Entertainment Magazine

TV Review: Arrow, “City of Blood” (S2/EP21) – Back to the Power Trio of Old

Posted on the 01 May 2014 by Weminoredinfilm.com @WeMinoredInFilm

To read our other Arrow episode reviews please go here.

City of Blood

 

  • Airdate: 4/30/2014
  • Director: Michael Schultz (film/TV director with credits as far back as 1972, previously directed Arrow’s “The Scientist”)
  • Writer(s): Holly Harold (Smallville, Warehouse 13Arrow writing debut)

So, Moira is gone, and Sebastian Blood is mayor.  Let’s break it down:

THE RECAP -

Team Arrow -

Diggle and Felicity have no idea where Oliver is, and once Isabel Rochev shows up at Moira’s wake, which Oliver misses, they begin to worry Oliver and Sara might be dead.  So, they go to Amanda Waller for help tracking Oliver down, who turns out to have a secret emergency Arrow Cave he established in the event the main one was compromised.  Brooding in the new base, Oliver informs Felicity and Diggle he’s going to give up and let Slade kill him.  Felicity gives him her big sad eyes to talk him out of it.  No dice..

Team Lance -

Laurel basically goes to her dad and says, “Remember back when I was a drunk and argued Sebastian Blood was a monster, but as a cop you ignored all of my evidence because you’re bad at your job?  Well, I’m sober now.  Let’s look at the evidence again.”  Quentin wants to be supportive of his little girl.  So, he helps her bug Sebastian’s computer at City Hall, teaming with the Police Department’s version of Felicity to illegally go through the computer files and discover Sebastian had written a “sorry she’s dead” letter about Moira the day before her actual death.  Eureka!  Sebastian is totally working for Slade Wilson.  

Team Arrow & Team Lance Converge

Sleepdarted by Diggle while attempting to surrender to Slade, Oliver awakes in the Arrow cave only to discover Laurel has joined the Team. She scolds him for keeping the Arrow secret from her, but also for not being strong enough to keep fighting Slade, especially now that his minion Sebastian Blood is the mayor.  What’s that now – Sebastian Blood works for Slade?  Laurel probably should have led with that.

Oliver conducts a Heat-esque sit-down chat with Sebastian at a restaurant, revealing he knows about his connection to Slade.  How?  Because he’s the Arrow, to which Sebastian does your standard, “Everything makes so much more sense now” reaction.  Really, though, Oliver is distracting Sebastian since his bodyguard has been kidnapped to be questioned by Diggle and Felicity, the latter of whom gets him to talk by threatening to electronically tamper with his parent’s retirement fund.  Smooth move, Felicity. 

City of Blood

Team Arrow plans to blow the roof down on top of Sebastian and his Acolytes in the sewer, Diggle and Felicity topside and Oliver down below providing eyes on the targets.  Laurel shows up, even though she was forbidden from coming, to help Oliver, and the two end up cornered by Brother Blood acolytes.  Diggle’s attempt to detonate the bombs topside is interrupted by Rochev in full-on Ravager gear, and Felicity receives a call from Cisco at STAR Labs (the mirakuru cure is probably ready).

Motherless Thea -

She’s mad at Oliver for not having warned her or her mother about Slade Wilson, and then Isabel shows up at Verdant to let her know she needs to be out in a couple of days since Verdant is Queen Consolidated property.  Thea decides to leave town, and Oliver tells her not to stay but instead run as fast as possible.  Unfortunately, Slade kept tabs on her, and sicks one of his minions to attack her at the train station.

Meanwhile, Back on the Island… -

Ah, who cares.  Oliver learns about heroism and self-sacrifice when the preacher guy volunteers himself to man a pilot-operated torpedo to help dislodge the Japanese sub, which Oliver, Sara, and the Russian guy can use to go after Slade and maybe get off the island.  It’s a success, but since Oliver sent Sara away in case something went wrong he made her vulnerable, ending the flashback hearing her via walkie talkie being abducted by either Slade Wilson or the League of Assassins.  

THE REVIEW

Arrow killing off Moira and thus losing Susanna Thompson might seem very concerning for a variety of reasons, such as whether or not it was wise for them to drop one of their strongest actors.  However, “City of Blood” proves that in the short term our biggest concern about the death of Moira should have been that it would necessitate such a period of mourning and reflection at a time when Arrow is seriously racing toward the finish line.  This was an episode so front-loaded with the burden of having to give Moira’s death its due justice that the final minutes felt rushed, with an awkward transition into the final island flashback scene, guys at the police precinct and bus terminal with Deathstroke masks that come out of nowhere, and a group of thugs descending on the city even though it’s not 100% clear if they’re the same ones Oliver and Laurel just fought (and presumably crushed under rubble).  

Of course, I say all of this knowing full-well that if I were binge-viewing season 2 right now I wouldn’t be writing this review.  I’d already have started the next episode, desperate to see what happens next with our heroes (and city) in peril.  That’s not always true since there have been plenty of season 2 episodes which I’ve been so cold on I wouldn’t have felt very compelled to keep watching to the next episode if doing so in a marathon fashion.  Not “City of Blood,” whose Dark Knight impression sees Deathstroke attacking on multiple fronts at the same exact time, resulting in us ending with Quentin, Diggle, Thea, and Oliver and Laurel all in grave danger.  Pish posh to whether or not its ending could have used a bit more room to breathe; I have to see what happens next, right?

What would you cut, though, to give the ending more screen time?  For example, If I was sitting sitting in the editing room with this episode I would be torn over whether or not I should cut the scene of Thea leaving Queen Manor for the last time in favor of giving a little more to the ending.  Thea’s scene does not seem nearly as immediate, but based upon what the producers have said in interviews as well as just where the story is naturally heading that is quite possibly the last time we’ll ever seen Queen Manor.  Such a significant set deserved a goodbye.  Plus, it rather efficiently put across that Thea is now a person without a home, but while Walter would clearly love to take her in she is taking the opportunity to move on and become even more independent.

That’s the type of character work that can elevate “City of Blood” to another level.  After all, it’s not like they can expect us to really take the actual plot all that seriously.  We’re coming to the end of the season.  So, for better or worse we’re stuck with concluding a story featuring the mayor of Starling City wearing a “skull mask” (aka, Scarecrow from Batman Begins mask), and speechifying to a collected group of escaped cons turned super-powered thugs about “leading the city out of the darkness” and taking it back (from who, exactly?).

City of Blood

What must they have all thought when Sebastian sat with his back to them, silent, and unmasked for a while prior to the speech?

Plus, the less said about Isabel Rochev’s Ravager outfit the better (“OMG, she looks so stupid” about covers it).  Poor, poor Summer Glau had to wear that thing.

That’s a bunch of nonsense, but in that Heat-esque dinner scene with Oliver and the hesitation he had before addressing his Acolytes we got some sense that Sebastian might actually be conflicted over what he’s doing.  Plus, they finally gave at least some explanation as to his endgame, which is to use the Acolytes to bring havoc to town so that he can swoop in as mayor and save them, granting him a rubber stamp legislatively from that point forward.  That still doesn’t actually make much sense since now that he’s mayor we don’t really know what policies and plans he has which couldn’t be accomplished without the panic brought on by an attack from a super-powered army.  Similar to so many things with season 2, Sebastian has often been lost in the shuffle due to the show seemingly not realizing they only have around 40 minutes for every episode, not 60.  So, this could have been better if Sebastian had been around more this season, but at least it’s a motivation which they managed to communicate in a scene as thoroughly cool as Oliver confronting him at a restaurant and casually mentioning he is the Arrow.

As for Oliver, first of all we should all agree that Slade Wilson was NOT referring to him when he mentioned there was only one more person who needed to die.  “City of Blood” made such a big deal out of this that clearly it’s setting us up for a surprise where it’s not Oliver who has to die but probably Sara or Slade himself as part of Deathstroke’s final plan.  That being said, Oliver engaged in a fair deal of self-loathing in “City of Blood,” as losing his mother due to the actions of a man he could have stopped years ago was the final straw.  Slade Wilson broke him.  It is fairly foolish of Oliver to think that everyone he loves and Starling City would truly be spared were he to surrender to Slade.  It’s the type of thing that if attempted by Sara would result in a very preachy speech from Oliver.  However, this is another case of the necessity for Team Arrow being upheld despite the tendencies of either Oliver or Sara to go all lone-wolf sometimes.

Of course, it’s not actually Team Arrow (back to just being Felicity or Diggle) that get through to Oliver; it’s Laurel.  Her speech to him was probably a bit overwritten and especially hard to take, as she claims to know who Oliver is “in his bones” a week after we found out he once cheated on her and impregnated another girl all without her knowing about it (but she sure found his ignorance about trigonometry adorable).  They’re likely trying to echo Oliver’s speech to her in the first season finale, i.e., the one about the island scraping away everything he wasn’t and revealing the person he always was, which is the person only Laurel ever saw in him prior to the island.  Plus,  with Laurel’s rise above taking the easy way out on her problems this season she would be speaking to Oliver about not giving up and giving in from a recent position of authority.  However, she seriously buried the lead, though, because she doesn’t actually completely get through to him – it’s the reveal about Sebastian that pulls him out of his self-loathing.

City of Blood

It’s questionable why Laurel would follow Oliver down to the sewers, but that’s a comic book story convention (e.g., Emma Stone’s Gwen Stacy does something incredibly similar in Amazing Spider-Man 2).

 THE BOTTOM LINE

Moira, one of the only characters on this show who was connected to every single other character, is gone, and “City of Blood” took its time to let that settle in, even observing the difficulty of mourning Moira when she wasn’t always very nice (at least in Felicity’s case).  As such, we were treated to some nicely rendered emotional scenes for Thea and Oliver.  Elsewhere, Laurel and Quentin behaved mostly like they should have months ago in remembering the circumstantial but still very suspicious evidence they had against Sebastian, and Team Arrow returned to being the power trio of old.  The overall plot of the army of supersoldiers threatening to wreak havoc on the city is still a bunch of nonsense, but with “City of Blood” placing its primary emphasis on character we can forget about that and just want to see next week how our heroes get out of the corners they’ve been painted into.  

THE NOTES

1. Comic Book 101: Ravager

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  • First Appearance: 1980

There have been 4 Ravagers with known identites, all of them villains appearing in the pages of Teen Titans: Grant Wilson (Slade Wilson oldest son), Bill Walsh (an old rival of Deathstroke’s), Wade DeFarge (Slade’s half-brother), and Rose Wilson (Slade’s illegitimate daughter).  Wilson died in combat with the Titans while Walsh and DeFarge were both killed by Slade Wilson, who then attempted to set-up his daughter as a protege and heir to the title of Ravager.  Eventually, she rejected him, and joined the Teen Titans.  The New 52 erased all of that, though, and made the Ravagers the name of a kind of Teen Titans B-squad.

2. Maybe it’s because I just watched Spider-Man 2 last night, but when Laurel told Oliver there was more going on than just Oliver and Slade Wilson I instantly flashed to Peter Parker’s scene with Harry Osborn after the latter discovers the former is Spider-Man. 

3. Sara and Oliver are splitsville because he needs someone who can help him harness his inner-light.  So, who’s up next, shippers: Felicity or Laurel?  Felicity tries to talk Oliver out of his suicide mission but fails, yet Laurel manages to get through to him (kind of).  Advantage?  Laurel.  Your move, Olicity. 

4. “This started with the three of us.  It’s time we got back to that.”  Damn straight, Oliver!

5. Oliver – just a word of advice.  When you find yourself in a sewer fighting a superpowered goon in a mask, and you have an exploding Arrow which can knock him out maybe that arrow should be the first one you shoot.

6. It would generally seem to work better if when Oliver mentions that somebody once told him something it’s a something we’d heard before, not one we’ll see later in that same episode in a flashback.

7. Seriously, where on Earth did the minion in the police precinct pull that Deathstroke mask from?

Well, I’ve said enough.  What did you think of this episode?  Let us know in the comments section.

All of the pictures used in the above review, unless otherwise noted, came from CWTV.com © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

SECOND OPINIONS


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