This week’s Arrow saw the return of some of our favorite female villains from seasons past, continuing the full-circle theme of this season. In ‘The Sin Eater’, Liza Warner (Rutina Wesley), Carrie Cutter aka Cupid (Amy Gumenick) and China White (Kelly Hu), teamed up to take down the guards on a prison transport van and escape. These three villainous ladies then went on the hunt for a stash of cash… and a little revenge.
This is China White’s twelfth episode of the show, making her a significant villain for Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell). Despite her regular appearances, it seems that China still hasn’t made the same impact that other recurring villains have, nor has she been as big a threat to Team Arrow as many others. ‘The Sin Eater’ ended with the Green Arrow’s redemption in the eyes of the police force, as they joined in the fight on Oliver’s side. Our last glimpse of China is as she is shot down, and potentially killed, although her final fate isn’t shown. This may be the end for China White… but where did she begin?
Comic Book Origins
China White first appeared only a few years before Arrow first aired, in the ‘Green Arrow Year One’ miniseries in 2007. In this series, China White is the leader of a heroin cartel, based on an unnamed island. Her real name is actually Chien Na Wei, and initially Oliver Queen called her China White by mistake. He may have simply made a mistake with pronunciation, but this alias is a reference (by the writers) to the drug trade that she is involved with – China White is a street name for heroin.
In the comics, Oliver Queen is tricked into investing in China White’s operation by a man named Hackett, who convinced him (in his pre-Green Arrow days) that he was really investing in hotel complexes in Fiji. It was through this deal with Hackett that Oliver ended up on the island, and became the Green Arrow. China White became the first villain that the Green Arrow took down, before he returned to Starling City to become the hero vigilante that we know and love.
China White In The Arrowverse
The rest of China White’s comic appearances are all in the Arrow spin-off comics, and with her appearance on ‘The Sin Eater’, this character has actually appeared as many times on screen as on the page. Her Arrowverse background is much more detailed than her comic one, but the character remains essentially the same.
In this universe, China White (or Chien Na Wei) is involved in the drug trade for the Chinese Triad. She has been trained as an assassin since childhood, when the man that killed her parents took her on as a student. She first appears in the Arrow continuity in flashbacks, as ARGUS attempts to take her plane down with a missile launcher on Lian Yu. Oliver Queen stopped this assassination attempt, but was later used by ARGUS to try and take her down directly in Hong Kong. He managed to catch up to her in Starling City, where she was taken into custody for her crimes.
In the ‘present’ of the show, Oliver Queen continues to run into this villainous gangster/assassin after she escapes from prison. ‘The Hood’ managed to prevent China White from killing Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy), Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) and Frank Bertinelli (Jeffrey Nordling). Later, China White teamed up with Bronze Tiger (Michael Jai White) to try and kill the Hood… and steal some medical supplies at the same time. After several raids, Oliver was finally able to bring China White down, and send her back to jail.
The Future Of China White
Now, China White has broken out of prison… again. Clearly, this is not a woman who can be easily held by iron bars, especially when she gets her friends on board. However, ‘The Sin Eater’ doesn’t end with China White being thrown back in jail – it ends with her being shot. Does that mean that this is the end of the road for one of the Green Arrow’s original foes?
We’d like to think that such a long-running Arrow villain would get such an ignominious end – whether China White dies or ends up back in prison (or with the Triad), we want to see exactly what happened to her. The fact that the show chose not to reveal her fate at the end of the episode is interesting; it may have simply been hard to fit in, as Liza Warner’s story was more important to the episode as a whole. However, it might also mean that we haven’t seen the last of Chien Na Wei.
As Arrow comes full circle this season, perhaps we can see China White battle the new Green Arrow for a final time, allowing Oliver to really see how far he has come since his days on the island. Perhaps her death at the hands of the SCPD in ‘The Sin Eater’ (if she was actually killed) will be something that comes up in next week’s ‘Fighting Fire With Fire’, as Oliver continues to grapple with the way that he has killed so casually in the past, and the relationship he has with the SCPD.
There are many different places that the show could take the China White character, and we’ll be interested to see if her fate is revealed soon, or if they continue to keep her in the mix for a future throwdown.