Arrow: Streets of Fire

Felicity: "I really thought the airbags were going to go off."

Lots happened... lalalala... spoiler space.

And the other shoe dropped. Slade isn't just out for revenge, he wants to destroy everything Oliver loves, including the entire city. Which we now know has a population just over half a million. Kinda makes Malcolm's "I want to save the Glades by destroying it!" feel a little tame. One thing is clear though, there isn't a machine to shut down. This time we have an unstoppable army to fight, and oh yeah Amanda Waller is sending the bombs down as well to level the city.

It's good that the show established Waller's ability to go overkill. She's bloodthirsty when other methods would work just as well. So much so, that I'm surprised the pseudo-government organization A.R.G.U.S. puts up with her shenanigans. With criminals like Deadshot I can almost see her ends justifying the means. Leveling the city though? That seems like a step too far.

That scene where Oliver called Waller was actually kind of awesome. Oliver was utterly conflicted, and completely unable to use Roy as a guinea pig for the Mirikuru cure. Even though I'm pretty sure a clear headed Roy would've volunteered. Then in a minute, when the stakes were raised, he didn't hesitate. Team Arrow is basically damned either way, but at least fighting against Slade has a chance of success if the cure works. Which made his choice to inject Roy an easy one.

Laurel has had a rather remarkable reversal of character these last few episodes. In a lot of ways she has become a better character than she's ever been before. She didn't hesitate to support Sara, she rescued Oliver with a well placed arrow, and even made the selfless choice of setting the heroes off to fight the good fight so they wouldn't have to worry about her. I never thought I would say it, but I'm actually liking her now. Figure that.

The rest of the episode focused on Sebastian Blood's almost Vader-like revelation that he placed his trust and loyalty in the wrong team. I'm not entirely sure how evil he was, he did some very questionable and murderous stuff. But he died like a hero, and even thought his actions were for the good of the city. See, the best villains always think they are doing the right thing. As it turned out, his evil scheme really was an attempt to make the city a better place. He actually cared about the innocents, so he turned out to have a breaking point that Slade crossed by a mile.

The Thea plot was the only aspect of this episode that didn't entirely work for me, and it had nothing to do with the scenes or the plot. Malcolm coming to her rescue and trying to convince her that he wants to be her father all worked for me. But with so many other things going on, their interaction felt a bit slow. The scenes didn't ruin the pace of the episode, but I wish they had somehow worked them into the last episode where the weight of them could've been felt when we had time to let them sink in.

Lastly, it looks like Quentin is at a turning point. He's been put in charge of the current crisis as a liaison with the Arrow. That's one step away from being named Chief of Police (since apparently the previous Chief died or something, I'm a little vague on that plot point). Although I love this development, I think it's a touch fast. Wasn't he in jail in the last episode? Well, considering most of the political leaders in the city are dead, my guess is that Laurel will be the new D.A. and Quentin will be the Chief next season. Or perhaps I'm jumping the gun a bit. Having those positions of power open means that new characters/villains could fill the vacuum.

Bits:

See, Isabel, never monologue. You get hit by a car. That being said, any chance to do a Terminator reference with Summer Glau is welcome.

Quentin's quick thinking to take out that Mirikuru thug was pretty awesome. Although Felicity in the van running over Isabel was the best take down of the episode.

Oliver's relationship with Anatoly was set up early in the season as almost a throw away exchange to set up his character. But having him become so important on the island is really cool. Especially when we finally got to see the moment where Anatoly pledged his friendship to Oliver. Simply lovely continuity

Sara's return wasn't unexpected, but having her really only interact with Laurel was a surprise. The whole 'I'm not a hero' arc for Sara feels a bit forced here at the end of the season, but I did like the slightly hokey moment between Laurel and Sara. Also the parallel of Sara begging Oliver to let her go home, to the Canary explaining to her sister that she's irredeemable, was well done.

Seeing Felicity hurt was not fun, but that moment she had with Oliver was great. The focus on his hand on her back was interesting. She's the one person that will stand by him no matter what, and that's a pretty powerful thing. Greater relationships have started with less.

It's probably just nice casting bonus, but there's a good resemblance between Thea and Malcolm.

Blood's mask was a representation of his father's face. That's was an unexpectedly deep meaning behind a relatively silly mask. I wish Blood's plan made a bit more sense though, because now that he's dead I doubt we'll ever learn what he had planned for the city.

Quotes:

"I loved this city." Blood's final words.

Felicity: "Why does ever secret formula have to be a color? Whatever happened to good old fashioned clear?"

Felicity: "Just saying, if you guys don't come back alive, I’m gonna be really pissed."

Malcolm: "You still have a father."
Great moment with Thea shooting him, but I seriously doubt he's dead.

Felicity: "I know two things. You are not alone, and I believe in you."

Slade: "They say Nero sang as he watched Rome burn. Now I understand why."

Quentin: (to Arrow) "The Starling City Police Department is behind you."
This is about as far a turnaround from last season as you can get.

Anatoly: "I'm discovering capacity to do many things I never thought I would do."

Felicity: "Isabel attacked Dig, so I hit her with the van."

Another solid episode jammed packed with some really excellent character moments and plot turns. One more to go in the season, and I hope it caps things on a high note.

4 out of 4 Vials of neon blue Mirikuru cure.

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.

8 comments:

sunbunny said...

Although I'm typically among Laurel's harshest critics, I actually didn't mind her this week. She stepped up in a big way, first saving herself with the exploding arrow and then with Sara. I worry that the heavy-handedness they're using with the "Sara is a hero" thing foretells a grim future for her. Please, please don't kill her off!

Patrick said...

I too am worried that Sara's going to get killed in the finale, or otherwise leave the show. She's been a great addition to the cast this year, both the character and the actress. I think Caity has better chemistry with Stephen than Katie(heh, just noticed that) does, and her athletic abilities are remarkable, both raw conditioning and her martial arts skills. That being said, if the ultimate plan is for Laurel to become Black Canary, having her take up the mantle from her sister after Sara's death does make dramatic sense. The main problem is how will Laurel's skills grow to where they need to be. Then again, how the heck did Oliver get so good with the limited amount of training he seems to have gotten. :)

I'm a little concerned with Thea's arc, it seems a little tacked on this late in the season. I can only assume that they are laying the foundation for a larger arc that will happen during Season 3 involving Thea and probably Malcom as well. I wonder how far in advance they told John Barrowman that they had this spaced-out storyline planned for his character, where they seemingly kill him at the end of Season 1, have him show up a couple of times in Season 2, and then possibly re-emerge more significantly in Season 3. He strikes me as the kind of actor who would be game for that kind of long-term plan that would mean he not get much screen-time for long periods, but it still takes some wrangling.

I'm still convinced Amanda Waller and Oliver met sometime before Oliver came back to Starling City. She seems to know a lot about Slade and the Mirakuru, and they seem to have a personal animosity which suggests history. Maybe that's coming in the flashback portion of an upcoming season. Possibly even the upcoming finale. After all, when he approached her a few episodes ago for help finding Slade Wilson, she seemed to think he'd already killed Slade. How would she know that if she didn't know about the freighter?

JD, I do think we'll be seeing both Quentin and Laurel get promotions next season, though I don't think they'll be as high-ranking as you suggest. Paul Blackthorne played the scene where he got his detective shield back beautifully. And yes under normal circumstances it would be a little fast, but those were FAR from normal circumstances. And my guess is, if the Arrow comes out of the finale looking like more of a hero to the city, then Quentin's previous actions to help him will be looked upon a bit less harshly than they were before. I would imagine that next season Laurel would be a more senior prosecutor but not the overall chief DA, and if Quentin gets promoted my guess would be to captain, so that he's still at the precinct, but he's in charge of things.

Felicity was responsible for some of my favorite moments, as always. I cheered when she hit Isabel with the van, and I laughed out loud when her reaction to Isabel getting back up was "should I hit her again?" instead of "flee!". That scene in Sara's loft where she reaffirmed to Oliver that he hadn't failed the city was very moving, and I'm glad the embrace between them didn't result in a kiss. I'm sure plenty of "Olicity" fans would have squeed their pants off, but it would have felt out of character, and too Smallville-ish. The issue of an attraction between Oliver & Felicity, in both directions, has been handled with more maturity and grace than I've come to expect from shows in this genre, I hope it continues.

So now we have all the pieces on the board(well, almost all, based on the previews for the finale), and some REALLY high stakes, can't wait to see how it all plays out.

J.D. Balthazar said...

I agree with both of you, killing Sara would be a mistake. However, Patrick I think you have a solid point; it does make 'dramatic' sense for Sara to die so that Laurel can pick up the Canary mantle.

That being said, what would the other way look like? If Laurel died, would Sara see that as a chance to shrug off the darkness and accept being a true hero. Because even though Sara did work through a bit of her issues in this episode, I doubt that plot point is entirely dead (unless she is).

Laurel and Quentin getting huge promotions may seem not so realistic, but TV show promotions rarely imitate real life. Quentin is very much the commissioner Gordon character, or at least he's becoming like him to an extent. Having Laurel be a high level D.A. like a full assistant D.A. would fit.

My reasoning for them getting D.A. and Chief, is that the D.A. and the Chief were both taken out in this episode. We have two characters in line for those jobs eventually, so it fits even if it doesn't really mimic real life.

It totally makes sense that Waller might show up in the flashbacks at some point. That might help fill in some of the rest of the three years we have left in Oliver's story there. Also, if Slade and Sara both fake die in this finale, Oliver won't have any companions left on the island.

Felcity almost always has my favorite moments. I've found that I have to cut my comments about her most of the time, otherwise she would have her own section in my reviews. Actually that might not be a bad idea. Anyway, the Olicity romance has been handled so well, and I totally agree Patrick if they had kissed it would've been eye rollingly bad.

Billie Doux said...

This series would be a lot poorer without Paul Blackthorne. I keep worrying about him as well as them offing Sara to motivate Laurel. But then again, they don't seem to be going the predictable route with Arrow. I keep being surprised by how far they're willing to go. What they did with Blood completely surprised me, too, and I haven't a clue what they'll do in the finale.

Patrick said...

My reasoning why Quentin & Laurel wouldn't jump all the way to the top of their respective departments is similar to why Oliver & Felicity didn't kiss in this episode. The writers are generally better than that.

And yes JD, it does seem like they're going to be clearing the decks somewhat in the flashback scenes. I'm expecting that the finale is when we'll see the event where Oliver thought both Slade and Sara were killed. But there's still three years left before Oliver gets home, so clearly there's more story to tell. It will be very interesting to see what happens to him. The first two years of flashbacks have basically been the precursor to the present-day events with Slade Wilson, even if we didn't know that in the first season. Will any more characters from those missing years eventually show up in the present day, or will the flashbacks just be emotionally linked like they seemed to be in the first season?

Freeman said...

Felicity hitting Isabel with the van was beautiful. Actually this was a strong episode for Felicity altogether, even though she was ore or less in the background the whole time. She's really proven herself to be a reliable asset. Makes me think Slade may go after her. If not her then Thea, which would give an excuse for Ollie and Malcolm to team up. I don't think Thea shot Malcolm, probably some dude sneaking up on him. That tends to be the case in TV shows. Then again this show has tripped me up many times. Heck, they've even managed to make me not think Laurel is terrible. I still don't ship her and Ollie though. I probably never will, heh.

The Malcolm and Thea stuff did feel slightly out of place, though I suppose it probably will be very important in the next episode and season to come. I also agree that Sara's angst is kind of a weird thing to focus on right now. Though like Thea and Malcolm it may be a set up for stuff next season. I don't think Quentin would be able to jump straight to Police Chief from Detective. Or was he named Captain? I can't remember. I feel like they're probably gonna introduce another character.

It was nice to see Blood slightly redeem himself. Still screwed quite a few people, but at least he's given Oliver the chance he needs to turn the tide. While Amanda's choice to bomb the city seems abotu right for her character, it does come off a bit too Dark Knight Rises. Ah well, it works for me.

Malcolm and Thea really do look pretty similar. She even has a similar beauty mark on her lip like Moira did. The casting really did work out for that.

I must admit, when they said "they're sending a courier", I half-expected it to be The Flash, which would've been super cool, but it would've totally overshadowed everything else that happened in the episode and changed the stakes completely.

Concerning Oliver meeting Waller before the current events. It seems highly likely that Waller was Fyers' mysterious employer at The Island.

jencat said...

This episode had so many great moments. Laurel and Felicity are the queens of heartrending pep talks right now (and a section of just Felicity quotes would be awesome, yes please!).

I adored that Sara and Laurel finally really talked (it actually made me cry, it was such a lovely moment), and Laurel knows the truth about everything, and actually stepped up to be an enjoyable character to watch over the last few episodes.

Poor Katie Cassidy has been stuck with some atrocious writing for so long, it was so nice to see Laurel running around (in sensible shoes!) being basically smart and kind and useful. She's second billed in the cast but Laurel's been the weak link for a long time (now there's just Thea to salvage. Ho hum.). The Lance family reunion made me very happy - can we get Alex Kingston back again and I'd be even happier.

I did start to think they were definitely hinting at Felicity being Slade's last target - they keep mentioning that it's one last person, whoever Oliver "loves the most", which logically should be Thea, but Slade has personally just let her live at least twice already, so it seems a bit redundant to go back and target her yet again. Plus, he only visited Laurel to stir trouble rather than threaten her, and doesn't seem very interested in targeting Sara (the person Oliver's actually been involved with until very recently). I'm not sure there's anyone else left?

Felicity on the other hand - Isabel mentions being specifically out to kill her when she was attacking Diggle (and I was even more impressed Felicity managed to drive that van at all wearing those five inch spike stilettos, let alone hit Isabel?!) Obviously all of Oliver's pep talks came from Felicity, complete with bloody nose (they mirrored the Sara/Laurel conversations quite nicely as well) and then there was that hug. The oddest part was that there were not one but two deliberate close up shots of Oliver's hand touching Felicity at different points. And I have no idea what his expression was supposed to mean during that hug, but it may just be more loading towards realising how much she means to him. They're trying to make a point about something, and they have resolved his relationships with Laurel and Sara to a point this episode. I mean, I'm a big Olicity fan, but this felt like it had a different tone than the writers usually take about it.

The thing that did make me smile was Isabel's very petulant "Who's Shado?!" to Slade. As this whole thing kicked off by her being rejected by Oliver's father, she really doesn't want to hear that Slade's really thinking about someone else as well.

And everytime Slade mentions Shado, it gets creepier and creepier, like he's sullying her memory even more. Poor Shado. She would have taken him down a long time ago, I can't help thinking.

ChrisB said...

Does the clock tower remind anyone else of Watchtower in Smallville? Every time I see it, I flash back.

Can I just say, Felicity hitting Isabel with the car was one of my favorite moments ever. All kudos to the editor as the timing was perfect, coming just as Isabel finished her threat.

The scene between Oliver and Felicity as simply lovely. I, too, noticed the focus on his hand, and the focus a bit later when he touches her shoulder.

Blood told Oliver that Slade is coming after the "person you love most." I agree with jencat that it is most likely Felicity.