Arrow: Birds of Prey review

The Huntress returns to Starling City, and Black Canary and Green Arrow have it in for her. Here's our "Birds of Prey" review...

Arrow breaks out more DC Universe guns this week with the return of Helena Bertinelli (Jessica De Gouw), known by her nom-du-mobster-killing, The Huntress. The Huntress is back in town to take out her Dad, the gangster who set her off on her revenge-killing spree. A reasonably action-packed (if somewhat logic-defying) episode ensues, and “Birds of Prey” made for some good, although not exceptional, viewing. Spoilers may appear without warning throughout the rest of this review, so please don’t kill me with a small crossbow if you haven’t seen “Birds of Prey” yet.

As my name does indeed end in a vowel, I got a chuckle out of Officer Lance referring to trying to book somebody on “the goombah trifecta.” Felicity, however, should know that the plural of mafioso is mafiosi. Oh, who am I kidding? She rules. In fact, Arrow displayed more of that slowly burgeoning sense of humor again this week, with two gags that either hinged on or were delivered outright by Felicity. The first was her description of the Huntress and her crimes, which included the magic words “ex-girlfriend,” prompting a smirky reaction from Sara, and a perfectly timed, “That’s what you took from that sentence?” from Ollie. The other was her suggestion to Sara that “if the Huntress shows up, you should totally kick her ass.” The enthusiastic nod from Diggle (who had about one line of dialogue this week) was gold. Also, Ollie’s “I was a frat boy.” Of course he was.

Anyone else a little tired of Roy and his miraclo mirakuru induced rage issues? Maybe it’s because we go weeks and weeks without anything from him, so that when we’re dropped back in and he’s still doing the immaculately-groomed-but-really-angry thing it feels like he should have gotten over it already. I got a good laugh out of his crack at Ollie about the bowl of water, though. I just feel that if they’re really dedicated to pursuing this line with Roy, he needs to be in every episode, otherwise it just throws the pacing off.

This was a fairly Black Canary heavy episode, which makes sense given who else was involved and the fact that the episode was entitled “Birds of Prey.” Caity Lotz has grown into the role quite well (although now she’s adopted one of those irritating voice-modifiers to fool her apparently quite gullible sister), and can kick ass with the best of them. The thing is, she wants to kill folks who take shots at her Dad (understandable), which means she wants to kill the Huntress since she will conceivably put her Dad in danger (also understandable). The thing is, Ollie is on his “no killing” kick, which is cool and all, but clearly that extends to his crimefighting and romantic partner. He keeps telling her “You’re not a killer!” Even Laurel, after knowing her for about fifteen minutes, gives her the “You’re not a killer” line. I’m sorry…wasn’t Canary in the League of Assassins? What was she? A nurse?

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There’s always a danger when we focus on Laurel this season. Several dangers, really. In fact, the more I think about it, the more dangers there are. The first danger is that Laurel has not been the most sympathetic character this year. The second is that a focus on Laurel also means a focus on her addiction issues, which have never particularly rung true and have always felt like they were just shoehorned in to give her something else to chew on since she wouldn’t be Ollie’s primary love interest this season. The third is that they’re really doing their damndest to make us think Laurel isn’t too bright, aren’t they? I mean, how much time in extraordinarily close proximity with a non-hooded vigilante who is her sister does she need to spend in order to put two and two together? 

The fourth is that a focus on Laurel now that she’s in recovery means we’re going to also have to focus on Starling City’s legal system again, which is far less believable than the idea of superheroes running around that town in the first place. I was under the impression that if you try and blackmail a DA, you get, y’know, in big trouble…not your job back. Then again, this is the same legal apparatus that saw no possible conflict of interest with Laurel prosecuting the capital murder trial of her ex-boyfriend’s mother, so clearly, what do I know? I would like to point out that Katie Cassidy is doing a fine job with this thankless role, though.

Speaking of the Starling City legal system: let’s not forget that Starling City is located in a death penalty state. Which means that instead of getting the chair or whatever it is they do in Starling, Helena is probably headed for a big, incompetently prosecuted show trial, where she will surely be exonerated and can then pursue a career in politics. ahem…sorry. What I mean is, Helena is in serious legal trouble, and won’t be walking out of Iron Heights any time soon. Unless somebody (like Amanda Waller, perhaps?) breaks her out or offers her a deal. Unless some angry paisan from all the dudes she iced in Palermo decides to just put the hit on her behind bars. They can do that, you know.

All in all, there’s nothing terribly wrong with “Birds of Prey” (although I suppose I could be a snot and say that this one had a bit of a misleading title), but it does nothing to really distinguish it as a particularly great episode of Arrow. Plenty of action, though. But after the great one-two punch of “The Promise” and “Suicide Squad” the return to an explicitly Starling City focused, kind of relationship-y episode of Arrow felt, not exactly like a step down…more like it was a little overcooked. They really tried to do a lot this week, and I’m not sure everything quite connected.

On the other hand, it’s definitely the strongest episode to feature the Huntress (her season one spotlights, despite the fact that this is an interesting character with a solid connection to Oliver, weren’t my favorites) so far, and I think the show could do with more of her. In fact, while I wouldn’t necessarily buy the conclusion of “Birds of Prey” as “the rehabilitation of Helena Bertinelli” it’s a step in the right direction. And as we’ve seen with Slade Wilson’s character, Arrow isn’t afraid to do the slow turn with some of their characters.

DC Universe Watchtower:

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– More non-lethal arrows! Bring on the boxing glove arrow! Alright, maybe not.

– Yes, that was indeed the corner of Gail and Simone we heard over the police band. It’s great to hear Gail get a shout, and I really hope to see more episodes inspired by her work. You could do a whole season on the Secret Six, for example… 

– Calling Roy “Speedy” in the heat of the moment was a little forced, but, eh, I’ll take it.

– The target of the opening raid was Hugo Mannheim. I wonder if he’s any relation to Bruno? I don’t see any reason that an Intergang subplot couldn’t work in a future Arrow season, but I’m getting ahead of myself, as I tend to do. Look, if Lois and Clark could do it…

– Kinda digging Canary’s “sonic scream/Canary Cry” device.

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– By the way, does the absence of Sin on an episode entitled “Birds of Prey” annoy anyone other than me?

– I wonder if there’s even a remote chance that Kate Spencer is going to do the vigilante thing at any point in this show.

– Can anyone tell me what the larger significance of Mr. Hendrick is? They’ve gotta be going somewhere with this guy…

You know the drill, boys and girls! Drop by in the comments and let me know what I missed. I’m sure there was something (there usually is), and I’m a little pressed for time this week. Don’t worry, I’ll be fighting fit in time for “Deathstroke” next week. You’ve been warned.

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Rating:

3.5 out of 5