Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Arrow "Vendetta" Review

People date for awhile and then stop when one realizes the other likes to watch soccer ten hours on a Saturday. Any number of things could stop a potential relationship. Oliver and Helena have a mountain to climb if they wish to date for the long-term. Oliver doesn't try to persuade her into watching soccer for ten hours on a Saturday. Helena's idea of justice involves death, whereas Oliver perceives justice as separate from vengeance. The difference in ideology was present last week during their dinner and, later, their impromptu tag-team against Salvani and his crew. Oliver was willing to overlook Helena's flaws because of his need to open up. Thea urged her brother to open up to someone if it'd make him less sad. Helena represented the human connection he craved, and he thought he'd change her with instruction and encouragement.

"Vendetta" follows the Oliver and Helena's teamwork. Diggle expresses distaste for Oliver's taste in women. Helena's a killer and has no regard for the people in her life; she's numb since the death of her fiancé. Oliver understands why Diggle's concerned, but he's lonely, desperate for connection, and stupid. Helena learns how to shoot a bow-and-arrow. Oliver instructs her how to bring down a drug cartel without violence. Helena watches but wishes not to perform justice; she's into revenge. Diggle reminds Oliver of the high possibility their relationship, Oliver's and Helena's that is, will end unhappily. Oliver won't believe Diggle.

The execution of Oliver's thing with Helena is sort of a mess. The teaser and first act set up their romantic story as a potentially lasting heartache for Oliver. Its set-up reminded me of a tightly written short film about two people who love each other but won't by the short films end. The action of Arrow shifts the focus from the meditation on two people who, despite their loneliness, can't be with each other into stopping the bad guy, amazing fight scenes, and the promise for more Huntress in later episodes. It's inevitable Helena will break from Oliver, it's just a matter of when and how. Oliver's past causes the break. In Act I, Oliver opened up about the man he'd been before the crash and the man he became on the island. The story served two purposes: to define Oliver as relatable and a chance for Helena to change her thinking about her father; and, it connected with Helena who, as Oliver sees it, exists on an island, too, that leaves her isolated and slightly mad. Helena falls for him and allows him to take her dinner, which is where the relationship breaks.

The love triangle between Oliver, Laurel, and Tommy, is very similar to Peter Parker, Mary Jane, and Harry Osborne in Spiderman. Love triangles are usually the least interesting aspect of a TV drama, whether it's family or genre or procedural. Arrow's love triangle is significantly dull. Old feelings re-surface during dinner. Oliver and Tommy act like Dawson and Pacey if they were in their late 20s (let's forget Jackson and The Beek WERE in their mid-to-late 20s during the dramatic final chapter of the third season). Helena notices the tension, learns about Oliver's past with Lauren, and feels betrayed, like Oliver told her about his past to manipulate her into behaving differently. Helena leaves the restaurant, dresses in her vigilante outfit, and kills four members of the Triad, which is her father's enemies, and it launches a full-scale war between her father and them.

Oliver saves Helena's life, and her father's, while taking out the Triad threats. Helena's ungrateful, still pissed about Oliver's involvement in her life, and at herself for feeling that way towards him after vowing not to feel after her fiancĂ©’s death. She leaves town while Oliver heals his wounds in the Starling City diner. Diggle tells him love shouldn't be about change; that it's about meeting the person who immediately fits into his life. Oliver's bummed because he pushes everyone away that he cares about. He acts like he doesn't care about Laurel's relationship with Tommy, but he cares too much. Oliver can't be with Helena, because she's dangerous. The woman would've killed her father if not for Oliver's perfect accuracy with a bow-and-arrow. The bad thing for Oliver is he's made another enemy--that list continues to grow.

The A story isn't the strongest of the season. Much of it felt like a retread of last week. The C story involving Walter and Felicity simply filled Walter in on the goings-on at Tempest LLC. The big finding is the small notepad written in with invisible ink. Meanwhile, Tommy asks Oliver for a job in light of his father, The Barrowman, cutting him off. Laurel and Tommy got together. Every Laurel/Tommy scene is a retread of the previous scene.

So, my hopes for "Vendetta" were high, but the best material was written for last week's episode. I really dug the ideas about Oliver's dependency and emotional needs versus the cold independence of his vigilante lifestyle. Helena was just as sad this week, but her sadness resonated deeper last week than this week. I was disappointed.

Other Thoughts:

-Give Willa Holland a goddamn storyline, Berlanti, Guggenheim and Kreisburg. You know what Thea gets to do in "Vendetta"? She asks Walter for a ride.

-Beth Schwartz and Andrew Kreisburg wrote the episode. Ken Fink directed it.

-Next week's episode is the last one until 2013.


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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.