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REVIEW: Arrow 2×21 “City of Blood”

Oh ramp up episodes I could count the ways I dislike you and speak to how boring you can often be. There is nothing inherently bad about ramp up episodes, they serve a necessary purpose of building up the plot to a specific point. Their sole propose in a show is to create an adequate amount of rising action so that when we actually get to the big showdown we can dedicate a solid amount of time to the fight. This was often a problem that Smallville faced as they either did not use the ramp up effectively or had no ramp up at all. We all want to see Superman vs Doomsday but we need the buildup to make it a worthwhile face off. That is what we get with this week’s “City of Blood,” all rising action and very little actual action. That is not to say that this episode was bad, but rather I did not need an entire episode of five minutes to midnight. So lets dive in.

One of the facets of “City of Blood” that I really enjoyed was the idea that this episode was not simply about the bad guys gloating how they have triumphed so far. This episode could have easily devolved into an hour of Slade, Rochev, and Blood gloating about how they had beaten Oliver and in essence stole the city right out from under him. Instead we got some quality setup scenes in how the team will eventually fight back against Slade’s army. Diggle went to Waller and the second thing he did was inform her of Slade’s army and that they will need back-up. Sarah is off looking for something, we don’t know what yet but we have to figure it has something to do with beating Slade. Felicity is working on getting a cure to bring down Slade and cure Roy, although two weeks is an incredibly fast turn around for a cure so I am hoping that call at the end was something Barry related. Each of these scenarios moves another piece into Ollie corner for when the team finally begins their counter attack and that is greatly appreciated as it proves the teams eventual victory will not just be something they pull out of their ass.

On the villains side man can they be both really stupid and prideful at the same time because damn if Blood does not have that down in spades. Kevin Alejandro’s performance as Blood has been one of the major highlights of the season as his brains and political planning have added something that was missing from season one. Merlyn was a great villain but he was more of an imposing force in retrospect rather than the meticulous planner Slade and Blood have proven to be. It does raise the question of how he was so stupid as to not remove the time stamp on that press release, I mean that seems like a rookie mistake for someone as smart as Blood has made himself out to be. I will say his confrontation with Oliver was indeed one of the better scenes of the entire season, as we know Oliver has the proof that Blood was involved in Moira’s murder but now it will come down to when Oliver will get his vengeance.

As for Isabel, She really is just doing everything one her power to make sure everyone Oliver loves is forced to suffer. I would have thought Ollie, Tommy, or even Thea would have made sure that the club was self sufficient and independent from Queen Consolidated. I mean if you are going to put your secret lair out of sight it should be completely out of sight in my opinion. It was slightly odd that she would show up at Moira’s funeral for no other reason than to gloat, I mean shouldn’t their have been a guest list for the entire affair? Luckily this all set the stage for the reveal of Isabel being Ravager which as of right now I have mixed feelings about. Not so much the where or why as much as the fact her costume looks awful, I am willing till I get a better look before drawing final conclusions.

Of course the strongest material of the entire episode came from Oliver and man, Stephen Amell came to play this week. Ollie had a lot of expository dialogue bot in the present and on the island and Amell played both sides of his character so well. You could see Ollie’s fear in the past parallel his fear of Slade in the present and just how broken and defeated of a man Oliver really is. With his conversation in the back-up Quiver we knew that Ollie was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice if it meant no one else had to suffer, but we know there are no assurances that Slade would stop and his army will certainly not give up. I was a little frustrated that Ollie believed Laurel about Blood working for Slade as she had not showed him the proof yet, but it led to another fantastic moment of Ollie accepting his duty to protect the city. Ironically the best conversation that Oliver had involved him talking to himself, it showed an all to brief moment of humility that we don’t often see from the character and it managed to hit at exactly the right time. Amell excelled at the speech this week hopefully he does the same with the action next.

Overall it was a suitable ramp up despite the lack of action. I am definitely looking forward to an improvement in pacing next week.

 

Final Grade B+

 

+Amell’s performance

+Strong dialogue

+Putting the pieces in place

 

-First act of a three act play

-Blood leaving incriminating evidence

-Ravanger costume kinda lame

-Did not really care about torpedo guys sacrifice

 

Extra thoughts

-So how pissed is Blood going to be when he finds out he is the only one without Mirakuru? My guess pretty pissed

-So Roy just had to Lay on a table all episode and do nothing, easiest job ever. Also holy shit that is a lot of venom, Roy is gonna have brain damage for sure.

-I thought the plan was to torpedo Slade not your own ship Ollie. Shit move if you ask me.

About the author

Scott Swartz