**This post contains spoilers for the most recent episode of Arrow, “Blast Radius.”**
Oliver Queen is really stressed out, y’all. He’s worried about this Mirakuru that has resurfaced in Starling City, he has to keep an eye on Roy, he has to track down the man who is blowing up buildings all over the city, and His Girl Wednesday is still out of town tending to a lightning-struck Barry Allen. But he’s totally not jealous, okay? He’s just stressed!
It’s been five weeks since Roy technically died after being injected with the Mirakuru. Oliver’s been spending that time stringing up petty criminals and questioning them about the whereabouts of Skull Face Man. It’s probably earning him a reputation as a crazy person, but Oliver doesn’t really care — Diggle points out that Oliver’s got a bit of tunnel vision about this, and Oliver doesn’t deny it.
Barry’s been in a coma for all that time, and presumably, he will stay that way until his pilot airs in the fall. Whether Felicity will continue to split her time between Starling and Central City remains to be seen, but it’s still an effective way to raise Oliver’s hackles about Barry in general. The thing is, he’s not being jealous so much as he’s being selfish about Felicity’s situation; he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t sit at someone’s hospital bed as they recuperate, instead he’s out hunting down the jerk who put them there. He can’t wrap his head around the idea of spending day after day by someone who is comatose when there are lives to be saved elsewhere. In a way, it’s a sad commentary on Oliver’s current state of being. Will he ever get to the point where he can just press pause on the vigilante-ing and go sit by someone’s bed, just to be there?
I think it’s another good example of the perspective Felicity brings to the team. Diggle is a lot like Oliver, he’d rather be out in the trenches, bringing in the bad guys and making the city safer. Felicity still has the ability to put aside this aspect of her life and just be a person who cares about someone else, and I think that’s something that Oliver (and sometimes Diggle) needs to see.
Diggle: “I’ve just never seen you spooked like this before.”
Oliver: “That should tell you something.”
And with that, we flash back to the island. For once, I was looking forward to these flashbacks more than the present-day plot. It turns out… not a whole heck of a lot happens in this episode, island-wise. They bury Shado, which is so sad to watch because Slade’s basically weeping. He’s also not hiding his feelings anymore, and it’s likely a combination of the grief and the Mirakuru. Still, for now, he’s Slade at his very core, and he hands Oliver the Hood that we know so well.
And doesn’t that just break your heart? It breaks mine. Oliver is distraught over Slade not knowing the truth about Shado’s death, but Sara wisely tells him that dropping that sort of thing on Slade right now is not the best idea. Turns out, Sara’s done the research on the Mirakuru. The Japanese tested the serum on hundreds of people, and “the people who died? They were the lucky ones. The ones who survived, they were deformed. Either their bones or their minds. They became someone else.”
That’s sad for me, I got very attached to Slade, but I know this is also what I signed up for when I wanted him to survive the serum. As they wander around the island, Slade undergoes an obvious change: he becomes rage-filled and hell-bent on taking out Ivo, and it ends with him grabbing Oliver around the neck and lifting him up. It takes Sara actually beating him with a huge tree branch to get him to drop Oliver, and that’s when it becomes clear that Slade was not himself in that moment. Later that night, Ivo contacts them and says he plans to blow up the whole island, and they discover Slade has run away with the Mirakuru. That’s about it for the island.
In the present, Oliver is publicly endorsing Alderman Blood’s campaign for Mayor, while Laurel is pretending to date Blood in order to get information on him. She suspects he isn’t who he says he is, and she later tells Oliver that Blood reminds her a lot of him in that way.
Laurel actually has a pretty solid storyline in this episode! Her brand of non-emotion is a particularly good match for Blood, whose underlying sinister nature makes their scenes compelling. Laurel’s rightfully picking up on the thread of secrecy, but she’s hampered by her growing addiction to narcotics. Blood feeds her a sob story about his upbringing (his abusive father was shot by his mother, who ran away and left him an orphan) which she seems to buy until she sees the name “Maya Resik” on a bill on his desk.
She goes to her dad (who is telling Corrupt Cop Daly that he can’t find his pain meds, leading one to believe Laurel is swiping her dad’s pain pills) and asks him to dig up information on Maya Resik. Beat Cop Lance agrees just to humor her, but later he reveals that Maya is Blood’s aunt, who is in a psychiatric facility. Blood actually gets Lance’s seal of approval, just because on paper he sounds good, but he also advises Laurel to stop looking for reasons for this relationship not to work out.
To her credit, Laurel goes with her gut. (It is part of her characterization, to be so driven to find the truth that she loses sight of everything else. It’s actually refreshing to see her go back to that.) At the end of the episode, she goes to visit Maya, who grabs Laurel and warns her that Blood is a bad, bad man.
Anyway, back at the political rally at the beginning of the episode, Oliver asks Thea how Roy’s doing, and she basically says he’s fine.
Then someone blows up a building and all hell breaks loose.
Thank goodness Felicity gets a news alert about the bomb and arrives at Queen Consolidated bright and early the next morning, much to Oliver’s poorly-concealed delight.
He woodenly asks how Barry’s doing while Diggle makes sympathetic and observant faces at both of them. Felicity says Barry’s “still sleeping” because “‘coma’ sounds… not fun.” Then she ends the whole awkward exchange by going to contact Beat Cop Lance.
They meet on a rooftop again, because Oliver likes to be up high where he can see the city I guess, and Lance even comments on the absurdity. He gets close enough to The Arrow to ask about the mask, which just strengthens my hopes that he knows who it is under that hood. Plausible deniability is a strong motivator. Just ask Blair Waldorf.
Anyway, Lance brought over the sample that Oliver had requested, but not without his own request: phone records for everyone in the department. Oliver is incredulous at the idea that there might be a leak in the department, but as we know, Lance is right. It sucks that he’s finally becoming a good cop right when he’s doling out bad fatherly advice to Laurel.
“Your blonde friend, she’s pretty good with computers.”
Aw, Lance. She’s gonna blush when she hears that.
Oliver’s answer is interrupted by another explosion, which looks like it’s only a few blocks away. Felicity traces the detonator and Oliver chases it down on his motorcycle. But much like that episode where the bad guy was underground, Felicity loses the signal and Oliver nearly crashes into a bus.
Now, for some perspective: We have no idea what happens with Slade now that he’s been injected with the Mirakuru. It’s bad, clearly, because it has Oliver jumping at loud noises and raging without warning. To him, these are high stakes that could end up changing not just the city, but the world. To him, it’s not too ridiculous to expect the same sort of urgency from his team.
Except… he hasn’t told his team anything about this. For whatever reason, he’s keeping the exact facts about the Mirakuru (and Slade) to himself, so neither Digg nor Felicity know the gravity of the situation. So this might explain Oliver’s mindset in this next scene, but it does not excuse it at all, because in the end, it’s on him for not being forthcoming. (And it makes me worry about just what happened on that island.)
Oliver comes back to the foundry and snaps that Felicity was supposed to be the expert on electronics and tracking. Diggle is immediately on alert as Felicity comes back with an “Excuse me?” but Oliver’s on a tear. “People are dying. So I would like you to pull your head out of Central City and get back in the game.” She’s not having any of this, as she tells Oliver in no uncertain terms to get his head out of his ass.
How she managed not to punch Oliver right in the stubble, I’ll never know. Maybe I’m just more prone to violence than she is?
Diggle is such a calming presence in these situations. He gently but firmly tells Oliver that his theory of distraction is complete bull, and then he drops the truth bomb:
Oh Diggle. So much smarter and more observant than the rest of us.
Alderman Blood announces a rally at a downtown plaza, which Oliver sees as a suicide mission. He hoods up and goes to Blood’s office to try to convince him to call it off, but Blood refuses. It scares him, though — he reaches for a concealed gun, fearing that The Arrow has finally figured out who is behind the skull mask.
Oliver and Felicity continue to bicker the next day, and Diggle asks, “Is this how it’s gonna be with you two from now on?” But Felicity’s had a breakthrough — she knows who the bomber is. He’s active on forums and message boards, and he goes by the name Shrapnel. She traces his IP, and Oliver heads that way as Diggle goes to the rally.
At the toy store that Shrapnel owns, Oliver’s trapped by lasers as a recording tells him that the plaza is rigged with explosives. He contacts his team, and Diggle sets off to find the detonator as Felicity works to help Oliver out of the laser trap. “Are you sure you want me doing this? My head might not exactly be in the game.” He yells at her, but she points out a fuse box for him to shoot.
They get to the rally but just as they find the detonator in the sound system, Shrapnel appears and shoots Diggle in the shoulder. The shot causes chaos, and Shrapnel throws the detonator into the crowd. Oliver shoots it in midair and it explodes, causing a light tower to fall straight toward Moira, but she’s saved by Roy, who takes the hit himself. He escapes without a scratch.
Oliver corners Shrapnel, who says he has explosives all over the city, but Oliver simply cuts the wire to the detonator and punches him out. That was easy!
Thea’s figured out that Roy’s hiding something, he’s not scratched from the incident at the rally and he has no marks from when he broke a box of glasses during his and Thea’s makeout the other day. He runs away before Thea can ask too many questions, but she’s the inquisitive type, so he has that to look forward to next week.
Diggle’s wound is “just a through-and-through, a walk in the park,” he might as well have said “Tis but a scratch!” After Diggle leaves, Oliver considers Felicity and then does the one thing we’ve never really seen him do before: apologize.
He actually apologizes twice.
But it gets even better!
But he still wasn’t done!
He relies on her, on them, and even though we all knew it, it’s nice to see him finally admit it to himself and out loud! And it’s so sweet and real that even though Felicity might let him off the hook just a little too quickly, considering how he treated her the day before, it’s a fitting reward for the vulnerability he just showed.
He even talks about Barry without grimacing or clenching his fists!
Maybe he is. And maybe that’s an incredibly considerate thing for Oliver to say to her. She gets all science-y about dreams and hallucinations during comas, but Oliver puts his hand on her shoulder to stop her babbling and reinforce the nice thing he just did, and she smiles and thanks him.
It’s basically the second-sexiest thing to happen with shoulders on TV.
His last errand of the night is to visit Blood once more, to congratulate him on his rally. Blood offers an alliance of sorts — that they work together to save the city. How are these not red flags to Oliver? The last time he met someone who talked like that, it turned out the guy actually meant to save the city by using an earthquake to wipe out half of it. But maybe he’s shaking his hand in a “keep your enemies closer” kind of way.
Next week: Laurel takes her suspicions about Blood to Oliver. This should go well!