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ArrowSeason 2 is barreling towards its finale, and with only two more episodes left, “City of Blood” is a brief respite for our characters to mourn last episode’s sudden loss before plunging head on into Slade’s war for Starling City.

The death of Oliver’s mother, Moira, has clearly hit everyone hard but especially her children. Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Thea (Willa Holland) witnessed first hand Moira’s murder by Slade Wilson (Manu Bennet) and are both dealing with matters in their own, entirely unhealthy ways. Oliver has disappeared, not even attending his mother’s funeral. Thea throws herself into running Verdant, the only thing she has left after losing her boyfriend, her mother, and now her brother.

That is, until Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau) comes to reclaim the steel mill Verdant is located within. Oh! And this is after crashing the wake at the Queen mansion, shocking both Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) with her whole not being dead. Rochev being alive is real blow to Team Arrow, but her snatching away Verdant is an even bigger blow to Thea who now has absolutely no reason to stay in Starling City. So she doesn’t. After losing Verdant, Thea decides to pack up and leave town.

With the knowledge Rochev isn’t dead, Dig correctly assumes Slade must have revived her with Mirakuru. Now more determined than ever to track down Oliver, he and Felicity visit A.R.G.U.S. to call on Amanda Waller for a favor. And while I didn’t think she’d be so accommodating, Waller informs Dig and Felicity about Oliver’s super convenient, secret bunker that they had no idea about!

Really, Arrow? A secret, secret hideout? You’re better than this.

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However, silly plot device aside, the Oliver they find is a broken man. His mother’s death has sent him to a whole new level of despair, which considering how much blame Oliver has already placed on himself, adding Moira’s death to the pile appears to have been the breaking point. He’s ready to throw in the towel and surrender in the hopes that if Slade kills him, he’ll leave the rest of his loved ones alone.

It’s an expected turn of events, admittedly, and there’s little suspense because we know Oliver won’t be killed by Slade. I mean, end of series, right? What is surprising is how well Amell portrays Oliver as he faces his impending death. Over the course of this season, Amell has grown far more comfortable in the role and this really shines when he’s playing Oliver struggling to do the right thing and protect those closest to him.

Which brings us to three crucial scenes in last night’s episode that really stood out and showed off Amell’s growing range. The first is with Thea, who is still planning to high tail it out Starling City. Walter (Colin Salmon) had tried reasoning with her (real nice to see him again, by the way, hopefully he sticks around longer this time) but defers to Oliver, thinking he’ll have more luck convincing her to stay. But that’s not the route he takes, instead telling Thea that leaving is the best thing. She isn’t safe here, and a clean start is what she needs to escape the ruin of her family. It’s a very touching and sweet scene between the siblings, one that both Amell and Holland perform beautifully.

The second stand out moment for Amell comes later, so let’s catch up Laurel (Katie Cassidy) first to get the proper setup. With Moira’s death Sebastian Blood (Kevin Alejandro) easily wins the mayor’s office. In fact, Arrow opens with just that somber note as Moira is laid to rest and Blood is sworn in. Mayor or not, Laurel still doesn’t trust him and is determined to find evidence he was involved in Moira’s murder. With assistance from some hapless techie, she hacks into Blood’s computer and finds the condolences statement he prepared only to find it dated before Moira was murdered.

What an idiot! Hell, it’s so dumb all he’d need to do is say that were he involved in Moira’s murder he wouldn’t do something so stupid as to date remarks about her death before her death and any jury would probably believe him! It’s that fuckin’ dumb. Plus, having the evidence be so obnoxiously blatant doesn’t do much to paint Laurel as much of a sleuth.

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Armed with the ridiculous proof Blood must be working with Slade, Laurel reaches out to Dig and Felicity who help her stop Oliver from giving himself over to Slade. It’s actually kind of hilarious they choose to kidnap Ollie, even knocking him out with a sleeper dart, to bring him back to the Arrow Cave (now under the Rochev controlled Verdant, so I’m not too sure how long they can stay there) where Laurel tells him she knows he’s The Arrow.

The scene that follows between the two is very cathartic and hopefully signals an end to the useless drama always brewing between them. (I know, yeah right, this is the CW, the channel that makes millions off of pointless, overblown drama.) Laurel utilizes their intimacy to talk Oliver out of his death wish, and it doesn’t hurt that once she reveals Blood is working with Slade, Oliver realizes this wasn’t necessarily all about him. (Stop being so self-centered, Olives. Jeez!)

The revelation is a bit lackluster because they hadn’t tried to keep Blood’s and Slade’s partnership a secret from the audience, but I’ll give Arrow kudos for how quickly things develop afterwards. Like Oliver meeting Blood at a restaurant and rather matter of factly telling him he’s The Arrow and he knows all about his and Slade’s plans for Starling City. Not only does it take Blood by surprise, but us too! Their meeting is filled with thinly veiled threats and is an excellent battle of power across the table, with Amell coming off absolutely chilling.

After this, the final moments of the episode are rushed, building to a climax we won’t see fully until next week. But we are left with some good cliffhangers as Slade unleashes his army of Mirakuru-fueled thugs in cheap-ass Deathstroke masks. Seriously, what low rate costume shop did that order those from? Isabel, however, comes off even worse as her Ravager-inspired getup looks really, really goofy.

With almost everyone left in perilous situations, most at the mercy of Slade’s and Blood’s army, you have to wonder if Moira won’t be the last death before Season 2 finishes.

Arrow airs Wednesday nights at 8pm on the CW. Catch up with our recap/reviews!

Category: Comics, Featured, reviews, TV

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