Arrow 2-08: “The Scientist”

There’s a break-in at one of Queen Consolidated’s laboratories. Titanium doors are ripped off their hinges, security guards are tossed around like dolls, and a large industrial centrifuge gets stolen. When Oliver, Felicity and Diggle arrive to investigate, they’re joined by elfin forensic scientist Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), who works for the Central City Police Department’s CSI unit and who is visiting Starling City to see if this robbery has any connection to a current case.

(Pretty sure we all know who Barry Allen is in the DC Comics universe, and I don’t consider his superhero identity a spoiler, but since he either doesn’t have powers yet or is keeping them under wraps, he’s just going to be plain old Barry for the time being.)

First impressions: I like Barry. He’s smart, he’s cute, he’s goofy, and he’s full of energy. That last quality is probably the most important one on this show, which has had significant problems with actors sleepwalking through their scenes.

Barry thinks the robbery was most likely the work of one person—a person with enough superhuman strength to rip open titanium doors. Oliver is skeptical; Felicity is smitten. Sparks immediately fly between Barry and Felicity. Lots of smiles and flirting. Felicity doesn’t need a love interest, but if Arrow is determined to pair her up with someone, Barry is a far better match than Oliver. If hooking Felicity up with Barry is what it takes to head off any more scenes like that wretched moment two episodes back when Felicity acted mopey and wounded after Oliver slept with Isabelle, I’m all for it.

Felicity and Barry team up to track down the centrifuge thief. Felicity spends much of the episode wearing a very short, very tight red dress with a keyhole cutout in front that exposes a great deal of her breasts, which… okay, Felicity has lovely breasts, and I firmly believe that anyone who wants to flaunt some cleavage should feel free to do so with impunity, but her wardrobe thus far this season—all those skintight dresses and teetering heels—doesn’t mesh well with her established character. Remember last season when she’d wear slacks and sweaters, and it was kind of a big deal that one time when she donned a fancy gown for one of Oliver’s charity events? Since being promoted to a series regular, she’s gone from being an wry, quirky, super-smart computer whiz to a dolled-up executive assistant who pines forlornly after her boss. In the process, a great deal of what made her so fresh and fun to watch has been lost.

Sin calls Roy to ask for his help finding Max, an artist friend who went missing in the Glades several days ago. Thea insists on coming along to help Roy investigate. Sin doesn’t have a terribly meaty role in this episode, but it’s great to see her back, and it’s great to see Roy, Thea and Sin all working together. Love those three crazy kids.

Malcolm Merlyn pops by the Queen mansion to badger Moira into telling Thea the truth about her parentage. I’m delighted to have Malcolm back, but, as with Sin, I wish they’d give him more to do. Don’t squander John Barrowman, Arrow! At the very least, put him to use singing show tunes, or charming his way across time and space

The centrifuge thief next steals a large supply of donated blood. After Barry and Felicity pinpoint the thief’s location by tracking down his stolen truck, Oliver launches an attack. The thief, a burly masked man with superhuman strength and nigh-impermeable skin, easily beats up Oliver and tosses him out of the moving truck.

Island plotline: Oliver, Shado, Sara and a gravely-wounded Slade locate the stranded Japanese submarine and search for the mirakuru serum that might save Slade’s life. Shado gets disgruntled when she learns that Oliver had a prior relationship with Sara, and Oliver gets disgruntled when he sees that Shado and Slade have grown closer during his absence. Ah, that’s my Arrow, where even life-or-death situations can’t stand in the way of gloomy, tedious interpersonal relationships.

They find vials of the serum stored in a box in the sub. It’s only been sitting there for the past seventy years without refrigeration; it’s probably still perfectly fine. Sara warns Oliver the serum must be used in conjunction with a sedative, or it’ll kill Slade. There’s no sedative on hand, and Slade’s condition is rapidly worsening, so Slade urges them to inject him anyway. After confessing his love for Shado, and as Dr. Ivo’s goons swarm the submarine, Slade goes into convulsions and (apparently) dies, blood streaming from his eyeballs.

Speaking of Slade… Today I discovered that Manu Bennett, handsome Manu Bennett, plays Azog the Defiler in The Hobbit. I am duly impressed.

Present day: Back at the lair, a battered Oliver confesses to Felicity and Diggle that he suspects the thief’s superhuman abilities are a result of the mirakuru. Felicity and Digg are appropriately skeptical about this. Arrow isn’t doing a bad job of introducing super-powers into what was, prior to this season, an entirely non-powered universe, but still, it’s kind of a hard sell.

Hi again, Felicity’s breasts! Just going by Emily Bett Rickards’ body language, I’m going to guess that she’s not feeling entirely relaxed and comfortable and carefree in that dress.

Sin, Roy and Thea (aka Team Awesome) investigate Max’s apartment, where they find evidence suggesting he disappeared after donating blood at a charity drive sponsored by evil Alderman Blood. Officer Daly, the corrupt police officer who’s secretly in cahoots with the alderman, spies on them and reports back to his boss. Alderman Blood, who has been using the blood donors as test subjects in his diabolical scheme to create a new breed of superhumans, orders his lackeys to kill Max and dump his body to throw Team Awesome off the trail.

Take a drink every time you read the word “blood” in the preceding paragraph.

Felicity asks Barry to be her date at a party Oliver is hosting at the Queen mansion to celebrate Moira’s acquittal. Barry happily accepts, and all is bliss… until Oliver reveals that Barry is in town under false pretenses: He’s a CSI assistant, not an investigator, and his superiors have no idea what he’s doing in Starling City. Barry explains the deception: When he was a kid, his mother was murdered by something that looked like a tornado with a person inside it. Since then, he’s made it his personal mission to investigate all cases with supernatural overtones, in search of some connection.

Oliver’s party is a bust, Starling City’s elite having opted not to publicly celebrate the surprise acquittal of the woman who helped murder five hundred and three of their fellow citizens. Probably a savvy decision. Felicity is furious with Oliver for exposing Barry’s lies and chasing him away. For some unfathomable reason, she’s gussied up like a beauty pageant contestant for the party. She looks lovely, but again, it’s so, so wrong for this character.

(There’s no Laurel in this episode, much like there was no Laurel two episodes ago, and it’s getting hard to shake the queasy feeling that Felicity is being groomed as Laurel’s replacement.)

In the wake of Felicity’s disapproval, Oliver reverses his strong anti-Barry stance. Barry shows up at the party and dances with Felicity. Have to admit, they’re pretty cute together.

Sin calls Roy: Max’s body has been found in an alley. The police suspect an overdose, though the trails of blood streaming from his eyeballs would suggest something more diabolical. At the crime scene, Officer Daly observes Roy snapping a photo of Max’s corpse.

Roy meets with Oliver, in his Arrow guise, and shows him the photo of the bleeding eyeballs. Alarmed, Oliver orders Roy to stop investigating Max’s death. When Roy refuses to drop the subject, Oliver whips out his bow and shoots Roy through the leg.

Dude. Oliver. That was such an unmitigated dick move that, for the very first time, I sort of love you a little.

(Not as much as I love Roy, though. I'm reminded more and more of how much I miss Colton Haynes as Jackson on Teen Wolf. Roy is wonderful, but Jackson, man... Crazy, icy, damaged, toxic, blistering Jackson was something else entirely. Probably my all-time favorite teen character on television.)
Malcolm pops up in the Queen mansion to threaten Moira. Again. He’s all slithery and menacing—you know, vague threats, “your life belongs to me now,” that kind of thing. Fed up, Moira plays a pretty cool trump card: She tells Malcolm she sent a message to Ra’s al Ghul informing him that Malcolm’s still alive. It seems Malcolm’s destruction of the Glades violated the League of Assassin’s code of honor, and now Ra’s al Ghul wants him dead. Visibly shaken, Malcolm backs off. Moira, I’m liking you more and more this season.

Knowing that the mirakuru serum needs to be used in conjunction with a sedative, Oliver deduces that the blood thief will next try to steal a massive supply of Ketamine from an emergency bunker located in the Glades. When Oliver arrives at the bunker, he’s once again easily defeated by the masked thief. During the fight, he gets injected with a syringe full of something nasty and passes out.

Felicity brings Barry back to the secret lair. As Barry stares at Oliver, who is unconscious and unmasked, Felicity pleads with him, “Please save my friend.”

Not bad. Nice introduction to an important new character, nice job of moving the plot forward. Not perfect, but after a string of weak episodes, I’ll take it.


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