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'Arrow' 'Blast Radius' review: Tension, secrets and the devil

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"Arrow" season 2 returned Wednesday, Jan. 15, with episode 10, "Blast Radius," in which Oliver hunted down a bomber in Starling City and Laurel dug deeper into Sebastian Blood's past.

"Arrow" season 2 returned from its winter hiatus with yet another good episode, as "Firefly's" Sean Maher guest starred as Mark Sheffner, a.k.a. Shrapnel, who was setting bombs off in Starling City, and his guest spot did not disappoint. While it was too bad that he didn't share any scenes with Summer Glau, it was understandable and in fact, it would have seemed too gimmicky if they had. But maybe in the future? He did survive the episode…

Arrow was determined to hunt down the man in the skull mask, but he wasn't having much luck as he strung up and questioned anyone who might have known who was behind the mask, but his search had to be put on pause when the first bomb went off in the city, and Felicity returned from visiting Barry in time to get to work with Oliver and Diggle. "Good, we need you here," Oliver said when she joined them in the office, but after those kind words, the two got very snappy and snarky with one another.

Just because Barry Allen was comatose after the events of "Three Ghosts" and didn't appear in this episode didn't mean that that was shoved aside. Instead, we got an update on his condition (still "sleeping," as Felicity preferred to use that term) and more jealousy on Oliver's part to an extent that made things tense in the workplace (well, the Team Arrow workplace, at least, as they didn't have time in this episode for Felicity to play Oliver's assistant as well as Arrow's computer extraordinaire) – and we loved that Diggle called Oliver out on it after he accused Felicity of not having her head in the game because she lost Shrapnel while Oliver was tracking him down after a second bombing. "I think you didn't have a problem with Felicity's performance until she met Barry Allen," Diggle pointed out.

Blood decided when bombs were going off in the city was the perfect time for a show of how strong the city was after another tragedy and organized a Unity Rally, one he refused to cancel even after a visit from Arrow. While Felicity was able to locate Shrapnel's shop, Oliver walked into a trap, one he needed Felicity's help to escape. "Sure you want me doing this? My head might not exactly be in the game," she snarked. He escaped, they tracked down the bomb, Diggle took a bullet, and Arrow stopped Shrapnel, but Oliver still needed to apologize to Felicity.

He did, admitting that her being in Central City made him realize how much he needed her in Starling. He may have started off thinking he'd do all this himself, but he had come to rely on her and Diggle. And then, in what could only be a nod to "Olicity," she asked if that meant she had a shot…at Employee of the Month. "No, because you're not my employee," he told her. "You're my partner." And yet again, the moment came for a kiss but there was none.

Elsewhere, Laurel decided to do a little digging into Blood, who reminded her of Oliver in the sense that she didn't know the real him, as he continued on his "I'm going to save this city" campaign. When she stopped by his office with the thinly veiled "I was in the neighborhood" excuse, she asked about his parents, and he told her that his father came home drunk and broke his mother's arm, and his mother shot him then ran. When he left, Laurel took note of an invoice for a Maya Resik at St. Walker's Hospital and had her father look into it, which was "less fun" for him since Blood wasn't really her boyfriend.

Lance found that Maya was Blood's crazy aunt, locked away in a mental institution. And while Oliver publicly supported Blood, Arrow and Blood struck a deal to work together to save the city, just as Laurel visited Maya and found out she was Blood's mother. "Sebastian is the devil!" She exclaimed of her son. "He's the one who put me here. He made everybody think I'm insane. …He killed his father, and I was there. I saw it." Then came the ominous warning: "Don't trust what he says. You can't trust Sebastian." While it was nice to see Laurel do something other than pop pills (though she did do that again), drink, and feel guilty, we know what's coming and it can't end well.

And how was Roy doing? "Handsome, brooding, the usual," Thea said of her boyfriend when Oliver asked. But he was showing up at work on time and acting weird, and Thea noticed. She also saw when he saved her mother at the rally when a light post could've killed her and noticed that a deep cut on his arm healed really fast. He used the age old "adrenaline" and "I heal fast" excuses before making a clean getaway, but he might as well have been screaming "something happened!"

Finally, not much happened in the island flashbacks other than Slade going crazy, thanks to Mirakuru, and being desperate to hunt down Ivo to avenge Shado, while Sara convinced Oliver that it wasn't a good idea to tell him what really happened. And considering Slade held him up by his throat just for getting in the way when he advanced on Sara and accused her of still working for Ivo, that was probably a good idea.

However, all they did was delay his mission, as after Ivo called and told Sara to give up the serum in exchange for safe passage off the island or suffer being caught and used to "indulge [his] scientific curiosity," they discovered Slade was gone – and he had the Mirakuru. Because not much happened and there was so much going on in the present, the island flashbacks did seem a bit long in this episode and more of a way to set up what was coming than anything else since we saw Slade in Starling City in the fall finale.

So overall, it was exactly what we've come to expect from this show each week. There were epic action scenes – those featuring Arrow on his bike – more slow burn "Olicity" that had us yelling at our TVs for them to kiss already, set-ups for what's to come with Slade both on the island and in Starling City, with Lance as he attempts to hunt down the leak in the department, with Laurel in what could be a juicy storyline for her, and with Roy and his new abilities.

"Arrow" season 2 airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the CW. What did you think of episode 10 "Blast Radius"?

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© Meredith Jacobs 2014

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