Fuck yeah, melancholy...
Arrow 2x17 - UGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH

-Another Huntress episode, which means this show takes a steep nosedive in quality. I mean, fucking Deadshot—DEADSHOT—gets treated better than Huntress on this series. So, folks, count yourself lucky that my entire review isn’t

-WHY DON’T THEY JUST LET HELENA KILL FRANK?

-WHY DON’T THEY JUST LET HELENA KILL FRANK?

-WHY DON’T THEY JUST LET HELENA KILL FRANK?

-WHY DON’T THEY JUST LET HELENA KILL FRANK?

-WHY DON’T THEY JUST LET HELENA KILL FRANK?

-Seriously, even this new and improved Hippie Oliver 2.0 is fine with killing when expedient—Slade, Cyrus Volk, Count Vertigo, a bunch of Russian guards. Sara’s killed the Dollmaker and a bunch of League assassins. Laurel emptied a clip into Officer Daley. And as far as Ollie knows, he killed Malcolm Merlyn in cold blood, just like Deadshot. Where does he get off telling Helena that she doesn’t deserve her vengeance?

-Sara, same question. I thought you were supposed to be sticking up for women and shit, yet you don’t at all question Team Arrow telling you that Helena is Ollie’s ‘psycho ex’? You don’t once ask why it’s okay to kill Slade but not Frank Bertinelli? You don’t even ask why everyone is so worried about Laurel being harmed because of her prosecuting Frank? Because that’s seriously inexplicable.

-And show, why are you treating Laurel ‘blackmailing’ her way into getting her job back as her turning to the Dark Side? The DA recruited her as BAIT. She and everyone in that courthouse should have a class-action lawsuit going against the city. Laurel ‘just’ getting her job back is pretty much her being a saint compared to the book deal/talk show circuit/lawsuit/docudrama movie she should be gunning for. 

-In an episode named after a female team book, we have the two premiere members of that team getting into a catfight over Ollie. Dude. DUDE.

-Also, what the hell is up with this subplot where Roy smooches on some other woman to push Thea away? I can suspend my disbelief for alien gods from a place called Apokolips invading the Earth, but c’mon—how many times has a relationship ended because one partner cheated on the other for their own good? I thought you were better than this Gossip Girl nonsense, Arrow.

-At least this dumb Tom & Jerry game between Helena and Frank is over—which of course means that, by preventing Helena from just killing Frank in the first place, all Ollie accomplished to was to cause injury or endangerment to scores more innocent people. If not outright cop-killings and shooting deaths. Oh, and he denied Helena the satisfaction of killing Frank herself.

-Which brings me to two questions. Well, three, really. 1. How is Helena able to recruit henchmen to deliberately stage a hostage crisis which will almost certainly result in death or capture? 2. Why is Helena being portrayed as such a psychopath that she’s willing to kill innocent people and cops?

-Yes, she was roguish in the comics, but all she did there was kill or severely injure CRIMINALS. She wasn’t some kind of monster. It’s like… on Arrow, Ollie is ALREADY killing/maiming criminals, so even though it would be canonical for Helena to ONLY be as bad as HE IS, the show chooses instead to adapt the sexist “Helena is worse than the real heroes” dynamic and makes her a torturous psychopath. So I guess if they made a show where the hero killed innocent people, Helena would rape people, and if they made a show where the hero was a rapist, Helena would be a pedophile. HELENA BERTINELLI MUST ALWAYS BE THE BAD EXAMPLE THAT SHOWS OTHER HEROES AREN’T THAT BAD.

-Like, fuck, if we’re going to make her THAT bad, why not name this character after a villainess? There are plenty in the DC universe who are far worse than Helena, why not adapt one of them? Tarantula. She could be Tarantula and I would not have any problems with that characterization. 

-Third question: Okay, so we’re still under the pretext that Ollie is keeping Helena from murdering Frank for her own good (even though he’s willing to literally kill Helena to stop her; we had to destroy the village in order to save it). At this point, WHAT’S THE POINT? Helena has killed and tortured numerous people, both guilty and innocent. What’s one more really going to do?

-Oh, and the ending scene has Ollie apologizing to Helena, so the show knows they’ve done wrong by Helena—why put this in an episode full of Helena hurting and endangering innocent people? It comes off like a fig-leaf bit of pandering. “Yeah, Ollie mistreated Helena, but she really is a psychopath!” There must be a million ways to better redeem the character. Why not make her a part of the Suicide Squad?  

I know everyone has their own opinion about what should’ve been done with Sara Lance. Here’s my idea. She’s doing her thing, fighting crime, when she’s critically wounded. Saving a kid from a burning building, fighting some new supervillain, whatever. She’s taken to a hospital and it turns out she’s paralyzed from the waist down. So, naturally, she starts the recovery process, and as she recuperates, she still wants to help out—so, Felicity takes her under her wing and teaches Sara how to help out with the computers. 

As the season progresses, it turns out that although Sara can partly recover, she’ll never be fighting fit again—maybe she says “screw that noise” and goes out for a fight, but ends up almost paralyzing herself permanently. So, after the expected down of that, she decides to really go for this hacker thing. Of course, there’s only so much two Hollywood hackers can do that one can’t—she soon gets the idea that she’s wasting her potential, just shadowing Felicity, so she decides to move to a new city and see about recruiting her own ‘Diggle, Arrow, and Roy.’ 

Here’s where you bring in Helena. Ollie and Dig tell her what bad news Helena is, how she’s a killer, a psycho, and Sara points out “hey, so was I.” So, under Team Arrow’s watchful eye, and over the course of an episode, Sara sends Helena digital messages. With the help of a bank account Ollie has set up, Sara is able to use Helena as her ‘legs’ and together, they bring down a criminal enterprise—with Sara able to talk her out of killing the Big Bad by relating to Helena from her own experiences, rather than coming down on her as Judge Queen. The two keep teaming up and, long story short, Sara, Helena, and oh-let’s-say-Nyssa decide to take their show on the road, going somewhere they’re needed. Bludhaven, maybe. 

Of course, all this time Laurel has been training herself, wanting to take up Sara’s mantle, just not in so many words. She finally screws up the nerve to ask Sara if that’s okay with her, and Sara says, hell yes. She isn’t the Canary anymore. Canaries can fly, sure, but there’s only so far they can see. With her computers, Sara can see everything, be everywhere, help anyone. Laurel is free to be the Canary. Sara is an Oracle.

Arrow Binge-Watch — The Huntress Returns (no, that’s what they named the episode, guys)

—Okay, this one was done several months after the two-parter introducing Huntress, thus there was plenty of time to course-correct what they had done. So, did they? Ha. Ha ha ha.

-We start off with Helena going undercover at a strip club to kill a guy, natch. It’d be churlish to criticize Arrow for a little female nudity when, let’s be honest, the only way they could be more obvious with the scenes where Stephen Amell exercises with his shirt off is if they played Careless Whisper on a loop and put Vaseline on the lens like when Captain Kirk sees a pretty girl. But with the rest of the episode’s treatment of Helena, it just comes off as insulting. “I am the token bad girl! I’m just supposed to act psycho and be sexy!”

-As it turns out, Helena’s father, Sir Not Appearing In This Episode, pretty much got off the hook entirely with the legal system by ratting out his compatriots. So you’d think Helena could solve her whole problem by going to some mob guy and saying “hey, help me kill this rat” instead of having to threaten Ollie into helping her, but whatever. You’d also think the fact that Ollie’s pretentious drivel about Bertinelli facing ‘REAL JUSTICE’ having been proven a hundred percent wrong would affect his attitude towards Helena in some way. Nooope.

-Yes, this episode doubles down on the Psycho Helena stuff, making her almost totally unsympathetic and quite possibly a cop-killer. I’m not at all sure why you would take a popular heroine, one of the leads (in fact) of Birds of Prey, DC’s premier book for women, and turn her into an out-and-out villain when you could use any other villainess for the same thing. It’s like DC making a big to-do about Dick Grayson showing up in The Dark Knight Rises, then it turns out they’re just using the name for an alcoholic bum character. What’s the point?

-Not actual dialogue.

Ollie: So, Helena, with decades of comic book history to your name and two distinct incarnations, both of which have incredibly interesting backstories, what are you going to get up to in this, your return episode?

Helena: I thought I’d do some cliched bunny-boiler antics, you know, a little Fatal Attraction, a little Basic Instinct. I KNOW YOU LOVE ME, OLLIE! THAT’S A PRIORITY TO ME NOW FOR SOME REASON EVEN THOUGH I HAVE EVERY REASON TO HATE YOUR GUTS!

Ollie: Well, I guess you’d better kill something super-cute so we lose all sympathy for you as a person.

Helena: On it. *takes off Felicity’s glasses, boils them*

Ollie: NOOOOOOOO!

-Let’s review. On the one side, we have Mr. Bertinelli, who has killed countless people and the law has refused to punish him, which is Ollie’s whole deal. On the other side, we have Helena, who is completely obsessed with killing him, but you know, her heart’s in the right place or whatever. Previously, we had Ollie stop Helena from killing him supposedly for her own psychological benefit. HERE, HE’S WILLING TO KILL HELENA TO STOP HER FROM KILLING HER FATHER. Seriously, what the fuck is Ollie’s problem? And this is after Helena has protected Ollie’s secret identity. What exact reasoning does Ollie have not to let Helena get her revenge and then hope she fucks off? If she keeps killing people after that, yeah, sure, take her out then. But why would you want to continue antagonizing this woman instead of just letting her have this one?

-In case you think I’m harping on this too much, in, like, the very next episode, Deadshot, Diggle’s arch-enemy, shows up with government agency ARGUS hot on his tail. Ollie straight-up asks Diggle if he wants Deadshot arrested. Diggle says no, and from there on out, the plan is pretty much them murdering Deadshot because he killed Diggle’s brother. This is the exact same situation Helena was in, wanting to get revenge for her fiance’s murder, but for some reason, in Helena episodes Ollie is a moral authority with the highest regard for the sanctity of life, and whenever she’s not around, he has to really think about not killing a catatonic mental patient (no, seriously).

-Also—this is just a bit odd—in the Nu52, Helena is Bruce Wayne’s daughter from an alternate dimension. The show, obviously enough, uses the Helena Bertinelli incarnation, and cast her with a woman so pale, her next appearance was in a vampire show. Later, DC also introduced a Helena Bertinelli in their comics, but instead of looking like the character’s portrayal in the popular TV show where she’s a recurring guest, she’s African-American or something? I mean, okay, but shouldn’t this sync up a little? But then, we are talking about the company that spent approximately fifty years taking break-out character Chloe Sullivan from their Superman TV show and putting her in a Superman comic book…

Arrow Binge-Watch - The Huntress

-Okay, short version: seemingly inspired by Ollie’s own vigilantism—although this point the show weirdly doesn’t go on—a guy in a motorcycle suit shoots a crime lord while he’s right next to Ollie’s mom, injuring her so that Ollie pretty much swears to kill the guy (remember that for later), until it turns out that the guy is Helena Bertinelli, the daughter of a crime boss who is getting back at her father for having her fiance killed. Which I suppose is a better origin than ‘I was molested as a child, NOW I HATE CRIME,’ and the show does make it clear she was gathering evidence on her father before her fiance died, that was just the impetus for her to start killing people herself. While Ollie is undercover investigating the Bertinellis, he falls for Helena because… they’ve both… had hard times? It’s pretty clumsily written, and you’d think that a story about two people falling in love because they’re both killer vigilantes would have them fall for each other after they find out they’re both killer vigilantes, not before. BUT ANYWAY.

-Oh, Helena almost gets caught because: 1. Helena and Ollie go on a date to an Italian restaurant. 2. Green Arrow and Huntress fight bad guys in said Italian restaurant. 3. One of the bad guys finds Helena’s cross there and assumes, not that she dropped it during the date, but that she is actually a killer vigilante. 4. It would’ve been hilarious if she HAD dropped it during the date, but yeah, total coincidence, she’s also the Huntress. 5. Whole thing is resolved by Ollie and Helena jointly killing the four thugs who take them prisoner, JUSTICE.

-So, Huntress’s story in both a lot of the comics and when she shows up in adaptations is that she’s much more violent and unruly than your typical superhero, making stiffs like Batman and Nightwing wonder if they should trust/be involved with her. So on the one hand, that is canon, but on the other, it goes hand-in-hand with the fact that she’s a woman and the more ‘responsible’ heroes she’s contrasted with tend to be men. And a lot of these adaptations miss the point that she eventually joins up with the Birds of Prey, is rehabilitated AFTER Barbara wrongly treats her like a loose cannon TO BE rehabilitated, and she basically ends up an amazing person.

-Also, the type of story I described works because guys like Batman and Nightwing have a strict no-killing rule, which is the entire point of them being contrasted with the murderous Helena. Ollie, on the other hand, doesn’t really have qualms about killing—this story is just pretending he does. Ollie talks a good game about only killing as a last resort, but his go-to move is launching huge arrows into henchmen’s chests. When we see he has a bunch of tranquilizer darts available that can knock people out instantly with no ill effects. If he cares so much about the sanctity of life, why doesn’t he just use those darts all the time, or appropriate the One-Touch Taser Wand we see the Dodger using in a later episode instead of beating the hell out of people?

-What’s worse: the show has Ollie briefly convincing Helena to use ‘his’ nonlethal methods of fighting crime—first time we’ve seen those getting a work-out—and she’s fine with it… until they go on a date, she forces them to sit together with Tommy and old-Ollie-flame Dinah, and Ollie’s tepid chemistry with Laurel is just too much for her! In a jealous rage, she decides that killing is awesome, with Ollie later saying that the look in her eyes convinced him she’s just too far gone. Not her actually killing people, mind you, but her being jealous over Ollie interacting with someone she asked him to sit with. I think the psychological term for this is bitches be crazy.

-Now, the two-parter throws in a lot of spackle to cover up the basic hypocrisy of the plot they’ve chosen. We’re told that Helena’s bad killing will start a gang war, unlike Ollie’s good killing, and this will result in a lot of innocent people being killed. Well, gang war starts, and it seems to be a bunch of bad people going to another bad person’s house, full of more bad people, and them all killing each other. Not seeing the downside here, Emerald Archer.

-Ollie, of course, shows up as the Hood—okay, so we can name him after his headgear, but not after the highly distinctive weapons he shoots all over the city, okay show—and not only saves Helena’s father from the assassins, but stops Helena herself from killing him. (This results in the elder Bertinelli getting his hands on a crossbow and almost killing Helena, by the way. THANKS OLLIE.) Which is just Ollie being a prick, really. After all, this is the guy who swore vengeance on his mother’s attacker until she gave him a boner (the attacker, not his mom—although, he does have way more chemistry with his sister than with Laurel, I’M JUST SAYING). And will later give the Count irreversible brain damage by injecting him with a deadly drug while the cops are already on their way to arrest him, his intention fully being to kill the guy. And will threaten to kill the Dodger when he refuses to surrender.

-Why does Helena’s father even keep a laptop full of incriminating evidence—supposedly compiled by a man he murdered, at that—in his house anyway? One little search warrant and he’s done.

-To say nothing of the fact that now he knows Helena is the Huntress, so even if he’s in jail, he can still send assassins after her or blab her identity to the press. Since Ollie’s moral code is fine with killing people who could reveal his secret, even if they’re just mooks, DOESN’T THAT AUTOMATICALLY MEAN THE GUY SHOULD GET AN ARROW? Like, how many ways can one guy be a hypocrite?

-Who is Ollie, in the end, to tell anyone how they should take their revenge? Imagine, say, a woman’s been raped and she kills the guy who did it. Now, I think most of us would say that’s justifiable, especially in Genre Fiction Land. She’s the one who was wronged, she decides the appropriate response. Okay, now say Spider-Man stops her before she can pull the trigger: “I can’t let you do it, killing is never okay, let’s let the police handle him.” Okay, a little controversial, but Spidey’s a stand-up guy—in his own life, he’s been wronged by the Green Goblin, Doc Ock, etc, and he never kills them. He has a morally defensible position.

-Now imagine THE PUNISHER steps in and says “hey, lady, I fully agree that killing is sometimes okay, but as someone who has no stake at all in this fight and wasn’t wronged at all by this guy, I’ve decided that you’re not allowed to kill. And in fact, I’m gonna be as condescending as possible and say that this is for your own good. Killing is bad for your soul. That doesn’t stop me from doing it, of course, but still!” That would be ridiculous, right? Which is why, in all these situations, Pun just goes “Plug the bastard. You can’t do it? Fine. Let me do it. Fuck this asshole.” Because it would be completely insane for him to set himself up as some arbitrary moral authority, which is what Ollie does.

-What’s REALLY sexist—and, you know, take your pick—is that none of the people on the List have personally wronged Ollie. He’s taking them all on out of this sorta civic duty/daddy issues thing, so you can see how this is coded as a rational male thing. Apparently okay! Helena is killing people out of her (wholly justified) rage over someone close to her being murdered and these specific people being in on it. Her response is emotional, female—in fact, her entire performance is all emotions and feeling, in contrast to Robocop Stephen Amell—and coded as bad. Imagine this same story being told with Ollie just being bros with a male hero like Adrian Chase/the Vigilante, who eventually goes too far and estranges himself from Ollie. Can you even picture it, or would this story even be worth telling without the cliché of the sexy dangerous bad girl who ends up being TOO sexy dangerous and our virtuous hero should probably date a kindhearted blonde instead!!!

-Now, I don’t mind a female character being portrayed negatively. It happens—not every woman is a saint, after all. But I do care about the thoughtlessness of this portrayal. Geoff Johns and company are writing this arc as if it’s just another Batman story, with Bruce/Ollie having a moral high ground that just doesn’t exist within the world of the story. Why not take a minute and explore what would happen if, for once, Helena hooked up with someone who was just as or even more violent than her? Why not have Helena be the one who leaves in disgust when she sees what non-stop killing has done to Ollie as a person? Why just regurgitate the same story that’s always told with Huntress when you’re supposed to be writing her in new, interesting circumstances—isn’t that the whole reason you made Ollie a killer in the first place? If you don’t want to do that, fuck it, bring in the boxing glove arrows. You might as well—at least those have kitsch appeal.

-By the way, since it turns out that someone was responsible for sabotaging the yacht and thus Ollie’s father’s death, I trust he’s going to take the guilty party to jail rather than even THINKING of doing something as untoward as killing them, just because they personally wronged him. Because if he were to do that, he’d be the biggest douchebag hypocrite of all time, wouldn’t he?

Arrow Binge-Watch — Season 1

-So far I’m giving this show low marks on reinventing villains in Nolanesque. The goal is to basically pull a Heath Ledger, taking an outre supervillain, keeping them recognizable, but making them fit into a more realistic world. Arrow’s choices are just boring. The Royal Flush Gang is a bunch of bank robbers in branded goalie masks who rob people because their dad lost his job in the recession. Firefly is an evil fireman with a tattoo of a firefly who dies after one appearance (better than him being an outraged Joss Whedon fan, I suppose). Deadshot—a pretty compelling character who happens to have a garish costume—is now a generic assassin who tattoos his victims’ names on his body. He doesn’t even have a mustache. NOT EVEN A MUSTACHE.

-And seriously, if we’re going to make fun of Riddler for sending clues to his own crimes, let’s talk about how stupid tattooing everyone you’ve ever killed on your body is. Say it’s summer, it’s hot, you want to go to a swimming pool, you go there, wearing your swim trunks, someone gets curious about all the random names you have tattooed on your body, they take two seconds to Google those names on their phone, OH, it’s a bunch of people who were all killed by the same mysterious assassin. Wonder if I should call the police? YES. Now you’re either in jail or never able to go swimming again. SMART, DEADSHOT, REAL SMART.

-But at least he’s not a cowboy like in Smallville. What the fuck was up with Smallville?

-And I’m sorry, it’s just dumb that Ollie Queen, billionaire playboy philanthropist, is supposedly a captain in the Russian Mob under his own name. He can’t wear a disguise and say his name is, oh, Batches Balone? Or, since Ollie is so recognizable, they fake that Diggle is the torpedo, giving him something to do?

-Also, what’s the point of Ollie’s crazy green Winter Soldier eye shadow? It seems like it would take a while to put on and yet whenever someone sees him with it, they pretty much recognize him instantly. So—does it just make him feel pretty?

—I do like that Ollie’s solution to talking to people who know him as both the Starling City Vigilante (yes, that’s a much better name for a superhero than Green Arrow, well done show) and Oliver Queen is to just talk to them while facing the other direction. Apparently it takes him a whole season to think of wearing a mask. Origin stories! Blammo!

-The worst thing I can say about this show is that it plays with some pretty interesting concepts, but never really engages with them. Moira Queen is involved with the Big Bad, but she’s one of those boring sympathetic villains who only KINDA wants to kill thousands of people. Ollie is introduced as a killer, yet (just like in Man of Steel) the show immediately backs off this to say he’s not that ruthless, he just kills people a little. If you’re not REALLY interested in telling a story about Ollie being a crazed vigilante, why did you bring it up in the first place, show? AND make half your series about flashbacks to Ollie becoming a crazed vigilante? 

-And you know the joke, spearheaded by Grant Morrison, of Batman being a rich dude who dresses up in rubber to beat up poor people? Well, this show kinda plays with that in the Royal Flush episode. Ollie is devoted to only going after white-collar criminals and crime lords on his list, and leaves street crime to the police. Diggle—the black, middle-class guy—urges him to go after the Royal Flush Gang. Later in the episode, it turns out that the gang only turned to crime after they lost everything when Ollie’s father moved their jobs to China. So we’re sorta looking at the socioeconomic implications of this whole thing, but not really coming out and asking “hey, should a rich guy be shooting fucking arrows into poor people if they commit crimes?” 

-Speaking of, Diggle and Ollie’s relationship can be interesting—they give good odd couple—it’s at its worst when it’s just Diggle being Rhodey and Ollie being Tony Stark and the wise, straight-talking black man telling the irresponsible white boy what he should do, being right all the time and Ollie just having to shut up and listen to him instead of being obviously wrong. It’s just like—yawn, because it’s supposed to be Ollie being a near-sociopathic war machine who’s on a crusade and Diggle being a surrogate for the audience who questions Ollie’s assumptions and them both coming at complicated, shades of gray situations from their own unique perspectives, not the Goofus and Gallant of superhero morality.

-Case in point. The series adapts Huntress, because this show is the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter of the Batman universe, but they switch Diggle to Always Right Mode and have him immediately complaining about Helena being a killer, bad news, etc. Like, dude? You know your boss hasn’t been using Nerf products this whole time, right? I’ll get to this more in another post, but gosh, I bet all the Huntress fans who tuned in to see their fave in live-action loved having her portrayed a psychopath who sleeps with Ollie only for him and Diggle to have a long talk about just what an irredeemable monster she is. After all, killing people because their names are in a book is one thing

World’s Finest by Ksennin.
Who doesn’t like some classic, if unfinished, Peej/Hunt? These two have a weird history, if you think about it. Best friends in their pre-Crisis incarnations, then hardly knowing each other post-Crisis, and now best friends again in the Nuboot, deleting other relationships the two had among modern readers like Power Girl with Terra and Huntress with the Birds of Prey. Nostalgia is a helluva drug.

World’s Finest by Ksennin.

Who doesn’t like some classic, if unfinished, Peej/Hunt? These two have a weird history, if you think about it. Best friends in their pre-Crisis incarnations, then hardly knowing each other post-Crisis, and now best friends again in the Nuboot, deleting other relationships the two had among modern readers like Power Girl with Terra and Huntress with the Birds of Prey. Nostalgia is a helluva drug.

"Handcuff Night" turns out unsatisfactorily…

"Handcuff Night" turns out unsatisfactorily…

Huntress and Black Lightning are kinda slackers in a crisis. “Guys, Arkham Asylum has been compromised, all of Gotham’s terrorists, criminal masterminds, and mass murderers are escaping!”
"I’ll take the guy who plots pun-themed crimes."
"I’ll take the girl who has sex with Poison Ivy."

Huntress and Black Lightning are kinda slackers in a crisis. “Guys, Arkham Asylum has been compromised, all of Gotham’s terrorists, criminal masterminds, and mass murderers are escaping!”

"I’ll take the guy who plots pun-themed crimes."

"I’ll take the girl who has sex with Poison Ivy."

rosewilsontheravager:

Well… glad to know I’m not the only one who snickers immaturely whenever I see the name of Barda’s weapon.

steepedsea:

She calls it a Mega-Rod.