Sooner or later, the past always comes calling. For most people, this can be a problem. But for a mask-wearing vigilante, it can be downright deadly. In tonight’s all new Arrow, entitled “Birds of Prey,” Oliver Queen must try to right a past wrong as Jessica De Gouw’s Helena Bertinelli—better known to DC Comics fans as the Huntress—returns to Starling City.
“We love Jessica and the character of Helena Bertinelli, and we had been talking throughout the year about bringing the Huntress back under a variety of different scenarios,” explained Executive Producer Marc Guggenheim at a press event last week. “We knew that we wanted to return Laurel to the DA’s office. That led to the idea of ‘What if Frank Bertinelli is being prosecuted and the Huntress came back to town?’”
The last time Arrow fans saw Helena, it was in Season 1’s “The Huntress Returns,” and things with Oliver didn’t exactly end on a positive note. Unsurprisingly, it’s a new, darker Huntress who shows up in Starling this time around.
“It’s been a year, and so she’s been all over the world, chasing her dad to no avail, and then comes back to Starling where it all began,” De Gouw elaborated. “She’s dealing with not only encountering her father again, but also Oliver, Laurel and this town that she was at one point thriving in. So she’s a little different this time around.”
In “Birds of Prey,” Helena returns to avenge the death of her fiancé at the hands of her mobster father. However, an unanticipated turn of events finds her holding much of the DA’s office hostage, including the just restored Laurel Lance. Needless to say, this doesn’t sit well with Sara Lance, leading to two high-stakes fights between the Huntress and Canary.
However, while fans will be thrilled to see two of their favorite street-level characters throw down on screen, it does leave Helena in somewhat of a unique place. While before she may have played the antagonist, in tonight’s episode, she’s an out-and-out villain.
“[With this new Helena], there’s a darkness, but she’s also let go of a lot,” De Gouw said. “She’s let go of all these complications and has a very focused aim. And as you see, she succeeds in doing what she wants to do. But is that ever really what you want?”
With momentum building after the past two episodes, and Oliver’s hunt for Slade Wilson in full force, you’d be forgiven for wondering why a trip into Oliver’s past makes sense right now. Especially as we move into the season’s final episodes. However, as Guggenheim explained, it’s to help demonstrate how much Oliver’s grown over the past year. He’s in a much different place.
“For us, the advantage for bringing the Huntress back at this point in the season is that it gave us a chance to articulate how far Oliver has come in his evolution,” he explained. “Had he met Helena today, there may not even be a Huntress. He may have solved the problem of her vendetta in a different way.”
However, that doesn’t mean it’s entirely about Oliver. The Arrow team was also keen on moving Helena’s story forward. After all, she has a destiny as well.
“We went into this with the plan to wrap up the whole ‘Helena and her father’ storyline,” said Guggenheim. “We had to end that story and really close that chapter of Helena’s life so we could start a new one for her.”
Of course, that would seem to suggest that we haven’t seen the last of the Huntress on Arrow, and sure enough, Guggenheim not only confirmed that they have an idea for a Huntress episode in season 3, but also revealed that he wouldn’t mind giving the Birds of Prey a proper nod on the show with an episode that teams Helena up with Canary and Felicity Smoak (in the Oracle role).
The actress who embodies her is certainly game, especially since it’s clear that whatever lies in store for Helena and the Huntress, it’s likely to be much different than what we’ve seen so far.
“The way this episode ends, Helena’s in such a different position and headspace that it’s opened up a whole new set of possibilities for her,” De Gouw shared. “She was so set on one path for such a long time and now that’s been realized, and it’s not what she wanted. It just frees her up for an entirely different life.”
“Birds of Prey,” the latest all-new episode of Arrow, airs tonight on The CW at 8/7c.