There are episodes for almost every show out there that are designed not so much to be hits, but to get you from point A to point B. These episodes are almost like the second movie in trilogy. They are the ones that few people remember, but become so important once you see what the story is building to.
But “City of Blood” was a great “Arrow” episode all the same, and actually one of the show’s best in that captured more of what we love about the show and minimized most of the negatives. Not only that, but it did so without really forcing a whole lot of epic fight scenes save for a few moments at the end.
The first major thing is that the story for the first time in a while was simplified. We saw Oliver Queen through the lens of his mother’s death, and how the rest of the characters responded and reacted that. It was a nice choice to not even have Oliver appear through the first quarter or so of the story, and allow some of the supporting characters to show their own proactive nature. Diggle and Felicity were more in season 1 mode, and there was no Sara (at least in the present) or Roy to take away from them. They may not have powers or were a part of some sort of league, but they are smart, capable people. Let’s just hope that Diggle still has at least one trick up his sleeve, given that he is squaring off face to face with Ravager when we saw him last.
The only real “addition” to Team Arrow in this story was Laurel, and it happened naturally as she was essential in ensuring that Oliver didn’t just turn himself in. While we still feel like the chemistry between her and Oliver is a bit forced, at least there was nothing so much romantic about what she did here about heroic … even if she was crazy to get as involved as she was in the end going out to help the team stop Slade and his army of super-soldiers all sporting the same mask.
Other highlights throughout the episode included some more Felicity backstory (even if it was just a mention of her mother being a cocktail waitress), the always-welcome return of Walter to the show, and that amazing conversation between Sebastian Blood and Oliver where everything was laid on the table. Sebastian’s true vision is note entirely clear, but we at least know that he has one and that is something.
The build towards the showdown was fantastic, and you really didn’t even need much of Slade at all to make it so. This was more about setting up just how screwed Starling City is … and it is really screwed right now. The only real hope is the antidote from S.T.A.R. Labs, which Felicity is close to securing.
The only weak part of the story this time was the island flashback, which we imagine was necessary to get us to where the story likely ends this season there with Slade losing his eye. It just didn’t have the same momentum behind it, and it’s a little harder to now that we more or less know where the story is going.
Overall, it is still hard to complain about an hour of TV as strong as “City of Blood” was. The writers broke things down before building them back up, and that is going to happen in a big way next week when Thea Queen runs into Malcolm Merlyn. We’ve already seen the preview for it, and that will be when things start to turn epic. Grade: A-.
Tomorrow, we are going to be recording the latest “Arrow” podcast for this episode. If you want to have your voice heard, raise your questions or share your opinions on this episode either below or two our Twitter accounts listed below. That will be posted tomorrow afternoon, and one way to find it easy is by bookmarking our “Arrow” tag. You can also sign up to grab further TV updates via our CarterMatt Newsletter.
Photo: The CW