With apologies to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the best superhero show on TV has returned.
Before the break, Arrow introduced Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), who we last saw steal Felicity Smoak’s heart (and mine), and then meet a lightning storm (how do you do, powers?), on his way to his very own Flash pilot in the fall. On the island, Dr. Anthony Ivo (Dylan Neal) shot and killed Ollie’s current love Shado, instead of his former love Sarah (Caity Lotz). Sebastian Blood has a batch of Mirakuru, a volatile super-soldier like serum. The first man we see surviving an injection, Mr. Deathstroke (Manu Bennett), is actually calling Sebastian’s shots, with revenge against Oliver in mind. Solomon Grundy (born on a Monday) was likely created, though I’m not sure if it was on a Monday or not. And finally, Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) was given a dose of Mirakuru by Blood, and Laurel Lance still pretty much sucks. Whew. Suffice to say, Arrow‘s first half season was a jam-packed, rousing success.
After all that action, it’s little surprise that things calm down a little bit in “Blast Radius,” which means that there are only several hundred deaths, bomb threats and a new villain in town: Mark Scheffer AKA Shrapnel. Fortunately, he did not look like the comics version. Instead he looked a lot like Sean Maher, Firefly alum and fan-favorite. Arrow sure knows how to bolster a cast, though they don’t exactly use Maher enough in this episode.
As always, Arrow starts quickly, with a man driving straight for Oliver (hood up, mask on), the thug’s bullets blazing. Ollie calmly stands and waits for the car to get closer, knowing full well bullets from a two-bit goon won’t do him harm (“this is my show!”). Then one arrow from his quiver essentially flips the car, thanks to what sure looks like an exploding arrow (more trick arrows, please), or it’s just what arrows do on superhero shows. Ollie interrogates the dealer for information on the skull-man’s identity, who he first met last episode, jamming needles into future sidekick Roy (not as powerful a moment as this one).
But, no dice, and Oliver continues to be his dreary, jerk self for the rest of the episode. As Diggle (David Ramsey) puts it: “I’ve never seen you spooked like this,” which tells us how worried Oliver is about Sebastian Blood and the Mirakuru. He takes out his fear and frustrations on poor, wonderful Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), who’s been away to Central City, looking after Barry Allen, who remains in a coma. It’s clear he’s a little jealous about Felicity’s affection toward Barry, and it’s even clearer that he needs her in Starling City right now.
On the island of misfit toys, Slade, Ollie and Sarah stand over Shado’s tomb, dug next to her father’s. Ollie says some nice words, Slade gives Ollie her bag or something, saying “you’re the one she cared about.” I don’t think there’s anyone watching this show that doesn’t wish Shado and Slade were a thing instead of Oliver and her. Too late now, and Slade is ruined because of it…and the Mirakuru coursing through his veins. Sarah warns Oliver that he’s going to change, that the Mirakuru will damage his mind. So maybe he shouldn’t tell Slade that he chose the random, seemingly villainous blonde girl over the girl he was sleeping with, when Ivo gave him the ultimate…ultimatum.
Laurel’s busy popping pills, but at least she isn’t naive to Sebastian’s villainous ways, as she looks into Alderman’s past, and his connections to Cyrus Gold, the maniac who killed Detective Lance’s partner and several other people (and may have then been born on a Monday). Of course, she’s also dating the mayoral candidate, which I’m sure will end well. Later, she surprises Sebastian at his campaign office, and springs questions about Cyrus Gold on him. Cue the sad orphan back story, where Sebastian’s Dad was an abusive drunk, and his Mother killed dear ole Dad, then abandoned him. Thankfully, we find out that’s not exactly what happened. It’s far more sinister than that.
Ollie’s all in on Sebastian, as the two have become friends, and he’s become one of Sebastian’s primary public supporters of his campaign for Mayor. Which explains why
Oliver’s Thea’s club hosts a party in his name. Thea makes a comment about how weird it is that her big brother is into politics, which is funny, since this happens.
But enough talk, it’s been a few paragraphs since ACTION, and Sean Maher provides it. After delivering a manic monologue expressing vitriol to the government, the city, and pretty much everyone (while alone in his car), he blows up a building. So yeah, he’s nuts. And potentially awesome, but that’s really the most we get from the character. There’s plenty more bombs to come, however. Oh, and Ollie suits up and saves a dude from the burning building, since bombs don’t kill people inside buildings that explode anymore.
Back at the island, where the Others are nowhere to be found, Slade be pissed. He chokes out Oliver and believes Sarah is still working for Ivo, which is fair, since she did. Slade’s clearly losing control over his anger…but it’s not like any of it is misplaced. Ivo’s screwed.
Oliver earlier asked Thea how Roy was doing…and Thea lied and said all was quiet on the Mirakuru front. Clearly, that’s not the case, as he’s been distant and different since getting shot with an arrow (and injected, but she doesn’t know that). Roy flips out at her questions…then apologizes and they make out around glass. For those playing along at home: bad idea, unless you have super healing, as giant glass shards rain down on Roy. Since he’s a hero, he pushes Thea out of the way, keeping all the glass chunks himself.
While Ollie and Detective Lance do their Batman and Jim Gordon thing on the rooftop, another explosion wracks a building. I’m surprised Starling City has any left, or any citizens alive at this point. When super villains start populating my city, I’m taking the quickest bus, train, flight out of there. Arrow goes after Shrapnel, with Felicity’s help tracking him. Of course, Shrapnel manages to elude both of them, resulting in a blow up at Felicity’s expense, because her mind is at Central City. Diggle continues to morph into Splinter, minus the hair: “You never had any problems with Felicity until Barry Allen showed up.” Oliver, eat face.
In response to the widespread panic in Starling City, Sebastian has the worst idea a politician has ever had (well, one of them): let’s stage a rally to unify the city and show the bomber that we’re not afraid anymore. So, he gives Shrapnel a massive target with the potential for killing the rest of Starling City’s resilient/stupid population. Oliver, as the Arrow, comes to Sebastian to try and convince him to stop it, but he doesn’t back down.
So naturally, the rally is rigged to go up in flames, with explosives rigged all around the area, with Thea, Roy and Moira all in attendance. Diggle and Felicity track down the explosives and are about to defuse the bomb…when Shrapnel arrives. Diggle takes his 14th bullet on the show, a massive beam almost falls on Moira but Roy repeats his heroics from the club earlier, saving her life. Thea’s a little bewildered by his blindingly obvious super strength. Before something worse can happen at the rally, Arrow arrives after getting out of a pickle at Scheffer’s souvenir shop. Once there, it takes 17 seconds for Oliver to take down Shrapnel, and prevent the explosion. Felicity’s response: “Starling City should build a bigger jail.” Troof.
For some reason, bailing Sebastian’s ass out makes Arrow want to team up with the would-be mayor. It certainly helps that Sebastian repeats his mantra, promising to help “save this city” (drink!). Since Oliver has arrived to town, buildings have been destroyed and an entire district has been reduced to rubble, so their idea of saving cities should be seriously examined.
In spite of Sebastian’s clearly attention-grabbing move, Detective Lance is convinced of the man’s goodness and being worthy of his daughter, encouraging Laurel to go for it. Laurel had him look into a woman named Maya Resik; turns out Sebastian was paying the medical bills for his crazy Aunt. But for once, Laurel’s instincts are sound, and she goes to visit Maya. She’s not his Aunt: Maya’s his Mother. Maya calls her son the devil, and says he’s responsible for her wrongful incarceration. The only thing missing was Sebastian cackling in his Brother Blood get-up in the shadows of her room.
On Gilligan’s Island, Ivo offers, over walkie talkie, an offer to Sarah: free trespass back home to Oliver, Slade and Sarah, as long as they relinquish the Mirakuru (or else, he’ll blow the island to smithereens; there’s a lot of bombs and threats of bombs in this episode). The problems are many, but the big two: 1) he clearly can’t be trusted. 2) Slade’s gone and has taken the Mirakuru with him. Oops.
To end, Ollie and Felicity share a tender moment, as he apologizes to her, to which Felicity delivers the best line of the night: “Are you apologizing to me, or your quiver?” “I don’t snap at my quiver,” Ollie retorts, and then tells Felicity how much he needs her, that she’s not simply an employee, but his partner, and that he can’t do this alone like he always wanted to, a lesson he learns every week. They don’t kiss or anything, since that’ll happen in the season finale.