'Arrow' Season 2, episode 17: The ladies take charge in 'Birds of Prey'

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"Arrow" Season 2 moves away from Oliver just a little bit in order to focus on the ladies in "Birds of Prey." Some of the ladies anyway -- all of those most important to "Birds of Prey" can fall into the category of Oliver Queen's ex-girlfriends.

The results are as awkward (and occasionally amusing) as they are violent.

And you think your ex is nuts?

Problems begin when a police sting on a guy named Hugo Mannheim yields more than everyone bargained for: Frank Bertinelli. The on-the-lam mob boss is back in Starling City, but he has way bigger problems than getting caught by the police.

That's because Helena Bertinelli, aka the Huntress, aka Oliver's most emotionally disturbed ex-girlfriend, has been leaving a trail of bodies around the world in her efforts to track down dear old dad. With Frank back in custody, everyone knows it's just a matter of time before Helena makes her purple presence known.

All of this is kind of awkward for Oliver to explain to Sara, his current emotionally disturbed girlfriend.

At least Laurel is doing better ...

Moving on to Oliver's third-most emotionally disturbed ex (because you know Sara gets position number 2), Laurel is actually trying to not be a mess now. She is attending AA meetings and at least making an effort to have a career again.

That job hunt gets a boost when old boss Adam restores Laurel's position at the District Attorney's office. Why? Let's just say she has been designated as the perfect choice to prosecute Bertinelli.

If all this smells kind of fishy, that's because it is. After all, Laurel is expendable to the city these days.

Not quite the trial anyone was expecting

Everything goes from bad-but-status-quo to really, really, really bad in an instant when Helena shows up at the courthouse to deal with her father, the old-style-justice way. But it gets a little more complicated when she -- and Laurel the lawyer -- finds out that the "trial" is just a trap to lure Helena to the police.

It's just too bad that the police aren't too great at their jobs when it comes to vigilantes. Instead of saving the day, the cops just get Frank out while his daughter takes hostages and demands the return of dear old dad.

Naturally, Laurel is one of those hostages. And naturally, Sara isn't too pleased about this.

Sara has a precedent for bad, emotional decisions

It may be important to look quickly back at the time on the island to explain what happens next. Five years earlier, Oliver is being held and tortured by Slade Wilson while Sara is back on land with the escapees from the freighter.

She is not, however, cool with just leaving Oliver to get branded by his former friend. When Slade demands a man named Hendrick be returned to fix the ship's engines, Sara doesn't waste a lot of time in complying.

This makes it not-so-surprising then that Sara thinks jumping straight into the hostage situation to take on Helena is a great idea. With Laurel as one of the captives, you know Sara isn't thinking straight.

Girl talk/fight

First, Sara (dressed as the Canary) just tries to get Laurel out unhurt. Unfortunately, Laurel is being all noble and brave and sober (barely) and refuses to be saved. This means that Sara is going to have to go save everyone before she can get her stubborn sister to move a muscle.

That's not so easy. Even with Sara's sonic-chirping thing, Helena isn't too startled and a full-on girl fight ensues. No slapping though -- this is more of a fight-to-the-death, drop-someone-out-a-window situation. Sara only survives the latter move by utilizing her amazing circus-silk skills.

With this rescue attempt thwarted, Helena is ready to make demands: If Frank isn't sent in to his death, she is going to start killing the hostages.

Meanwhile, Laurel is inside trying things the civilized way, having a heart-to-heart talk with Helena. This isn't entirely fun for Laurel, considering that a) Helena is psychotic and b) the last time the ladies talked, it was on that awkward double date with Tommy. So basically, Laurel doesn't get anywhere with Helena, who insists that darkness doesn't come out when you've let it in.

Darkness is a lot like mustard on a shirt that way.

SWAT teams are more trouble than their worth on TV

Oliver and Lance decide it's worth it to trade Frank for the hostages, so they set that up. Helena then escapes to their meeting point, Laurel in tow as a final bit of leverage. More fighting between Helena and Sara follows (with an assist from Laurel, who still doesn't realize she's helping out her sister), but there is no definitive result.

That only happens when a cop shoots Frank right in front of his vengeance-loving daughter. So much for that revenge, honey!

Life-changing advice is probably better-received when not coming from an ex-boyfriend

This is pretty much the end for Helena's vigilante career. Captured by the police, she loses all of her cool clothes and masking accessories. She doesn't even look that great when Oliver saunters into the interrogation room for a heart-to-heart.

Helena is sad, only partially because she didn't get to kill her dad. Oliver points out that she's hardly alone in this -- he in fact has an entire team of like-minded killer types with remorse of various sorts! The Huntress agrees to think about it and this chapter closes until at least Season 3.

Oh, and Laurel gets her job back, mostly by being mean to the District Attorney about that whole set-up thing. She has been listening to Helena on dealing with darkness, after all.

Being mean to Thea never ends well

Throughout all of this, Thea and Roy are having their own drama. Because Oliver has insisted that a too-dangerous Roy break up with his little sister, the mirakuru-addled boy is forced to resort to extreme measures. What does he do? Let's just say it's handy that Thea has finally gotten around to hiring a few more bartenders for the club. Kissing one of them resolves the situation pretty well.

But when Oliver isn't as reassuring about keeping secrets as she wanted, Thea finds herself in danger again. That's what happens when you accept a ride home from Mom's new friend, Slade Wilson.

"Arrow" airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.
Photo/Video credit: The CW