Arrow Season 2 Episode 8 (TV Show Review)
This week, to acknowledge that his Facebook page hit 400,000 likes, Arrow lead actor Stephen Amell posted a 14min Q&A video in which he answered some fan questions that he had taken on his page. In response to one of them, he said that he believes a show should get better, should improve, as it went along in the season. And he firmly believes that every episode this season has been better than the one before. And I agree. It so happened that right after I saw that video, I saw this week’s episode of the show, with a ton of excitement locked in because it was going to debut one of my favourite superheroes, Barry Allen, in a pre-origin role.
And it was good. Good. GOOD more like it. Aside from a few small things that I found problematic, this episode is true to the spirit of the show, particularly this season where Starling City is transformed into the City of Heroes. More great scenes on the Island, more character drama, more top-notch action, a commitment to the idea of superheroes, and supervillains, and more on the epic cliffhanger that we had with the previous episode, something that is going to become a much more intrinsic part of this season.
Note: this review contains some minor spoilers.
Because this was the episode where The Flash would make his return to live-action, almost two decades after the short-lived TV series featuring John Wesley Shipp in the titular role of Flash. Arrow has always had strong connections to the larger DC universe and in this season we’ve already seen some great references and cameos. Currently there are several big elements of that in constant play: Professor Ivo and his ship the AMAZO, (Black) Canary, Brother Blood, and the League of Assassins with everything that that entails. Barry Allen is the latest to join the Arrow lore and this was the reason why I was looking forward to this episode so much. I’ve been reading the current The Flash comics and the character has become one of my favourites in that medium (I already loved him in his various animated versions).
Added to all that is the fact that Barry is going to be around for a two-parter, and so there’s a lot of screentime for the character, especially since he is getting his own show next year, which just means lots and lots of exciting times all around.
So anyway, back to this episode. Last time, we saw that Brother Blood’s experiments had finally produced one live success. This time, we see how that entire subplot plays out, or begins to at least. A Queen Consolidated Applied Sciences (mini Easter Egg about the Nolan Batman movies where Applied Sciences was the division under Lucius Fox, the man who gave Christian Bale’s Batman most of his tech toys) facility is robbed and a centrifuge is stolen. Ollie, Felicity and Diggle are brought in by SCPD to help with their investigation of what happened and joining them all is Barry Allen, a CSI from Central City who is dispatched to assist on the orders of his Captain since CCPD is apparently working on a similar case. From there on it spirals out until we get one of the most tied-together episodes where the Island flashbacks and the ongoing at-present story are intrinsically related. It turns out that its all related to the super-serum that Professor Ivo and his men are looking for at the Island.
There’s a ton of things packed into this episode as always since there are a lot of storylines going on and they all work in really well with the larger backdrop of story arcs.
The most important consideration here is how Barry Allen’s character plays out. Played by Grant Gustin, the character is extremely fresh-faced and inexperienced here, to the point that one of the first things Ollie asks on meeting him is “do your parents know you’re here?” and later, at a party, Ollie tells Felicity that Barry is going to get carded at the bar. Going for a young Barry Allen is a bit of a weird choice since I associate that far more with Barry’s successor Wally West rather than Barry himself, but I kind of get the direction that the creators are going for here. If they are going for the angle where Ollie ends up being a mentor of sorts to Barry, then this approach can work, and I would actually prefer that too as well since we already have at-par heroes on the show and in a shared universe, a mentorship sounds really cool.
Grant Gustin definitely has the character down I have to say. The way that he acts, the mannerisms, he is Barry through and through, with little bits of Wally mixed in which seems a bit odd. Its nice to see a young Barry on the show. It goes the same way that Tom Welling’s young Clark Kent did in the early seasons of Smallville, and the approach most definitely has its merits.
The story itself, of the robbery at Queen Consolidated and then later on at another place, is quite a bit of a mystery that the trio get to figure out in time. This being a two-parter arc however, we don’t get anywhere near the full story, but we do get enough to have a good idea of what Brother Blood is intending to do here, and how Ollie and the others fit into it. The interspersed flashbacks to the Island work to expand on all that’s happening in Starling City and you really get a sense of desperation throughout the episode. While in the past Ollie and Shadow and Sara race to help Slade survive with the help of the Japanese miracle serum, in the present, Ollie and his team are racing to track down the superpowered individual who is committing the robberies across Starling City. The clock is ticking, without a doubt, and by the time it all ends with the cliffhanger that’s packed with a great sense of wonder, you can’t help but be impressed.
With respect to the cliffhanger of the previous episode, Moira Queen is certainly in a bind over what to do, especially when the pressure is piled on her. But I have to say that the solution that she finds, that left me awed. She had the guts to do something very unexpected and stick to her guns. If anything, this episode shows how deep her loyalty is to her family and how much she cares about her children, who really do mean the world to her.
Summer Glau as Isabel Rochev gets a cameo again when Ollie takes Moira to the Queen Consolidated offices and then the party at the Queen mansion. Unless I’m mistaken, there are hints that Isabel and Moira have met before and that they are certainly not BFFs in any way. There’s a lot of tension to their scenes together and I can’t wait to see where that goes. Although I’ll say that I’m getting a bit tired of Isabel only guest-starring and not doing all that much. Perhaps that’ll happen in the second half of the season, but for me, that can’t come fast enough.
Overall, I was pretty impressed with this episode. It ties in a lot of the different subplots that the writers have been working throughout the season, and that’s great since after next week’s episode the show is on a one-month hiatus for Christmas and the New Year, and they need to bring a certain closure to some of the plots. I definitely liked it a lot, mostly because of Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen and the machinations of Brother Blood.
Posted on December 6, 2013, in Arrow, Review Central, TV Show Reviews and tagged Arrow, Barry Allen, CW, David Ramsey, DC Comics, Deathstroke, Emily Bett Rickards, Felicity Smoak, Grant Gustin, Green Arrow, John Diggle, Manu Bennett, Oliver Queen, Professor Ivo, Review Central, Sara Lance, Shado, Slade Wilson, Starling City, Stephen Amell, Superheroes, Supervillains, The Flash, TV Show, TV Show Review. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.