The first of Season 2’s two-part mid-season finale, The Scientist introduces us to a familiar DC face: Barry Allen (Grant Gustin). It also introduces us to a whole world of pain for the Arrow (Stephen Amell).
With the last episode giving us the acquittal of Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson), the return from the grave of Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), the revelation that Malcom is the father of Thea Queen (Willa Holland), and Brother Blood (Kevin Alejandro) finally getting a positive result to his seemingly fatal experimentations, The Scientist had a whole truckload to live up to. Again, just in case you were doubting it, Arrow hits another home run.
The Scientist starts with a break-in at one of the arms of Queen Consolidated. With a shit-ton of damage apparently caused by a large group of hoods, forensic specialist Barry Allen arrives from Central City just in time to fill Oliver, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), Diggle (David Ramsey), and Detective Lance (Paul Blackthorne) in on the fact that all of the damage was caused by just one, solitary being. From here on out, Barry starts to work alongside the official Queen Consolidated team, all the while showing off his fanboy feelings for the mysterious Arrow, completely unaware that Oliver is the man under the hood.
It’s revealed that the destruction at Queen Consolidated was caused by Brother Cyrus (Graham Shiels), and that he successfully took a centrifuge during the break-in. Luckily for us viewers, Barry is on hand to explain exactly what the hell a centrifuge is (it can really mess shit up, apparently). After successfully working out where Brother Cyrus is headed, Oliver grabs his bow and goes after Brother Blood’s Acolyte. Thing is, usually the Arrow would simply drop in, chew some bubblegum, kick some ass then leave. This time out, Oliver soon realises that he’s going up against something different, someone different; something that he hasn’t seen since his time on the island. Dun, dun, dun, dun.
Speaking of the island, the flashbacks this week really do tie in perfectly with all of the goings-on in Starling City. With Manu Bennett’s Slade Wilson knocking firmly on death’s door, Oliver and his island chums have to make a decision on whether to inject the dying Slade with a potentially fatal serum; the very same serum that has created the Acolyte that is Brother Cyrus. As Slade’s life hangs in the balance on the island, the modern day Oliver has to go into battle once more with Cyrus. Again tracking him down to a dark and doomy warehouse/lab – seemingly where all of Arrow’s big fights take place – Oliver engages in a fight that he cannot win. With it confirmed that Cyrus’ muscles are essentially as strong as concrete, our Emerald Archer’s puny arrows are no match at all. Adapting to this problem, the Arrow opts on alternative tactics and smart manoeuvres. Even then, this is still not proving to be enough.
Sandwiched in between all of this, we get another appearance from Malcolm Merlyn, as he looks to stake a claim to Thea. Not to take this lying down – which is what got her into this pickle in the first place – Moira Queen has called in some seriously heavy back-up in her war against the presumed-deceased Merlyn. We’re also treated to another appearance from the show’s sporadic Sin (Bex Taylor-Klaus), as she seeks help from Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) when a friend of hers goes missing. Could it be purely coincidental that said friend went missing on the day that Sebastian Blood was running a rally? Also, is it possible that Professor Ivo (Dylan Neal) is no more when it comes to the present day? And if you’re doubting just how serious Oliver is right now, just ask Roy.
Simply put, you cannot look back on The Scientist without touching on Grant Gustin’s debut as Barry Allen. Certainly delivered with a more humorous tone than how the show plays its Oliver Queen, Arrow’s Flash-in-waiting already gives us a glimpse into his past and his future. As the episode progresses, we’re given further looks and reveals at the past of Barry Allen, but there are also teasers as to what may come once The Flash gets his own solo show next year. Will Barry be on a mission to find his mother’s killer? Could we possibly get Zoom as one of the show’s villains? And will Barry end up taking Felicity with him to his own show? Yes, Barry and Felicity seem to have quite the budding romance. As equally cute as they are bumbling, the two have several flirty geek-outs in The Scientist, and that plays a huge role in the climax of the episode. As Barry, Grant Gustin impresses. I admit, I wasn’t sold on that piece of casting when it was announced, but he has an awkward humour to him that resonates with the audience. There’s also a serious, truth-seeking side to the character when he’s talking about his past and just why he’s such a fan of the Arrow. Far from matching the typically square-jawed, square-shouldered Stephen Amell mould of hero, Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen looks set to be a different type of hero. Slender and gangly in comparison, Barry is happy to rock skinny jeans and a pair of Converse rather than the typical three-piece designer suit of Oliver Queen. Far from being The Flash at this point, the character does already have quick mannerisms, quick verbal exchanges, and quick process of thought. There’s also a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment when his ears seem to prick up at hearing a cackle of lightning. Foreshadowing things to come? Surely not…
The Scientist delivers another brilliant episode of Arrow, arguably the second best of this currently excellent season. There’s some brilliant action scenes, particularly the two between the Arrow and Brother Cyrus, and there’s so many questions thrown at the audience. Added to that, there’s one hell of a “Holy shit!” ending.