"Arrow" season 2 continued Wednesday, Dec. 4, with episode 8, "The Scientist," the first part of the two-part midseason finale, and like the previous episodes this season, it showed just why this is a must-watch series and one of the most exciting, action-packed shows on TV right now.
This "Arrow" episode introduced Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, and within minutes of seeing him on screen, you had to love him in the role, even as he came between a pairing that has become quite popular, "Olicity." Even if you've been rooting for something to happen between Oliver and Felicity and found yourself angry after he slept with Isabel in Russia, there was something positively ramble-y adorable about Felicity and Barry in this episode, together and apart, that seemed to make them a good fit, and bonus, it meant seeing Oliver being a bit jealous for "Olicity" fans. Still, we couldn't help but adore "Baricity," or whatever you want to call them, and want to see more.
But it wasn't just the Felicity/Barry dynamic that left us wanting more of him; Gustin's portrayal of the character fit in with the universe that has been created on "Arrow," and if we're in for more of the same in "The Flash" spinoff, then it could be as successful as "The Originals" has been – and we're saying this after only one episode with him.
"The Scientist" was just another solid episode of the show, and while what was going on in Starling City was, as usual, much more exciting and intriguing than what happened on the island, this episode did have one of the better island flashback sequences, as we got to see Oliver witness what he had missed between Shado and Slade and hear Slade deliver the best lines of the episode despite being closer to dead than alive, and we had a tease of what to expect thanks to some information Oliver revealed in the present about those years on the island (Dr. Ivo and those he injected with the serum were all dead).
Don't mess with Moira Queen Moira's return to Queen Consolidated may not have included a welcome parade, and the party Oliver threw to try to help may have been an epic fail, but when it came to standing up for herself to Malcolm Merlyn, she was a winner. He saw Thea as all he had left and basically ordered Moira to tell her the truth soon, but he made the mistake of mentioning Nanda Parbat to her. The vigilante may not have been able to kill him, but Moira knew someone who could—and she had made sure that person knew he was alive: Ra's al Ghul. What Malcolm had done had betrayed the League's code, and he was left with no choice but to run, but he warned her they weren't finished. (Because it would be too hard to really say goodbye to John Barrowman permanently, at least just yet.)
Blood's limits Sin turned to Roy when her friend Max hadn't been seen in a week, and Thea insisted on helping find him, now all for Roy going to help people. They found a clue in a blood drive pamphlet at his place, but Blood had someone watching and he decided it was time they found the missing Max. His body turned up, and the police ruled it an overdose, even though it looked nothing like one. His eyes were bleeding, and when Roy showed Arrow a photo, Arrow slowed him down with one arrow to keep him away from it.
Welcome to Starling City, Barry Allen Poor Barry got off to a rough start, as he first missed one train (as he explained in a ramble that reminded us of what we usually get from Felicity) and then got off another late only to get soaked due to the rain and the splash from a car, and with Barry came a couple more updates on the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator, first with the headline of the magazine he held over his head asking "Is it safe?" and then with a news report that it was all set for the following day.
Barry came to town after a robbery at Queen Consolidated's Applied Sciences Division, citing a similar case back home in Central City, and while the police thought they were looking for multiple people, Barry first revealed himself to the others when he proclaimed there was just one guy who managed to bust through a door made of expanded reinforced titanium and he knew what he took: an industrial centrifuge. His knowledge caught Felicity's attention, and in return, she caught his as they took turns explaining what a centrifuge did. Felicity kept him in the loop because he had expertise she didn't in forensics, and thanks to him, they figured out that their thief had stolen a delivery truck from a sugar refinery to transport the centrifuge. Felicity then found out that the truck was involved in a robbery at a blood bank, and with that, Arrow was on it.
However, Oliver had Dig look into Barry, and it turned out that he was only an assistant and his captain hadn't sent him to Starling. There was no similar case, and Barry had apparently called in sick with food poisoning. Barry was clearly very interested in the vigilante, evident in his line of questioning to Felicity after he read he had saved her, and he admitted he thought the vigilante could have caught the person who murdered his mother when he was 11. Barry was quite the vigilante groupie, even noting why he thought he wore green and that he had help, including someone with a background in computer sciences.
But Barry didn't tell Felicity the whole truth about what happened to his mother, which was that his father was serving a life sentence for her murder. He told her and Oliver that when he was 11, something came into their house like a tornado, and he saw a person inside the blur. His father tried to fight, and Barry suddenly ended up 20 blocks from their house. No one believed him, and he looked into strange cases like their current one to try to find a way to free his father. Yes, he had lied about who he really was, but as Felicity pointed out to Oliver, so did they every day.
The epic fights keep coming (and there can never be enough of those or enough credit given to the stunts team) Add the two times Arrow faced off with the Acolyte to that list of impressively choreographed fights in season 2, and both times, Arrow came out on the losing side. He may have gotten that blood thanks to an arrow to his opponent's leg, but he was the one left hurting both times, and while Felicity could patch him up after the first, after the second fight, which saw him get slammed around some more and left him unconscious with two syringes in his leg, that wasn't the case. But what else did you expect when he was facing off with someone who had been injected with a serum designed to create human weapons? Those who survived being injected with that serum had enhanced endurance, reflexes, and strength. He may have said he was able to beat someone like him before, but as those fights showed, that didn't mean he could do it again so easily.
Felicity's choices As stated above, with the arrival of Barry Allen came jealousy from Oliver, who was pretty obvious in how he felt about him working close with Felicity, but he did apologize for overreacting and make it up to her. Earlier in the episode, Barry had mistook one of Felicity's "spend her nights with Oliver" comments to mean exactly what it sounded like, and after she told him she didn't like Oliver, she invited him to be her plus one for Moira's party. Barry had accepted the invitation, but after he admitted why he was really in Starling City, he had told her to find a new date. Oliver called Barry and invited him himself, and the two shared a dance in the middle of the empty dance floor of the small party, and it was just one of several "aww" moments for the possible couple. Another such moment came later on as he said his goodbyes and they talked over one another, a moment that had the very strong potential for a kiss (but there was none).
When Dig and Felicity found Oliver after his fight with the Acolyte, he had a weak pulse, but with the computers busted, she couldn't identify the coded syringes stuck in his leg. Dig wanted to call 911, arguing they couldn't save him, but Felicity knew that would mean revealing to everyone he was the vigilante. Instead, she chose to trust one person with that piece of information, and Barry, as he sat in the train station bemoaning yet another missed train, was hit with a tranquilizer dart. He awoke in the lair and saw Oliver lying on a table, hood down, with Dig standing over him. "Will you save my friend?" Felicity asked.
A choice of death or…death In the island flashbacks, Oliver, Slade, Shado, and Sara made their way to the submarine, and during their journey, Shado found out just what Oliver was like before the island, thanks to the revelation that Sara was Laurel's sister. As for Slade, he looked like he would have been better suited for a trip to the morgue rather than a trek across the island, and by the time they got on the submarine, it didn't matter that they couldn't find a sedative to give him with the "Miracle" serum. Without the sedative in his bloodstream first, he'd die, but without that serum, he'd die.
As Ivo's men reached the submarine, Slade made the choice to take the serum, but he had one last thing to say to Shado first: He was sorry for not telling her how he really felt. (A bit of an awkward moment for Oliver.) Oliver injected him, he convulsed, his eyes bled, and just before Ivo and his men burst into the room, Sara couldn't find a pulse.
Bonus quotes section:
"Did you do something to your hair?" "Yes, I shampooed it without eight women and a guard watching." – Felicity and Moira as the latter returned to Queen Consolidated
"Do your parents know that you're here?"/"FYI, they will card him at the bar."– Oliver commenting on how young Barry was
"I'm guessing you don't know how hard it is to break someone's neck." "No, no idea." – Barry and Oliver going over what happened to a guard during the robbery
"Where exactly should I have addressed it? Starling City Cemetery?" – Moira to Malcolm about the invite he didn't get to her party
"What was he like?" "Green." "Green. That's interesting, right? Why green? …Me personally, I think that he trained in some sort of forest or jungle environment, and the green is a nod to that." – Barry quizzing Felicity about the vigilante
"Super-strength, likes blood? Please don't tell me we're suddenly believing in vampires." – Dig's reaction to finding out their thief had stolen blood
"Why couldn't you have been marooned on Aruba?" – Felicity's question when Oliver revealed a bit more about his time on the island
"I could do with a better looking crutch." – Slade's response as Shado checked on him and Oliver helped him walk
"There's not going to be dancing, is there? I'm just not too good on my feet." – Barry accepting Felicity's invitation to be her plus one at the party
"I'll just get comfortable." – Slade as he collapsed in the submarine minutes from death and waited for the others to find the serum
"Arrow" season 2 airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the CW. What did you think of episode 8 "The Scientist"?