‘Arrow’ Review: “Streets of Fire”
‘Arrow’ season 2 lets loose its twenty-second and penultimate episode of the year with “Streets of Fire,” as Oliver and his team race around the city to combat Slade's destructive army, while Malcolm Merlyn returns with a proposal for Thea, and Sebastian Blood begins having second thoughts about their reign of terror.
Last week's ‘Arrow’ installment “City of Blood” saw a mournful Oliver finding the strength to confront Slade, while the newly-elected Mayor Sebastian Blood (Kevin Alejandro) enacted his plan to lead an army into Starling, so what does the twenty-second episode of ‘Arrow’ season 2 bring? Is all hope for Starling lost as we head into the final episodes of the season?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Arrow’ season 2, episode 22, “Streets of Fire!”
Oliver frees himself from the rubble, but finds Laurel trapped beyond his reach, along with his bow and quiver. Oliver guides Laurel to retrieving the bow, and advises her to use one of his explosive arrows to free herself. Meanwhile up top, Isabel Rochev easily overpowers Diggle, and plans to go after Felicity next, until Felicity hits her with the van, incapacitating Isabel long enough for the two to make their escape. Elsewhere, Quentin watches as one of Slade’s soldiers decimates the precinct, before Quentin manages to raid the store room and attach a live grenade to the soldier.
Blood and his associates observe the escalating crisis from city hall, though Blood assures his DA that they needn't call in the national guard just yet, and that Starling City will get through the conflict if they stay calm. Meanwhile, Oliver coaches Laurel with the use of his bow, as she manages to hit a crack in the debris to detonate a path to freedom. Back in the past, Oliver informs Anatoli that Slade has apparently taken Sara, and the two devise a plan to fire a torpedo to sink the Amazo after Oliver retrieves her.
Thea retreats from the supersoldier chaos at the train station, but when one gets a hold of her, Malcolm Merlyn makes his presence known and incapacitates the soldier with explosive arrows of his own. Oliver and Laurel reunite with Diggle and Felicity, learning that S.T.A.R. labs has come up with a cure, and are delivering it by courier. However the delivery man has since come under attack from Slade’s army and will need retrieval, though the team is unaware Slade has heard their conversation.
Back in the past, Oliver prepares to board the Amazo and reminds Anatoli to fire on the ship if they don’t return within an hour, to which Anatoli expresses his gratitude and tells Oliver he’s made a friend for life. In the present, Quentin explains to the SCPD that Blood is most likely the one behind the attacks, and they’ll need to get the authority to call in the national guard. With no other options for the moment, Quentin convinces his superiors to call in the Arrow for help, earning back his detective shield in the process. Meanwhile, Laurel finds herself under attack, but rescued by the Canary, who she at last recognizes as Sara.
Blood and his associates continue to survey the news, before one of Slade’s men breaks in and attacks, killing the DA with no regard for Blood’s orders to stop. Meanwhile, Oliver and the others race to the scene of the downed courier, updating Quentin along the way, before two of Slade’s soldiers manage to overturn the van. In the aftermath, Oliver manages to down the two assailants with another explosive round, as Diggle carries Felicity away from the scene. Over at the train station, Thea disregards Malcolm’s pleas that he has no intent to harm anyone, and for the moment only wants to assure his daughter’s safety.
Slade and Isabel Rochev oversee the burning city, before Blood barges in demanding an explanation for his office’s destruction. Slade insists that he never promised not to harm innocent people, and intends to live up to his own promise of taking away everything Oliver loves, including the people of Starling city, who will be ash by the following night. Meanwhile, Sara removes her mask and wig, assuring Laurel that she isn’t a hero, though Laurel points out that even her League name “The Canary” suggests beauty and possible redemption. Back in the past, Oliver frees Sara aboard the freighter, but Oliver insists on at least making an attempt to cure his friend Slade.
Felicity, Oliver and Diggle approach the S.T.A.R. labs courier, though they fail to reach him before Slade’s men, and the case containing the cure is lost. The trio returns to the clocktower, where Oliver laments that he once again failed the city and all his lost loved ones. Felicity pleads with Oliver not to give up, that he isn’t alone, and that she believes in him. Meanwhile, Laurel and Sara hear a woman screaming outside a burning building for her daughter. Quentin arrives just in time to see Sara free the young girl from inside the building, and scamper off, as Laurel identifies the figure to others as “The Canary.”
The train station soldier attacks Malcolm Merlyn once more, leading to a bloody fight that lands both unconscious. Meanwhile, Oliver fields a call from Sebastian Blood, who has since taken the cure from Slade, and wants to save the city moreso than see it burn. Diggle retrieves a still-unconscious Roy from the foundry, leaving Felicity behind to take care of him. Oliver and Diggle travel to Blood’s office, as Blood hands over the cure and pledges to clean up Starling city, and threatening to expose Oliver’s secret if they turn him in.
Some time later, Isabel arrives at Blood’s office to confirm that he’d handed over the cure, for which Slade orders Isabel to kill the deposed mayor. Meanwhile, Lance and the other officers observe over the news that the military has arrived to Starling City, though they curiously set up at all the bridges and tunnels without actually entering the city. Back in the past, Oliver and Sara infiltrate Ivo’s office looking for the cure, and end up cornered by Slade and his men.
Lance directs Felicity and Oliver’s attention to the suspicious military presence, something Oliver recognizes as the work of Amanda Waller. Waller insists that the danger posed by Slade’s army getting outside of Starling City is too great, and they have until dawn to put them down, before she levels the city by drone. Hearing this, Oliver dangerously injects Roy with the cure, unsure of its effectiveness. Meanwhile, Malcolm awakens to find Thea pointing a gun at him, as he insists that they’ve both lost everything and need one another. Before he can make his point however, Thea shoots twice.
If last week’s “City of Blood” was designed to take a deep breath and reposition a few pieces after the events of “Seeing Red,” “Streets of Fire” seemed mostly in place to crank up the action and light the fuse on the finale. It’s a testament to the series, really, that the series could pull together such a strong budgetary reserve to have entire street and highways scenes full of destruction and mayhem, with enough outside news reports, establishing shots, and even military presence to really sell the scope of the conflict, and in manner that didn’t feel repetitive with last year’s Undertaking (though it at least garnered a namedrop).
Apart from all the racing-about-town action, one of the big headlining points to “Streets of Fire” that drew much of the promotional attention came in John Barrowman’s return as Malcolm Merlyn, though as with his earlier appearances in the season, it’s a tricky thread to make relevant given everything going on around them. Naturally, the second season has isolated Thea to the point where she’d want to leave town, and we wouldn’t have been altogether surprised if Thea took Merlyn up on his offer to at least find safety for the time being with some semblance of family. Seeing as she apparently elected to shoot her father by the end however, it’s tough to say what the real end result of her attack might be, and where it would put her in time for the finale, so as to really justify Malcolm’s reintroduction to the story here. Misdirect remains a possibility.
Elsewhere amid the chaos, Sara’s return made for a few decent moments as Laurel came to embrace her sister’s identity, and deliver one of several heroism pep talks in place tonight. We weren’t altogether sold on Sara’s self-doubt to begin with, while the writing predictably saddled the Lance sisters with some of the clunkier dialogue and show-don't-tell violations, though at least Laurel’s point about the Canary name proved poignant enough to somewhat justify the B-story. Of course, Canary wasn’t the only one looking to make a change tonight, as Sebastian Blood attempted to return to the side of the angels, and it was especially effective to see Oliver and Diggle shut him out so quickly, given the madness his actions had led to. For a moment we wondered if Blood might go through with exposing Oliver’s identity, or at least prove a recurring menace in season 3, but, well. Swords.
Apart from Oliver’s own feelings of failure and doubt, bringing to light Emily Bett Rickards’ best work as Felicity to date, there wasn’t much more that “Streets of Fire” needed to do to prime us for next week’s finale showdowns. The conflicts and macguffins are all in play with the cure in Team Arrow’s possession, and the stakes have been firmly established between the war around them, Slade's looming menace and the hellfire waiting outside the gates with Amanda Waller’s drone strike. A few stumbles here and there in the emotional beats, but by this point “Streets of Fire” continues to cement ‘Arrow’ season 2 as all but untouchable.
AND ANOTHER THING…
- “Ravager” works much better without the mask, but always nice to have Summer Glau continually delivery some reliable menace, and though telegraphed, the van strike was genuinely cool to see.
- It made enough sense that Lance would earn his detective shield back eventually, just as we knew Oliver and Anatoli would form a friendship that would pay off later in life, though both those moments definitely felt a bit rushed in context.
- Everything going on, and…no one thought to retrieve Roy before now? He was comatose you guys, he needs to be watched!
- It’s hard to say if the writing would ever really move in the Ollicity direction, or if it even should, but there were definitely a few lingering touches tonight that might prove important. Seriously though, that scene between the two of them in the clock tower. Well-played, and feels all around.
- The less said about that moment in the police station with officers eye-rollingly expositing the Canary’s heroics, the better.
- Given Amanda's comments about Slade's super-powered army needing to be contained to Starling city, we'll guess this puts to rest any lingering suggestions that 'Arrow' could find its way into the larger DC cinematic universe. Still, with 'The Flash' on the way, the world's filling up with people who can't be matched!
Well, what say you? Did ‘Arrow’ hit the mark with its latest installment? Are you primed for the final episode of the season? Give us your reactions in the comments, and join us next Wednesday for another all-new ‘Arrow’ recap of season 2, episode 23, season finale “Unthinkable” on The CW!