The bad guys triumph in the penultimate episode-“Streets of Fire”--of Arrow’s second season. Bad guys always triumph in the episode before the final episode of a story or a season. The situation seems dire. The heroes face insurmountable odds. A pep talk from a pretty girl motivates the hero. Underneath the carnage and chaos of a burning city exist characters that refuse to give in to the fate prescribed by the diabolical madman with an agenda, a personal vendetta. The job of the writers in the room is to make the situation seem irredeemable and dire and without a hope for the do-gooders, the hero, but to also embolden those same characters that should feel impossible hopelessness in the face of those insurmountable odds and that diabolical madman with a personal vendetta to take all from Oliver which he cares about most.
“Streets of Fire” exceeds in its atmosphere of destructive chaos and in its emboldening the good guys to continue fighting, to find strength where he or she thought he or she was deplete, to snatch from the chaos a vial of hope (in the form of the cure). The massive destruction anticipated in last week’s episode continues in the teaser of “Streets of Fire.” Laurel’s trapped in rubble, her father’s getting his ass kicked in the police station, Sara’s nowhere to be found, and Diggle’s sort of losing to Isabel, while the mayor refuses to call the national guard for help because it’d interfere with his plans. For anyone watching Arrow for the first time, out of curiosity or obligation to a sexual lover, the experience may be akin to attending a Mars Volta show for the first time (when TMV was an active band) and hearing “Day of the Baphomets” open the show or the 20 minute live epic of “Cygnus Vismund Cygnus.” The chaos settles. Characters emerge from fighting, rubble, and convenient exits from town, to come together and form a plan.
Quentin Lance becomes a detective in the Starling City police after his superior agrees with him about calling the Arrow. Quentin’s arc this season was a redemptive one: as a father, husband, and professional. Quentin’s the lone man capable of leading the rest of the police men and women against the masked supermen roaming the Starling City streets. Sara saves Laurel’s ass from one of those masked supermen. Laurel wandered away from Oliver because she thought she wasn’t needed, creating a situation in which Sara needs to save Laurel, which leads to Laurel acknowledging her sister as her sister—one in the same with who she’s known all her life and who wears the eye mask and goes by the name ‘the Canary.’ Sara confesses to her sister that she’s not who Laurel thinks she is, vaguely, but Laurel insists someone so bad wouldn’t have a nickname so beautiful.
Ra’s Al Ghul’s daughter, Nyssa, Sara’s former lover, probably called her the canary affectionately. Like the bird soaring through the air, the nickname probably soared with every death, i.e. the name took on the birds wings. Sara feels irredeemable for her past; so it follows she saves the life of a little girl trapped in a burning building. The Lances overhear one of the police offers telling the other what a hero the anonymous blond girl was who saved the little girl from a burning building. Laurel and Quentin beam; Sara lets out a small smirk. Of course, Slade’s presence looms over the episode. As Oliver watches the city burn, after failing to find the cure before Slade’s men, Sebastian undergoes a minor transformation inspired more from selfishness and his own vendetta against Slade for Slade breaking his word. Sebastian hears Slade explain what he meant by ruining Oliver: to tear down everything, including his city. So, Sebastian helps Oliver sort out what Slade meant by ‘one more.’ Oliver won’t die, but he’ll watch the woman he loves most die. Who is that woman? The purpose of Sebastian’s warning is to leave the viewer in suspense about the target. Laurel or Sara? Who would he choose? Will he need to choose? Probably. Arrow’s writers like to complete the thematic circle. Laurel’s not going to die. Sara was introduced to die. “Streets of Her” set her up to die. Accepted by her sister and redeemed in the eyes of good police, Slade will now complete his last act of vengeance against Oliver by killing her before Oliver kills him.
Slade sits in his perch above the city while Oliver searches for the cure, for a way to contain the supermen before it’s too late. Slade’s a passive participant in the episode because the main threat won’t become vulnerable in the penultimate. Poor underdeveloped Sebastian Blood, who explains his motivations through something about wearing a mask because he feared fear, becomes the lone victim of the episode. His last act helps Oliver. Oliver tells him he won’t succeed after what he’s done. Sebastian won’t, because Isabel kills him. Sebastian was a patsy all along, an insane power-hungry murderous manipulator, but his villainy drove the early episodes. Oliver couldn’t kill Blood, so he was maneuvered into an easy-to-kill position by the villain—a mere plot device, after all that.
“Streets of Fire” looked very cool. Dark, opaque orange lighting enhanced the fire part of the title. The characters are lit by Slade’s destruction and are reflected in the destruction, which may or may not been the intent of the lighting. At the end of the episode, when Oliver finally has the cure and can save the city with it, he sees A.R.G.U.S. roll into the city. Amanda tells him she’ll wipe out Starling City to contain the mirakura. She’ll sacrifice 500,000+ lives to save millions more across the country and the world (presumably). Oliver talks her into giving him until dawn to wipe out the problem himself and save the city.
‘Til Dawn! Oh, Arrow.
-Malcolm Merlyn makes his return, and Thea thanks him for saving her life by shooting him three times. Thea’s choice is the cut to black ending of the episode. I bet Malcolm stopped the bullets with his reflexes. Malcolm’s much better in small doses. John Barrowman was great in this specific role for the character.
-Nick Copus directed the episode. I missed the credited writers. Ben Sokolowski and someone else. Wendy Mericle?