‘Arrow’: Wear A Mask, Get A Bullet

Published 1 year ago by

Caity Lotz in Arrow Season 2 Episode 17 Arrow: Wear A Mask, Get A Bullet

[This is a review of Arrow season 2, episode 17. There will be SPOILERS.]


Both as a series and as the central protagonist to that series, Arrow began with a primary objective: To rid Starling City of those who had failed it. Now, as far as objectives go, Oliver’s was fairly straightforward, and at the time his quest began, his methods – brutal and blunt as they were – seemed as fittingly frank as the mission he’d undertaken. Do wrong and be punished, likely with an arrow to the chest.

That method was certainly simple and clear-cut, and over time, the arrows left in corpses all over Starling City became a pronounced symbol of vengeance. This was the function and the identity Oliver had chosen for himself; it defined him as both an individual and as a representation of a construct larger than one man. And when it all came crashing down – quite literally – at the end of season 1, Oliver Queen had to search for new meaning within the parameters of the so-called “justice” he was questing after. The result, then, would be the vigilante that’s emerged in season 2; an individual more interested in the concept of justice than in vengeance. In a place like Starling City, that sort of distinction is sometimes made by the narrowest of margins, but often, simply recognizing the difference is all that matters.

At this point, such intent is what distinguishes Arrow from the likes of his former ladylove/protégé, the Huntress (a.k.a. Helena Bertinelli). For her part, Helena has always existed as an extreme example of what can go wrong when an individual’s objective is driven by an intense myopia, and that person is unable to distinguish the various shades of gray between the sharp black and white they’ve chosen to see the world with. She was living in much the same kind of darkness Oliver carried back with him from the island; the same kind of darkness Helena warns Laurel about, while holding hostages in her latest attempt to achieve that very special dream of killing her father.

Jessica De Gouw in Arrow Season 2 Episode 17 Arrow: Wear A Mask, Get A Bullet

As an episode, ‘Birds of Prey’ manages conclude (and possibly resolve) Helena’s tale of vengeance with a solid depiction of how an individual consumed with a single purpose, or left fumbling without one, will inevitably begin to define themselves within what could be some very shallow, potentially destructive parameters. Helena’s obsession with seeking vengeance against a single man is unsurprisingly reminiscent of Slade Wilson’s ongoing quest to hold Oliver ultimately responsible for Shado’s death. But her situation is also representative of the different viewpoints that make up Oliver, Sara, Roy, and even Laurel’s perspective on the world around them.

There’s a great many characters coming to terms with their outlook, and how it has shaped the person they are. It’s not exactly revelatory, but ‘Birds of Prey’ demonstrates Arrow‘s desire to see its characters take steps forward in their respective arcs, while also addressing the larger concerns of the narrative. Sara understands that she needn’t kill in order to protect her family, while Oliver comes to terms with another of his early failures, but importantly recognizes it as part of his progression to becoming a hero, rather than a vengeance seeker. Meanwhile, Helena, Roy, and Laurel all come to terms – in varying degrees – with how their current situation defines them, and how doing without something specific (e.g., a target, a girlfriend, or a certain level of integrity) will shape their character moving forward.

And with the question of change comes concern over possible regression. Now that Slade has Thea, Arrow can weigh the kind of hero Oliver wants to become against the sort of efficient killer he knows he can be. The choice he makes, will be what defines him moving forward.


Arrow will continue next Wednesday with ‘Deathstroke’ @8pm on The CW. Check out a preview below:

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  1. Speedy hehehhe

  2. Wow…this arrived later than I expected.

    Anyway, I quite enjoyed the episode and the issues it raised/developed/”resolved”. I especially appreciated the approach toward the usually differently understood idea of the “Birds of Prey”…the team of heroes (and “heroes”) working together to knock out the underbelly of criminality in Gotham. I liked this more oppositional approach.

    One episode to go…

    • One more episode to go? Penultimate episode? What are you talking about there is still at least 4 episodes left of season 2.

      • Sorry dude, just scrolled down on the comments to see that someone already pointed this out to you, my bad.

  3. Really great review Kevin! While I’ve enjoyed the past two episodes, I’ve been underwhelmed I think due to the constant need to split the story so many ways. For instance, I thought the suicide squad part of last week’s episode was fantastic, and would have preferred to see a whole episode of that; leaving out Oliver and him being worried over friends/family etc. I thought that took away from Diggle and co.

    And last night’s episode frustrated me with its need to follow certain characters like Laurel and Roy while leaving out their stronger characters like Felicity and Diggle. HOWEVER, in light of this review I’ve come around a bit and do appreciate the maturation of these characters under the common theme of becoming the hero vs giving way to our dark sides as Slad and the Huntress have done.

    So again, great review I always enjoy reading every week :)

  4. Anyone else hear the TDK references during the hostage scene?


    • No, what was it?

  5. Ok, after last night’s pile of shi…err “episode”, can we all agree FINALLY that this show is complete garbage? Everything from the horrible fight choreography to the sappy dialog is just plain awful. It’s embarrassing even for the CW.


    • You make me laugh

    • No, no, no, cbf…THIS thread is about “Arrow”, that excellent genre show that you clearly aren’t watching. I’m not sure what YOU watched last night, but it’s a shame you missed the penultimate episode of “Arrow”‘s sophomore season.

    • Bad troll is bad.

    • agent coulson,is that you?


      This is one of the best shows currently on TV, weinerschnitzel…get a library card!

  6. another great ep. Seeing sarah beat the crap out of helena was satisfying. oly is gonna be super pssed now that slade has thea.

  7. Awesome episode! The way they used the Speedy line was clever. I hope they continue to bring back the Huntress from time to time. Also, I hope they can figure out the right thing to do with Laurel. My least favorite part of the episode was Laurel’s scene with the bottle of alcohol. I really dont know what to think about Laurel!?!

    • What to think about Laurel….. she’s a pointless, redundant and quite irritating character and Deathstroke or Deadshot should remove her from the equation.

      The actress is okay, does a decent enough job but the character…. geez, does my head in really can’t do self pity…. as everyone keeps telling her she aint the only one who’s got issues, grow up and get on with it like everyone else has too…..

      Quick double tap, do everyone a favour…..

  8. Why are some people thinking there is only one episode left? there is like 6 left.

    • The next episode is “Deathstroke.”

    • Really? I got it into my head, somehow, that these last several weeks have been/are the final episodes of the season. If there are that many more left, my apologies and, hey…all the better. :)

      • Yeah I believe they are doing 22 or 23 eps this season (like last) and the finale is in May.

  9. Ok, I can kind of understand people not recognizing Oliver in the suit, but how does Laurel not recognize Sarah? The blonde hair and butt chin should have been dead giveaways. And why does Helena not let the cat out of the bag and reveal Oliver’s secret? That seems kind of unbelievable to me that she wouldn’t at least drop his name in there at some point. I’ve loved season 2, but I felt this was one of its weaker outings.

    • I don’t think she’ll reveal his secret because I don’t think she’s really a bad person who wants him to suffer. She kills, but in her mind I think she sees the killing as a means to an end; a way to get to her father and end him. revealing Oliver Queen as the Arrow would really serve her no purpose. Also I think she considers him a friend and someone who can understand her.

    • agree… on all counts.

      I’d know that chin anywhere… and she aint even my sister.

      Ollie’s whole blaming of himself for the Huntress being freaking crazy makes no sense whatsoever. His resistance to the possibility of Sarah killing the huntress to save her own sister makes no sense (did’t Ollie just finish shooting a handful of arrow into the count to save Felicity?)… One of the things I have loved about this show is that the Arrow has been one of the first superheroes put on screen or TV that is willing to actually kill someone if it means saving lives in the long run. But the whole inter-lying arc of this season has been that for some reason Ollie thinks that because Tommy got a building dropped on his ass, Ollie should refrain from killing villains and mass murderers. Does anyone notice that every time he lets a villain live in these situations they end up killing any number of civilians and bystanders in the future? not to mention that they always come back to threaten his family. I understand that there are some serious moral issues here, but the show needs to get back to its roots… Where most citizens of starling city didnt sing the Arrow’s praises, because they were scared of him or thought that he was going above the law.

      But it is like they said in the Dark Night… The 1st Gen Arrow was not the Hero Starling City wanted, but the one they needed.

      • THANK YOU BEEFALO! Unfortunately I think we are in the minority here.. per most comments at Screenrant, most people are looking for the “hero” comic version that they grew up reading. But the thing that originally attracted me about the show’s premise was cleaning up the streets by taking out the bad people. The darker side of vigilante justice. Not to mention they’re wasting Stephen Amel’s ability to play this darker Green Arrow character.

        Lately they seem way more interested in costumed people. Makes me miss the days of Oliver and Diggle cleaning up the streets!

  10. Loved this episode, and love this show, though… it did bring up an issue that I have had with several episodes. That being – how can the Huntress go toe to toe with Oliver or Sara? Oliver has crazy island training for five years, Sara was trained by the League of Assassins, and Helena was shown even in her first appearance to be vengeful and angry and somewhat capable but not on par with Oliver and Sara’s skills. I’m trying to think of other moments this has happened, when someone who really shouldn’t be near their skill level stands on their level, but I’m drawing a blank at the moment though I know I’ve had that issue at other times. Great episode though, and good that Sara beat Helena in the second fight, simply because… come on. League of Assassins training is way beyond whatever Helena’s training is.

    • While Oliver’s been playing clean up after the quake Huntress had a whole year to hone her skills by merking mafiosi in Palermo. Liked Birds of Prey. Couple of minor issues like Laurel not recognizing Sarah and Roy being told to split with Thea when he was doubling as her security detail. Minor issues aside I thought that this was the best episode featuring the Huntress and her acting really shone during her dialogue with Laurel and the hostages. Amell is on his A game too.

  11. I had something to say but apparently I “spammed”. Wow, that’s 15 minutes of my life lost forever…

    Anyway good show. Good episode. Generic praise, minor complaint, overal positive comment.

    • Yes, 15 minutes. I’m a two finger-type of typer.

  12. I think the episode was alright, not as strong as the others but like someone said before me that’s saying a lot about how good the show has been. The whole Helena keeping up with Oliver and Sarah is a bit farfetched but Laurel not recognizing Sarah was painful to watch (I mean come on she’s not hiding much with that Robin mask) for her sister not to recognize her. And as far as identities go I’m surprised Laurel and Sarahs father hasn’t caught on to who Oliver is by now. I mean: Olive returns from the dead = The Arrow appears, Sarah returns from the dead and fights crime with The Arrow…COME ON ! HE WAS A DETECTIVE FOR GODS SAKE ! LOL…There was a episode in season 1 when he was on to him and Diggle wore the hood to cover for Ollie, but that should’ve went out the window when Officer Lance realized The Arrow doesn’t work alone anymore hence Felicity, Black Canary (Sarah) and etc…

    • You do realize she wears a wig as well. Her hair is blond but not that blond. And she did use a voice scrambler. Suspend belief.

  13. *SPOILERS*

    Huntress & Tockman join Suicide Squad.

    Season 3: Roy becomes Arsenal.

    Flash gets mentioned in (Episode 20: Seeing Red)?

    Diggle finds out “his brother was purposely killed” by Argus?

    Merlyn returns… in Season 3 tho.

    Oliver takes down Slade with the help of Argus, then Argus recruits him?

    Possible Ra’s al Ghul cameo in season 3?

    And more DC easter eggs in future episodes!!

  14. They did not show enough of Felicity in this weeks episode. Less of Felicity is always a bad thing. She deserves more screen time than Ollie.

    I’d also like for Ollie to have a lot more sexual related dreams co-starring Shado (with her hair done)

    And Laurel needs to dye her hair blond and start wearing fishnets already.

    Why hasn’t Ollie banged the terminator chic lately? I figure she’s about due.

  15. Ok. Soooo….. they were held up in a court house and theres a bunch of booze out in the open?? Laurels story needs to come to a close. too sappy and its weak. wish she was the one that Slade picked up….and….Bye bye Laurel

    • booze in a court house is LESS ridiculous then not recognizing your cleft chinned sister just because she has a mas on. But hey.. the two of us are nitpicking. This show is the greatest thing to ever happen to television. Ollie told Sarah. “I love Laurel too.” This is ground breaking TV, Ollie has successfully performed the “sister switch” on network TV! (He is banging both and they still get along with each other).

      • Sarah wears a mask and a wig (her hair is blond but not that blond) and she used a voice scrambler. Plus added to the fact it was dark and people are shooting them with guns. She also hides her face with her hair from Laurel.

      • I watch a lot of these things and wonder how the people they know don’t recognize them, but I guess it’s the Superman/Clark Kent thing and it’s just one of those things they do. With Sarah I can see Laurel not recognizing her because she did have the mask and wig on, and it was also dark in there. Add to that the tension of the situation and your mind doesn’t always make the obvious connections.

  16. The writing of the Huntress character was thin, but I still would like to have seen the role go to a more capable actress. It’s a shame to see her translated into little more than a spoiled, deranged girl. To go from the great novelization work in Knightfall to this… still, it was better than the Birds of Prey TV series interpretation.

    Diggle wasn’t given much to do, but he made an impression in his scenes and it was good to see him connecting with Roy & Sarah. As for Laurel, she basically became the butt of the joke. Meanwhile, the ruse of family members wondering “who is that masked hero?” is wearing thin. Cool effect on Canary’s voice distortion, though.

    Also, it didn’t occur to me until last night that “Adam Donner” is also “Paul” from Orphan Black. Seems he’s now followed the long list of supporting actors who’ve moved on to meatier roles on other big series.

    • I writing on this show is GROUND BREAKING! Det. Lance knows Ollie is knocking down both of his daughters and he still invites him over for dinner. No one has ever knocked down multiple daughters of a single police officer and been invited back for dinner. Some people will argue that the Arrow does not have any super human powers, but i’d beg to differ.

    • I’ve always thought Huntress was the weaker character in the series.

  17. Overall I enjoyed this episode. I don’t dislike the Huntress as most other Arrow fans seem to. But, Roy and Laurel are freaking awful. I think that Laurels problems are mostly due to how she is written while the guy who plays Roy is just a pitiful actor. I mean how many times can you look at your own hand in one episode. A similar-ish thing is going on in Supernatural right now with Dean where he is crazy enraged. Now, Jensen Ackles knows how to pull it off unlike this guy. Anyways, really good fight choreography especially in the opening scene.

    • Roy had been infected by the Mira-cuckoo. The dude is going threw some emotional adjustments, in this episode he closed well – performing the sexing the boss, dumping the boss, sexing the co-work ‘on the job’, getting caught on purpose and not getting fired routine. Which IMHO is one of the most difficult sexcapaids to pull off, believe me many men have tried it and failed miserably!

      Ever wonder how a PhD in chemistry could really end up working as a cashier in a car wash?

    • I actually think Roy ahs stepped it up a bit. I thought his acting was great in this episode. He’s getting better.

      I like the Huntress character but she has always been one of the least liked characters in the series. I think it’s just how she is written in. Her acting is decent, but I have always viewed her as a weakly written character in the show.

      The show is awesome and I can’t wait for the next episode. If I have to suffer through 1 or 2 minor characters to watch some azzkicking then so be it.

  18. Synonym error – through, not threw

  19. I think the action was the best so far in the whole series. It was the most believable and gritty, and well edited together. However, my heart sank to my feet when the whole Laurel not recognizing her sister moment happened. Arrrgh. I agree with all who had a problem with that. She was like less then a foot away from her face! Its HER sister’s FACE! Its her body type. It’s her body language. There has to be SOME internal logic, even if its comic book characters. Shame on you writers for that moment, go stand in the corner and count to 100. Otherwise, keep up the great work.

  20. I was mulling this over in my head the other day and I think that the Red Hood will be the villain in Season 3. and I think Tommy will be the Red Hood. With the introduction of Harley Quinn on the show makes me think that the Red Hood isn’t too far off.

    • I have a theory about the next episode, I mean we all know that Slade is about 3 steps ahead of Oliver. What if his plan to kidnap Thea was to make Oliver really angry that he couldn’t keep his temper. Still not sure if Summer Glau’s character is with Slade or not, but what if she mentions Thea to Oliver while they’re in the office and the cameras caught Oliver attacking his fellow business partner and it will cause some news