The Greg Berlanti CW Takeover Experiment threw down its latest gauntlet on last week’s Arrow with the introduction of a pre-Flash Barry Allen in a dovetail arc that revealed how the crew on the island discovered the magical undeading serum that might now be working its way through Starling City via Brother Blood.
When someone or something bashes its way into a secure facility and leaves with a key piece of tech in tow, team Arrow assembles and is joined by a (very) young forensic CSI, Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), who has a theory. We find out soon enough he’s not who he says he is, but by the time Oliver outs him as a bit of an imposter, he’s already sparked Felicity’s interest (and justifies his subterfuge by explaining that he’s been trying to find his mother’s killer).
Meanwhile, as the Hood, Oliver tracks down the hijacked drug and gets himself OD’d with a mystery substance, which sends Diggle and Felicity to kidnap Barry in the hopes he can help. When a bewildered Barry comes to, he’s met by a terrified Felicity asking him to help save her friend (Oliver, who’s passed out on an adjacent table).
Elsewhere in the episode, an acquitted Moira returns to an active role at QC, which makes Isabel twitch. A Queen party that nobody attends proves to Moira that Isabel’s not the only one with concerns. And when Malcolm comes calling with threats of outing himself to Thea, Moira instead outs his whereabouts to Ra’s Al Ghul and tells him to run along.
In the flashbacks, Oliver and co. find the submarine with the serum and test drive it on the gravely wounded Slade, and it seems to kill him but before we find out for sure, Ivo and his men storm in. Back in the present, Felicity matches missing components to those of the serum, which makes Oliver wonder who got off the island when he swears he destroyed the last of the serum before he left.
Roy also gets involved when Sin asks him to help find her missing friend, who turns up dead and dumped from the effects of Blood’s serum. When Roy gets a little mouthy with the Hood, he gets an arrow in the leg as a response.
We had a lot of setup for what boils down to a two-parter, and it put a lot of plot threads in play. Gustin is attached to a potential Flash spinoff if all goes well, so he’ll be back. I had pause about Barry and Felicity because character-wise, she seems older than him by a reasonable stretch but I was surprised to find out Emily Bett Rickards and Gustin are close to the same age as each other (and Willa Holland) IRL, and all are younger than Colton Haynes.
I liked that Felicity had another science nerd to bounce off of, because at the end of the day, she can’t know everything. I did yell at my TV though when they kidnapped Barry–he’d have gone anywhere Felicity asked and since it’s time-sensitive to save Oliver, that seemed sort of silly to tranq him and lose precious minutes or hours waiting for him to wake up.
I’m glad to see Susanna Thompson front and center and to have Moira find her backbone.
Here are a preview and sneak peek at “Three Ghosts,” the last new episode of 2013. After tonight, Arrow will return with new episodes on January 15th.
Photo courtesy of The CW/Cate Cameron