‘Arrow’ Season 1, Episode 17 Review – Old Flames

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David Ramsey and Stephen Amell in Arrow The Huntress Returns Arrow Season 1, Episode 17 Review – Old Flames

Lately, Oliver has been making a habit of letting the people close to him in on the little secret that he’s actually Starling City’s green-hooded vigilante. While that’s allowed Arrow the chance to develop or dissect his relationships with people like Felicity Smoak and, more importantly, Tommy Merlyn, it has also provided those with a reason to hurt Oliver and his alter-ego with the leverage they need in order to do so.

‘The Huntress Returns’ offers another glimpse at the damaged Helena Bertinelli and, possibly, a hint of what Oliver might have become if not for the relationships he managed to cultivate since his return from the island. Helena is very much the violent vigilante Oliver was in his early days as the Hood, and her arrival in Starling City does more than bring up questions about his feelings for her – it illustrates just how divergent their paths have become since they last met.

By now, Helena is a woman consumed by her need for vengeance, and that has transformed her from would-be vigilante to full-on killing machine that indiscriminately takes the lives of anyone who gets between her and her father. By the episode’s end, Tommy and Felicity have both been roughed up; a whole squad of cops and U.S. Marshals are dead; and Oliver’s girlfriend, McKenna Hall, has suffered a shattered femur. McKenna’s injury is also the series’ (temporary?) send-off to the character, as it’s revealed she’ll require a year of PT to recover, leaving little choice but to move in with her sister in Coast City and abandon any hope of a long-term relationship with Oliver. The whole thing is enough to leave Ollie questioning his ability to maintain a dual identity and whether or not he should even entertain the idea of having relationships.

Katie Cassidy and Colin Donnell in Arrow The Huntress Returns Arrow Season 1, Episode 17 Review – Old Flames

Most of this is well-trodden territory for the series, and the addition of the Huntress only serves to make it more so. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; ‘The Huntress Returns’ does a good job of illustrating the changes in Oliver’s vigilante playbook by directly comparing his methods with those of Helena. Unfortunately, with the amount of secondary character plots like the sudden return of Det. Lance’s wife Dinah, and her belief that Sara is still alive – not to mention the island flashbacks – there is little in the way of actual Huntress development, and the character manages to be little more than a plot device, helping to set up storylines for the series’ push toward the season finale.

In addition to facilitating the sudden departure of McKenna Hall, the episode uses the opening of Oliver’s club, Verdant, and Tommy’s subsequent injury at the hands of the Huntress, to broach the subject left hanging at the end of the ‘Dead to Rights.’ Things are naturally tense between the two friends, and although Tommy calls Oliver a murderer, he’s still been helping to set up and launch Verdant, so it doesn’t seem like he has too much of a moral objection to Ollie being the Hood. There is a nice moment toward the end of the episode, however, where Oliver questions some of the choices he’s made, and finds that Tommy is there to actually listen, which hopefully means the young Mr. Merlyn has been successfully pulled from the show’s margins and thrust into more Arrow-related territory.

Elsewhere, the Thea and Roy Harper subplot continues to move along in an unsurprising, but entertaining fashion. In what we’ve seen of him, Roy is reminiscent of Downton Abbey‘s Tom Branson with some spiffy Parkour skills – which he uses to save Thea from a pair of street toughs, only to get knifed for his trouble. Considering Colton Haynes is one of two actors recently bumped up to series regular for season 2, the writers aren’t exactly obscuring where that particular character is headed.

Stephen Amell and Colin Donnell in Arrow The Huntress Returns Arrow Season 1, Episode 17 Review – Old Flames

Thankfully, Manu Bennett is the other newly promoted cast member, so we can likely look forward to more Slade and Oliver next season – which is a good thing since all the floating subplots of ‘The Huntress Returns’ leaves little time for anything beyond the pair using a circuit board as leverage to force Fyres into helping them get off the island.

Ultimately, the episode was stifled by all the subplots, and the lack of focus on the Huntress failed to represent the character in a way that was as appealing as her introduction. There were some interesting elements being set up here, however, and while addressing all of them at once hindered ‘The Huntress Returns,’ hopefully those subplots will branch off into more successful storylines, to justify overstuffing this episode.


Arrow continues next Wednesday with ‘Salvation’ @8pm on The CW. Check out a preview below:

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  1. For me I thought this was one of the best episodes. Seemed like they nailed some dramatic and emotional moments, while advancing the story with some great action! The huntress was bada$$ and had me on the edge of my seat wondering what was gonna happen next.

    I hope Slade and Oliver are not seriously trying to make a deal w/ Fyres, he’s made it very clear he can’t be trusted… at first I thought they would make a deal for Yao Fei’s daughter, but I guess they don’t really know she exists yet.

  2. another great ep 3 weeks felt like ages while waiting for arrow to resume from its break. Am i the only one that wants Felicity and oliver to hook up? that would be pretty awesome ha

    • As long as it isn’t forced.

    • i was thinking the same thing, they would be good together.

  3. I’m getting a bit annoyed at Oliver’s many attempts to get off the island. We know that he was there for five years, so it kind of ruins any suspense when he’s supposedly gonna leave.

    I’m hoping that he does get off the island early, goes somewhere relatively nearby that looks stunning like Hong Kong or Shanghai and trains to be a vigilante before going back to the island and sorting out Fyers once and for all.

    The next episode, Salvation, probably has Roy becoming part of the Arrow team (and therefore making up for past criminal mistakes) as well as accepting the job offer at the nightclub so he’s contributing to society. ‘Verdant’ is something green, right?

    • Well he has to get off the island. It has been referenced that he gets off during a dialogue between Oliver and Digg and really there are certain things- such as his connection to the Russian mob- that must be dealt with along with him learning what the name’s of his father’s journal might mean. Now how and why he returns to Lian Yu is something that may be interesting.

      • Fair point. A little trip around Eastern Asia could be pretty interesting, now you mention it. Season 2′s ‘island flashback’ segments could be Ollie working his way up the Bratva ranks. He might only return to the island to be ‘discovered’ when he feels that he is ready to start his mission.

        OK, you’ve made his attempts to get off the island in Season 1 interesting to me now. Thanks :)

        • Also something to point out, Merlyn was the one who taught Oliver archery in the comics. Maybe somewhere down the line we will learn that he was on the island/near that area training. He is very rich and at one point in the season it is stated he went away for a while on a “trip.” Where did he learn archery? Certainly Tommy would have known if his father was taking archery lessons within Starling City.

          • Malcolm did fencing earlier this season. He’s clearly a fan of old-school fighting techniques. I can’t imagine Malcolm training Ollie in archery because he doesn’t know who the vigilante is and I’d like to think that he wouldn’t be stupid enough to teach someone everything he knows and then not recognise their fighting style.

            As far as we know, Malcolm learned *his* badass ways in Nanda Parbat after going on a Batman Begins style soul-searching mission following the murder of his wife.

          • @Justice,

            Interesting. They said that Malcolm went away for a few years after his wife died, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he found his way to the island. However, I’m pretty sure that was back when Tommy (and Oliver) were young, and well before Oliver made it to the island.

            But regarding “Certainly Tommy would have known if his father was taking archery lessons within starling city.” Not really. The show repeatedly stresses that they are estranged. Tommy doesn’t know what his dad does, and he doesn’t care. So it’s possible that Malcolm learned Archery when he was in Starling City, but I’d put my money on him learning it in his missing years.

  4. Great ep! I’m still not crazy about Oliver telling so many people he is Arrow, I guess I can see why he does, to a point, but Tommy? Good to know Felicity & Slade are regulars now, they are great characters. Roy is ok, and actually gives some life and interest to Thea. Overall it continues to be a great show. I think we’ll see the Huntress again, and I wouldn’t entirely trust Tommy.

    • Remember that he didn’t actually want Tommy to find out, but he was forced to reveal his identity to have a chance at saving the elder Merlyn. The secret is still known only by a relatively small number of people, especially considering Oliver’s “celebutante” status.

      • @ Archaeon

        That is true. To me a secret identity is only secret until you start telling people, and then it kind of ruins the suspense. But, on the other hand there is also a good amount of suspense from people knowing too, just in a diffrent way.

  5. This show just keeps getting better! Good job CW. I love what they’re doing with Oliver and Slade in the flashbacks. I just wish we would get to see a little more. BUT, the seasons not over yet, and next weeks episode looks pretty intense.

  6. good episode overall, not as good as dead to rights but that was one of the best so its hard to be the followup episode to something that good. i agree that there were to many plots. i wish they would do two parter episodes once in a while. it would allow the villians to hang around longer and get more development, plus they would have more time to develop the side plots as well.

    just a small critique. still awesome show. cant wait for next week.

  7. Good review! Episode didn’t work for me at all:

    1. Why introduce the McKenna character, only to have here leave in a couple of eps?
    2. The Huntress vs the cops was laughably bad. I normally find the action pieces to be good on the show, but this was just plain awful.
    3. Certain subplots I didn’t care for (ie. Thea, McKenna).

    Hopefully the next ep is a closer return to form.

  8. The episode was mildly entertaining but kind of underwhelming. I really enjoy the series and cannot wait to Season 2 in which by that time I feel the series will be more comfortable and really shape up to be great (with the help of a better budget as well). I am glad there is some season regulars coming aboard which sounds great.

    The Huntress is one aspect that I find underwhelming. I love the tribute to her comic-book outfit at the beginning and the general “I take no prisoners” personality as in the books, but some execution left me cold. The actress is decent but there lacks a certain likability to the role. This may also be just the way the character is written. I am not entirely sure. But the Huntress on the show has yet to truly impress me…which is sad because lately the show has been doing a well job at rounding off the characters from the books (however dissimilar they may be).

    It is interesting going back and analyzing how different Arrow is lately since his appearance but could have definitely been better executed if with tighter focus. Thea sub-plot is much better improved now that she is not constantly going back-and-forth character development now that Roy Harper is taking her character in a different direction. Although I would have missed seeing Dinah Laurel Lance have some connection to Thea in order to shake up “the Tommy/Father relation” – like having them discuss the similarity of Laurel’s mother returning and Oliver’s returning, or maybe discussing how Thea is alike to Sarah. Hell I think Laurel connection to her Mother should have been explored more.

    Overall I think the episode was entertaining to watch but missed a few marks that could have offered new insights to old topics rather than retreading similar grounds distantly.

  9. I didn’t like this episode at all actually.
    After three weeks of waiting, it’s a pity too because I was really excited for a new ep :(

    One thing, for example, that really bugged me was the importance on the Mckenna character. She seems so unnecessary! There’s already more than enough female characters/love interests in Oliver’s life, and imo, all of them are more interesting than her (plus, the other female characters have already been fleshed out – and have had time for the audience to get to know and like)
    When McKenna got shot, I was actually HOPING she’d been killed off then-and-there, but for some reason, she’s still alive… only to say “I’m going away [for a year]” a little bit later. Killing her off would actually have added to one of Oliver’s character arcs, in that he keeps losing people he cares about and we see the way in which he deals with that pain.

    • @Avenger: I completely agree. Mckenna should have been killed off.

      Funnily enough, I had just seen Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and seeing Mckinna in the hospital bed totally reminded me of a scene towards the end of the movie, but I’m not going to describe it, for fear of spoiling it for other people. For those who have seen Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, you know what I’m talking about.

    • Yes. Underwhelming episode. There was so many missed opportunities. All these love interest/relationships forming in such a cheesy way. I thought the series was “gritty” in the eyes of the producers etc.

      While the scale and action has definitely improved in the latter half of the season in terms of how they are shot as opposed to the first half, there is plenty of hit-and-misses.

      The love stories are fine as long as it feels organic and grounded. The Huntress is annoying really, despite my love for who the character is- I am not sure if this is the actress or the writing, but she can be handled so much better. Kind of disappointing after a much better depiction of China White and Deadshot, not to mention Slade and the Dark Archer.

      I know there are things such as change-of-pace episodes in which are usually called filler, stand alone episodes- but I feel this particular one as well the one with the Dodger just prove to be…underwhelming and pointless overall.

      I was really appreciating the vibe of everything slowly increasing in scale and the introduction of more comic- book elements with hopefully Ollie being developed as the Green Arrow we all know.

      Plus Side Roy Harper actually shows some promise for now.

  10. I was not a fan of this episode at all. I still watch the show because it’s entertaining and fun action, and it’s cool seeing some DC comics characters (even if they’re considerably different), but the acting and story is pretty abysmal, IMO. For most characters, either the actors are bad, or their characters are incredibly annoying and go through the same arc every episode (or both). The only characters I really like are Slade, Diggs, and Felicity, and Oliver on the island isn’t bad, because you see significant development in his character.

    Anyways, my biggest gripe with this past episode was the subplot with the Lance family, which seems completely unnecessary to the general plot and just annoying filler. The rest of the episode wasn’t bad, but seeing Mckenna die, and then showing she’s actually alive really bugged me. Also, it bugged me how they made you think that Helena revealed that Oliver is the Hood, but then she actually wasn’t. Either that, or the cops are the worst detectives ever.

    Thea usually annoys me, but she’s less annoying now, and she’s actually going through a different arc now that Roy Harper is around.

    Overall, pretty underwhelming episode for me, but I guess I’m kinda hard to please with this show. I still watch it because it’s a fun and entertaining show, and to rip on it with some friends, but that’s pretty much it

    • This episode was a miss. The show tends to boil down to hit-and-misses despite that overall the series is entertaining. The melodramatic soap opera and designated “hip CW audience” hook and catch scenes really are a negative aspect of the show.

      It was underwhelming and made some aspect of the story build up seem irrelevant. Mckenna just being written off as going away and no true character development for Huntress and the Lance scenes, make all previous (if any) development of these loose ends null and void. We should have seen more Laurel questioning her Mother and her motives and supposed evidence prior to bringing her father involved. Huntress was a plot device that have zero likeability or intrigue and so unnecessarily melodramatic whose presence is just to- injure – a love interest that only began to “develop” in the past few episodes. A love interest which makes all attempt by Ollie to return and fix his relationship with Laurel mute and a love interest which was only introduced to show Ollie he cannot have a double life- a ground well covered by now.

      Thea and Roy Harper development actually seem much more interesting now…which is bad to say seeing that Oliver is the main protagonist.

  11. Also does anybody else get a soap opera vibe from the show? I get it mostly from the storylines of this character loves that character, but they actually love that character (AKA love triangles, love rectangles, love pentagons, etc.) I noticed that especially with the Oliver-Laurel-Tommy triangle of the first half of this season. And the storyline now of Sarah actually being alive is definitely something I could see happening in a soap opera. Heck, even the lighting of the show, especially in the queen house, reminds me of a soap opera. Maybe it’s just me…

    • I too get the soap opera vibe and honestly that is what make some episodes like this particular one misses- despite having a seemingly fun premise.

      The episodes that I really enjoy such as “The Odyssey” and “Death to Rights” (I think that is the title of the previous episode is called) and few others are the episodes in which all side character relations are not treated as soap opera-like- or at least kept at a minimum.

      I do not mind the love interest or complications or whatever, but the execution is just a poor cheap contrast to some of the more grittier and grounded interesting aspects the show has to offer.

      Mckenna was just a temporary stand in love interest that seem to be a requirement for a CW series. I first thought that she may the mole that is in Lance’s unit but apparently not. If they were to have her die, it would have a much bigger impact on Ollie and his mission and him reevaluating his methods and the hypocrisy that lies within – such not aiming Helena just as he wouldn’t at his mother. The fact of how she is seemingly let go, is so anti-climatic and ultimately make all their interactions in the past few episodes cheesy and melodramatic love story for the conclusion that Oliie may not have a balanced double life– a lesson which I think has been covered before already on the show.

      Hopefully this is just a season 1 thing, and season 2 will delve deeper into the actual mythology of the character and no more cheesy, melodramatic soap opera moments which result in a show that is only mildly entertaining while the show could be much better (see the episodes mentioned before as examples).

      • @Archer

        I completely agree with everything you’ve said. The show needs to get away from the annoying soap opera elements and get to an action-packed, character-driven, and fun show. And the Odyssey was definitely my favorite episode as well. Almost completely on the island, 100% about Oliver’s development as a character, and Slade being badass. What more could you want?

    • “A soap opera vibe”. Not just a vibe but a primary part of the show. I think they’re going to turn it into a mush fest like they did with Smallville. I’m barely hanging in there with the series, but I figure I’ll give it he rest of the season before I decide to switch it off.

      I know it’s comic book based, but they really need better writing for a full blown TV series

      • Never saw Smallville, but I haven’t heard the best things

  12. Mckenna is fine as hell,and(wish I was younger) Thea

  13. I was thinking Mckenna’s last name is Hall same as A certain Carter Hall AKA Hawkman. And she moving to Star City isn’t that Green Lantern’s hangout. I know they can’t exist in the Arrowverse but it would be neat if they did.

    • Coast City.

  14. So, does anybody have any guesses as to who will be next weeks villain?

    I was tempted to think of Harvey Dent’s third personality, The Judge, but I couldn’t be certain.

  15. loved diggles t-mobile girl comment.
    i felt this episode should have been a 2parter. huntress going all terminator in the safe house was quite silly. it’s like the fbi sent the worst of the worst to guard that house.
    i like the thea-roy plot
    i still love the show and is still one of my faves this season, and hope it’s around for at least 5 seasons

    • Yeah, the T-mobile comment was great. I chuckled, then realized that it was probably more product placement, and groaned.

  16. Where did the “Huntress” get her training? She murders police/fbi, could destroy everything and he gives her a ticket to Rome?!?!?