Arrow season 2 episode 22 review: Streets Of Fire

Review Caroline Preece 9 May 2014 - 13:26

In its penultimate episode, Arrow sets the stage for one heck of a season two finale...

This review contains spoilers.

2.22 Streets Of Fire

As many people have pointed out over the past few weeks, there’s only so many times a season of Arrow can end with the destruction of the city before it loses its effect. Twice, as is the case here, should probably constitute too many but, with everything else going on in this episode, Streets Of Fire, the show manages to shrug off the criticisms that may have been levelled at it for essentially repeating a major plot point from the first season. Slade, unlike Malcolm Merlyn, is a much more unpredictable villain because of the smallness of his vendetta, and this involves Oliver in the ordeal in a way that he wasn’t last time.

The season began with Oliver’s vow to become a hero instead of the vigilante of the first season, spurred on by Tommy’s death and the realisation that a team now stood behind his efforts, and the finale saw him questioning his place in the fight all over again. Merlyn was an arguably simpler villain for him to face, with motives and methods largely divorced from Oliver himself, but Slade is as connected to him as anyone could be. Failing to cure him while on the island and being the object of his rage now sees that he can’t distance himself, and with that comes a lot of soul searching.

But Streets Of Fire thankfully managed to spend time exploring Oliver’s predicament while also serving up an action-packed penultimate adventure. Multiple villains in Slade, Isabel and Blood are matched by just as many good guys fighting back and, in a show that’s essentially just about developing one hero, that’s exciting. The way Arrow has evolved this year has meant that the finale is jam-packed with people we care about, from Thea dealing with Merlyn and Diggle and Felicity’s double act to the Lance’s collective hero moments and the prospect of Roy coming back for the finale.

Despite the fact that we know Amanda Waller’s drone strike isn’t actually going to go down, the threat of absolute destruction if Team Arrow doesn’t figure out a way to weaponise the maybe-cure they’ve recovered adds to the season finale’s stakes and, not knowing what might happen to Roy after acting as guinea pig for the serum ensures that the suspense is carried through to next week. As with any penultimate outing, the episode’s main purpose is to set the scene for the finale but, with some lovely character moments and a continued focus on the people just as much as the action, it manages to be more than that.

It cleared the path to Slade by having Isabel murder Blood, for one, and Laurel’s fresh knowledge of exactly what’s going on came into effect. Having Quentin, Laurel and Sara fight side by side without secrets was so refreshing and fun, despite the heavy-handed way in which the episode decided to underline Sara’s hero status, and it was a really nice to way to have the family come back together. Next week could ruin it all, of course, but this was the most likeable Laurel has been all year, and her relationship with Sara could be the making of her character into a plausible Canary protégé for the future.

Thea doesn’t come out of the episode so well, spending the entire running time separated from the action and dealing with her daddy issues. We’ve all been eagerly anticipating the return of Malcolm Merlyn since he appeared for a split second near the beginning of the season, and the past few weeks have done enough work on Thea to make their reunion matter, but what the show plans to do with him now is a little unclear. With the business with Slade still unresolved, having Merlyn back made things feel a little overcrowded and, as we can all guess that those shots fired don’t actually mean he’s dead, is he going to play a bigger part next week?

A lot was going on in Streets Of Fire and, with just one week to go, enough was dealt with to make room for an epic Arrow/Deathstroke showdown in the finale. Will everyone make it out alive? What, exactly, will Oliver have to do that’s so Unthinkable? With Team Arrow out in force, it’s going to be one heck of a season ender.

Read Caroline's review of the previous episode, City Of Blood, here.

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