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Arrow 1.17 "The Huntress Returns" Review: A Tale of Two Archers

            Tonight’s episode of Arrow, “The Huntress Returns,” was written by Jake Coburn and Lana Cho and was directed by Guy Bee. While the episode had some great actions sequences, particularly the motorcycle chase and the fight between the Hood and the Huntress, and some good performances, this was still not one of my favorite episodes.
            The Huntress wasn’t my favorite villain, but I thought Jessica De Gouw’s performance in this episode was much improved from her previous appearances. She also provided a really good foil to Oliver – even more so than previously because now we can see how far away from that type of vigilante that Oliver has come. If Oliver didn’t have Diggle (David Ramsey) in particular, it’s easy to see how he might have strayed down a similar path. Oliver asks Diggle if Diggle wouldn’t be motivated by revenge if he could kill the man who killed his brother. Diggle denies that he would go on a killing spree even as he urges Oliver to kill Helena. Oliver justifies helping Helena if he can “contain her and minimize collateral damage.” Diggle is worried that Oliver still has romantic feelings for Helena. Diggle understands what motivates Oliver. Oliver has friends and family that he cares about and that proves to be very much a double-edged sword. They are both what keep him grounded and on the right track and what make him vulnerable. 
            Leverage is actually a theme that runs through both the present and the flashback storyline in the episode. It’s interesting that while Helena shows up at his home and makes threats against his family, in the end it is only his friends that she actually goes after. In the end, Oliver isn’t able to kill Helena. She is driven by personal revenge and is actually trying to kill her own father. It was interesting that Helena had better information about her father’s witness protection program than Oliver, Diggle and Felicity were able to procure. It will be interesting going forward to see if Moira’s (Susanna Thompson) actions will ever drive Oliver in a similar direction. Somehow, I think that however hurt Oliver is by her actions – which are still not clear even to us – he would never be able to kill someone he cares about. Helena accuses Oliver of still having feelings for her, but it seems more likely that he still feels guilty for not having been able to turn her from her path of revenge. Ultimately, the best leverage that Helena has is her potential to expose Oliver as the Hood.
            Whatever the reason, Oliver hesitates to shoot Helena resulting in McKenna (Janina Gavankar) getting shot and seriously wounded. I felt that the McKenna plot was a bit contrived. She seemed to give up on their relationship too easily after having just told him that they could find a way to make it work. It’s possible that she does suspect that he may be the Hood and is therefore walking away to help protect him.
            The action on the Island finds Oliver taking the circuit board out of the rocket launcher  to give Oliver enough leverage to demand Fyers (Sebastian Dunn) provide them with a way off the Island. I’m intrigued to know what Fyers is up to with the rocket launcher. Is he actually trying to start a war as Wilson (Manu Bennett) speculates? Will Wilson and Oliver leave the Island without stopping whatever it is that Fyers is mixed up in? Wilson provides a nice parallel to Diggle in some ways, teaching and mentoring Oliver. Both Bennett and Ramsey have great chemistry with Amell.
            As always, Amell’s scenes with Colin Donnell (Tommy) are fantastic. Tommy finally explains that his issue with Oliver is not that he didn’t tell him about his “secret” identity but that Oliver is a murderer, and for Tommy, there isn’t a good reason for that. I would think that Tommy’s issue with the murders also has to be tied up in the fact that the people Oliver has murdered have almost all been in their immediate social circle as those tied up in the “undertaking.” Helena breaking Tommy’s arm is almost a blessing in that it allows Tommy to see that Oliver and the Hood are not like The Huntress. By the end of the episode, Tommy admits to Oliver that he’s been a “jerk” and has finally considered the toll that being the Hood must be taking on Oliver. Oliver tells Tommy that he was wrong in thinking that he could have it both ways and that he’s going to have to be alone to keep the people close to him safe. Tommy knows him too well and tells that Oliver will never be happy if he is alone. Oliver responds that his being happy isn’t important.
            I don’t think that Oliver has yet considered the toll keeping his secret is likely to have on those around him either. Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) is hurt in the episode, and keeping Oliver’s secret is already causing problems between Laurel (Katie Cassidy) and Tommy. 
            It seems that the Lance family is about to embark on a major story arc. Laurel gets Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) to meet her for breakfast. After they both apologize to each other, Dinah (Alex Kingston) joins them, showing the evidence she has that makes her believe that Sarah is still alive. By the end of the episode, Quentin is on board to try to pursue the leads even though he fears going through his daughter’s death all over again. We still don’t know the exact circumstances of Dinah’s having left yet, and no doubt that will fold into this plot thread going forward.
            Another developing plot thread is between Thea (Willa Holland) and Roy (Colton Haynes). Thea keeps trying to help him and he continues to resist, but he does get stabbed, saving her from being attacked. Curiously, he is afraid of needles – which may be a factor of his mother’s drug addiction – so Thea distracts him by kissing him. In the comics, Roy Harper becomes the Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy, but this week’s episode has Thea being called Speedy – as a nickname – twice. Roy Harper was also known as the Red Arrow in Justice League of America. I’m hoping we’ll have more women on the side of the good guys, so maybe we are being set up to see Thea become Speedy and Roy become Red Arrow with both of them helping Oliver...
            While there was a lot to like about this week’s Arrow, I didn’t find it as tightly written as previous episodes. It has opened up some intriguing possibilities going forward, however. What did you think of “The Huntress Returns”? Let me know in the comments below.

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