*Contains spoilers from the mid-season finale*
Arrow's mid-season finale (and couple episodes prior) were very awesome and full of massive fan service. They weren't just dropping names or saying, "hey, look at that Easter Egg!" Instead, they took some major steps to involve key characters and left us with so much potential. Unfortunately, this mid-season premiere doesn't take advantage of much of that and instead offers just an okay episode.
Look, I obviously don't expect the same kind of momentum that a mid-season finale would offer, but you'd think they would want to return with something more compelling and exciting for fans, especially since they want to keep people hooked until next week. Instead of addressing Malcom's return or Slade's role in the modern era (like, at all), they introduce the character Shrapnel (who, in this show, is basically a very toned down version of Batman Beyond's Mad Stan) and flesh out Brother Blood.
Shrapnel's plot isn't something we haven't seen before. He brought about some cool stunt work and produced drama between Oliver and Felicity, but aside from that, he was nothing memorable. It doesn't help that the show blew us away with amazing action before going on the break, either. Basically, he felt like filler before we dive into the bigger picture. Meanwhile, Brother Blood's story remains strong, but unfortunately, the return of Laurel takes away from that a bit. No, it's not because I think she's an annoying character or anything like that -- she's definitely doing the right thing here and will likely play a big role down the road. It's because I wasn't a fan of the actress' performance in this episode. She came off as somewhat stiff and unnatural in her responses. Additionally, what's meant to be an emotional moment between them is hindered by some very abrupt cuts.
The handling of Roy's progress was one of the more interesting parts of this episode. They're obviously paving a new path with the character and it has me legitimately curious to see how it'll pan out, especially since it leaves us with another character becoming suspicious of his physical upgrade.
Oliver and Felicity have a falling out which felt abrupt at first, but given all of the circumstances, the short fuse is understandable. I was afraid they'd really drag out the "I like you but I can't be with you" aspect, but they appear to put that to rest in this episode. Or at least I hope so because it's drama we've seen so many times before and, in a universe like this, there's way more interesting things to address. And, on the topic of more interesting things, the flashback does a fine job following-up with this new version of Slade and how Oliver's handling lying about Shado's death. These brief scenes were definitely more engrossing than what went down in the modern scenes. We all know where this is heading but that makes it no less exciting.
Blast Radius teases a couple of things worth getting excited over (primarily Roy and Brother Blood) but doesn't bring nearly the same kind of quality as the last handful of episodes. Unfortunately, the episode also doesn't follow-up at all on the major cliffhangers in the last episode. We know the mid-season finale's shockers will play a major role this season, but not chiming in on them at all during the opening episode was disappointing. Thankfully, the preview at the end of the episode was pretty promising and even contains the most exciting part of tonight's viewing: a look at modern Deathstroke's costume.