If last week’s episode of The CW’s Arrow felt like the first part of a much longer finale, then tonight’s episode was surely that same finale’s middle act. Not that I’m complaining. The production value was off the charts in tonight’s hour, and all of the players were advanced across the board evenly. Some sought redemption while others chose annihilation instead. And even as certain complications have been dealt with (in some cases, permanently), others had arisen by episode’s end. The issue is that very few of them were resolved, which puts quite the pressure on the second season’s final hour next week as lots of loose ends need to be tied up in a hopefully satisfying fashion. Hit the jump for more from my Arrow recap.
Tonight’s “Island Time” sequence is a nice little microcosm of the rest of the episode altogether. Sara has (somehow) been kidnapped off of the sub by Slade’s men and Ollie is off to rescue her, with an order to Anatoly in no uncertain terms to launch the finale torpedo at the Amazo should Sara and Ollie not return within an hour. Though Ollie manages to liberate Sara (and his bow and arrows), they soon find the cure is already in Slade’s hands, and his soldiers are there waiting for them. So keep these things in mind from “Island Time” as they’ll play out in the larger story: Slade’s one step ahead of Ollie, Slade has his hands on the cure, Ollie’s under a time crunch, and neither of the Lance sisters listen to him worth a damn.
Now, back in Starling City, we pick up exactly where we left off, with Arrow and Laurel trapped beneath the rubble of the collapsed tunnel, Diggle fighting off Isabel, Thea fleeing from the Mirakuru soldiers, and Quentin Lance and the police officers doing their best to take down a solo soldier. Nuts, right? Well, there’s so much going on and it’s all spread across Hell’s creation that it kind of makes sense that most of these conflicts are carrying on into next week’s finale. Let’s take them one at a time: Team Arrow, the Lances, and Thea.
So perhaps one of the funniest moments of the entire series was when Felicity hits Isabel with the van (honorable mention for Amell’s delivery when asking Laurel if she sees his quiver). Too bad that Isabel, aka Ravager, is tougher than the average girl, even if she does look much better without that goofy mask. The city is under the chaotic control of Slade and Isabel now, with Blood looking on in horror as his beloved metropolis burns down around him. Blood uses his mayoral powers to keep the Governor from calling the National Guard, and schmoozes the District Attorney into staying calm. Too bad Slade has other plans as one of his soldiers snaps the DA’s neck and sends Blood into a tizzy.
This actually works out pretty well for Team Arrow, since Slade’s soldiers had previously intercepted a S.T.A.R. Labs courier who was transporting the limited amount of the Mirakuru cure. Blood is now in possession of it, and offers to hand it over to the Arrow in the hopes that, when this is all over, Blood will be allowed to help rebuild the city. Luckily, the nutter likely won’t get the chance as Ravager alerts Slade to Blood’s betrayal and puts two swords through his chest. Other than a final call to Amanda Waller to ask WTF is up with her A.R.G.U.S. troops invading the city (oh, just another city-leveling drone strike at dawn, you understand … though if they’re as inept as the ones in the “Suicide Squad” episode … ), Team Arrow didn’t have a whole heckuva lot to do this episode other than run around, open shiny briefcases, and jab poor unconscious Roy with needles.
The Lances, however, got to kick ass, take names, get promotions and save children from burning buildings! After Laurel shoots her way free of the rubble using one of Ollie’s arrows (and then soon after goes against Ollie’s attempts to keep her safe, as all the Lance ladies do), she quickly runs afoul of one of Slade’s soldiers. Luckily (which was telegraphed episodes ago), Sara arrives on the scene in the nick of time. Also, as has been a bit of a theme in recent episodes, Laurel instantly recognizes her. While Quentin is busy blowing up Mirakuru soldiers and rallying the troops (oh and getting his Detective’s badge back, yay!), Laurel decides that now, as the city burns, is the perfect time to ask Sara where she disappeared to and why she’s back. Sara’s identity crisis is short lived (note: you can redeem your past sins by saving a child from a burning building), and her legend as “The Canary” is now likely spreading through Starling City. Honestly, out of all the action junkies in this cast, I was surprised to see that Paul Blackthorne got the best scenes this week. Oh, there was one other guy…
John Barrowman! Welcome back (maybe?)! In a moment caught between cool and cheesy, he swoops onto the scene as the Dark Archer, revealing himself to be Thea’s father after saving her from a marauding soldier. While chaos is reigning all around them, the two have a daddy-daughter chat in the relative quiet of the train station, in which Merlyn tries to convince Thea of his good intentions. Before he can win her trust or get her to safety, he’s attacked by a soldier. And though he dispatches him rather quickly, he’s then faced with the barrel of a gun held by none other than his own daughter. We’re left with Thea pulling the trigger twice before the credits roll. Phew! Take a breath!
It feels like “Streets of Fire” was going for an overall theme of redemption this time around, but there was so much other stuff going on that everything felt rushed. Sara left a few episodes ago and came back at the exact right time (as predicted). Whatever personal issues she had weren’t quite worked out until Laurel pointed out that anyone nicknamed “The Canary” couldn’t be irredeemable, and when she found acceptance by women on the police force who called her actions “the bravest thing they’ve ever seen.” It wasn’t that Sara’s redemption wasn’t earned, but it’s more the fact that we never really saw what was plaguing her to begin with.
Laurel, on the other hand, appeared to be confident and clear-headed for the first time in a long time. Her rare action scene with the bow was a nice moment for her character, and her reconciliation with her sister and father appears to be complete now. Quentin, for all his struggles, also seems to be back in the swing of things … which makes me worry for the entire Lance family going into the finale.
As for our title hero, Arrow had another moment (or three) of feeling just overwhelmed with everything that’s going on. That was most certainly earned, and the constant chaos in the background of this episode helped to drive that point home. (Seriously, that was an intense hour in which I felt like the city set was literally burning down around them.) At some point, we as viewers, and Arrow as a character, have to ask ourselves, “Is Starling City worse because of him? Is it better off without him?” Ollie certainly had that moment tonight as he listed all of the people he’s failed along the way. His saving grace thus far has been the support of his teammates, and Felicity stepped in once again to remind him of all the good he’s done for the city. Oliver/Arrow’s personal struggle has been very well handled this season, I just keep my fingers crossed that the payoff next week will be worth the pain.
Quips & Quivers:
Arrow: “Do you see my quiver?!” – Unintentionally hilarious.
Felicity: “Okay … What do you think, hit her again?” – Intentionally hilarious.
Felicity: “Isabel attacked Diggle, so I hit her with the van.”
Lance: “We got masks tearing our city to pieces, but we’re gonna need a mask to stop ’em.” – How badass was Blackthorne this week? Worries me though…
Blood: “One of your juiced-up jackboots just slaughtered my entire staff, and snapped the District Attorney’s neck!” – Kevin Alejandro certainly channeled the “unhinged nutjob” for this ep.
Slade: “As of tomorrow night, it’ll be ash, blood, and death. A land only good for one thing … graves.”
Laurel: “If you’re so far gone, and so irredeemable, then why would they know you by such a beautiful name?”
Oliver: “I have failed this city.”
Soldier: “You’re out of arrows.” Merlyn: “You’re not!”
Felicity: “I’m just saying, if you guys don’t come back alive, I’m going to be really pissed.”
Blood: “I loved this city!”
Felicity: “Why does every secret formula have to be a color? What ever happened to good, old-fashioned ‘clear’?” – Amen, Felicity!
Be sure to check out the promo for next week’s episode of Arrow, the season two finale, “Unthinkable”