Arrow provided another action-packed and plot twisting episode last night with “Vendetta,” which served as an excellent follow-up to last week’s equally strong outing. Though this week’s story didn’t completely veer away from Robert’s list, the writers found a way to incorporate it in a much better way than devoting an entire hour to bringing down one of the city’s major bad guys. Many different characters and problems are now in play, ranging from Oliver’s relationship with Helena Bertinelli to Walter uncovering more of Moira’s secrets. If Arrow can keep up this level of intensity, it will certainly begin attracting quite a following.
Oliver’s relationship with Helena quickly goes through a number of different stages in “Vendetta,” something that unfortunately wasn’t stretched out and made to last for at least a few episodes. It’s not that the changes felt rushed, but rather that this character could have been a lasting source of both conflict and satisfaction for Oliver. The writers may have been a bit too hasty in throwing that option away.
As the episode begins, we find Oliver and Helena in bed together. But the romance doesn’t last, as Helena is soon back out on the street and gunning for top Triad members. Her plan is to start a war between the Triad and her father’s mafia, but Arrow steps in before she’s able to kill any of them. He insists that there is a better way to go about bringing down her father, one that involves far less bloodshed but bares the same results. After awhile Helena relents to try Oliver’s method, so he spends some time teaching her how to use a bow and arrow. He tells her about his father’s book of names, and as they look through it together, Helena recognizes Anthony Venza as the name of a prescription drug trafficker who works for her father. Venza becomes their new target, and together they drop in on his warehouse and beat up the crooks until the cops arrive to arrest them all. With such a successful blow to Mr. Bertinelli’s business, it seems like Arrow and the Huntress may have just become something rarely seen in graphic novel folklore: a superhero couple.
Sadly though, the honeymoon is over before we know it. Helena and Oliver run into Tommy and Laurel when they go out to dinner, and Helena insists that they eat together. The meal goes downhill quickly when Laurel brings up the idea of Tommy working for Oliver at his new nightclub, which Tommy was supposed to have asked Oliver about already, but didn’t. Tommy storms off and Laurel follows him out of the restaurant, where he explains that it will always be Laurel and Oliver and that he can’t deal with the fact that he will never be able to give her what Oliver could. Meanwhile, Helena accuses Oliver of still being in love with Laurel and ends their budding relationship right there and then. Her emotions get the better of her and she decides to go back to her old plan by killing a number of important Triad members, which acts as the catalyst to finally start the mob war. As the Triad does a full-out assault on her father’s mansion, Helena tries to kill her father but his thwarted by Arrow at the last minute. Instead, Mr. Bertinelli is arrested and sent to prison for the rest of his life.
It’s unfortunate that the writers decided to explore Oliver’s relationship with Helena over the course of a single episode and be done with it. There was a chance to do something very different and instead the romance was dead by the end of the hour. It would have been so interesting if Helena and Oliver had a lasting relationship and decided to take on Starling City’s worst criminals side-by-side. If there has ever been a crime-fighting couple in the history of superheroes, it’s not one that most people have heard of, so this could have been something huge. But instead, the vigilante romance blossomed and withered all in one episode and left the Huntress as just another player in the world of Arrow. What’s particularly frustrating is that now that Mr. Bertinelli is behind bars for life, what does the Huntress plan on doing? Is she planning on killing every last surviving member of her father’s mafia? Will she start targeting Starling City’s other criminals now? If that’s her plan, then why couldn’t she just team up with Arrow and do things his way? It just seems like the question of “What’s next for Helena Bertinelli?” loomed large at the end of “Vendetta,” but was never given a definitive answer.
Oliver and Helena weren’t the only couple having issues this week. Tommy and Laurel hit a rough patch over her suggestion that Tommy ask Oliver for a job at his new nightclub. Since Tommy’s dad cut off all of his funds, he has to swallow his pride and ask a friend for help so that he can get back on his feet financially. After Tommy’s blowout at dinner, he goes to Laurel’s apartment and apologizes for his actions. Then, he takes her advice and approaches Oliver about a job at the club. The main question with this relationship is why Laurel is even remotely attracted to Tommy. The only reason they started dating was because Tommy kept begging her to go out with him. Eventually, it just got to the point where Laurel couldn’t take it anymore and just agreed to give him a chance. Laurel and Tommy just seem like such different people (she’s a self-made woman, he’s a freeloading loser), so where this romance is coming from is rather bewildering. The sooner these two are through, the better.
The episode was packed with more than just relationship drama and mob wars though, as Walter delved deeper into Moira’s secrets. Felicity Smoak reports back to Walter about a symbol she found when looking into Tempest, the mysterious LLC that Moira diverted company funds into. When Walter pokes around Moira’s things at home, he finds a box with the same symbol on it’s lid, and inside he finds a duplicate of Robert’s book of names. Walter’s discovery is bound to have a lasting effect on his relationship with Moira as well as on Oliver’s own quest to bring each person on his father’s list to justice. It will be very exciting to see what Walter does next with this new knowledge. If he looks into all of the names, he’s bound to find out that a number of them have recently been targeted and either killed or apprehended by the police. Will he make the connection between the names and Arrow, and if he does, what does that mean for Oliver’s mission?
On a side note, something needs to be said about Felicity Smoak. Her character is such a failed attempt at dorky humor that it’s almost always painful to watch. Every time she comes into Walter’s office, she has some kind of awkward line like having a fear of kangaroos or the rising suicide rate as the holidays approach. Ever since Felicity was introduced, it’s been obvious that the writers are trying too hard to make her the comic relief. I’m not familiar with the Green Arrow comics, but I’ve heard that Felicity turns out to be more important than just the tech geek at Queen Consolidated. Maybe it’s time to drop the attempt at humor and focus more on how she factors into the bigger picture.
Vendetta was altogether another promising episode for “Arrow” that was loaded with new plot developments, high-energy action sequences, and a little bit of romance to boot. Once again, there was much more going on than the simple premise of Oliver targeting another person on his father’s list of Starling City’s top criminals. Still, the writers worked that device into Helena’s storyline in an organic way that made perfect sense. Though the Huntress plot was wrapped up maybe a bit too quickly, there are still more mysteries to unravel and still plenty of reasons to tune into Arrow next week.