All right, by show of hands, who else totally thought McKenna Hall wasn’t making it out of tonight’s Arrow alive? Yeah, I was one hundred percent convinced tonight would be the last we saw Oliver’s cop girlfriend. I was right, of course, but not in the way I thought. Here’s my thought process: Oliver and McKenna were happy, and they were making their relationship work. They’d been going out for two months now, slept together, and really worked as a couple – despite McKenna’s being on the task force hunting Oliver’s secret identity, of course. But they were doing good! So, natch, things were about to get ugly.
But let’s back up a bit. First of all, I could hardly contain my glee when the previously on segment started. It’s been too long without a new Arrow for my liking, so I am so amped that we are about to get seven weeks straight of all-new episodes, kicking it off tonight with “The Huntress Returns.” There was a severe lack of salmon ladder for my taste, though. Other than that, tonight’s Arrow was stellar (check out my post mortem with the cast and producers here).
The title doesn’t lie: Helena Bertinelli is back, and she’s still on the warpath to find and kill her father (who, if you don’t remember, killed her fiancé). Since she’s been having difficulty getting to him in prison, she’s been killing off his employees to try to find a way to get to him. Thanks to her father’s attorney (RIP dude who I didn’t even bother to remember your name! Sorry ‘bout it!), she figured out a chance to kill him: take him out during his transfer from prison to witness protection. This would be her one and only chance to get to him, since he cut a deal and was giving up names to disappear into witness protection for the rest of his life.
She couldn’t do this alone, though, so she turned to the only other person she knew who could help her: her ex, Oliver. When her feminine wiles didn’t convince him to help her kill her father, she relied on the next best thing: threatening his family. Baaaaad move, honey. The pure rage on Oliver’s face should have been warning enough to turn tail and run.
But before he could deal with Helena, Oliver had to focus on the opening of his nightclub. That’s right, Verdant is live! Kicking off the debut, Oliver got electronic dance music superstar Steve Aoki to play – since apparently Oliver dated his sister back in the day, ha! – but Oliver still hasn’t gotten the chance to talk with Tommy since he found out Oliver was the vigilante. Oliver seems happy that he can finally explain how and why he does what he does, but Tommy is having none of it. Not only can he not forgive Oliver lying to him, but the fact that he’s a murderer just isn’t flying. Tommy may be a playboy, a rich kid who only recently had to grow up and learn responsibility, but he’s a truly good person. Any explanation won’t matter to Tommy: “What’s the point? I wouldn’t believe a word of it anyway.” Ouch. This friendship is not in a good place.
They put their differences aside for the opening of Verdant, though, and damn did they do a good job! That is one club I’d definitely frequent. Aoki’s killing it, Oliver’s family and girlfriend are all in attendance to show support, Moira is wondering what the hell kind of music is playing, Thea is drinking underage… it’s a party!
So of course Helena decides to push Oliver even further by crashing the party and taking Tommy hostage in the secret Team Arrow lair underneath Verdant (surprise, Tommy! More secrets right underneath your nose!) and threatening to break his arm unless Oliver agreed to help her. This is where I truly felt bad for Tommy. The poor guy has never had to endure any real physical work or pain in his life, and he was in agony. When Helena finally let him go after Oliver agreed to help her, he just curled in a ball in pain. He’s only known Ollie’s secret for a short time and immediately he’s in danger.
Now that Oliver reluctantly is helping Helena find and kill her father, they agree to catching him on the road, but there are two identical vans leaving the safe house – one’s a decoy. Oliver’s van was the decoy, and Helena is triumphant when she stops her van, but it turns out it was a police setup! She is pissed, and no doubt thinks Oliver set her up.
Just when we thought Helena was going to give up Oliver’s name to the police, she just goads McKenna and Det. Lance until Oliver stages a rescue and gets her out of the police station. He thinks he’s convinced her to leave town, but unfortunately for Felicity Smoake, that’s not the case. Helena threatens Felicity until she hacks into the FBI database and gives Helena her father’s location.
When Felicity called Diggle and Oliver after Helena left, they came racing over (though after Oliver got some sexytime in with McKenna), and I absolutely loved how protective they are of her. They both rushed in, weapons blazing, eyes wide to save her. That literally warmed my heart and made me smile. They really care about her!
Oliver knows now that the only way to stop Helena is to kill her. He rushes over to Helena’s father’s safe house, and stops her from killing him. He shoots an arrow at her, and if she hadn’t jumped out of the way so fast she would have died. That’s when she realizes Oliver means business, and all bets are off. They fight, and Oliver gains the upper hand. But before he can get off another shot, McKenna bursts onto the scene, and this is when I knew something bad was going to happen. Helena grabs a gun and shoots McKenna!
I thought McKenna was dead, but turns out Helena only shot her femur. She’s still alive, but her leg will take a year to recover with intense physical therapy. She’s moving to Coast City to live with her sister in the meantime, since Coast City apparently has the best physical therapy program. Oliver wants to do long distance but McKenna is done. She breaks up with Oliver, and that is the last we’ll see of McKenna Hall. I’m sad to see her go, since she really brought light into Ollie’s dark life, but at least she made it out alive! Silver lining.
Another semi-good thing to come out of tonight’s episode is that Tommy is starting to understand Oliver a little better. After lying to Laurel all episode about why he was acting so distant (and why his arm was in a cast after his run-in with The Huntress), he gained some insight into how hard Oliver’s double life truly is. Tommy is ready to listen to Oliver, but he doesn’t like or agree with what Oliver is saying. Oliver knows he’ll never be happy if he’s alone, but he thinks his happiness isn’t what’s important right now. We don’t agree with that, Ollie! All we want is to see you smile!
Meanwhile, Thea tried to get her friend Roy Harper a valet job at Verdant, but I agree with Roy: giving him the keys to stranger’s nice cars is maybe not the greatest idea. I mean, Thea did meet him after he tried to steal her purse, so… there’s that. But she gets Tommy to hire Roy anyway and is bummed when he doesn’t show up for his first day. When she goes to The Glades to confront him, she gets mugged and Roy saves her! This boy has got some serious moves. I think we might be seeing a little preview of his journey, since in the comics, Roy Harper is the Green Arrow’s sidekick. Another preview we may have seen: since Roy got stabbed, Thea took him to the hospital to get stitches and he freaked out when he saw a needle. In the comics, Roy Harper suffered through a major heroin addiction. Uh oh… In the meantime, Thea distracted him from the big, scary needle with a hot, surprising kiss. That would certainly take his mind off it!
The Lances were having their own family drama tonight as well. Dinah Lance was still around after dropping her bombshell at the end of “Dead to Rights” – you know, that Laurel’s sister Sarah was still alive – and Laurel and Dinah ambushed Det. Lance with that story. I felt so bad for him in this scene. He had just spent two months getting the silent treatment from his daughter, and he thought she wanted to meet to forgive him. He apologized for using Laurel to get to the vigilante, and you could tell he was speaking from his heart. He truly meant what he said and really missed his daughter. But when his ex-wife came out of nowhere and he found out the real reason why they were there, he was just heartbroken. He didn’t want to live through losing his daughter yet again. He didn’t want to get up hope. They don’t even have any real proof, just an idea that Sarah could have been marooned on another island like Oliver was, plus a picture with the face obscured that a tourist took. Not much to go on, but Det. Lance relented by the end of the episode. The Lances are going to search for Sarah.
And in this week’s island flashbacks, Oliver began to truly impress Slade Wilson with his ideas and bravery. They decide to blow up the big missile launcher that Fyres has to prevent a war, but Oliver gets an idea to steal the launcher’s circuit board instead. That way, the launcher won’t work, and they can negotiate a trade: the circuit board for a way off the island. It will be interesting to see how this plays out (and when we’ll meet our newest island ally) but I am definitely enjoying watching Oliver grow a spine and start to become the Arrow we know now.
The best quotes from tonight’s “The Huntress Returns:”
Det. Lance: “You are quite the hunter, Ms. Bertinelli. Well, I guess I should make that ‘huntress.’”
Slade, about the missile launcher: “We need to find out what Fyres is planning.”
Oliver: “Wild guess? He’s planning on blowing something up.”
Det. Lance, about The Huntress: “I’m busy. The Hood’s girlfriend’s back.”
Server at Verdant, just as Oliver was about to join McKenna on the dance floor: “Sorry to bother you, Mr. Queen.”
Oliver: “You’re timing’s perfect, I can’t dance.”
Diggle, about Oliver killing The Huntress: “I think you would’ve killed her a long time ago if she looked like me instead of the T Mobile girl.”
Follow Sydney on Twitter: @SydneyBucksbaum
[Photo Credit: The CW]