Arrow: Streets of Fire review

Part one of the Arrow season finale is all about how our heroes see themselves, and what heroism means when all hell breaks loose.

This Arrow review contains spoilers.

This week’s Arrow is all about how heroes (and villains) see themselves. Perception is reality, and if you don’t see yourself as a hero, you probably can’t act like one. Then again, even when you do see yourself as a hero, it doesn’t make your actions heroic. These are the weighty issues that “Streets of Fire” attempt to tackle, all while delivering hefty doses of action in every other scene. My first spoiler of the night is that it’s all quite good. 

Diggle’s rumble with the Ravager is going as expected until Felicity shows up and just hits her with a van. I didn’t see that coming, and it elicited an honest-to-god “holy shit!” from me when it happened. Felicity was once again very nearly the star of the show this week, with more screen time and more terrific lines than we’ve had out of her in quite some time (and that includes her ever-increasing role in recent episodes). Later on, Felicity even delivers the increasingly obligatory Oliver pep talk, and hers might be the most effective argument of them all. 

That fight in the police station was really something, wasn’t it? Any time you’re dealing with super-powered folk in a movie or TV show, it’s always good to put them up against regular shmoes every now and then to remind the audience just how out of their league the heroes are. In this case, you have the Starling City Police, who we have to assume are reasonably well trained enough that they could, for example, whup the asses of a cadre of Den of Geek writers, getting handled by the mirakuru crew. The bit where he just threw that desk at Officer Lance was quite a stunt, too. It’s cool to see that not everyone fights like Ollie and Sara, and that sometimes, violence is just brutal and ugly.

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Slade Wilson prefers to, literally, “watch the world burn” in this one. His little confrontation with Sebastian about their deal was positively Vader-esque, too. “Do you feel I have not lived up to my end of it?” Classic. But speaking of Sebastian…

In baseball, there’s always that point where managers get fired. A team can lose games all season long, but the trigger usually gets pulled when they say that the manager has “lost the clubhouse.” In that case, it’s certainly time for Sebastian Blood to hit the showers. His sneaky, “No, Governor…no need to send in the troops” phone call and then his inability to save Kate Spencer’s life (so much for my Manhunter hopes) pretty much sealed his fate. Luckily, Ravager shows up to fire him face to face. Very professional, really.

But Sebastian really believes he’s the hero in all of this. He still thinks he was doing it for the greater good! Kevin Alejandro is quite convincing, and this was the (sadly) last in a long line of great moments that Mr. Alejandro and Mr. Amell have shared all season long. For a brief moment, I actually hoped he was serious, and that somehow he WOULD survive all of this and return as Mayor in season three, just because I’m so reluctant to let the best villain this show has had (no offense to Slade Wilson) go. It’s for the best, though.

Blood’s belief that he is a hero stands in stark contrast with how Ollie and Sara see themselves, though. Sara is still hung up on her past. “What I am,” she says, “is irredeemable.” Even if Sara doesn’t survive in Arrow‘s “present” there’s plenty of room for Caity Lotz to live on in the flashbacks next year, and I really hope we get to see more of where she’s been and what she’s been through. Again, it’s Laurel to the rescue with a pep talk (her second in as many weeks), and moments later we get a genuinely “heroic” moment from the Canary, as she saves a child from a burning building.

Is it as cliche’ as they come? Yes. Is it cool anyway? Yes. Why? Because I’ve started to realize that for a show about superheroes, Arrow has been quite coy about using words like “hero” and has done everything possible to keep public perception of them as outlaws or vigilantes at best. But a bit like that, with the Canary in silhouette against the flames was more earnest and innocent than Arrow usually allows itself to be. And was that a hint of a Canary theme in the music, too? Irredeemable, my ass!

That theme of heroism revealed is touched on again at the police station, when you can hear folks talking about the rescue. This extended season finale may mark the moment, I think, where the rest of the Arrow/DC TV Universe realizes that there are heroes among them. It’s kind of special, when you think about it. Most superhero movies/TV shows/comics just kind of gloss that moment over. “Oh, there are masked avengers now. That’s cool. On with our lives!” It never quite struck me until it was spelled out here tonight that we’re seeing that shift play out in the “real time” of the show.

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But…poor Oliver. He’s having an even deeper crisis of faith than Sara. Sara simply doesn’t believe that she deserves even the love of her family because of the deeds of her past. But Ollie genuinely believes that everything is his fault. He’s not entirely wrong…but that’s not the point. Could he possibly be any more different than the selfish, irresponsible, creep he was before he got stuck on that island? Or even from the sometimes misguided vigilante he was in season one? Oliver is so changed that I doubt he’ll even be able to effectively adopt his care free playboy act again once this all blows over. I’m impressed.

“I have failed this city,” was a nice callback to season one, and only one indicator of just how deeply he feels responsible for every single thing that has gone wrong since agreed to bring his girlfriend’s sister on that boat. This time it’s Felicity to the rescue with “you are not done fighting.” We love you, Felicity. Please don’t die next week.

I end this one with so many questions…

Does the above image of Laurel with a bow signify a heroic future for her? I know the conventional wisdom (including mine) has always been that she will eventually take up the Canary mantle, and nothing in “Streets of Fire” really disproved that. But now that Sara has come into her own, is that really necessary?

As nice as it is to see John Barrowman back, was the “I’m her father” line really necessary? C’mon. This was never my favorite revelation this season, but they sold me on it with how it all played out, and particularly with Thea’s handling of it all. This was a bit on the nose. He makes up for it with the bit about not being out of arrows, I suppose.

But speaking of Malcolm Merlyn and his daughter…where does Thea end up when this all blows over? Certainly, Merlyn was telling her what she needed to hear.

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Does Larry Lance getting his Detective shield back guarantee that he’s toast before the end of next week’s episode? I really, really hope not.

In fact, does anyone really have to die next week? I mean, they already killed Moira. Do we have to say goodbye to Larry, Felicity, Diggle, Thea or Sara (it won’t be Laurel) before this is all done? Damn it. When did I start liking these characters so much?

How pissed is Roy gonna be when he wakes up?

Does Felicity not own any sensible shoes?

Where else have we seen the “we’re going to nuke the city if this isn’t cleared up” scenario? Oh, right. A little movie called The Avengers that nobody saw. 

Who does Oliver “love the most?” Cases can be made for Thea, Sara, Laurel, and Felicity. The “old” Oliver loved himself the most. 

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Meanwhile, on an island…

I love Anatoli. You should, too. At least now we know how Ollie became so fluent in Russian. Something tells me we’re going to see those two spending a lot of time together in next season’s flashback sequences.

Oliver was clearly inspired by Peter’s example from last week, with his willingness to go down with the Amazo, and all. 

DC Universe Watchtower

I feel like the show had bigger things to worry about this week, don’t you? But if I missed anything, please feel free to shame me in the comments.

Now, bring on next week…and then what is sure to be a very long wait until October!

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Rating:

4 out of 5