Disclaimer: This recap may have some holes because the commercial breaks were a bit choppy during the East Coast airing.
Well, well, guess who’s found himself a new love interest? Up until tonight’s episode, I assumed Oliver was going to have only two leading ladies this season: Laurel and IT girl (hey, one can hope!). But how wrong I was. Turns out, there’s a third gal in the running for his heart. Meet Helena — the daughter of a dangerous mob boss, who, much like Arrow, is out for vengeance.
Though I’m usually a sucker for such romantic setups — two characters who initially dislike each other trade sob stories and end up bonding — it didn’t work for me here. After all, these kinds of setups are most gratifying when the characters come together after some slow simmering romantic tension. When everything happens in the course of an episode — as it did tonight — there’s no real build-up or payoff.
Before I write an entire essay on the do’s and don’ts of creating romantic tension though, let’s start from the beginning of the episode:
The last time we checked in on Oliver he was making an effort to bond with his mom over burgers at Starling City’s finest diner, but at the start of tonight’s episode he’s back to forgetting his family commitments. It’s not until he gets a call from Thea that he remembers he’s supposed to meet his mother for lunch.
While Oliver waits for his mother outside her office, a motorcyclist passes by and takes aim at Moira’s colleague. The colleague gets hit with a bullet, while Moira falls to the ground beside him.
Oliver rushes over to make sure she’s ok and then tries to chase down the motorcyclist on foot, but the driver manages to escape.
Later, we see the shooter put a big X on the photo of the man who was just shot. Then the shooter removes their helmet and we see that…gasp, it’s a girl! (Though, I’m guessing that didn’t really come as a shock to anyone).
At the hospital, Moira, who suffered a concussion from the fall, asks Oliver why he ran after the shooter. He claims he was trying to get the license plate number on the motorcycle, but Thea doesn’t buy his story.
Det. Lance shows up and informs Oliver that his mom wasn’t the shooter’s target. The shooter was after Moira’s colleague who apparently had ties to the mob.
Much to Dig’s dismay, this gives Oliver the brilliant idea to go undercover with the mob. Though first he has to convince Thea to forgo a night of clubbing to babysit their mother. Surprisingly, she relents but not before giving him some attitude. On his way out, he meets Tommy, who, after complimenting Thea on her dress (probably not the best move considering she recently confessed her love for him…), tells Oliver that he’s taking Laurel on a date.
You see Tommy showed up to Laurel’s apartment earlier with takeout and managed to convince her to go to dinner with him. To her credit, Laurel agreed to the date—and the takeout—without her usual snippy attitude (shocker!).
Oliver flinches slightly when he finds out about their date but he plays it off. He tells Tommy he’s totally fine with it and then “jokingly” threatens to break Tommy’s neck if he ever hurts Laurel. Ha ha?
NEXT: Oliver and Helena bond at dinner…
Anyway, it’s not like Oliver has much time to sulk. He’s got a mob to infiltrate! Oliver goes to meet mafia man Frank Bertinelli, whose men have been targeted by the motorcycle shooter. He figures if he gets close enough to Bertinelli he’ll be able to figure out who’s behind killings. During their meeting, Bertinelli says he wants the contract to build the Queen Consolidated Applied Science Center. Though Moira wasn’t in support of it, Oliver agrees to give it to him. Afterward, Bertinelli introduces Oliver to his daughter Helena (aka the motorcycle shooter!), and then sends them to dinner to discuss the contract.
Speaking of dinner, Tommy and Laurel head to an Indian restaurant on their date. Things seem to be going well until Tommy attempts to pay the bill, only to have his card rejected and then, to add insult to injury, confiscated. Ouch.
At the other dinner, Helena wastes no time asking Oliver about his time on the island. She wants to know if there was ever a day on the island when he actually felt happy about getting away from everything. He tells her there were many days where he didn’t feel lost, but free. It’s supposed to be a “deep” conversation, but it feels contrived especially because it doesn’t really make sense for Helena, who is supposedly a tough character, to let her guard down so quickly with Oliver. Also, and maybe it’s just me, but the two characters really seem to lack chemistry. They continue to talk until well after the restaurant has cleared out. Oliver compliments Helena’s cross necklace and she reveals that it was a gift from her fiance. He’s clearly disappointed (at least a lot more disappointed than when he found out Tommy and Laurel were going on a date), but then she tells him that her fiance is dead. (He’s still got a shot!). Oliver tells her it’s nice to be around someone he can actually be himself with, which again feels completely contrived. The dinner date is interrupted when Oliver gets an urgent call from Dig. Before he leaves, Helena warns him to be wary of her father.
Dig tells Oliver that Bertinelli’s enforcer, Salvati, has been paying visits to people who owe the mob protection money. Oliver isn’t interested in intervening but Dig says people are ending up in the hospital because of this enforcer. Dig warns him that the next target is the owner of Russo’s, and Oliver tells him he just finished up a dinner there with Bertinelli’s daughter. “Oliver, you’re supposed to be going undercover — not speed-dating,” says Dig (he really gets the best lines).
Before Bertinelli’s enforcer can hurt the Russo’s owner, Arrow swoops in. He’s not the only one that shows up though. Helena, who has her motorcycle helmet on, also intervenes. Eventually, Arrow and Helena spar with each other and before she can get away he takes her helmet off. He’s shocked to discover that his new crush is the motorcycle assassin.
Back at the Queen mansion, Moira gets a visit from a mystery man — the same one we’ve seen her plotting with in previous episodes. He wants to know if her convictions have changed following her brush with death. She tells him they haven’t. He seems convinced and leaves. (I, however, am not so convinced). Moira gets a much more welcome visitor later on when Walter finally returns home and tells her that he missed her.
Elsewhere, Bertinilli meets with China White, who tells him that she and the Triad are not responsible for the attacks on his employees. Det. Lance and his colleague listen in on the conversation and determine that Starling City’s latest assassin isn’t an experienced shot.
At his hideaway, Oliver wonders why Helena would target her own family, which prompts Dig to ask him if he’s falling for her. After all, since when does Oliver care about the motivations of his enemies? Oliver insists he’s in control of the situation but Dig doesn’t believe him.
NEXT: Oliver makes a move on Helena…
Later, while watching security footage from Russo’s, Det. Lance spots Oliver dining with Helena. He decides to do the noble thing and warns Oliver to stay away from Bertinelli’s daughter.
Meanwhile, Tommy interrupts his father’s fencing session to find out why his credit cards aren’t working. When his father removes his fencing mask (this show is ALL about removing masks), we discover that he’s the same man who’s been paying Moira visits. Tommy’s dad gives him a harsh lecture and tells him he won’t be getting anymore money from his trust fund. Disheartened (and broke), Tommy goes to sulk at Laurel’s place. Again, she manages to hold back the snark long enough to comfort him. Does this mean we have to like her now?
Totally disregarding Det. Lance’s advice, Oliver tracks down Helena at her fiance’s grave site. She tells him that his death changed her. As she goes to leave, she and Oliver are taken hostage by Salvati, who has figured out that Helena is the motorcycle assassin. Salvati tells Helena that her father ordered him to kill her fiance because they discovered he was gathering evidence against the mob to hand over to the FBI. Helena tells him she was the one talking to the FBI, not her fiance. As Salvati takes aim at her, Oliver intervenes. Oliver and Helena work to take down Salvati’s men. She ends up killing Salvati by snapping his neck. “I didn’t have a choice,” she says to Oliver. “No one can know my secret.” Sound familiar?
Back at the precinct, the cops are wondering who killed Salvati. They determine that it’s probably not Arrow because breaking necks isn’t his style. Det. Lance however says he hopes Bertinilli thinks Arrow is responsible, because if he thinks the Triad has anything to do with it Starling City could become a war zone.
Meanwhile, Oliver meets Helena in her room and confronts her about her quest for vengeance. In response, she calls him out as Starling City’s vigilante (and so another person is in on the secret!). She tells him the island changed him in a way that only someone like her can understand. She starts to cry and he kisses her. Again, I know I’m supposed to feel something here but with such little build-up I just couldn’t connect.
But maybe I’m the only one. Let me know what you think about this new relationship in the comments.
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