The Huntress returned for a straightforward adventure involving hostages, threatened loved ones, and a healthy sense of, ‘you do what you need to do to survive or to save someone you love.’ The latter is Sara’s motivation throughout “Birds of Prey.” She thinks back on what she did to save Oliver when Slade had him, and she opts to follow what saved Oliver when confronted by threats on her sister’s life. Threats transformed Sara from wide-eyed to myopic. She will kill to save her sister’s life. And she’s not portrayed differently from Helena Bertinelli, that transfixing yet deadly Huntress. Helena Bertinelli’s been motivated by the desire to kill her father for killing her fiancé. Whatever she needed to do to come close to shooting an arrow through her father’s heart she did, which corroded her soul and eventually tore it away from her. Helena’s biggest line of the episode is about one not coming back from complete darkness. Sara touched that darkness when dealing with Slade, but five years later, with the help of Oliver and also the love of her family, she can be pulled back from the abyss. Helena cannot.
“Birds of Prey” isn’t overly involved or highlighted by a thrilling fight sequence. The central tension, and the central action, of the episode took place in one location where the hostages are along with Laurel Lance. The writers introduced a combative SWAT leader, portrayed by the legendary Lochlyn Munro, to make one aware that not all uniformed police like the vigilantes roaming about the city. The Huntress travels to Starling City after her father is arrested. Soon she walks into a trap, but not really, because she anticipated the trap and thus set her own trap that powerful legal folk and police were caught in. It created the hostage situation and a tense standoff that would end only when Helena had her father in her sights to kill. Stories for Helena may be a little thin because of sole motivation to kill her father, so the writers turned that motivation into a trap that sets off different events for the rest of “Birds of Prey.”
Choice and free-will are not readily embraced by any character except for Oliver. Oliver works to resolve the hostage situation without anyone’s death, which ultimately fails because of the combative SWAT leader portrayed by the legendary Lochlyn Munro. Oliver’s role in Helena’s life, beyond gentleman lover, was to help her let go of anger—similar to his role in Roy’s life as the mirakura works on him. Helena killed McKenna and then he let her go for she was beyond him. Oliver hadn’t found himself as a hooded figure wandering the night in season 1. He didn’t become something different until late in the season. Something different means hero, though he’s not a hero yet. This is his journey. Helena’s journey was different, though not foreign to consumers of comics or genre television over the years. Her obsession cannot be sated through physical violence. What ailed her was not her father’s existence, which when exhausted does not change her inside. Clouds do not part. The sun doesn’t rise earlier than it did the day before. The saddest truth for The Huntress was that the darkness settled in her soul the second Michael passed from her world.
Sara represents Helena’s opposite. There’s a little bit of the trope of the current girlfriend showing she’s better than the ex. Sara expresses a faint jealousy of Oliver’s ex-girlfriend during exposition about The Huntress. Circumstances changed both girls’ lives. Sara survived on an island, battled Slade, and somewhere aligned with the League of Assassins. The idea of choice falls through one’s mind like water through a strainer in a survival situation. Oliver learned the value of choice last season and tries to impart that to the women in his life. There were different ways, he said, to deal with an issue. Violence and death needn’t happen when there are many possibilities. Oliver spares lives through practicality and reason. Bertinelli’s killed by the combative SWAT leader portrayed by the legendary Lychon Munro. Sara doesn’t kill Helena. The actual plan involves ‘trapping’ Helena, but that plan is shot to hell. The bird theme, intimated in the title, reaches its neat completion. It’s followed through using Helena, the bird caged by her anger, resentment, and ‘darkness,’ and then the bird still caged after the cage opened. She is the bird of prey, preying on herself, doomed to do so because of that damned darkness that inspires Laurel.
The parallel plot in the flashback does not end neatly, without hurt feelings and bloodshed, because Sara ties up the man Slade wants. Sara’s confronted by a gun to her body and a refusal to return to the boat, but one man’s life is important than another, and so Oliver’s life will be spared at another’s. Sara needs Laurel’s support to stop her from repeating what she on the freighter. There are other parallels throughout the episode: Roy/Slade; Roy/Helena; Helena/Sara; Slade/Helena. Sara lashes out at Oliver when he tells her to back off during Laurel’s prosecution of Helena’s father by reminding him about Slade. There’s a lot of repetition in the episode, too. The shape of the episode is a circle, but variation of theme and expansion of theme
-Truth’s another matter in the episode. Thea rants about untruth around her, praising her brother for his honesty, right before Slade takes her to destroy that trust she thought existed between her and her brother.
-John Behring directed. I didn’t catch the names of the two writers of tonight’s episode.