The Arrow universe has taken a big step towards joining the greater pantheon of the DC Universe, and I'm happy to say they did it fairly well. Especially in the casting of a major, major character.
Barry Allen immediately struck me as clumsy and funny, with a fierce intelligence and a thirst to unravel his tragic past. Those are all the makings for a strong lead character, which is a good thing because he's getting his own series probably starting next year. I'm holding judgment until next week, but as of now I'm cautious optimistic. I thought his chemistry with the group, and especially Felicity, was spot on.
I loved the scene where Barry made some really fun observations about the vigilante (Arrow). He guessed that the green was a nod to training in the forest, and even suggested a better type of arrow for him. It's almost like Barry idolizes Arrow the way Roy does, which might be a really good reason for him to eventually don the Red outfit. As far as the actor goes, he played a pretty effective villain on Glee, he has charisma, and he can sing and dance too, which means he can probably pull off the physicality required for the role. In other words, I'm fairly happy with the casting choice.
I'm not sure I buy Felicity's complete romantic shift from Oliver to Barry, though, but given how well they play off each other I'll let it slide a little. I thought the backstory they gave Barry fit well into the larger narrative too, and even more importantly, gave our group a reason to sympathize with him. Felicity had a point about lies, Barry's deception was very personal and totally understandable. No one has believed him for most of his life, why would he expect a bunch of total strangers believe him now?
I'm also a little unsure about Felicity's choice to bring Barry into the Arrow secret. It was a great reveal at the end, but at the same time it's a huge leap that I'm sure Oliver wouldn't have agreed with. So I'm looking forward to seeing Oliver's reaction to Barry's inclusion. I'm also very curious what Oliver was injected with. Was it Miraclo? If it was, is he going to get superpowers now? If so, doesn't that kind of betray character's strengths a bit?
Along with Barry Allen who will eventually become the Flash, the introduction of superpowers is a big step for the show. Using biologically enhanced people instead of freak accidents is probably the right way to start. I'm looking forward to some of the more fantastical elements that could come into play now. Sure, using a radiological serum developed during World War II is almost crossing into silly territory, but it's being used fairly well.
I thought Cyrus, the guy in the black mask, was properly intimidating. The way he threw Oliver around like a rag doll made me wince and cringe every time Oliver's body came in contact with something. Which happened a lot. Even if he wasn't poisoned, being thrown twenty feet into the air, into an air vent, and then into a bunch of cardboard boxes isn't exactly fun.
I'm still not sure about the Brother Blood angle because he feels like a middle management villain, like the Scarecrow in Batman Begins. I hope he's working on his own, but I'm pretty sure Ra's Al Ghul and the League of Assassins have a hand in everything that's going on this season. It feels like they're a bigger threat than Malcolm and his wacky plan to destroy the Glades. Although at this point I'm not sure what the bigger picture looks like.
Most of the Island flashback was about keeping Slade alive by finding the Mirakuru (Miraclo), only to have it fail and kill Slade. Given what Oliver said about the situation, I'm pretty sure Slade isn't dead. However, I have no idea if Slade is the one Oliver had to fight and defeat. Unfortunately, Doctor Ivo has them cornered, so I don't think good things are ahead for our Island crew. Especially poor Sara. That makes me wonder though, if Oliver thought Sara was dead for five years, who else might he think is dead who isn't?
I do want to bring up the whole love triangle thing. It's pretty clear Shado realizes that Oliver has intimacy issues, and her reaction to hearing who Sara was made me smile. Is Slade the better choice for her? Well, obviously not right now since he's dead and all, but when he eventually comes back to life, I wonder if they have a future? Poor Slade though, he got the raw end of the deal.
One last little note, did the miracle drug look like Kryptonite to anyone else? God, what if it is Kryptonite? It is the DC Universe after all. Going by Smallville canon, the stuff can be used to induce all kinds of supernatural powers. I'm pretty sure it's been used in a similar way in the comics too, but I'm not positive on that one.
Comic Book Bits:
Barry Allen is the second and arguably the most famous incarnation of the Flash. He officially died in canon for 23 years, and was only recently re-introduced during the Flashpoint reboot of the DC Universe. My favorite moment in the episode was when he was rearranging all the chemicals and the lightning went off behind him because it was a total nod to his origin story for becoming the Flash in the comic books. Still, I'm not entirely sure how to explain his incredibly complicated history (which involves numerous trips to the far future) without going on for several pages.
It feels like they are sticking fairly true to his Comic origins, with some modifications for dramatic purposes. In this continuity a unknown human shaped blur (I couldn't help but think of the Red-Blue blur from Smallville) came through Barry's house when he was eleven. The blur murdered his mother and his father tried to fight him off, then suddenly Barry found himself 20 blocks away. Of course the authorities didn't believe him, and his father was jailed for killing his mother. That seems like a pretty good first season mystery for the new series.
So, the undertaking violated the League of Assassins code of honor. That's interesting. Also, even though Moira was awesome, how did she know about Nanda Parbat? Ra's Al Ghul threatened Malcolm, but I doubt this is finished. Also, what will this mean for Moira?
Cyrus carrying the centrifuge in that black and white video looked pretty goofy.
I get why Oliver shot Roy, to protect Thea. Still, that was pretty mean.
You know what was good about this episode? No Laurel. That's sad.
Great dress on Thea. Not sure about the hair. Roy was in a matching suit. Which brings me to the whole Roy/Thea matchy matchy clothes thing. What's going on with that? Is she dressing him? Also the red is the sign of Speedy/Red Arrow. So is it meant to throw us off? They've already nicknamed Thea "Speedy", so could they be building toward both of them taking up the sidekick mantle?
The tunnel in the truck chasing scene looked nearly identical to the similar scene done in The Dark Knight.
The magazine that Barry Allen was reading when he arrived in Starling City was; Science Showcase: "S.T.A.R. Labs Particle Collider -- is it safe?"
I swear if I lived in a city where there is a superhero, I would not take a job as a henchman, minion, or a security guard.
Felicity: "Did you do something to your hair?"
Moira: "Yes, I shampooed it without eight women and a guard watching me."
Felicity: (laughs) "Is it okay to laugh because I was ordered not to say anything about you being in prison just to avoid any awkward exchanges…"
Oliver: "Like that one."
Barry: "So you've seen him, right? The vigilante? I read that he saved you. What was he like?"
Barry: "If he switched to an aluminum carbon composite he would have far better penetration."
Felicity: "Maybe he thinks he penetrates just fine."
Diggle: "What, he has super-strength, likes blood -- please don't tell me we suddenly believe in vampires."
Felicity: (holding the bloody arrow) "I think I preferred it when you left these *in* people."
Oliver: "He did lie to us about who he really was."
Felicity: "And what do we do every day?"
Oliver: "FYI, they *will* card him at the bar."
I think this was a good episode, and a decent introduction to a major character. I almost wish they were keeping him on as a regular for this series, but having a hero as popular as the Flash sharing the spotlight would probably be a bad idea.
3 out of 4 Shelves of Inappropriately Organized Chemicals
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related. He reviews Arrow, The Originals and Farscape and cool new movies that strike his fancy.