BIRDS OF PREY (2002) S01E11 “Reunion” review

Birds of Prey (Warner Bros.)

Birds of Prey is available now on DVD and digital. The series can be streaming on DC Universe in North America.

Synopsis

Two of Helena’s former classmates are murdered at their high-school reunion; Reese gets closer to learning Helena’s true identity.

Review

At some point Birds of Prey had to delve further in to the past of Helena Kyle (Ashley Scott). Given that both Batman and Catwoman were only gifted to the show for it’s opening narration it fell to the writers to try and craft a story which took place following the tragic events which took place early in Helena’s life.

Team that with the popularity of high school series Smallville and what do you get? A high school reunion episode with an X-Files twist!

“Reunion” is another prime example of Birds of Prey taking a classic TV cliche and presenting it with a contemporary twist. In fact, this is possibly one of the most inventive episodes of the season as it allows the writers to do something different, whilst bringing it full circle back to the development of Huntress’ character.

As an episode “Reunion” signifies Birds of Prey‘s most self-aware story to-date and stands alongside only the finale as one of the later episode to make sure of the great recurring cast alongside the leads.

Dare I say, the episode has everything a Birds of Prey fan could want: Helena/Reese plot development, a healthy dose of metahuman villainy, further screen time for Barbara (in scenes culled from the original pilot) and even some time for Dinah (Rachel Skarsten) to work alongside the rest of the team.

But there are still some design flaws on show. The episodes budget does mean that the VFX on our camouflaged villain are somewhat hokey but in line with what we have come to expect for a series of its time. Though they would stand up well against other series of its era, by modern standards the show does look somewhat dated when it incorporates these kinds of effects.

Given there are only two episodes left “Reunion,” as I have said, utilised footage from the unaired version of the series pilot. These scenes were the original break-up between Barbara (Dina Meyer) and Wade (Shawn Christian). The sudden change of heart is attributed to a (newly filmed) dinner between Barbara, Wade and his parents from earlier in the episode. His parents feeling that her disability is ultimately too much for them to endorse the relationship.

Birds of Prey really only toyed with using Barbara’s wheelchair as a social issue on a couple of occasions and always tied to her relationship with Wade. Though the most acceptable method of utilising the plot point at the time, the writers missed out on an opportunity to use this to start more challenging conversations about how disabilities were perceived.

Ultimately the episode belongs to Helena. Ashley Scott is able to branch out and show a softer side to the character as she meets an old crush from her high school days. Helena shy? No, not our Huntress! But yes there’s more depth to her character that comes through her exposure to people from her past.

The vulnerability that having a case so close to home has for her is also able to, finally, bring the story with Detective Reese (Shemar Moore) on leaps and bounds. When she finally opens up to him and reveals her true identity – poorly hidden by her lack of a mask – it feels like a major turning point for the series. Sadly it comes a little too late to be able to save it from cancellation.

Verdict

Birds of Prey utilises its metahuman database to veer off course in to The X-Files territory with interesting and ambitious results.

7/10

Birds of Prey stars Ashley Scott as Helena Kyle/Huntress, Dina Meyer are Barbara Gordon/Oracle, Rachel Skarsten as Dinah Redmond, Shemar Moore as Detective Jessie Reese, Mia Sara as Dr Harleen Quinzel/Harley Quinn and Ian Abercombie as Alfred Pennyworth.


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About Neil Vagg 4567 Articles
Neil is the GYCO Editorial Chief. He has a BA in Film & Tv and an MA in Scriptwriting; he currently works 9-5 as an office manager and 5-9 as a reviewer/web designer. He has been subscribing to comics for around nine years but has been reading them as long as he can remember. Favourite comics: Batman; Nightwing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and All New X-Men Favourite films: Batman (any apart from & Robin); Star Trek Generations, Underworld, Beetlejuice Favourite TV shows: Fringe; Buffy, Arrow, TBBT, Being Human UK and Star Trek TNG