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'Arrow' Review: Oliver Faces Major Threat In 'The Scientist'

December 5th, 2013 9:57am EST

Arrow Midseason Finale Mid-season finales are a recent trend that I don’t really like. Executives should trust that its audience members are smart enough to know a winter hiatus will end in January. Episodic television has delivered finale-type episodes since before ‘mid-season finale’ became a buzzword. The writers ensured fans would want more in the New Year. A series that did nothing for nine episodes will deliver a cliff-hanger in the tenth episode just in time for the holidays. “The Scientist” is part one in a two part episode that’s probably best reviewing as a whole, but I write weekly reviews so that’s out.
“The Scientist” builds to a climax that puts Oliver in peril, which is usually the design of the first part of a two-parter. Did Buffy or Angel ever win the day at the end of the first episode of a two-parter? No. Did Dawson and Joey have sex at the end of a first part? Well, yes, they actually did, and then Joey dealt with the fallout of sending an e-mail to her entire school, or something. This episode throws so much into the narrative and at the audience. Moira threatens Malcom with Ra’s Al-Ghul after he threatens her should she decline telling Thea the identity of her true personal Daddy. Oliver deals with the newest threat that’s an unstoppable force because of an Ivo serum and loses, ending up poisoned by it. Barry Allen comes to town! Brother Blood continues to mess people’s nonsense up. On the island Oliver, Shadow and Sara race to save Slade’s life but end up killing him (or so it seems—there’s no way he’s actually dead).
I like the episodes when Oliver’s facing a major threat while juggling familial and professional obligations. Yeah, Oliver basically does that on a weekly basis, but it’s rarely as grand and epic as the first episode suggests the two-parter will be. The investigation into the super-powered behemoth that can punch through titanium and carry large blocks of concrete leads to Oliver telling Diggle and Felicity more about his time on the island to which Felicity remarks, at the story’s conclusion, “I wish you were marooned in Aruba.” Oliver knows what he’s dealing with but is still powerless. One suspects Slade is involved in the super-powered behemoth thing. The affects of the serum without a sedative were unknown. Roy and Sin found their friend’s corpse. Police concluded he died. Oliver sees a photo and says, “Keep away from him.” Initially, the line seems to suggest that one can get infected from the blood from the victim’s eyes, but I think Oliver means blood from the eyes means a transition is happening and Roy and Sin will want to keep away before their friend snaps their necks.
Oliver’s reluctant to tell Diggle and Felicity what he knows. The last time he withheld information was when Sara returned to Starling City. Whenever the island comes to him in Starling City he tries to handle it himself. Oliver, though, has grown as a friend and hero. Diggle and Felicity can help without being put in danger and anyone within 50 feet of that beast is in danger. Earlier this season, Sara asked Oliver what happened to Slade. Yes, Slade’s very much alive, and what’s going on seemingly involves him. We learn from Oiver’s story that Ivo’s dead and all those who took the serum are dead, which then eliminates Slade. Arrow brings every character back, though. I’m waiting for Tommy to rise up and tell all astonished parties, “I got better.” Brother Blood is pushing the serum around town, I know, but he’s a character with little definition. Christopher Nolan’s Scarecrow was not frightening because of the mask. Blood Brother only has the mask at this point.
Barry Allen arrives in Starling City to help with the case for personal reasons involving his murdered brother and wrongfully imprisoned father. Barry lies about his reasons for coming to town and flirts with Felicity for awhile and then meets the man under the hood. Barry adds a new dynamic to the scenes involving the trio. The dynamic’s more playful, loose and light, until what he reveals about his parents. Barry and Oliver share more than concealing truths from people in common. I don’t think Barry’s the fastest man on the planet yet, or knows he is, because he relies on the train to take him to and from Central City. His potential within the group is promising for each character and for the overall dynamic. He’s a love interest for Felicity and a future tag-team partner of Oliver. He’s also the key to saving Oliver.
The first part of a two-part episode never ends triumphantly for the hero, as I already wrote, but it bears repeating. Faith took Buffy’s body at the end of ‘This Year’s Girl.’ Last year’s mid-season finale had Oliver at his absolute lowest. It took weeks for him to recover. Oliver surviving the serum is a given but what happens to him because of it is the mystery. The affects of the serum are mysterious. Again, Oliver’s line suggests one thing but it’s a deliberate misdirection by the writers.
Other Thoughts:
-So many moving parts in this episode, friends and well-wishers. Moira’s connected with Ra’s Al-Ghul. Malcolm broke a rule when he undertook the “Undertaking.” Moira used that against him to get him to stop pestering her about Thea.
-Thea sort of got to do something this episode but not really. Willa Holland rocked a black dress, though. Colton Haynes was great when he walked through Queen manor with eyes wide open and gazing at what was around him. Roy later took an arrow to the thigh.
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-Andrew Kreisburg & Geoff Johns wrote the episode. Greg Berlanti and Kreisburg got the story credit. Michael Schultz directed it.

Related: Arrow, Recaps, The CW

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