Arrow 2-22: “Streets of Fire”
Laurel is trapped behind rubble after Oliver caved in the ceiling of Sebastian Blood’s secret lair to escape from Slade’s mirakuru-enhanced goons at the end of last episode. From the other side of the debris, Oliver coaches her through the process of firing one of his exploding arrows to free herself. It works. After Laurel’s rough, unhappy storyline this season, it’s nice to see her rack up some small accomplishments.
A Deathstroke-suited Isabel squares off against Digg. Just as Isabel tells Digg about her fervent desire to shoot Felicity in the face, Felicity zips up in a van and runs her over. Women. Always squabbling with each other, amirite? On the one hand, it’s a well-timed and grimly funny gag; on the other, it brings up the acrid stench of the way the show pitted Felicity and Isabel against each other earlier this season (Felicity acted wounded and betrayed when Oliver slept with Isabel; Isabel accused Felicity of sleeping with Oliver to advance her career). I have no trouble with Isabel and Felicity trying to kill each other, but maybe their conflict shouldn’t boil down to bickering over some guy. Particularly when that guy is Oliver.
At the police station, Quentin chucks hand grenades around and takes out one of Slade’s goons. As Starling City descends into chaos—and as new mayor Sebastian Blood turns down the governor’s request to send in the National Guard—grumpy Lieutenant Pike has a change of heart and asks Quentin to call upon the Arrow to help them save the city. He even gives Quentin his detective badge back; it’s a heartwarming moment that makes me very afraid Quentin won’t live through next week’s season finale. Quentin, you’ve been pretty sterling this season. I hope we’re not going to lose you.
Island flashbacks: Somehow, Slade manages to kidnap Sara straight off of the submarine and whisk her back to the freighter. Oliver heads after her, leaving Anatoli with firm instructions to torpedo the freighter in an hour. After rescuing Sara, Oliver breaks into Dr. Ivo’s quarters with the intention of finding the mirakuru cure, but gets captured by Slade.
Just as one of the goons prepares to kill Thea at the train station, a Dark Archer-garbed Malcolm Merlyn saunters in and effortlessly rescues his daughter.
Malcolm’s back! Huzzah! To celebrate, let’s all watch John Barrowman singing “I, Don Quixote”, then let’s shake our tiny fists in rage at Arrow for getting through two whole seasons without ever giving these two delightful, effervescent, paparazzi-teasing creatures a scene together:
As the siege on the city grows deadlier, Sebastian holds down the fort at City Hall. In a stalwart and appropriately mayoral manner, he reassures the district attorney that everything will turn out fine and that Starling City will emerge from this catastrophe stronger… and then one of Slade’s goons bursts into his office and murders the DA in front of him.
The adorable nitwits at S.T.A.R. Labs send the mirakuru cure to Felicity via courier. While racing to intercept it, Oliver, Felicity and Diggle come under attack. By the time they reach the courier, it’s too late: he’s been killed, and now the antidote is in Slade’s hands.
Sebastian angrily confronts Slade about the DA’s murder and the uncontrolled deadly havoc his mirakuru-enhanced army is wreaking on the city. Slade chuckles diabolically and reveals his master plan: 1) murder every single citizen of Starling City, 2) reduce it to ashes, and 3) make Oliver really super-mad.
While Digg heads back to Verdant to retrieve the still-comatose Roy, Felicity and Oliver hole up in the clock tower, where Oliver falls into one of his typical ill-timed fits of deep self-pity. Felicity yells some sense into him, and then he gets a phone call: It’s Sebastian, who has finally realized he backed the wrong horse. Sebastian swipes the stolen cure from Slade and offers to hand it over to Oliver.
On her way to the police station to find Quentin, Laurel runs into Sara, who has returned to Starling City from parts unknown to, I dunno, help out or whatever. Upon seeing the full scope of the destruction, Sara, like Oliver, grows mopey and self-pitying. “There isn’t anything here for me,” she glumly tells her sister, as they go in search of their father.
Sara and Oliver, you two are a pair of limp, soggy, miserable excuses for superheroes. At the first hint of trouble—trouble the two of you are uniquely qualified to handle, by the way—you both will immediately leave town, or you’ll go into hiding, and then you’ll sit around feeling very, very sorry for yourselves while disaster escalates around you while waiting for someone to reassure you that, yes, you really are special and precious. You do this every damn time. Anyway, Laurel steps up and gives her sister the requisite pep talk, and then Sara runs into an exploding building and saves a small child, which gives her enough of a self-esteem boost to carry on for the rest of the episode without devolving into another fit of neurotic despair.
Sebastian meets with Oliver and Diggle in the ruins of City Hall and hands over the cure. Because Sebastian is just a wee bit crazy and deluded, he remains pretty sure he’s still going to be the mayor after all the dust settles, despite his key role in orchestrating all the destruction. Oh, why not? As the success of Moira’s campaign indicates, Starling City doesn’t view “schemed to murder hundreds” as a negative character trait in politicians. Sebastian cheerfully assures Oliver that he’s really looking forward to working with him in the future.
Isabel arrives at City Hall after Oliver leaves and, on Slade’s command, runs Sebastian through with both her swords. “I loved this city,” Sebastian gasps out before dying. Goodbye, Sebastian. I’ll miss you and your junior varsity-level villainy.
Back at the clock tower, Oliver hems and haws about testing out the mirakuru cure on Roy, but ultimately can’t bring himself to do it. It’s noble that he’s unwilling to use Roy as a guinea pig, I guess, but Roy is either already dying or is far too dangerous for Oliver to control, and having a working cure might very well save the city, so…
An army convoy arrives at Starling City, ostensibly to rescue the inhabitants. Oliver notices the convoy seems to be deliberately blocking all exits from the city. Figuring, correctly, that A.R.G.U.S. is behind this, he calls Amanda Waller and demands answers. Amanda informs him of her plan to defeat Slade by sending drones to bomb the city into ashes. This is the kind of rational and well-reasoned plan we’ve come to expect from her. When Oliver tells her about the mirakuru cure, she reluctantly agrees to give him until dawn before sending in the drones to, uh, murder 576,000 civilians. Faced with the twin cannons of Slade’s unstoppable quest for deadly vengeance and the crazy ruthlessness of Amanda, Oliver injects Roy with the cure.
Thea flees from Malcolm and tries to hide on the train platform. Malcolm tracks her down and insists he only wants to protect her. Unconvinced, Thea picks up a gun (Malcolm helpfully tells her how to take the safety off) and shoots him.
And that’s where we leave things. Not bad! Here’s hoping this weird, disjointed, oft-thrilling-yet-oft-infuriating season reaches a rousing conclusion next week.