Last time Arrow went with an overt two part finale, you had the very clean halves or “Darkness on the Edge of Town”, with all the clear foundation laying and setup, propelling into “Sacrifice”, which paid off all the leg work in a spark filled finale. Here, “The Scientist” does some leg work, but is more concerned with wearily gazing towards an unknowing future as the series takes a step into unknown territory.
What should Ollie and the rest of Team Arrow be so worried about? Powers. “The Scientist” pushes Arrow into the realm of meta-humans, whole hog. They have arrived in the form of a hulk named Cyrus Gold. Clad in a mesh hockey mask and big leather boots. Actor Graham Shiels really wouldn’t be a bad choice for an inevitable Friday the 13 reboot/sequel. Gold, much like his DC comics namesake, is a one man wrecking crew. He is ripping through reinforced titanium doors like a knife through butter. And snapping random red shirt security guards necks with a single hand. All of this, before ripping a several ton centrifuge out of the ground and slinging it over his shoulder.
After getting more information on the thief and his perspective goals, he wonders if we are to start believing in vampires now. Not yet, for now just science freaks.
Even with powers officially unleashed, Arrow isn’t suddenly filled with ice men and talking gorillas bent on world domination. The thing that made the Nolan Dark Knight trilogy so “realistic” was Christopher Nolans fetishistic need to explain (so that he could than bend the rules and distract you with them). The writing credits for “The Scientist” are as follows, Story by: Greg Berlanti & Andrew Kreisberg Teleplay by: Geoff Johns & Ben Sokolowski. These writers rightly take this aspect of the Nolan trilogy to heart and wrap the monstrous Cyrus Gold in plenty of reasonable sounding science terms. He has enough strength in a single hand to snap a neck. His muscle density is nearly that of commercial concrete, the bloody mangled arrow really sells that part. This is powers with an quantifiable data. For now, Cyrus Gold is a novelty, an isolated incident. It isn’t like there are red blurs saving or killing people or anything.
Introducing powers to Arrow does make the fight choreography a bit more interesting. Things start out as normal as any episode of Arrowwith Oliver taking on Gold while in a moving truch, a first for the series but par for the course. It’s only when Ollie lays in 3 good right hands and stabs Gold, who proceeds to no sell it all, do you realize something is different. But before you can go all WHOA, Ollie is punched through the passenger door, sent skidding into the trash. The showdown in the warehouse is shorter but features plenty of wire fu action as Amell is thrown to the selling and through plenty of A.R.G.U.S. crates. The actual hand to hand combat has been a point of realism for the show and for that to go out the window should tell even the most passive watcher that things have changed.
Cyrus Gold isn’t the only DC character getting their name dropped in “The Scientist” (did you miss the Ted Kord easter egg?). Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), a CSI from Central City, comes to Starling City, intrigued by the abnormalities of the case. If Berlanti and Co. hadn’t already said that The Flash would be getting a backdoor now full pilot order, you’d be perplexed why that wasn’t the plan with all the screen time the character gets for what is just a guest spot.
For his part, Gustin plays Barry Allen well enough. He is immediately more affable than Amell was at the start. Gustin plays Allen a bit more awkward and less quick witted than you’d expect, but that makes sense with Gustin (23) surrounded by characters and actors all in their late twenty to thirties. By comparison He looks like he barley made it through the second year of college. Which allows for plenty “Hey you look young jokes”, Stephen Amell gets to do some nice deadpan snark as he constantly reminds Felicity that Barry will be carded at bars.
Executive Producer Greg Berlanti goes all out pushing Barry Allen as someone important and a character we should just love. How so? By pairing him off with Felicity Smoak for some nice awkward banter and nerdyness. Felicity is the audiences moral compass and decider of character, so if she is smitten by this Barry Allen, why shouldn’t we be as well? It als helps that Gustin and Emily Bett Rickards have good chemistry together, adding something to the screen that isn’t there on a purely formulaic basis.
If there was one thing in “The Scientist” that didn’t really work, it was the Moira Queen welcome home party. Parties are an Arrow and Queen stable, it’s just to easy an excuse to dress everyone up and check in on each of them. It’s the latter part that fails the eye test. Oliver just walking away and coming back not 30 seconds later to check in on Isabel and his mother was rushed and not due to plot necessity. It was just plain rushed.
Moira being out of jail remakes the Queen Manor as a place of importance for the show and lets the writers go off on another secretes run again. All of this talk of conspiracy to and committing mass murder and being “coerced” by Malcolm Merlyn has gone on long enough. No one is able to just contact the League of Assassins and Ra’s Al Ghul so easily if they were that innocent. It’s about time the series remind audiences she is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, no matter how much she protest her actions are for the good of the family.
It’s a bit of a bummer seeing Merlyn and thus John Barrowman leave so quickly Of course he’ll be back eventually. I just didn’t expect they’d run through (or more correctly hit pause) on the Thea is Moria and Merlyn’s daughter plot so fast. That has all the makings of a solid ‘B’ plot for the remainder of season 2.
“Sacrifice” was an unwitting step into a larger world. “The Scientist” is a weary gaze into the fog of war Oliver now finds himself in. Oliver is shown constantly staring off into the distance at his city. This and past episodes have been filled with talk of the particle accelerator and hard business meetings are a constant. The future isn’t as binary as before when it was simply marking people off a list. The future is even cloudier for Oliver, what Cyrus Gold exhibits has been seen before on the Island. With Dr. Ivo and his miracle serum, Brother Blood is trying to remake it. The whole thing is like a nightmare from his past suddenly coming and taking away his future.
I was talking with a friend on watching Arrow season 1. Not all 23 episodes are worth or necessary to watch to properly appraise season 1, you could cut it in half and still have plenty of room. That doesn’t feel like it will be possible by the time season 2 is over. Out of the 8 episodes currently aired, I’d say one or two could be cut out (“Broken Dolls” and “Keep Your Enemies Closer”). 22 episode seasons are a daunting task for any show to fulfill, for arrow to use this to expand the world and weave an even more complex narrative makes me believe that 22 episode seasons aren’t as outdated as some would think.
The Bits At The End
- Arrow don’t give an F if you are with him or against him, you better stay out of his way or he going to shoot an arrow through your leg.
- Nice Ted Kord easter egg. This show really handles call backs and references sooo much better than SHIELD, the key is subtlety.
- Can’t wait for Slade Wilson to be reborn as DeathStroke THE TERMINATOR in “Three Ghosts”