'Arrow': Oliver and Felicity fight, Laurel proves her worth in 'Blast Radius'

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"Arrow" is back and it's back with a bang in "Blast Radius."

While this is hardly the biggest episode of the show ever -- after December's mind-blowing installments with Slade Wilson and Barry Allen, how could it be? -- but there are a few reasons to pay attention. A new understanding between Oliver and Felicity, Sebastian Blood's true character and a notable guest star all feature.

News flash

Barry Allen isn't on "Arrow" anymore, but the young man is hardly forgotten. Near the beginning of the episode, the audience overhears a news report about that particle accelerator. The news seems to think everything is OK.

It's not so OK for Barry. He is, six weeks after the incident, in a coma. Felicity has spent a whole lot of time by his side, but nothing has changed. We may have to wait for the "Flash" pilot for that.

Bloody politics

Sebastian Blood's run for high office in Starling City is going rather well -- he even has the considerable support of Oliver Queen. All of this political capital is only enhanced by Sebastian's tales of growing up a street orphan. It seems that, once upon a time, he escaped a murderous rampage that left his parents dead.

Despite this, Blood almost gets his political dreams squashed (literally) by Shrapnel's bombing of the Unity Rally. At least he gets a tentative alliance with the Arrow out of the deal.

Things go boom

Alas for the "Firefly" fans out there, the villain of the week does not exactly set the plot on fire. Sean Maher guest-stars as Shrapnel, a mild-mannered repairman type who also likes to blow up buildings. Why does he blow up buildings? That seems to be related to a vague disgust for corruption and money and stuff.

Shrapnel doesn't even cause all that much damage before suffering Arrow-related defeat. The best part of this villain comes when Oliver has to defeat a dead-man's trigger: He does so by severing the wire with an arrow.

We still don't have to like the guy. After all, he shoots Diggle! That's not a good thing to do.

Mirakuru madness

Mirakuru madness seems to be an awful lot like 'roid rage. We get two examples of this in "Blast Radius": Slade Wilson and Roy Harper.

Interesting, Roy handles the power-juice a little better than Slade does back on the island. The boy is quite tense and trying to hard his super-quick healing from Thea, but there's only a touch of out-of-control rage.

Slade is a different story. Mourning the loss of Shado, Slade wants nothing more than revenge against Ivo, and he's ready to rip to shreds anyone and anything that stands in his way. He doesn't yet know what part Oliver played in the woman's death, but it's easy to see just how bad it's going to get.

You want romantic tension? How about just tension?

Things are not exactly great between Oliver and Felicity at this point. While Oliver is hardly jealous of a coma patient, he is very jealous of the way that Barry is sucking up all of his Girl Friday's time.

When Felicity fails to track Shrapnel after a second bombing, the tension grows. Oliver keeps insisting that Felicity isn't paying attention to the details, while Felicity is getting rather irritated with Oliver's attitude.

It's only Diggle who manages to say what everyone is thinking:

"I think you didn't have a problem with Felicity's performance until she met Barry Allen."

Bombs separated the two and bombs bring them back together again. It's only with Felicity's assistance that Oliver learns how to turn off the laser triggers surrounding him in Shrapnel's store.

"I was just going to do all of this by myself. And now with you and Diggle, I rely on you."

They're partners now anyway. Partners who share meaningful looks while standing a little too close together. It's a start ...

Laurel actually does something worthwhile

Whether you like Laurel Lance or not, you have to admit that she hasn't been too useful in Season 2. Depression, anger and a spiraling addiction problem have taken up too much of her time to actually achieve much.

She's still depressed and angry and popping pills in "Blast Radius," but Laurel fits in some real investigative talent as well. Not only is she totally pretending to date Sebastian (even if they're officially just friends, that's his apparent intent), but she also finds out the real truth.

Sebastian Blood is not an orphan. His mother is still alive, holed away in a mental institution so that she doesn't tell the authorities that a young and evil Sebastian killed his daddy.

Photo/Video credit: The CW
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