Arrow delivers an action-filled season finale that’s filled with action and mayhem. Wait…what do you mean this wasn’t the finale?!
Let’s bitch it out…While the teaser above is obviously a little joke, you’d be forgiven for mistaking ‘Streets of Fire’ for Arrow‘s second season finale. Not only is it the twenty-second episode of the season (more than 22 episodes a season is a rare feat on TV these days), it also plays out like a go-for-broke finale. It’s an episode full of explosions, death and the usual delightful scenery-chewing performances of both John Barrowman (as Malcolm Merlyn) and Manu Bennett (as Slade).
I’ve been hot and cold on Arrow this season, but ‘Streets of Fire’ and last week’s episode ‘City Of Blood’ – playing like the first two parts of an ultra-long finale – have really upped the ante. We’re essentially witnessing mini-movies on a weekly basis as Arrow rivals the high-octane superhero films playing at the local multiplex. What the series has that Peter Parker doesn’t have is an extended amount of time with the characters, so when Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) delivers her cry to arms to pick up Ollie’s (Stephen Amell) spirits when he’s at his lowest, you feel it. It doesn’t hurt that Bett Rickards appears to have studied at the “Joss Whedon school for power-house female characters” by which I mean that when she cries, I cry (a feat the Alyson Hannigan perfected back in the Buffy days).
All of this to say that Arrow is still killing it on the small screen…and we still have one more episode left in the season.
Much of ‘Streets of Fire’ is positioning. Last week saw the start of the second season’s uprising as Slade’s mirakuru army descended on the city, but the action cut out just as things got juicy. ‘Streets of Fire’ sets us down right in the middle of a war zone with Starling City completely under attack. We’re talking serious attack, too – at one point Slade stands at the window of his high-rise lair to gaze upon the smoldering sky line of the city and it suddenly hits home that he’s not just pontificating when he boasts about burning it down. He actually means it.
Our window into this destruction are the diverse members of Team Arrow, many of whom spend the episode seeking cover. Laurel (Katie Cassidy) once again gets another nice character-rehabilitating moment when she rescues herself with an exploding arrow early on and her version of a Felicity-style speech to Sara (Caity Lotz), while not quite as successful, is also solid. The Lances are a bit of a secondary priority most of the time on Arrow, but I have no desire to see harm come to newly reinstated Detective Lance (Paul Blackthorne), nor season two break-out Sara (who hilariously gets saddled with rescuing a child from a burning building. I guess all the cats up trees were scared away when the attack on the city began).
Less succesful (as always) is Willa Holland’s plotline as Thea. The return of John Barrowman notwithstanding, this subplot is a snooze – even the Dark Archer can’t liven up the maudlin whines of Thea Queen as she foolishly runs from a train station under attack to an abandoned railway platform. Way to use your head, girl! And then she shoots Malcolm point blank after he saves her life from a generic mirakuru guy? Way harsh, Tai.
Thankfully our time with Thea is minimal since Oliver and co. take priority. Theirs is a strange journey as they try to drive through the infested city to secure the mirakuru cure from a STAR Labs employee trapped on the freeway. In true “just go with it” fashion, Slade and Isabel (Summer Glau) eavesdrop on Felicity’s phone conversation and order the cure picked up. In a not-so-surprising twist, Mayor Blood (Kevin Alejandro) – realizing the folly of trusting Slade after his office is sacked and Blondie McDA is killed – steals the briefcase and delivers it to the good guys. I do love the incredulous look Oliver gives Blood when the latter suggests that after Slade has been dealt with, Blood will become the hero he was meant to be by cleaning things up. Newsflash buddy: even if Isabel hadn’t martyred your ass with some fancy sword action, that’s a pretty delusional vision of grandeur. Unfortunately for the dim-witted Mayor, he’s been cut from the final battle, which means Starling has now consistently lost one Mayor a season.
Things start to look up once the cure is secured, but in reality that just means it’s time for the other shoe to drop. Enter Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), who declares the destruction of a Starling a reasonable trade-off to prevent the spread of the mirakuru army. It’s a big of a leap of logic that practically screams “only in Hollywood!” but nonetheless helps to raise the stakes. And so, with no time left to lose (or stand around ambivalently), Ollie jabs the cure into Roy (Colton Haynes) and hopes that the blue vial actually does what it’s meant to do. Tune in next week to find out if it works (Note: it will).
- There’s a joke somewhere in there about Haynes collecting an easy paycheck for just lying prone on his back. Aren’t I just the worst?
- It’s a bit petty to want two girls to fight it out, but I’ll still confess to cheering when Felicity drives over Isabel with the van. Part of me hoped she’d hit her again just for good measure.
- Kudos to Diggle (David Ramsey) for not getting sliced and diced by Isabel. He’s lucky that Felicity had urge to commit vehicular homicide at that moment.
- Can we talk about how Felicity’s pep talk to Oliver should have ended with a big passionate smooch? I’m not even an Olicity shipper, but come on! That moment was rife with potential for tongue wrangling.
- Finally, in the island flashbacks, Oliver rescues Sarah on the boat and….zzzzzzzzzz. It’s seriously time to reconsider the compulsory use of island flashbacks. Each time we cut away from the present-day action to the sub/boat, I just wanted to scream: “I don’t care!” The city is burning and we’re flashing back to the bad wig and the guy who looks like a Russian version of Jared Harris? Nope, nope, nope, nope.
- Malcolm (saving Thea): “I’m your father.” That’s a little too Star Wars-y <groan>
- Felicity (as Oliver and Diggle leave): “If you don’t come back alive, I’m going to be super pissed.”
- Felicity (surveying the cure): “Why does every secret formula have to be a colour? Whatever happened to good old fashioned clear?”
Your turn: What did you think of the penultimate episode? Are you sad that crazy delusional Blood is dead? Did you rewind Isabel getting hit by the van a few times? Did you cry with Felicity up in the clocktower? Did you scoff when Sara saved the victim from the burning building and got called a hero? And is Amanda Waller overreacting just a smidget in her plans to level Starling with Big Bombs? Sound off below.
Arrow airs its season finale next Wednesday at 8pm EST on The CW