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‘Arrow’ Season 2 Recap, Episode 22: ‘Streets of Fire’

The CW’s superhero series Arrow re-imagines Green Arrow for a TV audience as a tough, often ruthless vigilante bent on setting things right in his home of Starling City by punishing the wicked. ComicsAlliance’s Matt Wilson will be following along to see how he fares.

This week, pandemonium reigns as Slade’s army attacks the city, Ollie tries to locate a cure for the stuff that is making super-soldiers, and Sara gets some confidence back.

Things pick up right where they left off last week, with Arrow digging his way out of some rubble left behind by him shooting an explosive arrow at the ceiling of the Deathstroke Army’s underground headquarters. Lucky for him, the debris all fell around him instead of crushing him, and it was light enough for him to just push around. He calls out for Laurel.

She answers and says she’s trapped in an area of the tunnel and can’t get out. The implication is that she’s pinned under some debris, but she’s really not. Ollie’s arrow just kind of made this tiny little room for her, and the air is apparently running out. Invest in some ventilation, Deathstroke Army! Arrow asks what Laurel can see, and she says she can see his bow in the corner. She finds his quiver, too. He tells her to find his explosive arrow so she can shoot her way out.

Cut to: Dig, who is facing down the extremely silly looking Ravager, a.k.a. Isabel Rochev. Her line here is also very silly: “You killed me? Let me return the favor!” If she wasn’t so deadly serious while she said it, I’d kind of love it. They fight for a while. Ravager tells Dig she wants to find and kill Smoak. Summer Glau sounds like she has a cold. That terrible mask must pinch her nose.

Anyway, Smoak drives up in Team Arrow’s van and hits Ravager with it. It’s a laugh-out-loud moment, and the best thing she’s done all season.

 

 

Ravager pops back up pretty quickly, so Smoak and Dig drive off.

Police HQ. Officer Lance and another, more disposable group of cops try to fight the Deathstroke Army member who they arrested last week, shooting him about 100 times. Eventually, Lance takes the guy down with three grenades, and the other cops in the room…explode? We don’t really get a chance to find out.

City Hall. Blood is on the phone with the governor, insisting that there’s no need for the National Guard to come deal with the Deathstroke Army; the police have it under control. District Attorney Manhunter shows up to yell at Mayor Blood for a while, and again, Blood tries to smooth it over. He also gaslights the hell out of Kate Spencer, asking “Do you even hear yourself?” and saying “You need to pull yourself together” when she suggests that the Deathstroke Army is more than human.

But don’t worry, we’ll soon find out Sebastian Blood is a great guy, even though he killed his parents, wears a supervillain mask and manipulates people like this.

Back in the bunker. Ollie coaches Laurel through shooting the explosive arrow at the debris. She’s worried about not being able to shoot the bow. It’s basically a grenade, right? Couldn’t she just throw it? Either way, after some Intense Suspense Building, she shoots the arrow off successfully and escapes. Ollie hugs her and says, “Nice shot.” It’s weird to see him being kind.

Flashback submarine. Classic Ollie and Knyazev update the audience about what’s happening in the past. Slade has apparently kidnapped Sara and the Amazo is on the move. Ollie asks if Knyazev can fire the sub’s last torpedo at the Amazo if he doesn’t successfully save Sara.

I sincerely thought Ollie was asking Knyazev to commit suicide here, by the way. It had been well established in previous episodes that someone had to be inside the torpedoes for them to work, and it seemed like that was what Ollie was asking Knyazev to do here. I guess Knayzev can just magic up a solution so he doesn’t have to die, though. Sorry, other guy who died in a torpedo!

There’s also a scene, just as Ollie is leaving the sub, where Knyazev tells Ollie he will be his friend for life. Ollie tries to repeat “prochnost” and mangles it. It’s a genuinely great character moment, the kind I wish this show had more of. The actor who plays Knyazev, David Nykl, is really good, and brings a lot of needed humor to his scenes. More of him.

In the present, another Deathstroke Army member is wreaking havoc at the train station, the very one where Thea was about to catch a train out of town. Just as the goon gets Thea in his clutches, two black arrows slice though the dude, which can only mean one thing: Dark Arrow, a.k.a. Malcolm Merlyn is back.

 

 

Where has he been? Waiting around for a dramatically appropriate time to show up again, it would appear.

Also, the music gets absolutely crazy at this point. There’s keyboard trumpet fanfare and weird, pseudo monk chanting. It’s supposed to make the scene feel big, but instead it just feels like the show’s music guy, Blake Neely, got some new samples for his Yamaha.

Now that she’s out of the bunker, Laurel calls Officer Lance to check in. Lance tells her to get off the streets and get to safety while Laurel and Ollie weirdly flip out about two helicopters flying overhead. They’re more afraid of those helicopters than they are the Deathstroke Army.

Dig and Smoak pull up in their van and Team Arrow tries to figure out its next step. Smoak just sort of casually drops the news that S.T.A.R. Labs has synthesized a mirakuru cure and has sent a courier. Seems like she should have said that a little earlier. She calls the courier and he’s indisposed in an overturned car, with a broken leg. Poor fella.

Laruel heads off to the police station while Team Arrow goes to find the courier. Meanwhile, Slade, who is listening in on Smoak’s call, sends off one of his goons to get to the courier first.

As Team Arrow speeds toward the courier, we see several shots of the Deathstroke Army’s path of destruction, and it looks like The Rapture happened.

 

 

Police HQ. As Officer Lance is rallying the remaining cops, the lieutenant storms in and says the Deathstroke Army needs to go down, soon. Lance says these guys aren’t just going to go down and the city needs the National Guard. The lieutenant says that’s the mayor’s call, so Lance, having had such great luck with crazy-sounding conspiracy theories before this, says Blood is partially behind this huge attack.

Insanely, the lieutenant immediately accepts Lance’s theory and agrees to team up with Arrow. And look, I know it’s The Rapture out there, but I have my doubts that a lieutenant that was so severely anti-vigilante before this would just blindly accept working with him now. This only happens because it’s plot necessary.

Also: The lieutenant hands Lance his detective shield at the end of the scene, promoting him back to his old rank. It’s a nice period to end a scene on, but does that mean the lieutenant has just been carrying around Lance’s old badge in his pocket for, what, a year now, in hopes something like this would happen? He doesn’t pull it out of a drawer or anything. He just has it!

Laurel’s out running around in the streets, doing exactly what her dad told her not to, when she gets into a tight spot and has to be saved by Canary, who’s just hanging out in an alley for some reason. Laurel recognizes that Canary is Sara and the run off into the alley together.

DA Manhunter and Mayor Blood are watching Starling’s One News Channel at City Hall when the lights go out. The Deathstroke Army kills Blood’s entire staff and one of the goons snaps Manhunter’s neck. You deserved better than this, Kate Spencer.

In the Arrowvan, Arrow gets a call from Detective Lance asking how the cops can help. Arrow says something very vague about “containing the soldiers.” Lance says, “Oh, sure, yeah.” How are the cops going to do that, exactly?

Man, I don’t know, because the Deathstroke Army is making short work of Team Arrow. As the Arrowvan drives through the fiery streets of the city, one of the goons pushes a car out into the street and wrecks it. Felicity gets knocked out (women, am I right) and two Deathstroke goons converge on the crashed van, walking very slowly. Arrow pulls a pretty cool move where he shoots an exploding arrow at the van door just as the goons are opening it, knocking them back. Their weakness is clearly explosions.

Back at the train station, Thea is running away from her dad, and he’s following. He asks why she’s running away, and she makes some good points: He’s a mass murderer, in an even more real way than her mother was. Malcolm says he just needs some time to explain what he did.

 

 

Thea emphatically says she’s not his daughter and she wants nothing from him. Malcolm says she at least needs his help right now and reaches out his hand.

At Queen Consolidated, which is now serving as Deathstroke HQ, Slade says, “They say Nero sang as he watched Rome burn. Now I understand why.”

 

 

First off, they don’t say that. They say he fiddled. I assume it was changed to “sang” because Manu Bennett saying “fiddle” is unintentionally hilarious. Second, how does he understand why? You’re doing this out of revenge. Nero was mentally ill, by most accounts (also, he led a huge effort to rebuild Rome after it burned). So bad comparison, bro.

After Rochev asks who the heck Shado is, Blood shows up and says the death of his staff wasn’t part of the deal. He also seems to be pretty upset that the city is being wrecked and innocent people are dying. So, hang on. What did Blood expect to happen when Slade built an army of super-people? Just some gentle ribbing? He was giving big speeches to the army all of one episode ago! Also, Blood killed his own parents. Now he’s got a conscience?

Slade ends the conversation by saying that Oliver Queen loves the city, so it’s got to be reduced to rubble. His final line is a howler: “A land only good for one thing: GRAVES.” If Geoff Johns didn’t ghostwrite that line, I’ll eat my hat.

In the alley, Laurel and Sara find a dead cop and decide it’s as good a time as any to talk about family stuff. Sara takes off his mask and blond(er) wig to get real, talk to some piano music and say she was an assassin who had her name changed to Taer al-Safer, which she again says means “canary,” though Google Translate seems to disagree. She says she’s irredeemable. Laurel gives her a pep talk about “canary” is a pretty name. That doesn’t really absolve murders, but nice try.

Flashback freighter. Ollie frees Sara from the brig and tells her he’s got to go find Dr. Ivo’s mirakuru cure. They decide to go together.

Team Arrow gets close to the S.T.A.R. Labs courier, close enough to hear him honk his car horn with his foot, but the Deathstroke Army gets to him first and takes the briefcase with the cure. They deliver it to Slade, who’s watching a news broadcast in which the anchor is seriously just saying, “Yup, attack still happening.”

Team Arrow goes back to the clock tower so that Ollie can stare out of the big hole in the clock and mope. Old mopey Ollie, our hero. Mopin’ around, saying he failed the city and everybody else. Smoak has to give him a pep talk about how he beat The Count a couple times.

Back on the streets, Sara and Laurel overhear a woman screaming for help. I’m shocked there’s only one, quite honestly. Her daughter is trapped inside a burning building. Sara goes in and saves her, despite the building being rocked by TWO GIANT EXPLOSIONS.

 

 

Sara only gets a little ash on her face from being in there, too. Did the Assassins make her fireproof?

Also, who is setting all these fires, anyway? The Deathstroke Army doesn’t really seem to have any weapons other than their Predator braids. Are they all just carrying around matches and lighter fluid? Are the citizens of Starling setting fires in their panic? That’s something I’d imagine they’d do. I’m kind of bummed they haven’t made any homemade signs.

At the train station, Thea and Malcolm are having a great time repeating stuff they just said a few minutes ago when the Deathstroke Army goon from before emerges and attacks. Malcolm fights the dude for a while finally takes him down with an arrow to the back of the neck. That seemed… easy.

At the clock tower, Ollie gets a convenient call from Blood, who has stolen the mirakuru cure from Slade. How is Slade not monitoring his calls?

Dig delivers Roy back to Team Arrow, since the old Arrowcave was taken over by Slade, and Ollie ships out to go get the cure. He and Dig meet with Blood at his office, and Blood makes a valiant effort to make himself a sympathetic parent murderer. He even explains that his Scarecrow mask is a representation of how he saw his father. Again:

 

 

I’m going to get so much use out of that now.

Blood says he wants to help people, so he hands over the mirakuru cure. Ollie reminds us that Slade said one more person had to die before it’s all over; Blood says it’s whomever Ollie loves most. Honestly, it seems like hundreds, if not thousands of people have died. Is Starling City a person?

Blood also says he still hopes to save the city as mayor, and offers some wonderful blackmail to Arrow. After Arrow and Dig leave, Rochev, who has quite smartly ditched the ridiculous mask, makes Blood admit to Slade that he gave the cure to Ollie. Then Rochev double-stabs Blood through the chest.

 

 

Finally, she gets a pretty cool moment. Also: Being a mayor on Arrow is a lot like going to a wedding on Game of Thrones.

Again, the music gets nuts here, but it’s better this time.

Back at police HQ, a hired actress police officer says seeing Canary save that little girl is the bravest thing she’s ever seen as she’s standing right next to Sara. It’s dumb. A news report announces that what appears to be the army is heading into town. The lieutenant, who is way into jumping to conclusions lately, says this may not actually be the army, and notices that they’re taking up positions at all the city’s exit points.

Back at the clock tower, Team Arrow examines the mirakuru cure, which glows like something you would take to a rave. Unofficial club scene?

 

 

Ollie suggests testing it on Roy, but Smoak objects, because it might kill him. Ollie starts to inject Roy, but decides he can’t. Detective Lance calls and tells Smoak to turn on a TV, so she turns out her tablet with Windows 8 Technology. Ollie immediately recognizes the troops as A.R.G.U.S.

Flashback freighter. Ollie and Sara get to Ivo’s office to take that version of the cure, but Slade shows up and reveals he already has it. This version doesn’t glow at all.

Ollie calls Amanda Waller. She says she’s got a drone with bombs that could level the city en route. Maybe she thinks the Deathstroke Army is made up of zombies. Ollie begs for more time to administer the cure. She gives him until dawn. So he injects Roy with the cure.

Train station. Malcolm wakes up and Thea holds him at gunpoint. He makes the hard sell about how she’s all he has left in the world and she’s lost everything, too. (She still has a brother, right?)

She pops off two bullets. Cliffhanger!

Final thoughts:

Last week’s episode did a good job of ratcheting up tension, and this one was admirable in that it mostly maintained it. Arrow has done a lot to try to pull off a TV version of the Nolan Batman movies, and it feels like these final episodes of the season are getting legitimately close to the movies’ feel of constant, nervous tension.

That said, a few of the dilemmas that pop up in this one get resolved alarmingly quickly (convincing the police lieutenant to work with Arrow, getting the mirakuru cure back after Slade takes it), and a couple characters had to change completely to make it happen. Sebastian Blood’s death-episode turnaround was even more jarring than Moira Queen’s, and that’s saying something. Also, the stuff with Canary’s crisis of conscience just feels limp.

Still, I can’t say I’m not interested to see what happens in next week’s finale. Maybe the music will get even crazier!

 

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