Helena Bertinelli is back! She teaches everyone around her a lesson in pain, but gives the viewer lessons in delight. Never was there character who more perfectly embodies the the idea that violence solves everything.
I have been a bit testy with Arrow lately. It seemed to have pulled away from real conflicts towards silly misunderstandings and power pouting. But this episode is different. This episode has Helena Bertinelli, and she is so much fun that every time I saw her it seemed like someone was blasting "Rock You Like a Hurricane." Girl gets things done, including fixing the various tangled relationships in the show.
Her awesomeness transcends time itself; even the flashback seems heavily influenced by her. Slade and Ollie make a raid on the massive missile launcher that they saw in the last episode, by first getting sympathy — Ollie puts on a mask and pretends to have taken Slade hostage — and then wreaking havok. Slade pulls out two guns and, at last, uses them as they were intended, dropping six guards in a scene that can only be described as "so cool it makes me forgive the wig they put on poor Stephen Amell in every flashback." In the end, Ollie supplies some know-how, and steals the circuit board from the launcher. They use it as leverage — another Helena concept — to try to get Fyers to let them off the island.
Thea and Roy's relationship also owes a debt to Helena's proud tradition of violence and taunting. Thea provides the taunting, as she runs into Roy several times, and steadily works her way down a list of things billionaire heiresses should legally forbidden to say. Things like, "I have a job . . . you should try it sometime," and "Why are you so obsessed with me having money?" Roy, meanwhile, provides the violence. Two guys try to mug Thea (I feel so sorry for actors who have to play the part of convenient muggers in romance situations. They always have to say the most PG threatening things and then kind of awkwardly leer while waiting for the leading man to come and, in this case, parkour their asses into oblivion).
Roy gets stabbed while flipping, and Thea takes him to the hospital, where they continue bickering. I only mention this because when Roy insists he and Thea aren't friends, the doctor, dry as toast, says, "Let me get you stitched up and you can decide what you are or aren't." Ha! I love you, fake doctor! I want to hang out and watch TV with you. I like to think that, when Thea gives Roy a kiss to distract him from the needle, the doctor gets in a big ol' eye roll.
But now on to Helena! If I recall, my complaint the last time I saw her was that everyone treated her like an evil psycho even though she wasn't any worse than Ollie. That's fixed. They've exchanged her slight tendency to kill mobsters for absolute moral bankruptcy and blow-the-doors-off-the-joint lunacy. There are scenes when she's being a murder machine and all of a sudden, bam! Puppy eyes. Then back to the murdering! It's glorious to watch.
She starts a little weak, in a strip club, luring her dad's lawyer into a private room. I'm not so pleased with her spangly cross outfit, but I get enthused when she trades it for a spangly crossbow. When she can't get the lawyer to give her the location of her father — who is going into witness protection — she kills him and moves on... right to Ollie's house. Ollie barely has the time to learn that she's back in town when he finds her chatting on the couch to his sister and giving him coy little cheek kisses in front of his mother. The house is already too oedipal, Helena. Leave that alone.
When that doesn't get him to agree to help her find and kill her father, she kidnaps Tommy on the opening night of Verdant, Ollie's club, and does some literal arm-twisting. While Tommy slowly gets his wrist broken, Helena and Ollie get into a nostril-flaring, teeth-baring ethics-off.
"I tried to teach to you to obtain your objective without killing!"
"I'm applying leverage by exploiting someone's weaknesses."
And then, screams of pain from Tommy. I wish every debate were like this. It would make for riveting presidential campaigns.
Helena carries the day. She also, I like to think, finally gets Tommy to reach inside himself with that broken wrist and pull out the poutiness. (I won't say from where.) After he realizes how miserable it is to lie about his injuries to Laurel, he gives Ollie a break.
In the Arrowcave the next day, Helena gets Digg and Ollie to tell her about where her father is. Felicity, walking in at an inopportune moment, says that she'd love to hack into the FBI database.
Ollie: "Get out!" *long pause* "Get out!"
Felicity backs away. The interruptions sets something up for later in the episode, but I would have loved for that moment to be Felicity's only scene. It was like her being booed offstage. It was comedy gold. What makes it better is Helena cranking the crazy up a notch because she thinks Felicity is also involved with Oliver.
They find out that Frank is being transferred in a van, with another van going out as a decoy. The plan is that Ollie and Helena will each take one of the two vans. Ollie's van is empty. Helena's van contains no Frank Bertinelli, but one Quentin Lance and one McKenna Hall, both of which will really regret arresting Helena — possibly even in the next scene!
The regret starts early. When they ask her to name The Hood, she immediately tells them it's Oliver Queen. They don't believe her. That kind of response would frustrate me, but Helena coughs up a speech so outright evil that I'm surprised her tongue doesn't turn into a snake. She turns to McKenna and says, "He uses people. He used me. He'll use you. He used the Detective here's daughter. Excuse me. Daughters."
You know when you fall, and take all the skin of your shin or your elbow, and your only reaction is to laugh because it stings so much? That's my reaction to this. That was rat-bastard mean, Helena. The Devil just handed you his horns. You win. You rule hell, and he'll take over your shift at the strip club. He'll probably do pretty well. It's not like anyone will fail to tip Satan.
Ollie busts Helena out of the police station, hands her a plane ticket, and tells her to get out of town. Helena prefers to find Felicity, because Ollie was a doofus and said her name when he ordered her out of the Arrow cave. Felicity hacks into the FBI system and locates the safe house.
You know that scene at the police station in Terminator when Schwarzenegger takes the truck through the front window? It's a difficult moment, because the good guys are getting killed, but damn is it badass. Watching Helena storm the safe house is kind of like that, but with crossbows and shotguns instead of a truck. She goes through that place like a shark through a kiddie pool. A faceless extra in an orange suit flees into the night, presumably meant to be Helena's father. She chases him out of the house, but before she can gun him down, Ollie jumps in and shoots an arrow at her. And she catches it. Bad. Ass.
Then she gives him the big, sad eyes and says, "You would have killed me." Oh shine on you crazy diamond. I can't believe it, but Ollie actually seems to fall for this before he shakes it off and starts punching.
Ollie wins the fight that ensues, but just as he's about to arrow his ex-girlfriend, his new girlfriend shows up — and is shot by Helena. Helena flees, and Ollie thinks about his many romantic errors.
McKenna ends up moving to Coast City for the foreseeable future to get physical therapy for the gunshot wound. She breaks up with Ollie. I'm sorry to see her go, but let's face it, you can't start a show with Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance and have them hook up with other people forever. We were just marking time with this relationship; bring on the Dinah and Ollie.
But which Dinah? As many people mentioned last episode, Dinah Lance Senior is played by the incomparable Alex Kingston. (What's that, Who fans? You liked her as River Song? Well I liked her as Moll Flanders. That was 1996. Beat that.) So far she hasn't had much to do. Quentin, possibly prodded by the fact that his daughters were playboy fodder, decides to look into Dinah's insistence that Sarah is still alive. She has a map of where Ollie crashed, and there are a chain of islands. She also has a photo of a woman that looks very much like Sarah. Could she be alive? Quentin seems cautiously optimistic. I don't care. I just want Kingston to be Black Canary and fight Barrowman's Merlyn in the final episode. Come on. Give this to me, CW. Give this to me and I'll never complain about the 20-something romance plots again!