TV Review: Arrow: Season 2: Episode 17: Birds of Prey (CW)

MY GOD!? What’s taking Patrick so long with the Birds of Prey review? Said no one… Regardless, it’s been that kind of week. Fear not dear readers. I have seen […]

MY GOD!? What’s taking Patrick so long with the Birds of Prey review? Said no one… Regardless, it’s been that kind of week. Fear not dear readers. I have seen Birds of Prey and I do have some thoughts. The basic gist of the episode is that the Huntress is back in town and this time she’s got some competition in Sara Lance. It’s old girlfriend meets new girlfriend. Well, that’s what they’re going to tell you. That’s not actually what the episode is about. Birds of Prey is still accurate as a title, but the “Birds” in this case turns out to be the big surprise when Sara and LAUREL’S dynamic ends up making the episode.  Birds of Prey

The setup ties in to the Deathstroke arc pretty well, as the episode starts with Sara and Oliver, fearing Slade’s plan, deciding to keep a closer eye on their families and loved ones. They start with Detective Lance, who is in the middle of a police raid, and could probably use the help. It turns out that one of the people in the middle of the raid turns out to be none other than Frank Bertinelli (Guest star Jeffrey Nordling). This means that Huntress (guest star Jessica DeGouw) is most likely on her way back to Starling. It’s a simple setup that takes a step forward towards the goal of the episode, which is to get Canary and Huntress in the same room. It’s not the only thing going on, but it take the majority of the run-time. There and two other small arcs that focus on Sara’s time of the island after escaping the AMAZO, and Roy having to reason what he does with Oliver, the Mirakuru in his blood, and his relationship with Thea. The main arc gets about 85% of the episode, while the side stories split the remaining 15. It evens out pretty well, and honestly would have been a good policy in the episode Suicide Squad.

There are a lot of different bad guys in the main arc, what with the Huntress and her team, Adam Donner (guest star Dylan Bruce) who pretty much commits recurring character suicide, and an odd duck in Captain Stein (guest star Lochlyn Monroe) who has an obsessive hatred for masked vigilantes, but not one of them ties to Slade or the main arc. It’s a nice breath of fresh air that gives the haunting events of the last episode time to sink in (The Arrow team really knows how to extend the audience’s interest in their villains). Dig and Felicity take sidelines in the episode, but still remain rooted enough in the story to provide useful, and entertaining commentary. It helps alleviate the tension coming from Sara’s moral ambiguity character arc, which Caity Lotz nails. The scenes between her and the Huntress are incredibly entertaining, as well. This includes the fighting, which the director, doubles, choreographers, and Lotz and DeGouw themselves fortunately keep just as Birds of Preybrutal and fast paced as the fights involving the male characters.

The point of the episode is obviously the dynamic between the Canary and Huntress, as evidenced by the title, but ends up finding a much more substantial chemistry in Canary and Laurel. This is the first time that Sara as the Canary has been face to face with Laurel, and though it takes a fair amount of suspension of disbelief to buy Laurel not figuring out that it’s her sister, it’s still well handled and realistic to the characters. Laurel’s fighting ability is also on display, which hasn’t been touched on enough this season and does wonders for her character. Speaking of which, Katie Cassidy and the writing team are finally showing the signs of dragging the character of Laurel back from the brink. She holds her footing on the story without coming off as too damsely, and there’s also a really interesting nod to a possible villainous turn. It seems like it could really work, and has the potential to create an interesting future arc. Oliver doesn’t get a whole lot to do beyond brooding, but Amell reminds us why he’s the namesake for the show by using the minor part he has to it’s fullest, also revealing some character flaws that comic fans would find familiar, including a hypocrisy that Sara pulls out of him in a tense scene that finds a humorous conclusion thanks to an opinionated Felicity and Diggle. In fact, everyone seems to use their parts to the fullest, no matter how large or small they are. Jessica DeGouw gives a memorable and multilayered performance as the Huntress. Paul Blackthorne really bites in to his tough, yet disillusioned cop like never before. And as usual, Coloton Haynes’ ‘Roid Rage Roy comes off as genuine, portraying the effects of the Mirakuru as more of a curse than a blessing.  IMG_0029

And boy, what a curse! Oliver takes Roy out for a night to confront the Huntress as she makes her way back in to town. But the lead turns out to be a dead end, and they end up finding a trigger happy decoy. Roy loses his temper after taking a gunshot wound to the hand, and nearly tears the man apart. He’s only stopped by Oliver shouting “Speedy!” reminding him of Thea and snapping him out of it. Seeing Roy’s rage is just a bad as ever, Oliver tells him that he needs to stop seeing her, but Thea’s refusal at his breakup attempt leads to a creative work around that he will find much harder to come back from. First of all, I was opposed to Colton Haynes as Roy when he was first announced. I wasn’t even convinced when the first season ended. But now that he has been thrown headfirst in to the main storyline, and been the unfortunate byproduct of such, I’m really seeing his potential as an actor and a character. In fact, his rage is so well conveyed that it oftentimes feels unsettling to see, and that really pushes the negative associations with the Mirakuru home, and prevents the benefits from being seen as glamorous. It’s a great performance, that Willa Holland compliments with her character’s caring nature and quick wit. And because the strength of the connection between the characters and what they’ve been through is so significant, the impact of their separation, thanks in no small part to Thea’s reaction, really hits the right buttons. The side story works exceedingly well, despite it’s short run-time, and starts a ripple effect showing how the seemingly isolated event will lead in to the next episode.

IMG_0034This time on the island Sara has to make a decision that will put her on the path to becoming a killer. That’s not entirely accurate, but you see a shift from her character from the beginning and end of the episode. While torturing Oliver, (like you do…) Slade gets the news that the engine was damaged in the attack, and he’s unable to use the AMAZO to escape the island. Unfortunately he “decapitated the engineer” and the only one who can fix it is Hendrick. This is the same Hendrick who escaped the freighter with the others though. So Slade uses Oliver as a bargaining chip to try and get Sara to hand Hendrick over. This is an insanely difficult decision for her to have to make. It’s either let the man she loves die, or let that one guy who’s been nothing but mean to her, and even tried to kill her once…die… Okay, so it isn’t that difficult, but it’s still sending a man to his death. It’s an idea that Sara becomes more comfortable with as the story progresses, but never becomes fully okay with. It isn’t till the very end of the episode that we see how much Sara’s personality has changed, and how she’s started to become the person that she will one day be. The island flashbacks take up such a small percentage of the episode, but Manu IMG_0051Bennett, Caity Lotz, and David Nykl keep the show storyline from getting stale. It’s such a simple yet effective origin that leaves just enough to the imagination to prove memorable.

Birds of Prey is great. It has a simple hook, and interesting villain, and dash of humor and even some heartbreak. It succeeds at everything that it sets out to do, and even delivers Laurel back from the pit. It’s fun and fast and has some kick ass fights. The biggest success though is in it’s consistency. The story doesn’t get too complicated, overpopulated, and doesn’t overextend itself in to the main arc. There’s a great lead in and exit, and the final scene only makes the anticipation for the next episode even greater. In short, it’s more great stuff from Arrow. But did you expect any less?

-PS

Arrow airs Wednesday nights 8 PM/7 PM C only on the CW©

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http://www.cwtv.com/shows/arrow

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