‘Arrow’ Review: “The Scientist”
‘Arrow’ season 2 lets loose its eighth episode of the year with “The Scientist,” as Oliver reluctantly enlists the aid of Central City forensic scientist Barry Allen ('Glee' star Grant Gustin) to investigate a super-powered heist with ties to his past, while Moira finds herself confronted by an old enemy..
Previous ‘Arrow’ episode “State V. Queen” saw Count Vertigo (‘Fringe”s Seth Gabel) complicating Oliver’s attendance at his mother’s trial, while Moira struggled to keep a dark secret from emerging, so what does the eighth episode of ‘Arrow’ season 2 bring? Will Oliver finally become the hooded hero we know from DC comics, or will Barry Allen beat him to it?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Arrow’ season 2′s lighting-quick eighth episode, “The Scientist!”
Late one night at a Queen warehouse, a mysterious intruder breaks down a giant door single-handledly, snapping the necks of the guard inside with ease. The next morning, Oliver brings Moira to her first day back at Queen Consolidated, while Isabel Rochev (Summer Glau) reminds him that handing the company back to Moira so quickly after her trial will weaken their image.
Oliver is alerted to the break-in at the warehouse, which baffles the police, at least until youthful Central City forensic investigator Barry Allen shows up, claiming the attack to have likely been perpetrated by one super-strong man in pursuit of an industrial centrifuge. When footage confirms the thief to have carried the large device over his shoulder, Felicity invites Barry to help them privately investigate the matter, something Oliver let on that he has his own knowledge of. Back in the past, Shado learns of Laurel’s connection to Sara as they drag the dying Slade toward the Japanese sub.
While Oliver suggests to his mother they throw a lavish party to celebrate her return, Felicity and Barry investigate the thief’s shoe-prints to discover sugar among its residue. As they search, Barry expresses his interest in her connection to the Vigilante, given his own mother had been murdered when he was 11, and the hooded hero might have caught the killer. Meanwhile, Roy and Thea meet up with Sin (Bex Taylor-Klaus), who reveals that an artist friend of hers has gone missing, and she needs help to find him.
Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) appears to Moira once more, mentioning how their tryst sent him to Nanda Parbat in the first place, and demanding that Moira tell Thea the truth about her true parentage. Meanwhile, Oliver learns of the thief’s delivery truck perpetrating another robbery on a blood bank, while Oliver tasks Diggle with looking into Barry Allen, who seems to be hiding something from them. Oliver pursues the truck on his motorcycle, though the thief easily tosses Oliver around, without even stopping the vehicle.
Back at the lair, Oliver admits to Felicity and Diggle that he’d seen similar super-strength exhibited on the island, though Ivo and everyone else involved with the serum had since died, and burned along with the supply of the drug. Oliver tasks Felicity with finding where the thief will strike for the third component, while Diggle tells Oliver in private that Barry was indeed hiding something. Back in the past, Oliver and Slade reach the sub, and begin searching for the “miracle” cure.
Felicity and Barry analyze a sample from an arrow that pierced the thief’s leg as Felicity invites Barry to be her date to the Queen party, while elsewhere Thea, Roy and Sin enter Max’s abandoned apartment, finding only an invitation to Sebastian Blood’s blood drive. Later at Queen Consolidated, Oliver confronts Barry with the revelation that he lied about his authority and involvement with the case, to which Barry admits that he investigates bizarre cases in an attempt to piece together what happened to his mother, who was in reality killed by a mysterious “blur,” while his father was falsely accused of the crime.
At the Queen’s party for Moira, Oliver apologizes to Felicity for exposing Barry so harshly, before realizing that very few have shown up to the party for his mother. Oliver at least invites Barry to the party to share a dance with Felicity, while Moira does her best with the guests, and expresses her ire that Isabel Rochev seems to have an interest in Oliver. Back in the past, Oliver fails to find the necessary sedative to inject Slade with along with the miracle serum, though they reason that Slade will almost certainly die without an attempt.
Moira shares words with a mysterious man, before hesitating to tell Thea the truth about her parentage, while Oliver is called back to the lair. Barry departs for Central City after identifying the sedative as ketamine, which Felicity determines to be stored in a large A.R.G.U.S. bunker near the Glades. Felicity warns that Oliver won’t be able to overpower the thief, before the pair are interrupted by the presence of Roy’s red arrow. Roy and Sin had discovered Max’s body found by the police, though his bleeding eyes didn’t sync up with an overdose as the cops claimed.
Back in the past, Oliver injects Slade with the miracle serum, though the pain causes blood to flow from his eyes before he finally expires, and Ivo’s men infiltrate the sub. In the present, Oliver sees Roy’s photo of Max and urges him to stay away from anything involving the serum, shooting him in the leg to slow him down. Meanwhile, Moira has one last confrontation with Malcolm Merlyn, in which she informs him R’as Al Ghul has been made aware of his survival, and will hunt him down for his betraying the League’s code in destroying the Glades.
Oliver confronts the thief in the A.R.G.U.S. warehouse once more, putting up a valiant effort, but ultimately ending up defeated, thrown through a crate that places several unmarked syringes in his leg. Diggle and Felicity find him a short while later, but with no means to identify what he was injected with, Diggle is forced to abduct Barry from his train station to assist them in saving Oliver's life, revealing his identity in the process.
We'll admit, 'Arrow''s initial announcement of including Barry Allen in its second season initially appeared as a strange choice, especially on the heels of DC's Comic-Con announcement to include Batman into a 'Man of Steel' sequel that had barely developed the Clark Kent character as is. It's no accident that 'Batman Vs. Superman''s big Wonder Woman announcement arrived on the same day as Barry Allen's 'Arrow' debut either, which continually raises questions as to DC's interest in creating more headlines than organic storytelling.
And while we'll never know for sure if 'Arrow''s producers had always intended to introduce super-powers into the second season, we've known Barry Allen's arrival to be imminent for some time, with plenty of groundwork lain through more natural 'Arrow' storytelling to justify its first future 'Justice League'-r. The burning question, then, plain and simple: does it work? As Barry Allen himself echoed throughout "The Scientist," the results are a bit inconclusive.
Our first time watching "The Scientist" on a CW screener felt admittedly marred by some of the unfinished production aspects, lending an overall air of uncertainty and change, however nicely the ambient Starling City setting, for all its thunder and lightning backdrop could convey. The same episode that sees a fresh-faced Barry Allen arriving in town to investigate a super-strong thief also sees Moira revealing a direct connection to R'as al Ghul, Malcolm Merlyn continually making ghost-like appearances, and teases of more super-powered (some blurry) characters to come. Frankly, it felt like a bit much to take in with one installment, even as the first seven episodes of the season did their best to light the runway.
The second viewing went a bit more smoothly, as we came to appreciate the genuine attempts at world-building that more easily justify such a super-powered hour. A little goes a long way as Stephen Amell portrays Oliver's past experience with the "Miraclo" serum with such grave apprehension, nicely cementing its danger as "all too real" when Diggle makes light of the situation's absurdity. And to the stunt team's credit, Oliver's fights with "The Acolyte" feel as brutal as they're intended, with Oliver tossed around like a ragdoll, and seriously injured by each crushing blow. Even Felicity's presence helps ground matters, illustrating in scientific terms how much difficulty Oliver's arrows have penetrating muscle, while Barry calculates the pressure to snap a human neck.
And ah, that Barry. Much of "The Scientist"s success will reside on the viewer's appreciation of Grant Gustin's fresh-faced take on the character, which for the most part resonates effectively. Producers Andrew Kreisberg and Marc Guggenheim have admitted their own apprehension with casting the iconic character so young, and Gustin's charm as the scatter-brained speedster wears admittedly thinner than we might have liked, though it's easy to see how he might grow into the role over time, perhaps with quicker wit to boot. That is to say little of Gustin's natural chemistry with Emily Bett Rickards, however fast their infatuation seems to move, but the overall story hasn't leaned too hard on poor Barry just yet.
The flashback story gets a bit of short shrift this week, with Slade now apparently dead (read: not) by the miracle serum, while Moira's own encounter with shadowy men feels similarly rushed. We had perhaps wondered if Malcolm's appearances could be representations of Moira's own conscience, the way the character slips in and out of the Queen mansion, with no apparent interest in Oliver (still referring to him as "the vigilante" for Moira's sake), though her direct line to R'as al Ghul would seem to wrinkle that theory.
Even so, we have enough to contend with by Brother Blood and his acolytes, Oliver's apparent injury and Barry's resulting entry into the inner circle, that we'll stick a pin in whatever Moira's possible connection to the League of Shadows could be, and what it means for Malcolm's return. In the end, "The Scientist" largely succeeds in launching 'Arrow' to a higher form of superhero storytelling, though not without a bit of seeming clumsiness. Hopefully, the climax of our two-part finale next week will spark a few more flashes of greatness than what we've seen tonight.
And Another Thing...
- So, are we giving up on finding Laurel something of substance to do then?
- The Sebastian Blood Blood Drive.
- About 70% of Roy's appearances in the episode involve arriving at the Queen mansion, before being called away. Not to mention, the leg shot was a bit of overkill, yes?
- Moira's dislike of Isabel Rochev is starting to feel much more in line with some of her comic deeds...
Well, what say you? Did you feel that ‘Arrow’ hit the mark with its second season’s latest offering? Were you impressed to see Barry Allen's debut as “The Scientist”? Give us your reactions in the comments, and join us next week for another all-new ‘Arrow’ recap of season 2, episode 9, midseason finale "Three Ghosts" on The CW!