There is one hurdle in this episode of Arrow. If you vault it, you will have a ton of fun with "Vendetta," where the show's various couples enact Natural Born Killers, Spy vs Spy, and The Gift of the Magi respectively. The Huntress gets one hell of an introduction.
But still, there is one part of this episode, an idea running through it, that is just plain unworkable, that has to be overlooked for the episode to be any fun.
That idea is that Helena is somehow immoral and unacceptable, compared to Ollie. Arguably, her policy of killing the bigwigs and leaving the peons, the exact reverse of Ollie's method, is far more moral. They even have Ollie say to her that killing isn't his "opening move" — and then have him enter one sequence by shooting henchmen through the chest as his opening move.
Here's what I'm going to do with that idea. I'm going to wait until it checks into a hotel. I'm going to don a staff uniform and go to its room, offering it a bottle of wine on the house. I'm going to have it taste the wine, stumble in confusion, and then turn to me with a horrified realization dawning in its eyes. I'll catch it as it falls, to keep it from bruising, and cover my hair and hands. Using a tube, I'll pump more wine into its stomach. Run it a bath. Strip it. And then hold it under the water for ten minutes, all with a sort of vague smile on my face, as if I'm listening to music that's playing just a bit too far away.
Why will I do this? Because if you axe that one problem, this episode is the funnest thing ever. It's like an excellent version of the eighties movies that had titles like, "Dangerous Legs," or "Silent Whisper." There are so many scenes in this episode that would work well to the Top Gun soundtrack. And I am going to enjoy them.
We begin by the camera gradually focusing on Ollie and Helena, lying semi-on-top of each other. Helena opens her eyes, and silently gets out of bed. She is thirsting for . . . revenge. After she goes, Ollie follows. Helena attempts to shoot China White and the Boss Guy that's with her. Ollie jumps in, as noisily as possible, throws Helena to the ground behind some garbage cans, and then stands up into the gunfire. Does he get shot? Hell no! It's not that kind of episode, people! The gangsters retreat! Ollie drags Helena to Big Belly Burger, the preferred place to eat after a failed mob hit, and pitches her on his brand of justice. Her reply?
"Thank you for the coffee and the sex. But I am not interested."
I love that line so much that I want to propose a constitutional amendment that requires use of it in every coffee commercial from now on. Dig is not as pleased with it. He makes his displeasure known in several subsequent scenes, but I wanted to include this one because it shows Ollie doing the most mind-bending physical stuff ever. He starts out by doing a handstand — shirtless, natch. Then he goes to a bar and pulls himself up like a chin-up, only he pulls up all the way to his waist. He does this multiple times. He then grabs the bar and does chin-ups fast enough that he can pull out the bar off its shelf and re-seat it on higher and higher shelves. Damn. I feel like, behind the scenes, Stephen Amell must have added drama to this by doing the James Brown routine, where he pretends to be exhausted and has a crew member throw a cape over him and help him away, only to shrug the cape off and go on with the show.
The next morning Walter and Moira are starting their days. Moira makes an emotional speech about how the fact that she's tangentially involved in two mysterious deaths upset Walter, but swears she's still the same woman Walter married. He says he forgives her, but they have to be honest with each other going forward. If you look at this scene, there is a slight movement through a doorway in the background. That's the Queens' award-winning chef, Albert Le Cuke, preparing the batter for those words so he can serve them to Walter later.
Ollie decides that he is going to drag Helena to a grave, since so far they seem to get along best in graveyards. He shows her Sarah Lance's grave, and tells her the story of how he unthinkingly hurt people, and learned better on the island. The words don't matter. What matters is the way most of the scene is shot with a close up of their hands as they slowly clasp and intertwine. In front of the grave.
On to a sexy archery coaching sequence, which morphs, when Helena reasonably complains that Ollie is teaching her the least efficient way to shoot someone, into a playful sequence where Helena grabs random objects, throws them up in the air, and Ollie shoots them. The last time he gets a little over-eager and shoots a tennis ball out of her semi-closed hand, like a homicidal William Tell. For some reason she continues the scene with her pants un-crapped, but any chance of more sex (and coffee) is averted when Dig comes in. His attitude chases Helena away faster than her near-pin-cushioning. Dig looks after her for a moment and then says, "She knows my name. That's lovely." You could strike a match off of that delivery. Kudos, David Ramsey.
We get a brief break to our tertiary couple, Tommy and Laurel. Tommy wants to take Laurel to a fancy new restaurant. Laurel points out that he has no money. Tommy brushes her off, but Laurel says that he needs to find work, and suggests working for Ollie at the new club that Ollie is meant to be opening up. Tommy says he'll ask.
Over in Walter's office, Felicity trots in and says, over Walter's objections, that she traced the shell company that Moira created, and found that someone else has been doing the same. That someone left a specific symbol on the Queen database. So hacking is like cattle-rustling, I guess. You want to try to re-brand the stock. I'll just try to think of John Barrowman in a cowboy hat. Felicity's hard work and initiative gets her a yellin' at, but it's clear that Walter is concerned.
Ollie and Helena bust one of Frank Bertinelli's drug dealers who, I think, is trying to sell high grade oxycontin to teens. You'll have to think of a better name, dude. Ollie has outfitted Helena with a crossbow, because "guns are weapons of emotion and unpredictability." (Batman: "Stop stealing my bit, you low-rent Robin Hood! And I could do those pull-ups, too. I just don't want to.") He's also given her a leather coat, lined in purple, because she "likes purple." I like the coat. I would become a vigilante for Ollie for the wardrobe alone. As they see the cops take the guy away, there are many passionate vigilante kisses, and Ollie asks her what she thinks of meting out justice.
"I think this feels good. And not just the justice part."
God, I wish she had delivered that line dressed as Joan Collins during the Dynasty era. They make up for the lack when, the next day, she goes to comfort her father about his business contacts in a mini-dress and heels, and the camera starts out between her legs and she walks over it into frame. I dare anyone to watch that part of the episode without hallucinating saxophone music.
Back at the Queen mansion, Moira goes out for the evening, and Walter doesn't even wait until she closes the front door to the house before he's rummaging through her things. He doesn't find anything until he searches the grandfather clock. (Batman: "Damnit, Queen Family. Keep stealing from me. Go ahead. Test me. I am vengeance! I am the night! I am — you're going to steal that, aren't you?") In the clock, Walter finds a version of the book that Ollie got - completely blank. He takes it to Felicity, and asks her to decipher what it means, warning her that the last person he hired to look at this was dead before he got his Screen Actors Guild card in the mail. She takes the news very well, and soon comes back with special glasses that can see UV light. Walter puts them on and sees the names. I hope to see more of the Walter-Felicity team. I especially love Walter's air of martyred patience as she babbles her way to her point. He's like a dorm resident adviser who patiently holds back the hair of the incoming freshmen as they vomit, "There, there. Just get it out. No, it's fine. I didn't have anything to do this evening, anyway."
Tommy and Laurel are attempting to get a table at the new restaurant, but with no bribin' money, it's tough. Helena and Ollie show up, and invite them to join their date in a move that at least three of the people there should have known was a bad idea. We cut to dessert. And about two lines into the scene the entire date turns into a cluster-flambé so fast and confused I can't even describe it. Suffice it to say that Tommy didn't ask Ollie for a job, but Laurel thinks he did. And Helena, throughout this, slowly realizes whose sister's grave they were standing over, and how not over it is between Ollie and Laurel. It ends with Tommy storming off in one direction, Helena in the other, and Ollie awkwardly paying the check.
Tommy apologizes to Laurel. He says he was only acting like a jerk because he wants what's best for Laurel. And Laurel manages to convince him that she and Ollie are over, and that it's okay to ask a friend for help. She was only pushing him because she wants what's best for him.
Helena is not in the apologizing mood. She's in the killing-mobsters mood. To be fair, if I were cheated out of dessert, I would feel much the same. She kills China White's Boss Guy, and instructs an underling to, "Tell your mistress that Frank Bertinelli sends his regards."
China White attacks the Bertinelli compound. Ollie jumps into the fray. He manages to shoot China in the leg (Good going, Arrow! I didn't see that coming. My theory about a reluctance to show Ollie roughing up a woman was off-base.), but Frank gets to the lawn, where Helena hunts him down. She shoots him in the leg, but before she can kill him, Ollie stops her. They engage in a fight where she gets tossed around in a series of throws that look pretty cool, but also look like they'd be so much fun to do. If I were one of those actors, I would have a hard time not yelling "Wheeeeee!" Frank cuts the fight short by grabbing Helena's crossbow and shooting her in the back.
Ollie gets her back to the Arrow-cave, treats her wound, which looks to be mostly in the shoulder, tells her that Frank Bertinelli will be going to jail because of a laptop the arriving police found on the compound, and makes a last pitch to get her on his side. He makes one good point, which is that Helena really shouldn't try to kill her own father. That's fair. I don't have many data points on that. As far as I can tell, only Oedipus did it, and he did not turn out well. Helena is not convinced. She tells him to leave her alone, or she'll expose his secret, and walks out there with a an pouty femme-fatale fury that is only more admirable for the fact that she has a hole going all the way through her shoulder.
Ollie stops off at home, where Tommy confides to him that his father cut him off. Ollie says, "My trust fund is your trust fund," which is the most fabulously eighties line of the entire episode. Tell me that that line shouldn't be said by some guy named Blaine while Molly Ringwald rolls her eyes in the background. Tommy says that he doesn't want money. He wants a job. Ollie says he's hired. Tommy asks if the job comes with dental because, "This smile wasn't cheap." Tell me about it. I can kind of see why they shot Colin Donnell and John Barrowman's scene together last week in the shade. If those two guys stood next to each other in the sunlight and smiled they'd create a glare that you could see from space.
And last is a scene where Ollie is sitting dejectedly at Big Belly Burger, stuffing his face with chili fries. Dig arrives, and makes the superhuman effort needed to not tell Oliver Queen "I told you so." Instead he kindly says, "You opened up. Took a risk with your heart. The Oliver Queen I knew a few weeks ago wouldn't do that." They discuss Helena for a bit, and Ollie says the final line of the episode to the perfect final image.
"I have a feeling that I will be seeing her again."
As Helena rides off into the night on her awesome motorcycle!
Oh yes. You ended that episode right, Arrow. You ended it right.