Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Arrow: Blast Radius

As the name might suggest, this episode is all about the consequences of last episode as well as set-up for future ones, all structured around a fairly basic plot involving a mad bomber. As with James Callis and Ben Browder of past episodes, they bring in a recognizable sci-fi alum to play the Villain of the Week, presumably in a bid to make a fairly flat character interesting by dint of the actor playing him.
This time it's Sean Maher, a cheerful little bomber with some sort of anarchist creed – but let's be honest here; these guys are never that interesting and are mainly treated as tools to get the plot rolling.
"This is for what the government did to my sister!"

Apparently some time has passed since the last episode, as Felicity is moving back and forth from Central City to see a comatose Barry, and Oliver is out capturing random criminals and pressing them for information on the skull-masked, mirakuru-injecting super villain.
Laurel is still pill-popping, but spurred on by what Sin, Thea and Roy told her in the last episode, she's been investigating Sebastian Blood on her own. Though he's playing up the poor little orphan in his mayoral campaign, and manages to justify his friendship with Cyrus Gold to her, Laurel does a nice job of moving between flirty and wide-eyed sympathy before sneaking a look at the papers on his desk.
On them she spots the name "Maya Rezik", who she can't track down in any of the usual records – so it's up to her father's contacts to tell her that the woman is Sebastian's aunt and currently in a psychiatrist hospital. Like all such places, it is gloomy and creepy and badly-lit, and it's there that Laurel makes the discovery that Maya is Sebastian's mother, and that Sebastian was the one who shot his father.
This isn't exactly earth-shattering since Sebastian's story is that his father was physically abusing his mother (so does it really matter which one shot him?) but I suppose the point of all this is simply to throw doubt on his integrity. Which considering we've seen him running around in a skull mask injecting people with mirakuru – we already knew.
But hey, at least Laurel knows something that nobody else does! It was great to see her work this subplot on her own and come to a discovery that brings Sebastian one step closer to his unmasking.
The great irony is of course that Oliver is supporting Sebastian in the mayoral campaign and protecting him as the vigilante, and a fun scene was the one in which he enters Sebastian's office at night, Sebastian reaches for the gun under his desk, and then realizes that the vigilante is actually there to help him. It's a great scenario when you think about it: neither man is aware of the other's secret identity, and so both have extremely different relationships with the other's alter-ego.
Elsewhere, Roy is realizing the mirakuru is having serious bodily side-effects – though not necessarily bad ones, as he's oblivious to pain and heals remarkably quickly. The problem is that this newfound power is married to his quick temper – and that’s a combination that could cause trouble.
It all culminates with Sebastian Blood leading a rally (or something) at a place Evil!Simon has rigged with explosives. Unfortunately he's also done the same to his shop where Oliver goes to track him down, and he ends up in a room criss-crossed with lasers with an arrowhead straight through the trajectory of one.
It's a shame they didn't build on this scenario more – like maybe if Oliver was trapped in this room for a prolonged period of time, leading to Diggle and Felicity first having to shut down the bombs in the square (putting the safety of the people first) before attending to Oliver. That would have left him in a frozen position until they could get to him, fighting patience and cramp all on his own. Perhaps it would have been a difficult sequence to manage, but done right it could have been really nerve-wracking.
Ah well, at least they make up for it in the scene where Oliver shoots the fuse that connects a bomb to the trigger in Evil!Simon's hand. When you have a show that revolves around archery, there's really no limit to how unlikely you can make his marksman skills. In fact, the crazier the better.
Admit it, this was cool.
But if there's any indication to how superfluous Sean Maher's character was to this show, it's not just that I don't remember his name, but that the episode is far from finished after his arrest. We’ve still got Oliver/Felicity's reconciliation, an island flashback and Laurel's discovery left to go.
So it was a strange little episode; not so much a pivotal as one that explored the fallout of the last few episodes and began to prep things for the forthcoming ones. As a result this review probably isn't all that interesting. But behind all the (arguable) filler and padding, you can feel things slowly but surely starting to build up...
Miscellaneous Observations:
Detective Lance: "What's with the mask?" Heh, especially since it's not like it's a strictly better disguise than the greasepaint.
I had to laugh when Moira and Thea conveniently step in front of the television monitor at just the right time for Oliver to see them at the rally from within Evil!Simon's shop.
" I feel the sudden urge to stop and look around pensively..."
Oliver's irritation at Felicity for not doing her job felt a little ... odd. I get that vigilantism is a high-stress activity and that lashing out at your co-workers when things don't go according to plan would probably happen very frequently, but the writers seemed very intent on linking it all to Oliver's apparent jealousy of Barry. Surely Oliver's anxiety over the reappearance of mirakuru would have been a more appropriate trigger.
Still, his "maybe he's dreaming about you" line was cute. Even though we know by now that if he was dreaming of anyone, it was Iris.
Detective Lance offers information on the bombings in exchange for Felicity finding the mole inside the police department (the one that betrayed them all to Cyrus Gold). Something tells me her investigations will link back into Laurel's. Hopefully.
Oh, and in the island flashbacks Oliver and Sara opt not to tell Slade the true circumstances of Shado's death, which will surely not come back to bite them in the ass, and Professor Ivo offers them a way off the island in exchange for the mirakuru. The fact that he threatens them with capture and experimentation only makes Shado's death only more inexplicable, as clearly one way or the other, he plans to use them all as test subjects. Gah.

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