Arrow: 208 “The Scientist” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
As if the land of Bonkers Superheroes wasn’t insane enough, this week’s episode has introduced proper no-fooling superpowers into the mix, along with the first appearance of a certain geeky individual who may well be strapping on the red and gold in the near future.
The episode opens with the first instance of ‘super-crime’ the show has portrayed, as a big strong man breaks into a warehouse and literally single-handedly takes out the two security guards: in order to investigate the break-in, a sprightly young fellow by the name of Barry Allen comes from Central City, where there has reportedly been a similar incident, to Starling City. The significance of this character’s appearance may be lost on some viewers, but the bottom line is that Barry Allen becomes the superhero known as the Flash, soon to get his own spin-off pilot based on Grant Gustin’s appearance in this episode. There are some nice hints about the character dropped in throughout the episode, from Allen ‘not being too good on his feet’ to news of a new Particle Accelerator about to be switched on in Central City, which is presumably what is going to give him his speedy superpowers somewhere down the line.
But the episode isn’t really about him, instead focusing on the effects of Ivo’s, and latterly Brother Blood’s experiments, and the emergence of super-powered individuals in Starling City. Allen works out that the break-in was perpetrated by one man, and that he stole a centrifuge from the warehouse: a second break-in occurs soon after, this one occurring at a blood bank, and Oliver is unable to stop Strength-Man either this time or the third time, where Strength-Man is stealing sedatives from an A.R.G.U.S. safehouse and beats the ever-loving hell out of Oliver. This final beating also winds up with Oliver getting injected with a mystery poison which Diggle and Felicity are unable to identify, and thus they drug Allen and bring him back to the Arrowcave to help. Naturally, this has the side-effect of revealing Oliver’s secret identity to him, but that was to be expected at this point.
The introduction of such an iconic DC Comics character is a bold move for the show, and I can see the appeal of Grant Gustin’s nervous, geeky take on the character, but I personally didn’t really warm to him in this episode: he felt like too much of the ‘clutzy nerd’ archetype that so many superheroes start off as, and he was definitely no Peter Parker. Perhaps I just didn’t find him as charming as is necessary for this kind of character to work, but it is still early days for the character and perhaps he’ll become more interesting in later stages of his development.
Elsewhere, Moira is adjusting to a prison-free, Merlyn-filled life which not many people are too happy with, judging by the lack of guests who turn up to the ‘Welcome Back Moira’ party Oliver throws. After a tense confrontation with Malcolm, in which Moira tells him that he is responsible for Tommy’s death and he tells her that Thea is all he’s got left, Moira passes on a message to the only person capable of killing Malcolm: a certain Mr Ra’s al Ghul, who is reportedly not too happy about the Undertaking, an act which breaks the League of Assassins’ code of honour.
For all my comments about the show becoming overloaded with villains, this episode does a decent job of tying multiple disparate groups of bad guys together: at this point, Malcolm Merlyn is inextricably linked to the League of Assassins, and Brother Blood’s evil scheme is entirely connected to Dr Ivo’s back on the island. Similarly, as an arc-heavy episode, the writers wisely chose not to add any extraneous one-off villains, instead focusing on the season’s Big Bads to much greater effect than some of the earlier episodes in the season.
Meanwhile on the island, Team Oliver finds the Japanese submarine Ivo and the Pirates (still a great band name) have been looking for, and also find a bunch of syringes of the superhuman serum, which they decide to use on Slade. Unfortunately, without a sedative injected first, the serum kills Slade, although I suspect that his death won’t stick for too long considering all the hints Oliver dropped in in the present day about the superhumans he encountered on the island. Then, just as the team is about to start mourning Slade, Ivo and the Pirates burst in and I suspect all hell will start to break loose next episode.
While “The Scientist” very much feels like part one of two, with a lot of dangling plot threads, it is still a satisfying romp through Insane Superhero Land with some big changes to Starling City and a couple of intriguing cliffhangers for the midseason finale to take care of next week.
Villain Count: Just one new villain introduced this week, in the form of Strength-Man (he really needs a better supervillain name, because that one is rubbish), but lots of new potential threats.