For the most part, Arrow's been taking the "Christopher Nolan Batman" approach to the Emerald archer's world. They've aimed to ground Oliver, his villains and his allies in a more realistic setting (realistic compared to most comic book inspired media, that is), but tonight, that finally all changes. There's been plenty of buildup about metahumans in the show since learning about what everyone is searching for on the island and, more importantly, the introduction of none other than Barry Allen. "The Scientist" finally gives us our first look at powers in the Arrow-verse and, I won't lie, it was pretty awesome.
First and foremost, you can't have a super-strong and super-durable dude without some exceptional action sequences, right? It seems like the creative team was well aware of that and we're treated to a handful of 'em. Let's just say the debut of super-strength doesn't disappoint and it takes quite a toll on our hero. I was particularly impressed with the stunt work during a truck sequence and the final moments of the last fight.
The show also delivers on some major plot progression, too. Honestly, I was worried Barry Allen's debut would mean blatantly hitting us with too many obvious references. Thankfully, there's only a handful of them and they're all smirk-inducing. Another one alluding to how he'll get his powers appears a couple times and keeps you guessing whether or not the big moment will happen. Not only that, this episode also dedicates a fair amount of time to showing us who Barry Allen is and justifying his trip to Starling City. Down the road, it'll be very interesting to see how Grant Gustin adapts Allen's boost in confidence when he'll no longer have such bad luck with traveling. Furthermore, I really dug the chemistry he had with Felicity. She's such a likable character so it's fantastic to finally see her make such a strong connection. Plus, the way it'll all ends is a superb attention-grabber. Oh, and comic fans (which you probably are seeing as you're Comic Vine and all that...) are sure to love the developments from the island (no one really thinks he's dead, right?).
I'm a big fan of the action in this episode, but if Oliver already knows what he's up against and basically had prep time, why didn't he try a more effective trick arrow during their second brawl? He realized he should use an electric arrow against Bronze Tiger in a random encounter, so it's odd to see him try to knock out a dude that powerful with just his fists and bow. Holding him in place with the foot shots was cool and what followed certainly looked good, but talk about a tactical fail.
The CW tends to get a bad rep when it comes to drama, but truthfully, I'm usually just fine with the romantic subplots in this show. In fact, I enjoyed the tension and eventual conflict they built between Oliver and Felicity. However, the whole Moira and Malcolm element felt way too much like a soap opera for my taste . Sure, it was able to give us a name drop we've already heard (which they're still apparently mispronouncing, but whatever), but overall, I really wasn't feeling that part of the plot.
There was a lot of hype behind this episode and honestly, I think it lived up to it. Sure, I wanted to facepalm when Oliver tried to go Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots with a superhuman foe (their version of Solomon Grundy) and I wasn't feeling the drama with Moira, but this episode delivered big time with everything else. The action was great, there's some decent laughs scattered throughout, and the plot took some big steps forward to build the tension for next week's mid-season finale. Fairly minor complaints aside, I'd say this episode has earned 5-stars.
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