‘City Of Blood’ plays like a typical pre-finale episode: there’s a lot of set-up, a whole bunch of hand-wringing and a few giant cliffhangers. Hold on to your hoods.
Let’s bitch it out…There’s nothing inherently bad about this next-to-penultimate episode, but it certainly doesn’t feel like its own standalone episode. ‘City of Blood’ is really only interested in building up the conflict for the final pair of episodes. Once you realize that everything is building to a series of cliffhangers, it’s easier to take, although there is an awful lot of whiny exposition to get through in order to get to the good stuff.
Obviously losing Moira was going to have a big impact on both Queen children. Thea (Will Holland) actually gets a double whammy when Isabel (Summer Glau) evicts her from Verdant, leaving Thea an “orphan, jobless and homeless.” By the end of the hour she’s trying to catch a train out of Starling City, but by then Blood’s (Kevin Alejandro) army has already begun their 9pm attack and hell has basically been unleashed on Starling.
Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) plotline is far less satisfying. I made my opinions about the whole Slade (an unseen Manu Bennett) vendetta clear a few episodes back and I’ve managed to repress my frustrations for the most part since then. Spending a fair chunk of this episode listening to Oliver tell everyone that he’s committing suicide by giving himself up to Slade to end the attacks is a frustrating reminder of it, though. I know that for the show to have emotional complexity, certain storylines have to be allowed to play out, but surely if we’re going down the “Oliver pays for Shado’s death” route, Oliver would figure out that it’s not Oliver that Slade wants dead, it’s Sara (an unseen Caity Lotz). As a result, the whole mopey-Ollie parts of this episode feel like a real slog.
Thankfully this is partially off-set by Laurel’s (Katie Cassidy) new take-charge attitude. Laurel has arguably had the best/worst arc of the season (worst in that the character was basically turned into an annoying bitch; best in that she’s somehow climbed all the way back to “okay”). Here Laurel manages to convince both her father (Paul Blackthorne) and Oliver to take the fight to Blood. Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and Diggle (David Ramsey) provide back-up, in their usual, comforting way. All things considered neither of them have really had that much to do of late, but their continued presence and belief in Oliver is instrumental in helping him continue the battle to save the city.
I guess if I had to name a favourite part of this preview of next week’s grand showdown, it’s Oliver tête-a-tête with Blood in the restaurant. It’s a brief scene and Oliver looks like he’s about to die, but I really appreciate that the writers essentially admit that Blood is a low-rent Malcolm Merlyn, a fanatic who believes that by destroying the city they are able to build it back up better than ever. This plot is not original, nor does it make a lot of sense, so I appreciate that Oliver tells Blood that he’s a hack who’s being used by Slade for a much larger end-game.
What that end-game consists of is uncertain. Where Sara has gone is uncertain. Whether Oliver and Laurel and Diggle can survive their respective encounters with the mirakuru-infused army of Blood supporters, including Isabel (in a fetching female-friendly armored suit) is completely clear. Tune in next week to watch our heroes kick the shit out of these wannabe villains (although likely not before a substantial part of the city takes a hit).
- The search for Oliver necessitates a visit to Amanda Waller (Cynthia Adai-Robinson) which serves to make Felicity giddy about advanced tech that shouldn’t exist, and simultaneously remind us that the Suicide Club is still in play and will return later.
- Roy (Colton Haynes) update: still unconscious and still the background image on Thea’s phone.Hopefully he wakes up next week in time to help save the day and take the mirakuru cure that S.T.A.R. Labs has created.
- While I appreciate Laurel’s moxie, what exactly was she and her father hoping to do with the evidence they found by bugging Blood’s office? Was it only to have something to bring to the Arrow…because there’s no way that condolence letter would stand up in court.
- Side Note: how sad a role is that police tech guy? Crack wise about voting for Blood, followed by a snapped neck a few minutes later by a generic henchman.
- Are the mirakuru army attacks that close-out the episode deliberately targeting members of Team Arrow? (Lance at the police station and Thea at the train station). Or are we merely meant to interpret that they’ve targeting the police, as well as heavily populated areas? It’s not entirely clear.
- I’ve got to congratulate whoever did the patch job on Oliver’s knee because he was limping last episode, but completely able to do his usual stunts this week. How about a bit more continuity, Arrow writers?
- Finally, I’d forgotten how much I like Walter (Colin Salmon). Now that he’s back again, here’s hoping that the show uses him as a replacement “adult” figure in Moira’s absence.
- Felicity (crying at the funeral): “I don’t even know why I’m crying. I didn’t even like Moira” and “She was diabolical. Not a word you usually hear at funerals.”
- Felicity (correcting the man she’s interrogating, who calls her a bitch): “Bitch with WIFI.”
What did you think of the episode? Were you impatient during Oliver’s woh-woh scenes? Are you back to cheering for Laurel? Were you hoping Thea would disappear and never return? Is Blood’s army actually Slade’s final plan? Where’s Sara? Speculate away below.
Arrow airs its penultimate episode next Wednesday at 8pm EST on The CW