Arrow season 2 episode 10 review: Blast Radius

Review Caroline Preece
17 Jan 2014 - 10:22

Arrow returns from its mid-season break with a relatively uneventful instalment that prepares the ground for future episodes...

This review contains spoilers.

2.10 Blast Radius

The mid-season finale of Arrow was one of the more exciting of the year, and if there was one show I was eager to get back to this January, it was this. Blast Radius wasn’t a particular showy or important episode of the show, but it was one that set up and reiterated a lot of stuff that we’re going to need moving forwards. We had a lot of Sebastian Blood exposition, Laurel finally getting involved in the A-plot, Oliver exposing his jealous streak over Felicity and Barry, and Roy introducing superpowers into the universe.

The island flashbacks have more relevance than ever right now, with Slade discovering his new powers (and inability to deal with them) at the same time as Roy is struggling with the same thing in present day, and the added presence of Sarah means that – at last – those scenes are just as important as whatever villain of the week Oliver is dealing with in Starling City. And now that we know for sure that Slade is messing with his old friend in present day, the journey to discovering the specifics of his epic grudge are going to be interesting to uncover, piece by piece.

If you were excited about the guest appearance of Sean Maher as new villain Shrapnel, however, the episode was a bitter disappointment. Not only did we not get the fan-service scene between him and Summer Glau (she wasn’t in the episode, to make things easier), but the character himself was essentially a nothing role. As a threat for Team Arrow to fight this week, Shrapnel was woefully underdeveloped and devoid of any real tension with his plans to blow things up for no discernible reason, and it was nothing more than an obligatory distraction from the more interesting stuff going on elsewhere in the episode.

Laurel has been a misused part of the show for too long now (arguably since the very beginning), but it was during season two that fans finally started to be vocal about their aversion to her character. The presence of Tommy and the dynamic between he and Oliver was enough to make us ignore her corner of the love triangle during the first season but, without her status as a potential romantic interest for Oliver, the writers seemed at a loss for what to do with her. We’ve had her infuriating revenge mission, her prescription drug problem and then a lengthy absence during which most fans realised what a non-essential part of the cast she’d turned into.

Here, though, there’s a glimmer of hope. It’s always refreshing to see tired, cliché characters like Laurel actually being smart, and her dogged investigation into Blood flew right in the face of what we expected from her. It just proves how much better the show could be if Laurel were to discover Oliver’s secret identity and start helping out in Team Arrow, but then I guess the flourishing connection between him and Felicity would be compromised before it could really take off. We already have Barry (discovered to be in a coma after his accident) in the mix, and so the problem lies in getting Laurel involved without reintroducing up the love story.

And now the villain before the bigger villain has been exposed, and next week looks like an action-packed showdown more akin to a season finale than an episode plonked down at the end of January. That’s no bad thing, of course, and the previews also indicate that Slade will be involved in both timelines on a semi-weekly basis from now on. This midseason return might have bit a bit slow and uneventful in terms of what we were expecting, then, but let’s treat it as a necessary time out before the next big arc could kick into gear.

Read Caroline's review of the previous episode, Three Ghosts, here.

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