Arrow S02E17: “Birds of Prey” Review

Jessica De Gouw as The Huntress
Credit: The CW

I know WarnerTV Asia (Starhub Channel 515) will only be showing episode 16, “Suicide Squad” next Monday, 31 March at 9pm Singapore time, but the following episode of the hit television show Arrow just screamed to be discussed as soon as it finished airing here in the US.

Marketed as the first meeting of Black Canary (Caity Lotz) and the Huntress (Jessica De Gouw) in the Arrow universe, it promised to be an electrifying return for the vengeful vigilante Helena Bertinelli, who was last seen leaving Starling City in the first season. Not to mention the episode title, “Birds of Prey”! Was it just a nod to the fans, or did it tease a future team-up or spin-off? Find out in our review of this week’s much-anticipated episode!

Spoilers abound, naturally. You have been warned.

If the arrival of Nyssa Raatko (played by Katrina Law of Spartacus fame) in episode 13, “Heir to the Demon”, gave new depth to Sara Lance, aka the Black Canary (Lotz), it is the return of the Huntress (De Gouw) that reminds us that there’s still a lot about Starling City that Sara has yet to be introduced to. Like the fact that she too knows the alter ego of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), and that Black Canary isn’t the first woman to don a domino mask and fight alongside him.

Queen finds himself struggling to deny that he might once again be allying with someone who doesn’t find it necessary to play the hero. When Sara’s sister Laurel is held hostage by Helena, Black Canary is determined to rescue her at any cost, even if it means eliminating the Huntress once and for all.

Caity Lotz as Black Canary
Credit: The CW

I cannot get over how much Caity Lotz brings to the character of Sara Lance. Though given much less to work with in this episode compared to the significant character development in “Heir to the Demon”, she continues to portray Black Canary as the passionate and impulsive character she is in the comics. Lotz brings an innate likeability to an otherwise hardened character.

Lotz also has a ready chemistry with Amell that make the on-off relationship between Arrow and Canary worth rooting for, but it is really her ability to  portray Sara’s toughness (in the present) and fragility (in flashbacks)  that make her perfect for the role. She’s definitely come a long way since her role in the ill-fated series Death Valley.

Jessica De Gouw as The Huntress
Credit: The CW

It is great to see Jessica De Gouw return to the series and reprise the role of Helena Bertinelli. Just over a year after her character’s last appearance on the show, De Gouw plays Helena with a lot more confidence and depth, no doubt gained from her leading role as Mina Murray in the new series Dracula. In the span of just one episode, De Gouw reminds us why the Huntress is to be feared, yet also giving her enough humanity to make her a sympathetic figure, one that I hope will have many more opportunities to make an appearance on the show.

Unfortunately, the much talked-about title of the episode appears only to be a nod to the fans, a recognition of the storied history between Huntress and Black Canary as an established team. Though the episode’s epilogue may have suggested a small possibility that Helena might someday return to fight alongside Oliver Queen and Sara Lance, she was undoubtedly the episode’s main antagonist. In addition, there was no real hint of the third main member of the Birds of Prey, Oracle, and any opportunity to make either Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) or Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) into Arrow‘s version of Barbara Gordon was avoided. Fan-disappointment aside, the episode (and the show in general) just wasn’t ready for that yet – there are much more pertinent matters at hand than fanservice.

After all, next week’s episode isn’t entitled “Deathstroke” for nothing.

Special Correspondent for

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