This review contains spoilers.
2.8 The Scientist
Being introduced onto a show that already has a spin-off for you in the works must be a bit daunting, but that was the unenviable job of Grant Gustin in the latest episode of Arrow. Coming in as Barry Allen (aka The Flash) in a two part mid-season finale before he’s spun off into a show all his own, we fans were treated to one of those rare and nerve-wracking occasions when we get to judge the main character of a show before it even begins. Did we like him? And can you see yourself watching him on his own show?
Having only previously experienced Gustin as a villain on both Glee and (sorry) 90210, it was a surprise for me to see him play the slightly awkward, geeky Allen here. That’s a big part of why I was paying so much attention, because his casting a few months ago didn’t make immediate sense to me. After watching this episode, I’m happily eating my words and, while he’s only had 40-minutes to make a good impression, what Arrow has decided to do with him should please a lot of people. The big worry was of course the presence of super speed in the realistic world of the show, and we’ll have to wait until next week to see how that’s dealt with.
The episode itself definitely felt like the first part of a whole, and so is hard to judge as a single hour of television, but there are a lot of great elements that will play a huge role in the second half of season two. The introduction of The Flash brings with it the necessity for superpowers and, via the case of the week and timely flashbacks to the island, we discover that the serum Ivo is searching for is what will bring super strength and, eventually we assume, super speed to the show. It’s now being experimented with in present day Starling City and, as a result, Oliver has uber-henchmen to deal with.
Judging by the cliffhanger of this episode, he’s going to have trouble with this new obstacle to achieving peace in his city, and I just hope that means we can look forward to some more Justice League members popping up in the future. Will Allen join Team Arrow before he departs for the 2014-15 season? His budding relationship with Felicity seems like a good move in terms of keeping her and Oliver from addressing their romantic awkwardness for a little while longer, at least, and supporters of that pairing will be sated with all of the jealous looks and snide remarks being thrown around.
While Laurel is still suspiciously MIA, the show seems to be trying to finally find a way to use Thea outside of the club and the mansion. She accompanies Roy on his night time patrol for the first time – finally teasing the teen hero duo that was promised at the end of last season – and, although he stops her from actually doing anything dangerous or liaising with the Arrow herself, I hope they eventually find themselves on equal footing in this regard. Then again, the fact that Oliver resorted to shooting Roy with an arrow just to stop him meddling was an extreme way of showing how little he actually understands about real superheroics.
Barry, on the other hand, was given his very own tragic back story with a mysteriously murdered mother and a falsely imprisoned father that he wants to set free. This gives him trauma, purpose and a reason to be on the show, and all of that makes me think the writers have done some serious thinking about how they might successfully translate the character to this world. We can’t really judge until we see the resolution to this story next week but, judging just from this first hour, I’m happy with the introduction of more fantastical elements. See you next week for the final Arrow adventure of the year!
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