Episode 208 “The Scientist” & 209 “Three Ghosts”
[photos: Cate Cameron & Diyah Pera/CW]
It’s the episode fans have been anticipating since we first heard Barry Allen was going to show up on Arrow. Anticipating even more(?) than the Green Arrow/Black Canary (ish) team-up we got earlier this season.
Did it live up to the hype?
This is going to cover both episodes, as it was a two-part set and you really need to have both to fully appreciate what’s been set up here. Overall, it was a fun bit of comic book story wrapped up in a microfiber bow (more on that in a bit). Not only do we get some nice setups into the rest of the season, but there were plenty of fan-services bits as well.
There’s a lot to break down in these two episodes, so it’s a tad longish.
Cyrus Gold, pumped with the Mirakuru drug, now has superhuman abilities that allow him to single-handedly break into a Queen Consolidated R&D lab and make off with a high-tech centrifuge. Not only that, but he steals a truck full of donated blood supply on the way out. So now he — or rather, Brother Blood — now has the means to mass-produce the Mirakuru. But where did he get the original sample?
And now that we have a canon spelling of “mirakuru”, does that reduce the chances that this is still “Miraclo” that gives Hourman his powers? Too soon to tell.
The back side of the Brother Blood plot has Roy and Thea helping Sin figure out what killed her friend Max, who donated blood at Blood’s blood drive (ouch…that hurt) right before disappearing — only to later turn up dead from his dosage of mirakuru. Max, apparently, couldn’t take it. The police say it’s an overdose, only Max wouldn’t have been able to donate blood if he had been using drugs. So the trio take it upon themselves to investigate — Thea and Sin going to Laurel for help, and Roy going to the Arrow — who puts an arrow in his leg to slow him down.
Uhm, Ollie? Might want to think about your HR policies if you want your sidekicks to stick around… Just sayin’.
This first hour also gives us a little resolution to the Queen trial, with Moira coming back to take her place as CEO of Queen Consolidated. (But doesn’t that take a vote?) Isabel is considerably upset, and again we get to see Summer Glau emote as a character. This does not happen enough, and it’s always good to see the non-robot side of her acting ability.
Moira’s return to civilized life gives Oliver the opportunity to try too hard to be a “normal person” and put together a “welcome home” party — extravagant as the Queen shindigs used to be — only not that many people show up. Moira is still Persona Non Grata, even though she was acquitted (by a bought jury). But no matter. We have here another opportunity for Emily Bett Rickards to get out of those glasses and glam up a bit — and she needs more excuses to get out from behind those glasses. (Consider the obligatory “smoakin’ hot” comment to be given here…)
1st half flashback to the island: Ollie and the Gang finally find the submarine, and the Mirakuru. Oliver injects the drug into Slade, who promptly dies right before Ivo and his men make it on board. Taking the drug and the surviving castaways, they leave Slade’s body. Which we know won’t stay there very long. More on this in a moment.
Because we haven’t gotten to the biggest piece of this puzzle yet: the introduction of Barry Allen into the Arrow universe. And Grant Gustin does a fine job of mixing awkward clumsiness with wicked smarts. It’s easy to see how the CW executives would be happy enough with this performance to jettison the back-door pilot idea and go for a full pilot order. Gustin brings just enough charm, without being cloying or cartoonish. Let’s admit it, there were quite a few ways this could have gone sideways, and the Arrow team managed to give us a believable Barry Allen at the same time giving us a plausible setup for his eventual entry into the superhero circuit.
The frequent mentions of the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator obviously is going to come into play with the Flash’s origin. That’s just one of a long list of Easter eggs for these two episodes.
Oliver and Barry don’t quite get along, as Oliver sees the young CSI tech as a kid. He’s very young, and impetuous — a fact borne out by the reveal that he’s not “on assignment” to help the Starling City police. In fact, his boss doesn’t even know he’s in Starling City. His whole reason for being there is to look into a case of “unusual abilities” as it concerns the Queen R&D thief. And the explanation for his obsession with unusual crimes is enough to make hardcore fans “squee” a bit — as it not only gives us Barry’s backstory, but also solidly puts Professor Zoom into the Arrow universe as well.
Ah, yes. Professor Zoom. More on that when we discuss Easter eggs.
Team Arrow traces Cyrus to an A.R.G.U.S. warehouse, where a stockpile of medical supplies is the next target. Arrow gets there in time to stop Gold, but is mortally wounded in the last bits of the battle, with some needles making it into his leg — and no one to save him. Well, except the young CSI tech who’s technically not supposed to be there in the first place, who just happens to be late missing his train and so is a ready target for a tranquilizer dart. Waking up in the ArrowCave, Barry finds Felicity and Diggle standing over the body of Oliver Queen. The secret has been revealed. (end of part one)
Meanwhile, Malcolm has made threats and ominous suggestions to Moira, demanding that she tell Thea the truth — that he’s actually Thea’s father. In his villainous monologue, he mentions Nanda Parbat, giving Moira the clue she needs to make contact with a certain Ra’s Al Ghul to notify him of Malcolm’s survival. Malcolm, of course, finds this to be creating a bit of a toxic environment, and he fades back into the shadows with a sneer after Moira advises him to “run”.
This is the Moira Queen I saw in the very first episode, and I wish she’d been like this the whole time. That was such a squandered opportunity there, making her a victim of manipulation and blackmail rather than one of the architects of the Undertaking. Had she been a mastermind, it would have played against what we’re starting to see come out in discussions like the one Paul Dini had with Kevin Smith — putting a light on the fact that the film studios and networks don’t want strong female characters in the superhero and action stories, because it’s the boys who buy the toys. (But that’s another discussion.)
At any rate, we see Moira standing up for herself and her family when it comes to Malcolm, and also with Isabel. But she turns into worried Mom when Thea locks herself in her room and won’t explain why. Of course, she’s got Roy in there with an arrow through his leg. Naturally, Oliver is the one to pull it out — since he put it there. His phone conversation with Diggle — “Roy’s been shot… with an arrow. It’s a long story.” — will surely lead to a longer conversation later. Would have been fun to see that scene play out, but it really would have been redundant since we’ve seen Diggle take Ollie down a peg or two plenty of times before.
Barry’s come up with a solution for the drugs in Oliver’s system, devising a homemade recipe to counteract the effects — without doing any tests to find out just what exactly is in his system. It’s the one bit of flawed logic in this story — but it’s a necessary bit of hand-waving to 1) move the story forward, and 2) establish Barry as something of a brilliant scientist. So a little bit of rat poison, a little bit of Oliver’s blood, and hey presto! A little cure.
Oliver then starts seeing ghosts.
Diggle, meantime, gets to do a little recon while Oliver recovers, and very nearly gets killed scoping out Cyrus Gold’s apartment. It’s there we get the nursery rhyme that lends itself to Gold’s assumed identity — Solomon Grundy.
Oliver turns to Lance for help, saying he’s been “compromised” but not saying why — his ghosts so far have been Shado and Slade. Lance takes the intel to his former partner, Detective Hilton, who reluctantly puts together a squad of men — including Brother Blood’s inside man Officer Daly (named for Tim or Sam?) — into the warehouse where Gold is hiding out. And it’s a massacre, with Lance the only survivor.
After Team Speedy learns from Laurel that the blood drive had all candidates psychologically evaluated, Roy breaks in to find Max’s file, only to get caught by Cyrus and brought to Brother Blood, who injects him with the serum just before Arrow crashes the party. It’s here we get the third ghost — Tommy, telling Oliver to get up and fight, to be the hero he was meant to be. It’s an interesting play on the whole Christmas Carol bit, and of course Oliver gets up with renewed strength to take down Cyrus Gold, destroying the centrifuge in the process and disfiguring the big ox — thus cementing (ahem) Cyrus Gold as Solomon Grundy for life.
Roy survives. Meaning he’s now got superpowers — as evidenced in the promo for the next half of the season — and we’re one step closer to his becoming Arsenal. With producers hinting last season that Thea’s “wicked aim” would come into play, it only makes sense that Thea and Roy (and maybe Sin as well) will form their own little posse of crimefighters. Thea will take on the Speedy mantle, while Roy will move on to Arsenal. Given that Sin didn’t have a “cape name” in the comics, it’s likely she’ll remain as-is, becoming the “eyes and ears” for the Red Arrow team.
The payoff for these two episodes comes in the last five or so minutes — the reveal that Slade Wilson, complete with eye patch and grey sideburns — is behind Brother Blood, lining up nicely with the characters’ history in the Teen Titans book.
And that other thing happened, too.
Up until now, we’ve had word that while Barry Allen would be part of Arrow, the Flash would likely not make an appearance since the show is making the effort to stay firmly grounded in “realistic” portrayals of superheroes. I think we can safely say that’s now off the table — as we get the birth of the Flash in this episode. The accident that gives Barry his powers — while taking the liberty of adding in the particle accelerator accident as a catalyst — is pretty faithful to the comics. Lightning + shelves full of chemicals + Barry = The Flash.
And fans everywhere went “squee”.
The Easter Eggs
- Barry Allen — always late, which has become a running gag with the character, even though he wasn’t always that way
Science Showcase — the magazine in Barry’s hand when he arrives in Starling City. The Barry Allen incarnation of the Flash made his debut in Showcase #4 in 1956
- Director Singh — that would likely be David Singh, Barry’s frequently frustrated boss, who gets a bit irritated at Barry’s work habits
- Cyrus Gold/Solomon Grundy — with the combination of mirakuru and electricity + cement fragments, his transformation is complete
- Slade Wilson — eyepatch and grey sideburns, finally matching his appearance in the comic books; the Deathstroke mask can’t be far behind
- Linda Park — the reporter outside the particle accelerator; fans know her as the wife of Wally West (who still hasn’t shown up in the New 52…)
- Kord Enterprises — mentioned in previous episodes along with Ted Kord (the second Blue Beetle); with the company still in business, is the CEO still around?
- compressible microfiber — Barry cooks up a batch for the Arrow’s new green domino mask; and of course, this “compressible microfiber” will be red when Barry uses it for his costume
- Nanda Parbat — in the comics, the home of Rama Kushna, who killed Boston Brand and turned him into Deadman
- Central City Tribune — used to wrap Oliver’s present; features a story on a series of arsons; the Outhousers web site speculates this could reference the villain Heat Wave
Probably the biggest Easter egg was Barry’s description of his experience at age 11, when his mother was killed under suspicious circumstances. Finding himself blocks away from his home in the blink of an eye, he’s convinced he saw a man inside a tornado that blew through his home that night. Professor Zoom — the man inside the tornado — a man from Barry’s future. Thus, Arrow has opened the door not only to superpowers, but also the time travel elements of Barry’s origin story retold by Geoff Johns in Flash: Rebirth.
So, what did you think? Are you ready for The Flash?