Arrow: City of Blood

Oliver: "The essence of heroism is to die so that others may live."

Deep into the final stretch of episodes we pause to mourn and set things up for the end of the season. Leading to a surprisingly subdued and emotional hour.

This was really Sebastian Blood's episode. He is a bit more subtle than Slade or Isabel, but no less evil. Blood is totally nuts, but like all good villains thinks he's doing the right thing. Whatever his motives, it's one step removed from Malcolm. So while he's undoubtedly a second banana in Slade's quest for revenge, he still has a pretty nasty agenda of his own.

The person that really surprised me in this episode was Laurel. She stepped up all of a sudden, as if the revelation that Oliver was the Arrow gave her just the right push to bring her back to the land of level-headedness. She's not quite there yet for me, but I'm actually starting to like her again. Plus, Katie Cassidy is looking normal and very pretty again. Which makes me wonder, was her excessive thinness earlier in the season an acting choice (i.e., she lost some weight to play a drug addict more effectively?) Or was her arc designed around some issues the actress had?

No matter, that kind of stuff isn't as important to me as the character's actions. Here Laurel did pretty much everything right, except run in to help Oliver in the den of the beast as it were. Even though she did save his life, it was foolish to follow him into an unknown and potentially deadly situation completely unprepared. That small gripe aside, she did the thing I always like characters to do, but they seldom do. She delivered important details to the rest of the group instead of sitting on it for plot reasons. See, communication isn't a bad thing.

Because of that, we finally got that great little scene between Oliver and Blood. The gradual way it became antagonistic was well played. Both actors brought a lot to the table, so to speak, and elevated the scene in just the right way to feel tension without resorting to violence. Blood was right though, what can Oliver do to him directly? The Arrow doesn't kill any more, even though it must be tempting in this case, and he doesn't have enough direct evidence against him yet. That e-mail is incriminating, but it was procured through less than legal means.

Of course I loved that Quentin jumped onto the bandwagon to help Laurel dig up some dirt on Blood. She came to him again with a renewed claim that Blood was dirty, and this time he believed her. Good character moments for both of them there. I'm not quite as happy with the other family dynamics, though, with Thea acting out through much of the earlier part of the episode, and then deciding to leave town. At least Oliver managed to patch things up a little between them.

Moira's death hung like a shadow over the entire episode, and dictated most of Oliver's actions through grief. It was an interesting choice not to have Oliver attend his own mother's funeral. What was more engaging was the nearly suicidal haze he was lost in throughout the episode. It gave the parallels to flashbacks, with the priest sacrificing himself, some weight. Back then Oliver couldn't imagine he would ever be the kind of person who could do that. He truly has become a hero at this point, when his only thought to save the rest of his friends and family was to sacrifice himself.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the insane multiple cliffhangers. Pretty much everyone was in danger. We got Sara no longer answering on the walkie talkie in the Lian Yu flashback, Diggle outmatched and stuck on defensive against a juiced up Isabel (more on her below), Thea and Quentin in the middle of attacks from the Blood Army, and of course Oliver and Laurel trapped and potentially buried alive beneath a ton of rubble. At least Felicity isn't in direct danger... yet.

Comicbook Bits:

Ravager (Isabel's new villain identity) has a long and complex history in the comics. There have been five versions of the character, and only one of them has been a woman. Her name is Rose Wilson, and she's Slade Wilson's illegitimate daughter, and onetime apprentice. Since this interpretation of her seems to be a very different take than the comic book version, I'm not sure how much of that character applies to the show. Especially since she has a tangled history with Nightwing, the Teen Titans, and of course Slade. As well as shifting from hero to villain depending on the plot she's involved in.

One thing I will add, is that I didn't care for her mask at all. It was too round, and not nearly as successful as it could've been if it were more streamlined.

Bits:

Good to see Walter again, even if he didn't have much to do besides console Thea.

Isabel's entrance at the wake was fun, especially Diggle and Felicity's reactions.

I could probably write a whole paragraph about Felicity at A.R.G.U.S., from her interactions with Waller to her geeking out over the advanced computers, she was delightful. Of course Sisko called at the last minute, probably about the cure. Or perhaps to give her the news that Barry is awake and is flashing around the hospital like Sonic the Hedgehog.

Isabel evicted Thea from Verdant. Logical, but oh so cold.

Laurel bugged Blood's office, and like all television/movie bugs, it's blinking.

Of course Oliver had a second lair, but I love that the writers thought about it.

Kamikaze torpedoes. Wow, what a horrible touch.

Why did the torpedo do that U-turn?

The use of pink flowers was an odd way of symbolizing Oliver's grief and anger.  There were some sitting in his place at Moira's funeral, and on the table between Oliver and Sebastian during their confrontation.

Quotes:

Felicity: "I don't even know why I'm crying, I didn't even like Moira. Terrible thing to say about someone after they've just died. In my defense, she was not nice. She was diabolical."

Anatoly: "It's like riding a bicycle… underwater."

Henchmen: "You bitch!"
Felicity: "Bitch, with Wifi."
Lovely interrogation scene, I never thought I would write that sentence.

Felicity: "Hi, I'll be your interrogator."

Another really strong episode, in what is shaping up to be an excellent back half of the season. Two more to go!

3 1/2 out of 4 Masked Mirikuru Enhanced Super Henchmen

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related. He reviews Arrow, The Originals and Farscape and cool new movies that strike his fancy.

6 comments:

Freeman said...

I like that they gave a moment for the characters to wallow in grief so to speak. Ollie tends to wear his heart on his sleeve, so it was a nice touch to see him retreat into himself again. It's also nice that Laurel is finally not being a giant bore anymore. Though I'm with you on her follow Ollie into the den of doom. How did she even find him? That place looked like a friggin' maze. What a time for Sara to walk away though haha. They could really use her help at the moment.

The priest guy steered the torpedo into the U-turn. The plan was to hit the sub so that it could get dislodged, but they needed someone to steer it back to the rocks.

Concerning Ravager's mask. I don't wanna be mean but I think the reason her mask looks so funky is because Summer Glau's got a big ol' noggin. But yeah, maybe if they sleeked it up at the corners.

ChrisB said...

I can't get over how much I am enjoying the second half of this season. I look forward to the show every week, and have not been disappointed. This episode was a wonderful combination of some lovely, quiet moments and some OMG moments. Perfect.

rebecca_s921 said...

While I love the episode and the direction the season has taken, the absurdity of the kamikaze torpedo really broke my suspension of disbelief. Come on writers, there must be a better way to make the point of being a self sacrificing hero!

Freeman said...

Apparently kamikaze torpedoes were a thing the Japanese military used at the time. I know it seems hard to believe, but it happened.

enlerp said...

Yep, they were a thing:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaiten

JimGfromWI said...

Totally love this show. Very nice character episode - we got to calm things down, somewhat, before it all hits the fan the final two episodes. I know some people don't like Laurel, or at least used to, but the character I can't stand is Thea. I'm not even sure why, she just bugs me. In her defense, she's obviously had a lot to go through, but for some reason she just doesn't click with me. And as much as I love this show, I'm mad that they made Summer's character soooo completely unlikable or have any redeeming value at all. Is it bad I hope she suffers a horrible, painful, lingering death in the next episode or two? Love Summer though - and I'm sure she had a lot of fun playing someone so thoroughly evil.