City of Blood did something this week that I really wasn’t expecting it to. After the teasers for the episode, I imagined that it would dive straight into the action regarding Sebastian Blood’s army of Mirakuru-field super soldiers, but instead, we got an episode that focused on the dramatic fallout from last week, which not only allowed the writers to build up even more suspense for the intensity of future episodes, but also developed the motivations for our characters even more than they did last week. Arrow never ceases to surprise me, and this week was no exception.
The episode started off in an expectedly somber and ominous way, and I think it was a great move to cut back and forth between Moira’s funeral, which Oliver was sadly absent from, and Blood’s inauguration as the Mayor of Starling City. It provided a not-so subtle reminder of just how much Blood has taken from the Queen family, and also demonstrated just how talented a liar he is, as he smoothly transitioned back and forth between the caring figurehead he makes himself be for the public, and his twisted alter-ego, known as Brother Blood.
I also really liked seeing Walter show up again, even if it was just for a couple scenes to try and comfort and support Thea, and I liked how he provided Thea with a solid foundation to act off of as she tried to cope with all the chaos in her life. Willa Holland gave a really great performance this week, and I think it says a lot about how far Thea’s character has come since the first season that I could actually relate to her surprising decision to leave Starling City behind. With her mother dead, Roy seemingly out of the picture, literally, in this case, since he was strangely absent from this episode entirely, and her bar no longer hers to run, she really didn’t have anything left there. I’m sure we will still be seeing plenty more of her, but that doesn’t mean her decision wasn’t a great bit of evolution for her character.
As for Oliver’s disappearance, even though it was an expected surprise, absolutely fit with what his character was going through, and while I would’ve liked to have seen him make more of an effort to be by Thea’s side, having him hide out in a second base of operations, which he’s turned into his own personal clubhouse, was a really nice touch. And with his original base seemingly compromised, I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of this new secret hiding place in the near future; and who knows, maybe they’ll finally give it a cool nickname in season three.
What impressed me the most about City of Blood is that it focused on the drama instead of the action. Because of this, we got some really strong scenes between Diggle and Felicity as they tried to track down Oliver, which even resulted in Felicity having a very fun scene where she literally tortured one of Sebastian Blood’s goons by simply draining his bank accounts into a number of charities. I also liked seeing Laurel come back into the mix, and despite commonly being the weakest link in the cast, I think her pleading with Oliver to rethink turning himself over to Slade, which would’ve basically be an act of suicide, was a really great moment, and might have just been her best one yet.
Even Sebastian Blood had a really great presence this week, and though I haven’t been his biggest fan, he had a truly chilling presence when on screen, which was never more evident than when he and Oliver had a literal confrontation at his dinner party, where they both revealed their secret identities. This was a really well done, really tense scene that established their rivalry in a way Arrow hasn’t exactly done before, and I’m now very anxious to see where they take it next week, especially now that Blood’s officially released his Mirakuru charged super soldiers upon the city.
The final moments of the episode, however, were so full of content that it initially felt a little overwhelming. Nearly every major character was left in some sort of peril, and it felt like the show was trying to set up so much suspense for next week that it buckled under its own weight a little bit. It got the job done, to be sure, and I’m very excited to see what happens next week, but I can’t help but feel like the ending shouldn’t have been so abrupt. Still, now that Blood’s army is on the loose, I can’t wait to see how Oliver and his team will handle such a huge threat without replicating the destruction of the Undertaking from the finale of last season.
Even with its few missteps, primarily its slightly rushed pacing in the second half and the strange absence of both Roy Harper and Slade Wilson, City of Blood was yet another strong episode of Arrow that set the stage for the final two episodes really well. Now more than ever, I am on the edge of my seat to see what comes next, and will be counting down the days until we all get to watch next week’s inevitably insane episode.