Arrow S2x08 "The Scientist"

 
I review Arrow’s S2x08 – introducing Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen in the penultimate episode of the first half of Season 1. There are spoilers within for this episode as well as previous episodes this Season.

 

                            
And so it hits – the episode that everybody was waiting for. Regardless of all the episodes that preceded it, The Scientist was always going to have a tough time, mainly because it sees the introduction of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), expanding the shared universe of DC on TV and making this episode an essential viewing for fans of DC Comics. And it’s not just Oliver Queen and Barry Allen that get the spotlight in this episode – we see spotlight on pretty much every other cast member as well – in a very action packed episode that may just well be one of the best of Season 2 so far – for two reasons. The first is the fact that superpowers were brought into the show – just not in the way you’d expect. Barry Allen remains powerless for the entire episode and it’s very interesting to see that it’s not him gaining his powers yet. We do however get a taste at a super-strength character Cyrus Gold – who comics fans will know better as Solomon Grundy. Yeah. They went there. Whilst Agents of SHIELD is struggling to come to terms with its comic book origins preferring to be a straightforward crime drama with superpowered elements as opposed to normal crimes, Arrow manages to plunge headfirst into its comic roots. Although some of these characters may not be known as their comics counterparts yet (Black Canary and Deathstroke appear in the flashbacks for example) – we get Green Arrow, The Flash, Solomon Grundy, Deathstroke, Isabel Rochev, Black Canary, Malcolm Merlyn and Roy Harper all in one episode. Just the sheer amount of comic-born characters that we get in one place is something that even some movies struggle to do well. Yet Arrow does it not just well – but incredibly well – all within one episode alone. If you’re not watching the show then you’re seriously missing out – because all of this is just incredible.
This was, like all of Arrow’s second season so far, an incredibly busy episode. There’s lots of stuff happening from start to finish – when Cyrus Gold breaks into The Applied Sciences division of Queen Consolidated, Barry Allen arrives to investigate. There’s a moment here where Ollie’s with Quentin Lance, Felicity Smoak and John Diggle that requires a bit of suspension of disbelief however – Quentin has seen Felicity and Diggle working with The Arrow before but doesn’t connect the dots here. Another thing that might require a bit of suspension of disbelief is the young age of Barry Allen – considering that he’s a forensic scientist – but this does allow for a fun exchange between him and Ollie in the process. However, this is explained later – because there is more to Barry than first meets the eye. Given the ending of this episode it’s going to be very awesome to see how Three Ghosts plays out next week in the midseason finale – especially considering that Barry has now learned the identity of the Arrow after Ollie’s beaten in a fight with Grundy. Not being able to call the hospital because this would expose his identity they are forced to bring Barry to their secret HQ, and it’ll be very interesting to see how this affects his relationship with Team Arrow in the rest of the series.

Felicity Smoak, Quentin Lance, John Diggle, Oliver Queen and Barry Allen in “The Scientist”
The biggest talking point here will be the casting of Grant Gustin as The Flash. I’ve not seen him in any other roles and as a result this was my first exposure to him but he pulls off the character of Barry Allen very well indeed, stealing the show and is easily one of the highlights in the casting of the series to date. However – a small problem occurs if DC go down the shared movie universe – which I hope they do – because whilst Gustin may have been the perfect fit for Arrow and maybe even his own TV show, I don’t quite see him matching up with the likes of Cavill and Affleck either in Justice League or if he does appear in the rumoured Batman vs. Superman. I can see Stephen Amell alongside them if he does make the leap into the cinematic universe, but I’m not too sure on Gustin and personally I don’t see him in the role just yet. Maybe they’ll do a Wally West for the Movie-verse and have Barry Allen in the TV Show? I guess time will tell.
And I can’t really write this review without mentioning the Moria/Malcolm interactions. While brief – it certainly showed that Moria was more than capable of standing up to Malcolm and also is in the know about “Ra’s Al Ghul”. I’m guessing this means that Barrowman’s character won’t be returning to become Ollie’s main nemesis anytime soon if he’s an outcast from the League of Assassins. It’s certainly an interesting take and I can’t wait to see how they handle it further down the line. Another brief interaction in Moria’s storyline was the meeting with Isabel – it was handled very well and it’s the first time questions have been raised this season that Isabel may have any alternative motives – something that will be worth keeping an eye out for.
Summer Glau as Isabel Rochev in”The Scientist” 
The flashbacks were awesome this week as per usual. Whilst we don’t get as much as we would want – I get the feeling that Three Ghosts could well end up being a another flashback heavy episode in the style of The Odyssey – it was still awesome nonetheless even though I’m struggling to believe that Fyer’s mercenaries failed to spot that Submarine that was found by Ollie, Shado, Slade & Sara when they were on the island – it didn’t look very hidden at all. Manu Barrett also proves just how incredibly good he is as an actor as well – his performance was a highlight for me and hopefully he doesn’t die here – and unless we’re being misled then this may well be the final moments before his transformation into the Deathstroke that fans have been waiting for (but if you’re like me – dreading – as I would have loved him to team up with Ollie in the present day as another addition to Team Arrow) – so Three Ghosts is going to be a very interesting episode to look out for indeed.
This show has been fantastic so far and it just gets better and better each week. If you’re not tuning in then not only have you just been spoiled of what goes down in this episode, but you’re missing a very good show indeed. Easily the best superhero show out there right now. Despite a few minor flaws then, this episode comes highly recommended.
VERDICT: 4.5/5
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