[This is a review of Arrow season 2, episode 8. There will be SPOILERS.]
The Arrowverse has been growing at a pleasant and positive rate since the season 2 premiere (though a strong argument could be made for the last few episodes of season 1, as well). And with that the show has undergone a sort of change, the kind that's not often seen on TV, but is one of the most welcome changes that can happen to a series: Arrow has gone from being a fun and exciting series based on a DC comic book character, to being all that set atop a show that's just flat-out good TV.
And considering the series is now acting as the starting point for potential new shows that The CW can build its superhero line-up around, seeing that kind of development in Arrow should give viewers a great deal of hope that such new endeavors will wind up working out as well.
Of course, in talking about the expansion of universes, we're talking about the debut of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) in part 1 of the Arrow mid-season finale, 'The Scientist.' The episode finds Oliver facing off against Cyrus (Graham Sheils), the first successful recipient of a super-solider serum Brother Blood (Kevin Alejandro) has been testing on residents of the Glades. But more than just having Oliver facing off against a terrifying new foe, the dual (triple if you factor in the island flashback) storylines hinting at a fantastical and rapid expansion of the kind of tools the series will soon have at its disposal, manage to play quite well with one another and come off feeling like an exciting way to shift show's perspective a little.
Having a super-powered criminal traipsing around Starling City, all while the episode delivers a string of hints pointing toward Barry's own super-powered future is a far cry from the gritty corporate and street-level stories and foes from season 1 (as well as the statement from the producers declaring the world free from powered characters prior to its debut). Obviously, this is a mutable medium, and so the introduction of such elements means Arrow is going full-bore into a new realm that will undoubtedly change the way it tells its stories. So far, seeing the show leave the ground a little bit has resulted in some fun and exciting stories that have been surprisingly well crafted.
Clearly, with the super-soldier serum floating around on the island, and having been administered (seemingly unsuccessfully) to Slade, Oliver wasn't exactly taken by surprise when a hulking guy in a mask showed up in Starling City, knocking down titanium reinforced doors with his fists and tearing an enormous Kord Industries-crafted centrifuge from the floor it was bolted to. The idea that Ollie's seen and faced this sort of thing before (with a huge implication that he's seen far more outlandish things) is the most successful part of this transition. Rather than leave Oliver scrambling to accept this as some new, fantastical development, or to eclipse his potential as a hero, the whole thing works to compliment Ollie's status in the series – as both its central protagonist and someone who can deal with more-than-human threats.
Change like this can sometimes be a tricky thing; there's fear that too much will make the show lose the essence that made it appealing in the first place. But so far, Arrow has managed to make it seem easy, while still being the show fans are devoted to.
Arrow will air its mid-season finale, 'Three Ghosts,' next Wednesday @8pm on The CW. Check out a preview below: