‘Arrow’ Season 2 Recap, Episode 21: ‘City Of Blood’
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 follows along to see how he fares.
In this week’s episode, someone becomes a supervillain, someone becomes a mayor, and someone gets taken hostage (yet again).
Things get real pretty fast this week. We open up on a crosscut between Moira’s funeral and Sebastian Blood being sworn in as Starling City’s new mayor.
Moira’s funeral seems like a pretty small affair for such a rich lady -- her trial seemed to attract more people -- but most of the characters that need to be there are there, including Walter Steele. I do wish we got to hear the eulogies instead of just seeing people laying roses on Moira’s casket, because I would really love to hear how they worked in explanations for her being stabbed to death with a giant-ass sword.
Meanwhile, the mayoral election continues to make no sense at all. I’m fairly confident that a candidate dying wouldn’t mean that the office immediately goes to her opponent. Extenuating circumstances like that would almost certainly mean a delay, or at the very least the party of the candidate who died would have a chance to field another candidate. But nah, Blood just gets to be mayor now, because Starling City is a land of perverse and inhumane laws.
At Casa Queen, a wake seems to be taking place after a funeral. That seems pretty nontraditional, but I guess I’ll buy it for the dramatic effect. Laurel and Blood both offer their condolences to Thea, and Laurel helpfully exposits that Ollie wasn’t at the funeral. In fact, he’s been missing for a few days now. Laurel looks down at the floor like a kid who’s being punished while Blood talks about what it’s like to lose a parent.
I guess that’s the look they teach in acting class for expressing “I know you actually murdered your parents, bro.”
Smoak is standing around crying for a lady she didn’t even like because she’s a strong female character. Dig comes by and offers her a handkerchief. They talk for a bit about where Ollie could be when Rochev swoops in and makes some limp threats. I think instead of Ravager, her villain name should be Limp Threats. It fits and it has a nice ring.
In another room, Steele stands around and looks at a framed photo, because that’s what people do at Casa Queen. I think there’s something in the water there. Thea walks in and talks with Steele a bit about how Ollie is a terrible jerk for never warning Thea or Moira about how Slade is a murderous psychopath. Good point! She doesn’t mention that her mom’s death was little more than an escalation of a dispute between two men (over the death of another woman) and how that’s pretty s**tty, but she’s at least making sense here.
At Police HQ, Laurel meets up with her dad to once again voice her concerns about the city’s new mayor. She says there may be a connection between Slade and Blood, and her dad says, “What? Don’t say that. Shut up” like everyone else has done to her all season. She begs him to trust her.
In his office on what looks like Colonial One, Blood signs some “legislation” (that’s not what they call it in city government; it would be an ordinance, but I guess he’s still pretty new) that he says will make the city better, but he never actually says what it does. He seems to be falling right into the job. An aide comes by to say someone claiming to be Blood’s father called for him. Of course, it’s Slade.
In what seems like a veiled threat, Slade tells him, “You are the mare now, after all, so get to work.” Let's leave the limp threats to your partner, huh, Slade?
Speaking of, in the Arrowcave, Dig and Smoak tend to Roy, discuss how Rochev can still be alive after being shot (mirakuru, obvs.), and try to figure out where Ollie and Sara, who has also disappeared, have gone. They’re coming up short, so they go visit Amanda Waller at A.R.G.U.S. Waller sleepily plays the “I told you not to come back here” card for a sec, but quickly gives in once Dig mentions Slade’s mirakuru army. The Wall, they call her!
Verdant. Thea is trying to figure out what to do without Sara around to tend bar when Rochev pops in to continue her Limp Threats Tour. She gives Thea an eviction notice because the property is owned by Queen Consolidated.
Laurel goes to Blood’s office to talk for a long time about a case that doesn’t matter and is just an excuse to be there. What she’s really there to do is plant a bug in Blood’s office. A bug that flashes with a blinking red light, because that’s what you want your hidden spy devices to do, right? Be noticeable?
At Police HQ, the IT guy looks through the files on Blood’s computer and finds a press release about Moira’s death that was written a day before Moira was killed. The smoking gun! If only Starling City had someone on the city payroll other than the mayor himself to write press releases!
At A.R.G.U.S., Smoak is ogling the computers because she likes technology or something. I don’t know. They haven’t really explored that part of her character. Anyway, Waller reveals on her tablet with Windows 8 Technology that Ollie is at his super-secret secret headquarters that even Dig and Smoak don’t know about. Team Arrow’s daddy has another family, it looks like.
Flashback Island. Ollie, Sara and her Merry Prisoners go to the old submarine to enact their plan to sink the Amazo. Knyazev gets the sub up and running, but it’s stuck in the mud. They plan to get out using torpedoes, but someone has to be inside the torpedo to steer because there are still two episodes left this season and the writers needed to stall.
Dig and Smoak go to Arrowcave II, which sort of just looks like some dude’s basement. Which, technically, I guess it is. Ollie’s there. He apologizes for not going to the funeral, explains that this backup Arrowcave was a place he likes to go to be alone, and blames himself for his mother’s death. He announces a plan to turn himself over to Slade and let whatever is going to happen happen. Dig and Smoak try to talk him out of it, but he seems pretty determined about it, even defining heroism as dying so other people can live. I thought Ollie’s definition of heroism involved shooting his friends in the leg with arrows, but a guy can change his mind.
Casa Queen. Thea is packing up to leave the city (Didn’t she very ceremoniously move out a few episodes ago?) because she’s an orphan now, her club is closed and there’s nothing here for her. Steele halfheartedly tries to get her to stay, but she’s not into it. Ollie shows up and tells her moving away is a good idea—she’s in danger. Then things get emotional and piano music-y. Platitudes are exchanged.
Ollie calls up Rochev and tells her that he’ll be at the pier, alone. She doesn’t respond, which is terrible manners.
Flashback Submarine. Some Dude Named Peter volunteers to get in the torpedo because he has radiation poisoning already and says that thing about heroism Ollie said earlier.
The pier. Ollie stands around and talks about boarding the Queen’s Gambit to what looks like no one in particular.
As it turns out, there is seriously no one there. It’s like the Arrow version of Garfield Minus Garfield. Arrow Minus Slade.
As Ollie turns around to seemingly jump in the bay and commit suicide, he takes a dart to the neck and passes out. He wakes up in the Arrowcave (the original one, because Dig and Smoak haven’t gotten the eviction notice yet) and sees Laurel there. Laurel says she got in touch with Dig and Smoak, and they quickly tattled about the “let himself die” plan.
Laurel and Ollie talk about the night of the earthquake (which Laurel calls “the undertaking” because I guess “earthquake” is too pedestrian a term), Tommy Merlyn’s death, and his identity as Arrow. Ollie keeps wallowing in his inability to save people, which is getting to be a bit grating.
Laurel’s fed up with it, too. “You can’t commit suicide tonight, Ollie!” she says. Seems like a first draft version of that line, doesn’t it?
Laurel continues to be forceful. There’s more piano music. Laurel reveals that Blood is working with Slade. You buried the lede there, Laurel. That kind of snaps Ollie out of it.
Back to the sub. Ollie asks Sara to go back topside, like she’s not already pretty tough and capable. She does. I don’t really get why that needed to happen, other than splitting them up.
Anyway, that Peter dude gets in the torpedo tube and goes spiraling off to his death.
The special effects in this part art just beautifully terrible. The torpedo hits the ocean floor where the submarine is stuck and the sub just kind of bounces off like Donkey Kong bouncing off of King K. Rool.
In the present, Blood goes to dinner at a very strangely appointed restaurant. Ollie’s at a table waiting for him. Meanwhile, Dig roughs up Blood’s body man in an elevator and drags him back to the Arrowcave. Smoak starts interrogating him about his bank accounts. She starts making charitable donations with his money (which is kind of great), but when she starts threatening his parents’ retirement account (which is less great), he agrees to talk.
At the restaurant, Ollie dispenses with small talk pretty quickly. He asks why Blood is working with Slade and tells him straight-up he’s Arrow.
It would stand to reason that Blood would already know that, given that Slade has been pretty open with that information, but he seems to be genuinely surprised. Blood reveals that he’s in this to actually reshape the city into something better; the mirakuru army is simply a catalyst for it. (The earthquake wasn’t enough of a catalyst?) Ollie says Slade will betray Blood, but Blood says he’s already got what he wants.
Ollie reaches for a knife but Blood says stabbing the mayor in a restaurant full of people would be a bad idea. He’s right. He gets up and leaves with some talk about it being a new day in the city. Hey, considering that this restaurant is so full of people, how did no one at the table right next to theirs not overhear everything they said?
Thea leaves Casa Queen like it’s the last episode of Fresh Prince. She ignores a call from Steele, looks at a picture of her and Roy, turns off the light, and walks out.
Team Arrow gears up in the Arrowcave for a raid on Slade’s compound. Ollie tells Laurel why she can’t come (no Laurels club) and they go to this week’s abandoned structure. Arrow finds Brother Blood speaking to an army of dudes in Deathstroke masks like he’s Sparks from Sealab 2021.
Outside, Dig and Smoak set and a series of charges that would bury Blood and the army underground. Sort of a reverse Dark Knight Rises. Actually, this whole sequence has a highly Nolanesque feel, with scenes of building tension intercut with one another. Thea boards a train out of town, one of Slade’s army members is brought into police HQ, Ollie gets into a fight with one of the army members.
Laurel, who just like every other character on this show, came to a really dangerous place even after being told not to, hits Pseudo-Deathstroke with a pipe. It doesn’t do much, but it gives Arrow the chance to shoot him with an exploding arrow. It really does explode. That’s pretty neat.
Arrow and Laurel rush off to get out before the charges blow. Dig calls them to see if they’re out, but before they can answer, he’s attacked by Limp Threats, a.k.a. Isabel Rochev as Ravager. And look, this show has done plenty of silly things. A lot of them I have liked. But there’s good silly and bad silly, and this is capital-b Bad Silly.
How does the Deathstroke costume work so well while this one is just on-its-face goofy? I really can’t articulate what it is. Maybe the headpiece being so huge? The ponytail? Whatever the case, it looks like a joke.
At Police HQ, the army member who let himself get arrested starts beating the crap out of Officer Lance and another cop. Meanwhile, at the train station, another army member starts clobbering a guard and takes Thea hostage. This is why you need a driver’s license, Thea.
Back down in the underground HQ, Arrow and Laurel find themselves cornered, so he shoots an arrow at the ceiling and everything collapses. The Deathstroke army pours into the streets. Meanwhile (well, technically not meanwhile), in flashback, the sub gets going, but Sara seems to be in trouble.
This one started off pretty slow, and it had some stuff that was just plain Not Good (the blinking bug, Ollie talking to no one, the nonsensical mayoral election, Ravager), but by the end, it was headed in the right direction. The direction did a really nice job of building tension. It actually feels like the last two episodes of the season are headed toward something big, and that's exactly the feel you want from your superhero shows. Sure, it was pretty clearly cribbed from the Nolan playbook, but if it works, it works.