I hate to say it, but this was the weakest episode of the season.
My main gripe with Blast Radius is that it felt very season one-ish with regards to the terribly underdeveloped villain-of-the-week. Who is Shrapnel exactly? An anti-government nutjob with a fetish for bomb-making? Why should I care about the threat he poses when Starling City is populated with a range of formidable super-villains? Ultimately, his introduction into the Arrow mythos was pointless, and it effectively robbed the episode of any sense of urgency. The show’s sophomore season has been tremendous so far, and I do hope this outing was just a one-time misstep for old time’s sake.
Thankfully, Blast Radius had a few strong character moments that made the hour somewhat worthwhile. I absolutely loved everything between Ollie and Felicity. I have no idea if the writers are going to keep the two’s relationship platonic, but so far they’ve handled it perfectly. Oliver obviously cares for the brainy blonde, and he wants what’s best for her (even if that’s a comatose Barry Allen). I know a large portion of the show’s fanbase want Olicity to happen, and honestly I can totally see why; their chemistry is simply electric.
The character of Laurel has been the victim of shoddy plotting all season long, so I’m thankful she finally got a suitable arc thanks to her involvement with Sebastian Blood. Although the subplot wasn’t especially engrossing, I still enjoyed watching Laurel investigate the baddie. However, the final scene with her discovering Blood’s mother was painfully dramatic. Sure it made sense to intercut the scene with Arrow and Blood partnering up, but it was much too heavy-handed for my taste.
Even the happenings on the island seemed to trudge along at a lethargic pace this week. Predictably, Slade began to experience paranoia in addition to his superhuman strength (his choking of Ollie was pretty terrifying). This was paralleled with Roy’s demonstrating advanced healing in the present, in addition to super-strength (you’re welcome Moira). Can Arrow please adopt him soon? The team could use another member, and Thea’s little boytoy needs to get in on the action.
Bits & Arrows
– Everyone keeps making it seem like Oliver outright picked Sara over Shado. Is it just me or did it look like he just ran into the middle?
– Seriously, how many times did someone refer to “the last 5 weeks” in this episode? Enough with the exposition, we get it.
– The motorcycle chase was admittedly kind of cool.
– Diggle didn’t do much this week besides get shot, and it was a forgettable gunshot at that.
– Arrow slicing Shrapnel’s connection to the bomb vest was pretty great.
– It was remarkably satisfying to see Ollie refer to Felicity as his “partner”. It almost salvaged the entire episode.
Diggle: Tamper with it and you set off a dead man’s switch.
Felicity: That’s a thoroughly depressing term, and a little bit sexist.
Quentin: (to Laurel) Aunt Maya is nuttier than a Snickers bar.
Oliver: I’m sorry.
Felicity: Were you apologizing to me or were you talking to your quiver?
Predictable and unexciting, Blast Radius is definitely the weakest hour of Arrow’s sophomore season.