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Arrow - Haunted - Review

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Arrow, “Haunted,” was written by the team of Brian Ford Sullivan and Oscar Balderrama and was directed by John Badham. Remarkably, this is Badham’s first time directing Arrow. His many credits include movies such as Saturday Night Fever and Short Circuit and television such as Supernatural, Heroes, Psych and even Constantine – fitting for this episode. The big news in this episode is Matt Ryan reprising the role of Constantine. It can’t be easy to suddenly reprise a character you thought dead, though perhaps easier for Constantine! Fans of the comics will no doubt have missed Constantine’s trademark and ever present cigarette. This guest spot seems to have renewed fan enthusiasm for another network to pick up the show. If the CW decides to jump in, I do hope they lift the Puritanical ban on cigarettes. Really, it was a perfect teachable moment: Oliver – those things will kill you. Constantine – You don’t know the half of it, mate.

The episode begins with a wild Sara (Caity Lotz) seemingly attacking some bad guys before turning on the woman they were attacking. It’s just enough to give us hope that she’s still in there. It quickly becomes clear that it’s just the bloodlust and she’s hunting Thea (Willa Holland). Given how easily she hones in on Thea later in the episode, this casting about at the outset is a bit of a plot oopsy. There are a few hand waves at the plot and logic in this episode. Another case in point, Constantine just walking out of that camp with nobody taking a shot at him...

I have to admit that I really thought the team might have fought a little better against Sara. Oliver (Stephen Amell) notices that Thea is “effortless” when they are sparring – and I adore that it’s abundantly clear that this is Amell and Holland. It was nice to see that the Nanda Parbat secrets come out so quickly. Oliver doesn’t really recriminate either Laurel (Katie Cassidy) or Thea. Thea tells Laurel why Sara is after her, and Laurel proves that she means it when she tells Oliver that she loves his family when she tells Thea that that cure is no cure. I also liked Laurel confronting Oliver about not treating her like an equal. Of course, if Laurel acted a little more like an equal – but that’s quibbling. Over all, I’ve felt that Laurel has been written much better lately. I’d really like to see her also back in the courtroom, though.

I have to admit that I thought Constantine might have been able to work some magic for Thea too. It’s telling that she is more than willing to sacrifice herself to save Sara. Thea is clearly tormented by the bloodlust. Holland is excellent in the scene in which she tells Laurel and the one in which she tells Sara it’s ok.

I love that Thea is being so active in Oliver’s campaign. She brings in a political consultant – Alex Davis (Parker Young). Is he also a new love interest for Thea? Davis points out to Oliver that if he wants a real mandate to govern, he needs more than 10% of the vote. His first piece of advice is for Oliver to distance himself from Laurel because of their history. He draws a parallel between the Chappaquiddick scandal and Oliver’s own woman’s death by drowning with Sara. Davis points out that the public loves a good scandal. Thea’s take is that pretending you don’t know who your friends are doesn’t feel very “united.” In the end, Oliver chooses his friends over the advice, and Thea tells him how proud she is of him – even while she tries to convince Davis not to quit!

Lance (Paul Blackthorne) seems to be completely a part of Team Arrow now. However, he is called to Dahrk’s (Neal McDonough) office. I loved Darhrk’s reply to Lance barking out what do you want – “A new beginning for the world, a nice glass of merlot – not necessarily in that order….” It was very Hannibal Lector! What he wants is for Lance to install a USB in a federal server facility. Lance immediately goes to Oliver for help – and isn’t that refreshing too!

I loved Lance’s line: “You know about Sara” Gotta admire Laurel’s consistency. She kept the death secret from me and the resurrection secret from you.” Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) doesn’t have time to crack the virus on the USB, so Oliver sends Lance to Diggle (David Ramsey) for back up. I loved that Felicity identifies it as a RAT – remote access Trojan! Loved this new pairing of DANCE! The two really have a lot in common – rigid code of ethics, military background, commitment to family – both even have daughters named Sara!

Diggle tells Lance about Andrew, and Lance opens up a little more about Darhk. Initially, Lance thought he was a good guy who wanted to save the city, giving money and help months before the Ghosts appeared. Eventually, Lance innocently gives Darhk information on the Fire Chief’s location and the Chief ends up dead. When Lance confronted Darhk, Darhk presented him with a full surveillance file on Laurel and threatened her. So, if he had all those pictures, how does Darhk NOT know she’s the Canary?

Diggle is okay working with Lance for essentially the same reason Oliver is – Lance is now a good way to get close to Darhk. Once the two get into the facility, they discover that the program is erasing people from its database, and one of those names is Andrew! Lance has to crack Diggle over the head and pretend to apprehend him as the hacker when they are discovered by security.

Lance reports to Darhk and asks about Andrew. Darhk tells him that Andrew was running drugs and a lot more in Afghanistan. Andrew was the competition so he had to be assassinated. He gives Lance an entire file on Andrew that Lance then reluctantly passes on to Diggle. He’s visibly crushed but thanks Lance anyway for at least letting him know. Does anybody believe that information about Andrew is true regardless of whether Lance had it verified??? I’m still really liking the theory that Andrew is actually alive and a Ghost! In fact, the very Ghost who spared Diggle a couple of episodes ago…

The flashbacks this week feed directly into the present storyline, and may even finally explain their overall relationship to the present storyline. I wonder for instance what the relationship is between the drugs being produced on the Island and the drugs being fought over in Afghanistan? More immediately, we see the first meeting between Oliver and John Constantine. Conklin (Ryan Robbins) has just confronted Oliver about the radio and drags him in front of Reiter (Jimmy Akingbola). Reiter, however, is way more interested in the man he’s beating – Constantine. I loved Oliver actually telling the implausible truth sarcastically as a cover up! Constantine’s first words are to ask for a cigarette. A cigarette that he never gets in the entire episode – still burned about that…

Reiter is really interested in the map and what Constantine is looking for. I get the feeling that Reiter knows at least some of the Island’s secrets, and I’m betting the magic on the Island is tied in some ways to the magic that we know Darhk to be capable of. It was a nice parallel to have both Constantine with magic and Oliver with training break out of the cuffs.

Constantine tells Oliver that there are things on the Island that bad guys shouldn’t have access to. He also tells him he’s on the side of the angels. I loved the look on Oliver’s face as Constantine does a little magic that reveals the hatch. Constantine tells invites “Alice” down the rabbit hole – and it’s a nice metaphor for Oliver’s learning about magic. Constantine tells him magic can’t be explained. He also warns him that the Island is a “nexus” that draws bad people to it. I think we’d already figured that out!

When they get to the secret room, there’s a threshold warning that only the pure of heart can continue. Constantine handcuffs Oliver, thinking he’s a bad guy. Of course, Oliver follows him and insists that he’s a good guy too. Anybody else bugged by the perfectly preserved red velvet drapes in this cave? I did love the echoes to Indiana Jones though.

Constantine leaves with the grimoire and gives Oliver the shiny bobble to give to Reiter. He tells Oliver that he’ll put the ancient spell book in a safe place and that Reiter isn’t really there for the drugs. He offers to take Oliver with him, but Oliver won’t leave the innocent behind. We get to see how Oliver got that one tattoo! Constantine transfers it from himself to Oliver and tells him that it’s insurance against Reiter and that he’ll understand how to use it when the time comes.

In the present, Oliver calls in Constantine to replace Sara’s soul. It’s nice that it’s Oliver and Laurel who go together to bring her back. There’s a nice Lance family hug once she’s back. Of course, is it possible that being dead like that won’t have a lasting effect? I did like Constantine using both fighting and magic to defeat his opponent. Constantine knows of Darhk and warns Oliver to be careful of him before he leaves town. Oliver offers to come any time Constantine calls him for help. Hmmmm. Already a potential crossover if Constantine gets picked up….

Now that Sara is back, it’s also time to bring back Ray (Brandon Routh) as the show lays the groundwork for the Legends of Tomorrow spinoff. Felicity once again enlists Holt’s (Echo Kellum) assistance in figuring out what is also playing during Ray’s last message. We learn that Holt was actually a bronze medal Olympian in decathalon at the Beijing Olympics! By the end of the episode he is flying on energy drinks, but he’s also separated out another message – Ray is alive and needs Felicity’s help!

I thought this was a good episode. Badham also has an eye for composition and fights. I loved seeing Matt Ryan again as Constantine. Even if the series doesn’t get picked up, I’d love to see him recurring on the other DC shows. What did you think of the episode? How damaged do you think Sara still is? How long before Thea is losing it again? More Constantine? Did you like the magical elements? Let me know our thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The X-Files, Defiance, Bitten, Killjoys, and a few others! I'm active on the Con scene when I have the time. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.
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