion moves and demands her job back. Manhunter concedes, telling Laurel she’s impressed that she could blackmail her boss who is also an elected official. So many great lessons in heroism this episode.
At Verdant, Ollie tries to act sympathetic about Roy breaking up with Thea. Then Thea brings up how it seems like Moira is keeping secrets. THEN she says Ollie is the only person who doesn’t lie to her. Her dialogue might as well just be, “Hey, do you think there’s some dramatic irony going on right now?” And then Ollie would say, “Beats me!” and wink at the camera.
Dig and Smoak console Roy in the Arrowcave while Ollie and Sara congratulate themselves on how heroic they are.
But then things pick up. Slade pulls up next to Thea, who looks to be walking around in a junkyard, and offers her a ride. OH BOY.
This one was just plain terrible (please just chalk your attempt at the Huntress up as a loss, writers). I appreciated how prominently the show's women were featured in this one, but it also involved one of those women being told she's crazy and beyond help, and another being kidnapped yet again. I don't feel like they were served too well, and calling it "Birds of Prey" was just putting salt in the wound.
That said, the teaser for next week’s episode was “Get Slade…or GET SLAYED,” so I’m in pretty good spirits.