Before Arrow went on a one week, holiday hiatus it left off with a rather lackluster episode that saw Moira (Susanna Thompson) acquitted and bid farewell to Count Vertigo (a character I’m all too happy to see bite the dust). Thankfully, this week executive producers Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg, along with writer and DC Comics Chief Creative Officer, Geoff Johns, swoop in to set up a two part, mid-season finale that will excite fans of the show and absolutely thrill DC mega-nerds.
“The Scientist” doesn’t take long to introduce its title character and neither will I – Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) has come to Starling City! Somehow, while there have been plenty of DC Comics’ characters who’ve appeared on Arrow, the inclusion of Barry brings with it a sense exciting events are on the horizon. Most likely this is because we all know Barry’s appearance on Arrow is only a tease for a proper series coming soon to the CW. A proper series where I assume we’ll see Barry’s transformation into The Flash, as during his time on Arrow he’s most definitely not a speedster. This episode, however, is littered with clues to his impending superpowers as a huge storm is rolling into Starling City the sky continuously crackles with lightening. There’s also more ominous references to a particle accelerator, and in fact, when Barry first arrives in town he’s covering his head from the rain with a TIME magazine featuring the accelerator on its cover.
As for Gustin’s portrayal of Barry – he’s geeky, gangly, hella awkward, and as equally adorable as Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards). No wonder these two nerds get on like a house on fire. He’s bumbling, constantly running late – ha!- and hides a past more tragic than he initially lets on. While he’s still a forensics investigator for the Central City Police Department, he’s armed with the latest in CSI gadgetry and in turn becomes a much needed ally to Team Arrow. Not that Barry realizes he’s working for The Arrow, for as much of an Arrow fanboy as he reveals himself to be he’s also pretty oblivious to the fact Felicity works for a CEO with some rather unusual demands.
Speaking of being a CEO, Moira comes back to Queen Consolidated and that doesn’t please Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau) one bit. She’s concerned it’ll send the wrong message to have an acquitted murderer back in the boardroom. And she isn’t wrong, because while Moira may have avoided the death penalty it isn’t likely Starling City has yet forgiven her for her part in The Undertaking. This may prove to be a interesting development, these two power-hungry women, Moira and Isabel, squaring off over business decisions. Except, we aren’t shown any of this in the episode with most of their opposition funneled through Oliver (Stephen Amell).
But Moira’s got bigger problems. Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) problems. He’s still in town threatening to reveal to Thea (Willa Holland) her true parentage and, I think, smuggle her away in order to train her in the ways of evil. It’s not really clear. He mentions his training in Nanda Parbat, so maybe he’s think that’s where he and his newly discovered daughter will abscond to, but it ain’t happening on Moira’s watch. She cleverly connects the dots from Malcolm’s casual name-dropping of Nanda Parbat and drops a name of her own: Ra’s al Ghul! That’s right, she pulls out the big guns and tells Malcolm she’ll tattle on him to the leader of the League of Assassins if he tries anything with Thea. Al Ghul, as we comic book fans know, does abide by a code of honor and that code wouldn’t agree with Malcom’s actions in The Undertaking.
This whole ‘Malcolm is in fact Thea’s father and he and Moira had an affair’ thing is 100% soap opera, melodramatic bullshit–and I love it! Were it any other actors than Barrowman and Thompson, I don’t think I’d buy it, but you can tell these two are enjoying the hell out of these over the top, cheesy antics.
Thinking back on things I loved about this episode there’s a clear winner for absolute best moment. It connects to the main thread this week, which finally begins tying together those island flashbacks and whatever is Brother Blood’s (Kevin Alejandro) evil plan. We learn that the substance Blood has been injecting the poor schlubs he rustles up in the Glades with is in fact, Miracle, the same serum Professor Ivo (Dylan Neal) is searching for in the past on the island. Oliver had already has his suspicions about this since the robbery that brought Barry to town involved a crook with unnatural strength, a telling sign he’s been dosed with Miracle.
When Roy (Colton Haynes), still acting as The Arrow’s eyes and ears in the Glades, brings Oliver more evidence Miracle is being used Roy demands to take on a larger role. The Arrow’s response? He shoots Roy in the leg! Yes! It was amazing, I loved it, and I’m happy to see Olives is taking Roy’s yearning to be a sidekick as seriously as we are. I mean, really? All Roy has shown again and again is how inept he’d be at this whole vigilante business. Just stay down and nurse your wounds, Roy.
Back during those island flashbacks, Oliver sees how deadly Miracle can be first hand when he and Shado (Celina Jade) choose to inject Slade (Manu Bennet) with it in a last ditch effort to save his life. It does the opposite, but somehow, I don’t imagine this is the last we’ve seen of Slade Wilson. And now knowing he’s been injected with Miracle, and likely gifted with super human powers, I’m excited that the true Deathstroke is right around the corner. (Besides, Manu’s a series regular now, surely this isn’t his end.)
Whew! Man was there a lot of developments this episode, and I haven’t even come to the biggest one! Oliver eventually goes after the super-powered thief and, rightly, gets his ass handed to him and is injected with who the fuck knows what!? A trained fighter you may be, but super you are not, Arrow. When Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity come to his aide Dig sees their only option as calling 911, but Felicity has another, far more secret identity saving plan. She brings in Barry who she believes may have the knowledge to save Oliver. And thus, we see the beginning–no, the inception of a coalition of heroes. A league, if you will, as Barry is very much on Team Arrow now.
Next week don’t miss Arrow‘s mid-season finale, “Three Ghosts” airing at 8pm EST on the CW!