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‘Arrow’ Season 2 Recap, Episode 10: ‘Blast Radius’

The CW’s superhero series Arrow re-imagines Green Arrow for a TV audience as a tough, often ruthless vigilante bent on setting things right in his home of Starling City by punishing the wicked. ComicsAlliance’s Matt Wilson will be following along to see how he fares.

This week, a bomber takes the city by storm, Laurel uncovers secrets about Sebastian Blood, and Ollie’s a jerk.

Arrow’s back on his trusty motorcycle at the top of this week’s episode, chasing a Colin Farrell lookalike into a Splinter Cell level. The chase moves from wheels to feet when Arrow shoots the guy’s car with some kind of fireworks arrow, and eventually our hero strings the guy up and interrogates him about “the man in the skull mask.”

It’s been so long since this show was last on that I thought for a second that Arrow had really started raiding the Batman villain store and was adding Black Mask to the list, but then I remembered that Brother Blood’s Scarecrow mask is pretty skull-like. Not-Colin-Farrell, who Arrow helpfully tells the audience is a major drug dealer in a neighborhood called Crescent Circle (is it a crescent or a circle, guys, come on), pleads ignorance.

Arrow’s voice modulation suddenly sounds crazy, by the way. I don’t know if it’s a change in the effect, that Stephen Amell is yelling, or that he’s supposed to be out of breath, but his “You know everything that goes on…over there!” sounds like he forgot his line or something.

In the Arrowcave, Dig’s watching a news report in which the one Starling City news station (which has once again reverted to Channel 52) is reporting on how there’s no news to report from that explosion in Central City five weeks ago. I seriously almost want a spinoff series about Starling City’s extremely incompetent news media. I think it’d be great.

Dig informs Ollie that Smoak is in Central, visiting her sort-of boyfriend who got struck by chemical-infused lightning and is in a coma. Ollie seems annoyed. Our compassionate hero.

After a quick catch-up that informs us that Brother Blood has mirakuru, that Roy got injected with it, and that Solomon Grundy is dead (presumably he died on a Saturday), it’s time to head to Flashback Island. Slade buries Shado next to Robert Queen and Proto-Arrow, and what? She doesn’t have a surname?

I mean, I know resources are scarce, but Ollie and Slade are paying Shado a lot of lip service here, and they’re burying her with all the care someone gives a pet lizard (or a sidekick).

Ollie and Sara engage in further catch-up dialogue: Shado died because Ollie chose to save Sara from Professor Ivo, Slade’s been dosed with mirakuru, and mirakuru really f**ks people up.

In the present, Laurel’s in her office poppin’ pills when her assistant-DA boss comes in and asks her for some exposition, which she gives him. Basically, she’s suspicious of Blood’s shady blood drives and her connection to Grundy. She thinks he might be up to something sinister. You do not say.

Meanwhile, Ollie’s at Verdant holding a fundraiser for the supervillain of the season. I’m not sure this scene does much for either character, really. Ollie comes off looking naive and dumb for not seeing Blood’s bad side, which is pretty easy to see if you look, and Blood’s holding a big campaign event at a dance club where we know at least a few drug deals have happened, which is pretty terrible politics.

I will say, though, that I love Blood’s description of himself as a “street orphan.” You know, to differentiate himself from field orphans and river orphans.

Across town, the villain of the episode, The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs at Midnight Shrapnel, who is just an average-looking dude with stubble, sits in a van pontificating to himself about how much he hates politicians. Eventually, he hits a remote detonator and blows up a building that he’s maybe… a block away from.

Instead of the explosion blowing out all the windows in his van and at the very least deafening him, he sits there and calmly watches. It’s ridiculous. It’s cartoonish. I love it.

What happens after that is even weirder: Ollie and Dig, who clearly have heard about the explosion and know where it happened, go back to the Arrowcave to listen to audio of people inside screaming before deciding to go save people. Why did they need to do this? What exactly did they need to verify about the building that blew up and that was presumably shooting plumes of smoke into the sky, making it very easy to find?

Anyway, Arrow goes to the building and saves a dude.

Flashback Island again. Slade’s ready to go on the warpath to avenge Shado. Ollie and Sara try to convince him that’s a bad idea, given that Ivo’s got a ship full of pirate dudes at his disposal. Slade offers the counterpoint of superpowered choking. Sara bonks Slade with a tree branch, and he sits down on the ground in a sort of mirakuru-shock.

At present-day Queen Consolidated headquarters, where co-CEO Isabel Rochev just isn’t around for some reason no one cares to mention, Dig and Ollie are talking about the mad bomber’s online manifesto and ways to identify him. Smoak strolls in and says she can help. Ollie’s weird and cold.

Laurel comes to visit Blood at his mayoral campaign HQ. After some awkward pleasantries, Laurel brings up Grundy and Blood comes back with a truly masterful line of bulls**t about the guy being a priest and how his mother killed his father after he broke her arm. Just some nice, light lunch-date conversation.

Laurel snoops around Blood’s desk and finds a hospital bill for someone named Maya Resik.

In Verdant’s upper room, Thea and Roy have a tense conversation about “the Arrow” (did everyone just have an off-camera meeting and decide to start calling him that?) shooting Roy in the leg a few episodes back and how weird Roy’s been acting. Then they start to get frisky, and in the process some jars fall off a shelf and a big shard of glass lands in Roy’s arm.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy this season being a sort of catalogue of Roy Harper injuries.

Arrow and Officer Lance meet up on the SCPD roof. Lance hands off a sample of the bomb Shrapnel used, and it’s apparently nitroglycerin, the sign of a professional. Lance starts to ask Arrow to have Smoak hack into some police phone records for him when another bomb goes off just down the street at the city’s municipal building.

Lance calls it in using his call number, which is “DC52.” Oh my heavens.

Smoak locates Shrapnel with her computer magic and Arrow chases the guy on his motorcycle. Shrapnel uses a literal smokescreen to get his gigantic van out of sight and Smoak loses his signal. Ollie gets real fussy.

Arrowcave. Ollie gives Smoak what-for over the lost signal and tells her that her head isn’t in the game because her boyfriend is in a coma and junk. Yeah, that’s certainly no reason to be distracted. She sticks up for herself, and, well, she should. Ollie’s maintaining the jerk level he ratcheted up when he shot his sort-of sidekick in the leg with an arrow.

At the police station, Laurel asks her dad for some help finding out who Maya Resick is. Apparently there aren’t any real records of her. He agrees to help her, but all he finds is that Resick is an aunt who’s in a mental institution.

Casa Queen. Blood’s on TV announcing a “unity rally” to show that the city’s citizens won’t back down to terrorists. So they’ll just all gather up together so he can kill them all in one place. Ollie says as much, so he goes to Blood’s office as Arrow and tries to intimidate him into stopping the rally. Blood fiddles around with a gun in his desk while he tells Arrow to more or less shove off.

Just before the commercial, we find out that Shrapnel is actually a nice man who sells toy trains. Beware the toy train salesmen, everyone.

The rally begins, and Starling’s citizens prove they’re just as bullheaded and foolhardy as ever by showing up in droves. No homemade signs, though. That’s a disappointment.

Smoak, who hasn’t walked out of the Arrowcave in protest for some reason, has analyzed the bomb residue and discovered that it’s the same type of bomb that a militia group called The Movement (yes, just like that comic) has used in the past. She accesses their “very hackable” message board (couldn’t she just sign up for a membership?) and discovers our train-loving villain’s location.

At the rally, the Channel 52 reporter is back up to his old tricks of asking accurate, but really inappropriately worded questions (“Why are you gathering all these people to be targets?”). Blood waves him off while Dig hangs out in the crowd.

Arrow, meanwhile, heads to the train store. The second he walks in, a bunch of lasers pop up, rigged to set off a bomb if Arrow moves. Someone saw the first Resident Evil movie and liked a visual, didn’t they? A TV in the background shows news footage of the rally, which Shrapnel is definitely going to attack.

Arrow calls Smoak, which he luckily didn’t have to move to do. She patches Arrow in to Dig. Arrow warns him about the bomb. Meanwhile, Smoak figures out that the bomb would have to be connected to a power supply, and the building is kind of oldish, so the wiring isn’t so great. Arrow shoots a fuse box and the power goes off. He and Smoak both leave for the rally.

Blood takes the rally’s stage and starts a rousing speech. Dig pokes around and finds a detonator in a speaker. It’s barely even hidden. It’s just kind of there behind a panel.

There’s even a light in there to make it easier to see!

Before Smoak can deactivate the trigger, Shrapnel gets the jump on them. Dig lunges for him and takes a bullet in the shoulder. So hey, why didn’t he set off the bomb instead of just shooting one guy?

We’ll never know, because the next moment is a straight-up vacuum of sense. Arrow shows up on his motorcycle just as Shrapnel throws his bomb(?!) which I thought was made up of multiple parts embedded in the sound equipment, but is also some kind of grenade(?!) into the air toward the stage.

Arrow shoots it and it explodes in mid-air.

Shrapnel and a bunch of other people take off running. A light rig nearly falls on Moira, but Roy rushes over to save her and takes the hit himself (yes!). He lifts it up with his mirakuru strength and Thea gets freaked out.

Arrow once again chases Shrapnel on his motorcycle. But since Shrapnel has no van this time, he goes down pretty easy. He pops back up, though, and pulls out a detonator attachted to a conspicuously thick wire running into his pocket. He says he’ll blow up bombs he’s got placed all over the city if Arrow comes any closer.

Arrow shoots the wire. Wuh-wuh.

Man, it’s lucky his master plan involved a big, thick, easily shootable piece of wire instead of the cellular technology he’s been using the whole episode up to now, isn’t it? Crime just doesn’t pay!

Roy watches footage of Shrapnel being taken away by the cops when Thea approaches and tells him he has superpowers while also noticing that his arm has magically healed. Roy runs off.

Back in the Arrowcave, Ollie finally apologizes to Smoak for being pretty much the worst and tells her she’s his partner. Piano music.

Flashback Island. Sara gets a call on her walkie-talkie from Professor Ivo. He demands the mirakuru back, in exchange for safe passage off the island, or else he’ll send his pirates in to kill her and Ollie. But uh-oh! They don’t have the stuff. Slade has run off with it.

Laurel goes to visit Resick at the mental institution. She tells her that Blood’s the devil and he made everyone think she’s insane, like the compulsive singing of the same words over and over wouldn’t do that. She also drops the bomb that Blood killed his own father. Laurel deduces that Resick is actually Blood’s mother while Blood and Arrow shake hands in his campaign office.

Final thoughts

I’m still really enjoying the Brother Blood story arc, though it may be reaching the point of beating the “Hey, this guy is really evil!” drum to death. Kevin Alejandro seems to really be relishing the role, and it’s nice to see a bad guy that’s a full-on mastermind. I even like that Laurel is the one who’s figuring everything out, even if it does make Ollie look as dumb as a bag of hammers in comparison.

Shrapnel, on the other hand, is a different story. He really was The Evil Midnight Bomber What Bombs At Midnight, but you know, not funny. Just sort of a big stack of cliches funneled into a character.

And boy, the title character of this show sure has been a jerk lately, huh? That seems like a weird direction to go in.

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