Arrow 2.21 "City Of Blood" REVIEW

TV REVIEW: Blood letting

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Episode 2.21
Writer: Holly Harold
Director: Michael Schultz

THE ONE WHERE: As Moira is buried Sebastian Blood ascends to the mayorship of Starling City. Oliver plans to surrender himself to Slade until his friends make an intervention…

THE VERDICT: The show’s clearly as bruised as we are from the Moirageddon unleashed in “Seeing Red”. This episode is the aftermath, withdrawing Slade from the narrative and dialing down the adrenalin while simultaneously hastening us toward a high stakes season climax (the army of men in Deathstroke masks marching on the city makes for a memorably ominous visual).

Oliver’s absence in the first act allows Laurel a chance to be a more propulsive character, investigating her well-founded suspicions about Sebastian Blood. The moment she informs Oliver of Blood’s alliance with Slade proves her detection chops but ends up making the show’s hero seem just a little dim. And now she’s yet another person with a Starling City zipcode who knows Oliver’s secret identity. He should put it in the phone book at this rate.

Stephen Amell’s good value this week, giving us an Oliver who’s not broken per se but certainly chipped around the edges, quietly consumed with guilt. The revelation of his secondary, secret lair is an intriguing insight – closer to the lone wolf of the comics than the team player of this TV incarnation. And there’s something genuinely unsettling about his plan to bury Blood’s army beneath concrete – his cold dismissal of them as “not men, not any more” hints that the sociopath of season one still lurks beneath the more heroic exterior of season two.

Some storytelling shortcuts marr an otherwise solid episode. ARGUS locate the missing Oliver with seemingly minimal effort while Blood's oversight in dating an incriminating document smacks of some seriously incompetent supervillainy. And Oliver and Sebastian's trading of secrets during the dinner scene feels all too small, more a way to hustle the show's players toward the season finale than the duel of revelations it should be.

TRIVIA: Some of Arrow ’s writers’ team made up the ranks of Blood’s army of mirakuru-enhanced soldiers.

TRIVIA 2: The song playing over Moira’s funeral is Somewhere Else by Indians, a Danish indie act signed to 4AD.

DID YOU SPOT?: The costume that Isabel wears at the end of this episode echoes that of Ravager AKA Rose Wilson, Slade’s illegitimate daughter in DC continuity. In the comics she turns psychotic after being injected with the same serum that gave Slade his powers but is rehabilitated by Dick Grayson and becomes a member of the Teen Titans.

DID YOU SPOT? 2: Sebastian Blood’s accomplice Clinton Hogue is a foe of Animal Man in the comic books, the leader of a group of human-animal hybrids known as the Splinterfolk. They are allied with Brother Blood in the DCU.

Clinton: “You bitch!”
Felicity: “Bitch with wi-fi.”

Arrow is broadcast in the UK on Sky 1 HD

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Nick Setchfield
Editor-at-Large, SFX Magazine

Nick Setchfield is the Editor-at-Large for SFX Magazine, writing features, reviews, interviews, and more for the monthly issues. However, he is also a freelance journalist and author with Titan Books. His original novels are called The War in the Dark, and The Spider Dance. He's also written a book on James Bond called Mission Statements.