Starling City is in utter anarchy. The city is swimming in chaos as Mirakuru-enhanced madmen flood the streets destroying and murdering just about everything in their path. Circumstances are dire, and typically such an over-the-top premise of the city collapsing around our heroes is an all too often overused season finale device. Hell! Arrowused the same premise last season! But in Season 2 they’ve earned it, properly setting up and selling this city under siege.
Not to say it wasn’t earned last season, it’s just that it really shouldn’t be working as well as it is this season. The Undertaking planning to destroy half the city in order to revitalize what’s left, I bought that and believed it would put the entire city in danger (extra special earthquake machine aside). But Slade Wilson (Manu Bennet) wanting to destroy Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell)? Having that put all of Starling City in danger is preposterous! Except that… when Slade promises he’s going to take away everything you’ve ever loved, he ain’t fuckin’ kidding around.
Everything means everything. Which comes as a delicious surprise to Sebastian Blood (Kevin Alejandro) who arrogantly thought himself one of Slade’s inner men. Blood had assumed once Oliver and his family were brought to ruin he’d be free to govern Starling City as he pleased, which apparently means actually implementing polices to save Starling City like a semi-respectable politician. Who knew!? But Slade is only interested in seeing Starling City burn, so Blood becomes an unlikely ally for Team Arrow at the last minute.
Before we go there, however, Oliver and Laurel (Katie Cassidy) narrowly escape the cave-in thanks to Laurel not being a total klutz with a bow. How Oliver lost his bow and arrows during the cave-in he caused is beyond me, but whatever. Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) hits Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau) with a van. It was glorious. The episode could have basically ended at that moment for all I cared.
Good thing better minds than mine are running this show. The episode doesn’t end right there and then, especially since Isabel isn’t so easily taken out. A van coming in at high speeds? That’s nothing for someone recently revived by Mirakuru and sporting the latest designs from Deathstroke fashion. Can we talk about that costume? There’s so much that’s great, and then there’s the mask. I understand it’s modeled after Ravager’s costume from the comics, but the mask doesn’t translate as well as Deathstroke’s. It’s all because her mouth and eyes are exposed and in revealing that the look loses everything that makes Deathstroke’s mask so menacing.
That having been said, the lady sure kicks some ass–whenever she’s allowed to do so, that is. So far this season (and probably due to how late in the game they revealed her true identity) we’ve seen Isabel involved in a few good action sequences, but she hasn’t been allowed to really let loose. This has me hopeful, though, for a solid showdown between her and Sara (Caity Lotz), a.k.a Ta-er al-Asfer a.k.a. The Canary, in the finale.
Speaking of, how bizarre though strangely welcomed was her side plot this episode? I genuinely enjoyed the sweet sisterly moment between her and Laurel. I mean, at least Laurel finally realized the blonde woman vigilante is her sister. But the whole Sara doesn’t feel like a hero so let’s give her the opportunity to be one in the most cliched way possible: saving a kid from a burning building; then, as if the point wasn’t already clear, let’s have someone straight up call her a hero within earshot, that’s a bit much. The whole thing was really on the nose, and if I didn’t enjoy the character or the actress as much as I do I would have really hated it.
Also, this little through line of making her realize she can be a hero has me all the more worried Sara might get axed before the season’s over. At one point when Oliver calls Slade in an effort to spare the city, Slade again makes the point he’ll be taking away every Oliver has ever loved. I’m predicting this means that in the finale Oliver will again find himself in front of two women he loves with guns to their heads and be forced to make a choice. I know how I’d choose, but sadly I don’t feel the show would make the same one.
Anyway, back to Blood. After allying himself with The Arrow by delivering the stolen Mirakuru cure (that S.T.A.R. Labs develops just in the nick of time) he essentially blackmails Oliver in order to remain Mayor. You reveal my mask, I reveal yours kind of thing. And right then I was thinking, “Hey, yeah, I can be on board with this slightly antagonistic though still friendly relationship between the two. There’s potential for some interesting development next season.” Basically, I can dig it.
Then Isabel shows up, looking so much better having ditched that mask, and stabs Blood through the chest. Two times. So… there goes all my fantasies of Blood being Starling City’s most diabolical Mayor who just so happens to actually better the place. Oh well. With the cure in hand, Team Arrow is prepared to face the army of Mirakuru monsters and Slade most of all, guaranteeing what will be one INSANE season finale. If it isn’t, then Amanda Waller and A.R.G.U.S. will make it one by blowing up the entire city, because yeah, that’s what’s awaiting Starling City if Team Arrow fails. No pressure, Olives.
But! BUT! Let’s talk about the best part of “Streets of Fire.” MALCOLM freakin’ MERLYN is back! It makes so, so happy to have John Barrowman back on the program. Sure, I’ve enjoyed Bennet as this season’s villain very much, but he can’t hold a candle to Barrowman. Making me even happier, he’s returning under the exact premise I had hoped–to made amends with his daughter (and to hopefully turn her to the dark side).
Okay, that last bit likely won’t be happening judging from the fact Thea (Willa Holland) shot him the chest. Two times. (I’m seeing a theme here.) But I’m confidant he survives and here’s what I’d like to see come of this: Malcolm to find his redemption through Thea, and for Thea to find family through Malcolm. It’s a long shot, but hear me out. We know Malcolm hasn’t always been a villain. Before his wife was murdered and he fled to the League of Assassins he was a pretty all right husband/father. He can be that again, he just needs someone to let him. And Thea, well, all she has left is her brother and he’s clearly occupied with far bigger shit right now. Who’s there to comfort and protect her? Malcolm. This could work! Please let it work. Arrow will always benefit from more Barrowman.
Whew! Man. Only one more episode to go!
Arrow airs Wednesday nights at 8pm on the CW. Catch up with our recap/reviews!