Arrow ‘City Of Blood’: The Essence Of A Hero Review
***** Read at Your Own Risk Spoilers ! *****
City of Blood, the third last episode of season two, continued the momentum towards the big finale but in a far less heart attack-inducing way than Seeing Red did last week. While we’re all still reeling from the unforgettable closing five minutes of last week (which, in case we’d forgotten over the week, was kindly recapped at the beginning of this week’s episode), it’s good to slow down the pace a bit and let us all have a breather. Especially when we all know it’s going to be one hell of a edge-of-your-seat ride over the next two weeks.
Not a huge amount happened, but what did sure did pack one big punch. Oliver, Sara, Anatoli Knyazev (David Nykl) and Peter (Sean Rogerson) have arrived in the Japanese submarine – where this whole Slade vs. Oliver thing began – which they’ll use to attack Slade and the Amazo, before (if it’s still in tact) leaving Lian Yu. Except that it’s run aground, the key reason the Japanese abandoned it. The only way to free it is to use one of the sub’s torpedoes. But there’s a catch – Anatoli discovers, via the sub’s blueprints (not actually blue, fyi… but then again, most blueprints aren’t actually blue…) that the torpedo must be manually driven. In other words, someone must be inside it. Dramatic music ensues.
It’s pretty obvious which of the four would volunteer (although there was a chance that they could’ve found something that stopped them from doing it) but the reasoning was a huge surprise. It also opened the door for them to have a rather poetic monologue from that volunteer – whose words Oliver says to Diggle and Felicity in the present (see quotes). And those words are exactly what inspired the name of this review.
We were also left on a rather huge cliff-hanger with the flashbacks – Oliver told Sara not to be on the submarine while they did the whole freeing it thing. While we kept with Oliver and co on the sub, the brief radio chat with her sounded like something big was about to be revealed. What it is? I have no idea. But Sara sounded panicky, and that’s not a good sign at all. Especially when you don’t follow it up.
For someone who had, for most of the season’s first half, been pretty much the show’s core recurring baddie (before the big reveal of Slade being the big bad), Sebastian Blood’s been rather absent in the back half. Sure he’s been in and out since the mid-season, but this is the first episode where he’s featured as the focal point in a storyline. Not that I’m complaining about seeing him again – I did get the opportunity, actual several to call him rude names throughout City Of Blood.
Due to the tragic events of last week, Blood’s Mayor, exactly where Slade had promised he’ll be. I’m going to hope that Oliver takes him out before the season’s over. That is, unless maybe Blood realizes he’s on the wrong side… but I think pigs will fly before then…
Anyway, the episode pretty much does a fantastic job in proving how dumb Blood can be. For one, he was stupid enough to draft a press release about giving his condolences to the Queen family. Sure, that doesn’t seem too bad, right? Yes, it’s not bad at all – until you note the time of the draft. Before Moira’s death. *Slow clap*. The other mistake is that he failed to put two and two together and realize Oliver’s the Arrow until Oliver literally says – in PUBLIC! You fool, Oliver! – to him “Because I’m the Arrow”. Then again, Laurel didn’t figure it out without it being pointed out, and she’s supposedly Oliver’s ‘one true love’ or whatever, so I can’t really hold that against Blood…
One scene I do want to point out – and is probably the stand-out of the episode – is one that relates to Blood in an indirect way. Diggle had kidnapped one of Blood’s bodyguards to interrogate him. The show could’ve easily had Diggle do this violently – hell, they even point it out – but instead Felicity joins Diggle, and we watch as she uses her tech skills. She accesses his bank accounts on her tablet, easily transferring large amounts of money to various charities. The banter between her and Diggle during this was fantastic, which also proved how much fun the original Team Arrow can be when working together (something that has been lacking and terribly missed by me). But the absolute best moment came when the bodyguard called Felicity a “bitch” – “Bitch… with wifi!” she quickly replies, smiling. It’s great to see Felicity confident and in her element, and I look forward to her playing “a major part” in the season finale.
Was absent, in hiding post murdering Moira. By the way – does everyone in Starling City know he killed Moria? I understand that Oliver and Thea would, given they’re witnesses to it, but… Laurel mentioned it. That’s something they neglected to mention…
Anyway, side tracked again! Much as he wasn’t in it – except for his voice while he spoke to Blood on the phone – I still think that the crazy murderer Aussie deserves a mention. Manu Bennett’s too awesome not to mention. And boy can he doe an amazing job, even with just his voice.
Laurel (& her obsession with being involved in every fricking thing…)
Laurel’s starting to feel like overkill since the mid-season return. She seems to be included when not needed, and it’s just getting more and more obvious. Oh, and remember when she was a lawyer? I can’t. Feels like a millennium since she did anything like that. Even her own father’s noticed – he even said she should become a detective. Shame he doesn’t know she’s too corrupted to be one…
The only real use she had all episode was her being suspicious of Blood, and connecting the dots between him and Slade – oh, and actually telling Oliver. For a brief moment I actually started to like her (even though her meant-to-be-encouraging speech to Oliver was complete bullshit), but then she proved herself to be completely useless once again when she asked Oliver to come along with him, Dig and Felicity when they were heading off to bring Blood down. Oliver was quick to tell her no – I’ll come back to that later – but did she listen? Hell no. She turned up. Okay, kinda glad she did, concerning Oliver was about to be killed and she saved him… but then she became something Oliver had to protect and well… enough’s enough! Just get rid of that waste of space…
Isabitch… I mean, Isabel
Her role was small in City of Blood, but it packed a punch. First appearing at Moira’s wake, she dropped herself into a private conversation between Diggle and Felicity, which was purely to make it known to them that she isn’t dead. Then there’s the rather blunt way she talked to Thea in Verdant, informing her that the building is Queen Consolidated’s property and she needs to vacate. This also causes trouble for Oliver, for his secret lair will now have to be moved. Luckily he has that back-up one…
Her final appearance was to intercept Diggle who was setting up the explosive devices to bring down the roof on Blood and part of Deathstroke’s army. Oh, and she was dressed in a skin-tight outfit that is for the ‘Ravager’. To be honest, I can’t look at her seriously in it. Looks ridiculous. Which is a shame, because they usually have great outfits on this show…
Thea & Oliver
Seems like the end of Seeing Red has brought them close once again. There was a really lovely scene between them, and it was so well performed by Stephen Amell and Willa Holland (pictured below). I just want to point out how lovely that scene was shot — especially the lighting on the first shot below, the way they were backlit was just so nice to watch. It just adds another layer of emotion having it lit that way.
With Verdant being pulled from under her, Thea decides to leave. And what does Oliver do? Tells her he’s okay with it. Normally he’d be all against the idea, so you know it’s getting pretty rough in Starling when he’s willing to let her leave. But I don’t think we’ve seen the last of the youngest Queen – the fact she still has a photo of her and Roy as her mobile’s background suggests there’s still a few things that tie her to the city (the other being Oliver, in case that wasn’t clear).
Team Arrow & the back-up Foundry
We’ve got our golden trio back – YAY! Stephen Amell did say we’d return to this dynamic before the season ended, and it’s come just in time. My favorite scene was when Felicity and Diggle had found Oliver, who had failed to turn up to his mother’s funeral. Not only was it a nice symmetry to the opening scenes of City of Heroes (2×01), when they went to get him after he returned to Lian Yu post-Undertaking/Tommy’s death, but it’s the first original Team Arrow scene for the episode. It proves that the trio are in it for the long haul. And thankfully Diggle and Felicity – okay, probably more Felicity than Diggle – were able to convince Oliver to not give himself over to Slade like he’d planned. Oliver’s hit a new low after his mother’s death (who wouldn’t?), and it was really good to see him being pulled up out of it by “the only two that matter”.
That scene also set up a key location that I’m sure we’ll be seeing again next season – Oliver’s secret second lair. Introduced by Amanda Waller, who Diggle and Felicity had turned to in order to find Oliver, it turns out Oliver got it “in case the foundry was compromised” again. Rather perfectly timed, concerning Isabel’s kicking them out of the other building.
My favorite moment all episode was, like I said earlier, when Laurel tried to come along with them as they left to go after Blood. Oliver said one of the best lines of the episode to her in response – “This started with the three of us. It’s time we get back to that.” And he’s right – it’s been too crowded down there for far too long. I don’t mind Roy, I actually think it’s good he’s been a part of the team. And I’m sure all the regular readers of my reviews know how I feel about Sara of late, so I won’t rehash that. While it’s been good seeing a larger team, it’s nice to pull back to the original team for the season’s final few episodes.
Oh God! Oliver totally nearly kissed Felicity in that team scene when she and Diggle were talking him out of sacrificing himself. They’ve been slowly, over the last few episodes, building them up again. Since Heir to the Demon, the sparks between them have been lacking (opted out in favor of Oliver/Sara), but that scene proved we’re getting it back – and back to the intensity of the season’s first half too, it seems. Sara said last week that Oliver should be with someone that can “harness the light still inside” of him – and it’s pretty clear that that’s Felicity. It’s only a matter of time before he comes to his senses.
For weeks now, the show’s Executive Producers have been saying Felicity will “play a major role” in the finale. In the preview for Streets of Fire (see below), Diggle and Felicity are in a van when it crashes – which seems to be the cause of the cut on her head we’ve seen in behind the scenes photos. And then there’s that threat Slade gave Oliver last episode – “one more must die before this can end.” Given what the EPs have said plus the fact that ‘Slade kidnaps someone close to Oliver’s heart’ in Unthinkable, it’s not hard to put it all together and know that we’re looking at Felicity being kidnapped. Bring on highly protective Oliver! We all know that he’s willing to kill anyone who dares to hurt her – The Count anyone? – and the description of Unthinkable continues with ‘Oliver […] realizes sometimes it takes doing the unthinkable to stop the monster’, which just makes me wonder if maybe this will end with Slade dying. Since Slade made himself known in Starling, Oliver’s been trying to save him – a fact echoed in the flashbacks, although we know that at some point Oliver shot him in the eye and believed he was dead… I like to think that Oliver’s learnt from past mistakes, so I’m sure that he knows if he can’t save his old friend he has to kill him – and hopefully he knows it’s probably going to be nothing less than blowing Slade up. And you know whose going to be the one that will make him see all of that? Yep. Felicity.
The Fight sequences
Okay, so there wasn’t too much fighting going on this episode — I’m assuming they’re keeping those for the next two — but the last less than ten minutes was packed with fight sequences. Arrow has one of the best fight/stunt teams on TV, providing us with incredible, movie quality sequences every single week — and City of Blood delivered this once more. It wasn’t just Oliver fighting this week — we got a glimpse at almost the entire lead cast getting in on the action, with multiple fights going on simultaneously. And it’s clear we’ll be seeing more of these fights next week.
And let’s not forget that ending…
If you didn’t already know, the final three episodes – City of Blood, Streets of Fire and Unthinkable – are set over the same day/night (with the latter happening within an hour of time for the characters) so it’s almost no surprise that City of Blood would be left on a rather dramatic and open-ended ending. It’s game on next week for sure!
Quotes! (not in order)
Felicity (to Diggle): I didn’t even like Moira. Terrible thing to say to someone after they just died. As a matter of fact, she was not nice. She was diabolical.
Diggle: You’re not crying for her, Felicity. You’re crying for Oliver.
Felicity: Where is he? How can he not be here?
Diggle: I don’t know.
Oliver (to Felicity): Someone once told me that the essence of heroism is to die so others can live.
Peter: Ivo said the essence of heroism is to die so that others can live.
Felicity: Hey! That computer’s running an XK15 processor. That’s not even supposed to exist yet! I want one!
Felicity (to ARGUS Agent working on a computer): Can I touch it?
Amanda Waller: That’s classified equipment, Ms. Smoak.
Felicity: You must feel powerful knowing everything about everyone. Not powerful in an ‘evil dictator Stalin’ way. More of a ‘knowledge is power’… way.
Oliver (to Thea): I know that I haven’t always been the best brother, or friend, or whatever you’ve needed me to be. But there has not been a day since you were born where I didn’t cherish having you as a sister.
Clinton Hogue: You think I’ve never taken a beating before?
Diggle: Pal, you’re gonna wish I beat you.
Felicity (holding her tablet): Hi. I’ll be your interrogator.
Hogue: Is this a joke?
Felicity: Clinton Hogue. Social Security Number 306003894.
Hogue: What the hell is this supposed to be?
Felicity: Well, look at this! You have a bank account in the Cayman Islands. (continues as she does it) Wow! Two million dollars! Quite the little nest egg, but looks like you just approved a wire transfer of one million dollars to a charity here in Starling City. Very generous… What should I do with the rest?
Felicity: Great cause! (does it) And they really appreciate the support!
Hogue: You bitch!
Felicity: Bitch… with wifi!
Felicity: I’m just asking here… Oliver, you’ve worked really hard not to kill anymore. Dropping an entire block on these guys is murder. Manslaughter at least.
Oliver: They’re not men. Not anymore.
Oliver: This started with the three of us. It’s time we get back to that.
Felicity: You can’t just accept things, Oliver. If I had accepted my life, I would be a cocktail waitress in Vegas like my mother, and I never would have gone to college, and I never would have moved a thousand miles away to work at Queen Consolidated, and I never would have believe some crazy guy in a hood when he told me I could be more than just some IT girl.
Next week: The Penultimate Episode — ‘Streets Of Fire’
MALCOLM MERLYN RETURNS — Oliver (Stephen Amell) rallies his team as Slade’s (Manu Bennett) soldiers attack the city. Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) gets a call from S.T.A.R. Labs with game-changing news and Thea (Willa Holland) comes face-to-face with her father – Malcolm Merlyn (guest star John Barrowman). Nick Copus directed the episode written by Jake Coburn & Ben Sokolowski (#222).
If the closing minutes of City of Blood was anything to go by, we’re in for an edge-of-your-seat action-packed hour. And Malcolm’s not the only returning face before the season ends – Katrina Law as Nyssa returns in Unthinkable.