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Arrow 2.08 "The Scientist" Review: Who Are You?

    This week’s episode of Arrow, “The Scientist,” was part one of a two part sequence ending the fall run of the show. The episode was written by Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg with the teleplay by Kreisberg and Geoff Johns. The episode was aptly directed by Michael Schultz in his first outing for the show this season. The episode is most notable for the introduction of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) – the Flash.

    I have to admit that when I heard that Gustin had been cast, I was disappointed. I’d previously seen him as Sebastian on Glee. I didn’t find the character on Glee likable, and I have to admit that affected my opinion of him as an actor. Within the first five minutes of this episode, I fell in love with Barry Allen. Gustin is simply terrific in the role. A series, you say, CW? I say bring it! And the sooner the better – just don’t steal our Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards).

    If you are a Flash fan from the comics, you no doubt got all the little shout outs to the quintessential characteristics of the Flash. For example, it’s a running gag in the comics that Allen is always late. In the comics, he gets his super speed when he is hit by lightening in his lab and a box of chemicals shatters all over him, so I was on the edge of my seat when Allen was climbing the shelf of chemicals and rearranging them because they were dangerous the way they were stored and it was thundering and lightening outside! I liked how they used Barry’s backstory – the hunt for his mother’s killer as motivation for him trying to meet the Vigilante and tracking these kinds of “impossible” crimes.

    I think this episode may have suffered somewhat from throwing a lot of balls in the air – and we haven’t seen all of them pinned nicely to the wall yet. This may happen more obviously in the next episode. It’s hard to review only one part of a two parter! One of the themes that is running through not only this episode, but the season in general is one of identity. This ties in with the title of the episode, in fact, as we delve into the identity of “The Scientist.” Is that scientist merely Barry Allen, however? It could also refer to Brother Blood (Kevin Alejandro) or Dr Ivo (Dylan Neal).

    Oliver (Stephen Amell) seems to be struggling with his own identity, particularly after having to go against his vow not to kill again by killing the Count (Seth Gabel) last week to save Felicity. He’s also splitting his time between being a son and a CEO. We see him struggling in all of those roles. Isabel (Summer Glau) returns in the episode and tells him that he can’t be both a good son and CEO when it comes to Moira (Susanna Thompson). Oliver completely misjudges how society views his mother even after having been acquitted and the party her throws her is a dismal failure. Moira even tells Isabel that Oliver is a dreadful judge of character. While that is meant as an insult to Isabel, it seems that Moira is also correct. And while we’re talking about Isabel and Moira, there definitely seems to be some history there! In the comics, that history centers around Robert Queen, so it looks like they may be going there – and we may have some great cat fights coming up!

    Oliver misjudges Barry. However, it’s clear that as Barry tells his story to both Felicity and Oliver that Oliver quickly changes his opinion and becomes sympathetic. He tries to defend himself with Felicity by saying he lied about who he is, but Felicity calls him on it by pointing out that that’s what they do every day. It was sweet watching Felicity and Barry quickly develop a mutual attraction and bond over their geekiness and Barry does feel like a good match for Felicity, but after the heat that’s been brewing between Felicity and Oliver this felt like it was a huge turnaround on Felicity’s part – especially when she tells Barry that she doesn’t like Oliver. Now, that could be read as her not liking Oliver but still liking Arrow, but I found it very jarring. I did love Oliver surprising Felicity with Barry at the party, and having Barry say he couldn’t dance was an hilarious shout out to his time on Glee – and also foreshadowing his fleetness of foot in the future as the Flash. I also liked Oliver warning Felicity that Barry would be carded at the bar!
    In the flashbacks to the past, we also see shifting identities and love interests. Shado (Celina Jade) wants to know who Sara (Caity Lotz) is and what about Oliver’s love for the girl in the picture. She is clearly not impressed by his answer. Meanwhile, Oliver’s suspicions grow about the changed relationship between Shado and Slade (Manu Bennett). This is confirmed when Slade, thinking he is about to die, confesses his true feelings for Shado to her.
    I think another clear case of misidentification on Oliver’s part centers around Slade and the intruder who steals the centrifuge. I think that he was convinced that the intruder was Slade. Oliver finally tells Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity a bit more of what happened on the Island because he’s concerned that this is the same serum they found on the submarine in the flashback. He tells them that Ivo injected men to try to make weapons out of them and that everyone Ivo injected died. But Oliver is the one who injected Slade, so I don’t think he’s dead, but I do think he’s gone over to the other side.

    Diggle had some great lines that will resonate going forward. He mentions vampires when the blood is being stolen and then he scoffs at the possibility that aliens may be next. Superman, of course, is technically an alien and a member of the Justice League. So yes, Diggle, there are aliens in your future!

    The present crisis, however, is manmade. Blood is now being served by Cyrus (Graham Shiels) – also known as the Acolyte in the comics. Clearly, those new arrows Barry suggests to Felicity are going to come into play. The episode only features two fight scenes, but they are both epic. The chase scene in particular if fantastic and once again, kudos to James Bamford’s amazing team. The fight between Arrow and Cyrus is terrific – I particularly liked pinning Cyrus to the ground with arrow through his feet! What I didn’t like quite so much was the fairly obvious wire work to throw Arrow into the airduct in the ceiling and the wall. It’s a testament to how much of the stunt work isn’t rigged that when it is, it’s a bit jarring. Also? Directors – please don’t speed up the action to make the throws look “better” – this is a personal pet peeve for me.

    Barry is taken into the circle of trust by the end of the episode to help save Oliver who has been injected with a mystery substance. Gustin does a great job in this scene as the camera shows his dawning realization of where he is and who he is with. I loved him asking Felicity earlier about the vigilante and speculating that his green costume indicated he’d trained in a jungle because black would have been better in the city and that he had to have partners, especially one with computer expertise. It was nice to see the pay off as he realizes he was right.

    Oliver’s attempts to keep Roy (Colton Haynes) and Thea safe seem to be backfiring spectacularly. It’s interesting to see Thea throw herself into helping Roy and Sin (Bex Taylor-Klaus). She doesn’t appear to be jealous and tells Roy she just likes that he helps people. This seemed like a bit of a jump in her attitude, but I like that Thea is seeing more action. However, Oliver shooting Roy in the leg seemed completely out of character for him and not a great way to keep him from getting hurt. Perhaps, this is simply the result of his continuing guilt over Slade? That he is willing to do anything to prevent Roy from getting killed?

    Finally, a quick word about Moira in the episode. They play with her “identity” a bit in the episode as well. At first, when Malcolm (John Barrowman) returns and threatens her, it looks like she will have to cave into his demands and tell Thea he’s her father. Then we see her talking to some mysterious guy and hiding what’s going on from Oliver and Thea – shouldn’t Oliver’s radar being going crazy? However, I loved it when she completely turned the table on him by letting Ra’s Al Ghul know he’s alive, letting him take care of the Merlyn problem. Still, it does complicate her character – she’s still willing to go to any means to protect her family. And I’m a little sad because it means we likely won’t see much of Barrowman in the near future.

    Next week’s episode looks to be epic. According to the synopsis for the episode, we are about to lose someone. Any speculations on who it might be? I’m worried for Quentin (Paul Blackthorne). He was barely in this episode and has had a great redemption arc this season. Do you think that Oliver will experience any lasting effects from whatever he was injected with? What did you think of this episode? Are you looking forward to a Flash spinoff? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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