Arrow episode 8 review: Vendetta

Arrow's Vendetta sees the show take another step in the right direction. Here's Caroline's review...

This review contains spoilers.

1.8 Vendetta

We’re one week away from the mid-season Christmas-themed finale, and the penultimate instalment is all about solidifying the characters and relationships we’ve been introduced to so far. Tommy and Laurel are going strong, Oliver and Helena not so much, but the main achievement of this episode is making absolutely everyone more likeable than they’ve been so far. Oliver even cracks a smile at certain points, and almost everyone is friends by the end. That is, everyone except Helena, as she rides off into the night in a very foul mood.

The first scene of the episode repeats much of what we saw last week, with Oliver and Helena arguing about the difference between vengeance and justice. Anything Oliver has to say comes across entirely hypocritical of course, as he’s been waltzing around Starling City snapping necks since day one. This week is actually the first time Oliver appears normal and well-adjusted in contrast to his thoroughly damaged partner in crime, and this may just be a move on the writers’ part to make him more relatable and less troubling for the audience. I prefer it for now, but I hope they don’t sap the darkness out of him.

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His relationship with Helena, who this week gets to wear her purple Huntress costume, is still genuinely interesting, but I had some trouble with the romantic drama between them. When they’re out fighting crime, the dynamic between them is electric and compelling, but her storming out of the restaurant during a particularly awkward double date just seemed out of character. I know she has some trust issues, but shouldn’t an ass-kicking superheroine be a bit more secure in these situations? It also brings up the annoying love triangle between Oliver, Laurel and Tommy.

Despite her best efforts, Helena doesn’t manage to follow through on her plans. Things kick off with the triad before the end but, despite pinning her father down with an arrow to his head, Oliver can’t let her kill her own flesh and blood. It probably has more to do with Oliver’s desire for a partner that he can be honest with, and if she had murdered her own father in a fit of revenge she would have been too far gone. But, even without that little push, he surmises that she’s already over the edge, and time will tell whether she’ll return as a villain or a potential companion for our hero.

Elsewhere, Tommy and Laurel’s relationship is going from strength to strength. Their slightly mundane problems are a weird distraction from the action going on with Oliver, but it’s nice to have a little levity each week. It’s a smart move to get the audience on side with this romance since all love triangles are better when both sides are equally viable, but I don’t see it lasting. If the show follows the comics, Tommy will most likely become some kind of villain in the end, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this affects the relationship between the three core characters.

All in all, this was a more human Oliver Queen, and the closing scene between him and Diggle in the diner might have been the sweetest moment we’ve seen so far. He can’t stay that earnest forever, so I feel this is a step in the right direction for both the character and the show. 

Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Muse of Fire, here.

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