TV REVIEW: ARROW Season 2, Episode 10 – Blast Radius

A new villain, Shrapnel, arrives in Starling City and his next target is Sebastian Blood. With Arrow trapped, Diggle must try and help the alderman. Meanwhile, Thea learns about Roy’s new abilities and Laurel investigates the connection between Blood and Cyrus Gold, the man who murdered her father’s friend.

The break is over and Arrow’s second season is finally resuming in the United Kingdom. This week’s episode has a lot to live up to as I can’t help but still be on a high after the previous episode. I’m refusing to call it a mid-season finale. If it’s a finale the season’s over. (Mini rant over!)

A lot happened on the run up to the break: Roy has been injected with the Mirakuru and has survived with burgeoning super powers. Oliver encountered Brother Blood and has seen his enemy’s mask – although his true enemy is still hidden to him. New Ally Barry returned home to Central City and was thrown into a coma. There are a few strands moving forward and it’s the job of this episode to pick them up.

On the whole, I’d say the episode is successful in this. We learn about Barry through Felicity, who has been spending the intervening time over in Central, watching over her new friend. This seems to have riled Oliver and becomes a bone of contention through this week’s events. The two spend quite a bit of time snapping at each other as a result of Felicity’s (understandable) divided priorities. Oliver has been hunting down Brother Blood to no avail and Roy has been recovering from his ordeal.

The threat of the week comes from Sean Maher (Firefly’s Simon Tam amongst other roles). Maher’s character, naming himself “Shrapnel”, has a grudge at the political system and makes his point explosively. As the episode progresses and his activities proceed, his sights turn to Oliver’s new Friend, alderman Blood who is to host a public event once more. Unfortunately, the plot does very much seem to be there as a back drop and there is little to connect the villain to the show. Maher has not been given the best material to work with and the character is forgettable at best.  Back in my review of the first episode of this season, I commented how the villain of the piece seemed somewhat tacked on just to give the story it’s villain and Shrapnel falls into this category as well.

The writers do appear to be attempting to make Laurel a viable character at last; one with a reason to be in the program. This season, the forgettable one has gone from driving a campaign against out vigilante hero to an alcoholic with guilt issues and is now a pill-popper with a suspicion that Oliver’s friend, Blood, may not be the stand up chap that everyone thinks he is. To this end, Laurel has begun a blundering investigation of his activities that frankly can’t end well. It’s actually Laurel’s plot line that stands up the best this week which is either a sign that things are improving, or that this episode is just not up to the usual standard of the series. Hopefully it’s the former.

Before being injected with the Mirakuru, Roy wasn’t the best at making decisions. Add a judgement impairing drug into the mix and things go as well as you’d expect. Despite making a pretence of hiding his abilities, Roy manages to publicly demonstrate them a couple of times this episode;  once to Thea alone, then again at a public event. I have to doubt that anyone will fully accept his “adrenaline” story. It will be interesting to see Oliver’s response once he fully realises the young man’s situation.

Things on the island are mixed up somewhat. With the death of one of the group to deal with and Slade’s reaction to the Mirakuru proving … unstable. In addition, Oliver’s guilt over events keep him on the verge of telling Slade exactly what happened. Not advisable given the Special Ops man’s volatile nature at the moment! Once more, it’s the island sequences that stand out this week. Of course, that may just be that I’m a big fan of survival stories.

I guess it was inevitable that this episode would fall short, given what it follows. In no way is it bad television but it definitely doesn’t stand up amongst the best episodes of the season. I’m hopeful that this was a stumble rather than an indication of a slumping trend in the show’s quality. I’m also hoping that either Laurel continues on this slightly better trend or moves city.

Rating: 2.5 / 5

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