TV Review: ARROW Season 2, Episode 21 'City of Blood'

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This latest offering of Arrow opens with Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) in hiding. With the rest of the characters mourning the death of Moira Queen (Susannah Thompson) at the sword of Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett), the troubled Ollie is nowhere to be seen. As Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) try to locate their fellow ‘Team Arrow’ cohort, Starling City sees Sebastian Blood (Kevin Alejandro) elected as Mayor.

When Diggle and Felicity finally do manage to locate Oliver, thanks to some assistance from Amanda Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson), we find the Emerald Archer in a state of acceptance. Basedt on last week’s quip from Slade about there now being one more person who must die, Ollie believes that his cards are marked; that Slade will not stop his attack on those around Oliver until Ollie no longer has breath in his lungs and a beating heart in his chest. And so we find ourselves faced with an Oliver who is damned to his fate and who seemingly welcomes death.

Away from Oliver’s direct story arc, someone manages to piece together the puzzle that Sebastian Blood is “the man in the skull mask”, or simply Brother Blood. Whilst Blood’s real agenda plays out, there’s also a massively balls-to-the-wall moment where Oliver, once he gets his mind back in the game, confronts Sebastian and lays his cards firmly on the table. By the time their little restaurant rendezvous comes to an end, Blood is under no doubt as to what Oliver Queen’s plans are.

If the trauma of his mother’s death and the issues with Brother Blood aren’t enough for Oliver to deal with, the Arrow’s world is further impacted when someone else reaches out to offer their assistance. For those who have kept up with the season so far, you’ll have a good inkling as to just who this is. For those who may have missed those particular developments, we’ll steer clear of spoiler territory for you here. Safe to say, it appears that Team Arrow may have a new hand to help. And from the promotional push we’ve seen for this season’s final two episodes, it appears that Oliver et al will be getting some further help down the line as well. By the time this episode comes to an end, it’s clear to see that the Arrow is most definitely going to need some more manpower, as Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau) is back from the dead, mirakuru-riddled, looking like DC’s Ravager, and part of a whole enhanced army that Deathstroke now has at his disposal.

If the last few weeks have seen Oliver Queen hit a succession of low points, the second half of City of Blood sees him fight back in a big way. The gloves are off, the hidden, hooded approach is not so much of a priority, and Oliver is taking the fight to those who want to see him tormented and killed. In this episode, we see the reinvigoration of Oliver Queen. From getting ready to warmly embrace his own demise, to standing toe-to-toe with his enemies and being proud to let them know who he is and what he is going to do to them, this outing of Arrow sees the Arrow get his balls back. There’s still a long way to go yet, though.

Key to this episode’s success is a strong performance from Stephen Amell that holds City of Blood together. Amell’s emotions as young Ollie back on the island are great, and his modern-day hooded persona is regularly hitting the right beats. The actor has really grown into the various faces of Oliver Queen, and there’s a very strong case to say that this is the best work that we’ve seen from Amell as Oliver and the Arrow. Of course, he doesn’t do it all alone, and his supporting cast regularly deliver the goods when it’s their time to shine, with even Katie Cassidy’s Laurel Lance used well here. Similarly, we’re also getting some progression and development for Willa Holland’s Thea Queen, and the trio of David Ramsey, Emily Bett Rickards and Paul Blackthorne are always great.

Moving forward, Oliver and his associates will face the inevitable make-or-break battle with Slade Wilson and his army of mirakuru-enhanced soldiers. And with that, Season 2 will come to a close. What started off last year as a good, solid show has grown into must-see TV that is a joy to watch unravel before your eyes. Sadly, Season 2 only has two more episodes left. Whilst that saddens us, we cannot wait to show how this explosive season is brought to a close.

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