One of the things that initially drew me into Arrow was its grounded approach to the superhero genre. It worked because Oliver Queen wasn’t someone who had super powers — he had super skill, which is way more impressive, to be honest.
But over the past couple of seasons, with the introduction of The Flash spinoff and now DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow has been leaning away from that grounded reality with the evolution of the Arrowverse, as the producers refer to it as. There are elements of mysticism and we even had a couple of metahumans in Star City, which usually is more The Flash‘s thing. But this season in embracing the mystic, especially with a big bad like Damien Darhk. While I still prefer Arrow’s grounded tone (it’s still the most realistic DCTV show on The CW), I’m not hating the mystical element as much as I thought.
Arrow hasn’t completely taken a page out of The Flash and unleashes super powered people. No, the element that it has introduced is that mysticism. And it’s that mysticism that allowed for John Constantine’s introduction into the Arrowverse. Who would’ve thought that when NBC cancelled Constantine (still angry about that btw) that Arrow would get to incorporate into its DCTV universe in such an organic way?
In “Haunted,” we were introduced to John Constantine in the Arrowverse, as we learned he had history with Oliver dating back to Lian Yu. Luckily, Constantine owed Oliver a favor from back in the day — and Oliver collected in the form of helping restore Sara Lance’s soul. The episode also focused on Oliver and Laurel’s strained friendship, as well as Felicity and Curtis decoding Ray’s message to learn something that we’ve known since May…Ray’s alive. But he’s in trouble.
Overall, the episode was really solid. It had some really nice relationship focuses: Oliver and Felicity relying on each other, Oliver and Thea continuing to strengthen that sibling bond, Oliver and Laurel mending a friendship, Diggle and Quentin working together and learning some hard truths, and of course the Lance family begin reunited with Sara at episode’s end.
Let’s take a look at the’s highlights of “Haunted”:
Constantine’s Connection to Oliver
When it was revealed that John Constantine was coming to Arrow, the question became how would he be tied into the story? Would it be organic? Would it make sense? And we learned that Oliver and John go way back — back to Oliver’s fourth year in hell, this time back on Lian Yu. My first question when we saw Constantine being held by Baron Reiter was: why the hell is Constantine on Lian Yu? We’d later learn that John came to the island in search of a mystical talisman. But after overhearing Oliver tell Baron that he knew the locations on John’s map, Constantine used his mystical voodoo to escape from handcuffs and manage to drag Oliver hostage with him and have him show him the locations. And Oliver got his first glimpse at magic.
So as Constantine dragged Oliver to this secret fortress thing, Oliver watched as he took some mystical looking talisman and saved Constantine’s life when he was about to be impaled. And lucky he did because Oliver would need that favor in present day when he called upon his old friend for some mystical help with restoring Sara’s soul.
Mending a Friendship
For the last couple of years, Oliver and Laurel’s friendship has been, well, strained to say the very least. The two had an extremely toxic romantic relationship and then their friendship was complicated by more secrets and lies, which were central in their failed romance. But in “Haunted” the show finally addressed the relationship and took steps to make things right between them. They started the episode right where they’ve typically been: at each other’s throats. Oliver and Laurel had another one of their great hallway talks where tensions flared. Sara had just attacked Thea, and Oliver was angry beyond belief that Laurel’s selfishness over resurrecting her sister had almost cost Thea her life. This prompted Laurel to defend her stance seeing as Oliver had done the same to protect Thea. Laurel then accused Oliver of never looking upon Laurel as an equal and not taking her feelings into account.
“Did you ever stop for one second and think about what I’m going through?” – Laurel
Look, I get it. Laurel’s angry that Oliver constantly has a look of judgement on his face as far as she’s concerned, but in his defense she’s earned that. And I’m sorry, but this whole Laurel begin completely selfish thing is really starting the piss me off (which I’ll go into more in depth during our Arrow Roundtable). I really want to like Laurel’s character, but the writers/producers are making that incredibly difficult at this point. It’s pissing me off even more because it’s at the expense of Oliver, who continues to be crapped upon on his own show and The Flash. Once again, it’s about damn time that Oliver get the respect he deserves, especially considering the emotional maturity he showed in this episode.
Also, Oliver’s political advisor warned Oliver to stay away from Laurel because that whole Sara Lance dying thing was forever linked between them and would hurt his campaign. In the beginning he agreed, as he cited some good points. But it was Thea that convinced Oliver that he can’t turn his back against his friends. In the end, Oliver invited Laurel to attend one of his speeches, the two hugged it out, and now their friendship is on the mend. (Sidenote: I loved how many times Oliver used the word “friend” like the show was really hammering that understanding. Sorry not sorry.)
But I have to admit the way they sold this rebuilding felt weak, as it took less than an episode for them to mend fences, whereas with Oliver and Diggle it was a three-episode arc. It just felt rushed, like the producers were just sick of Oliver and Laurel being at each other’s throats all of the time, and they wanted it to stop. Honestly, now I’m feeling more like it could be Laurel in the grave. While I continue to go back and forth between Quentin and Laurel – it’s a Lance – this kind of mending of the fences hinted that it might be Laurel in the grave. It kind of felt like they wanted to mend that relationship so that Laurel’s death would have more of an impact on Oliver. Dear lord, this whole grave mystery is going to kill me.
Diggle and Lance Star In: The Team-Up We Didn’t Know We Needed
An unlikely team-up proved to be one of the more promising partnerships for this season as Diggle and Quentin had to work together as part of infiltrating Damien Darhk from the inside. Quentin was tasked for plugging in a USB drive into a system network where it would do God knows what. Initially, Quentin brought it to Felicity to have a good look at before she revealed that it would take a significant amount of time to retrieve the information, and by then Darhk would be wondering why Quentin hadn’t done his job. So then Quentin – who did not want to involve Laurel in this Darhk madness – was promised the help of Diggle, who just so happens to be a victim of H.I.V.E., as they were the organization that had his brother Andy killed. For two years Diggle has been searching for answers as to who this H.I.V.E. was, as well as why they wanted him dead. So the pair set off together to do Darhk’s task, as well as try to understand what he’s doing.
I have to admit that I really enjoyed the partnership between Diggle and Lance. It brought us a new dynamic that, quite frankly, I’m surprised we’ve never seen before on this show, as these two have been on this show for four years now.
Diggle Learns the Hard Truth About His Brother
When Diggle and Lance were busy doing Damien Darhk’s bidding – plugging in a USB to a system network – they noticed that it was deleting files on certain people. It just so happens that one of those people was Andy Diggle, which immediately caught Diggle’s eye. He was dead-set on retrieving the deleted file that he almost got both of them caught by security, so Quentin knocked Diggle out and was able to use his Captain stance as a means to order the security guards to report this, giving Diggle and Quentin time to escape. You have to admire Quentin because one of the things he did – something that put his ass on the line – was question Darhk about Andy Diggle, and subsequently demanding information as to why he was exterminated. While Darhk was suspicious about what this man meant to him – and now I’m terrified that Darhk will make a connection between Quentin and Diggle – Quentin played it cool and told him that he was military that H.I.V.E. had terminated. It’s then that Damien revealed that H.I.V.E. had a good reason for doing so, and Quentin was given a file on Andy, to which he gave Diggle. And the truth wasn’t pretty. Andy was a crime lord; someone who dabbled in drugs and murder.
“Getting punched doesn’t deserve a thank you.” -Quentin Lance
While Diggle has some semblance of closure in regards to learning the reason why, something tells me that he’s far from done with seeking vengeance on H.I.V.E. for murdering his brother.
The Canary(‘s Soul) Lives
While I was expecting more John Constantine in present day Star City, I was kind of glad that we weren’t overwhelmed by his presence in regards to the storyline. This is still Arrow, after all, so Constantine had to serve a purpose to the storyline, and that purpose was restoring Sara Lance’s soul. Despite the circumstances, Constantine still brought his unique humor that fans of Constantine were aware of when he was casually flirting with Felicity, Thea, and Laurel, as well as warning the team about imminent death should anything go wrong. Constantine, being the mystical man that he is, was able to call upon dark magic to transport Oliver, Laurel, and his own soul to another realm in order to bring Sara’s soul back. T
hey arrived – Oliver and Laurel fully in Green Arrow and Black Canary gear (how convenient for them) – and they had to physically pull Sara’s soul out of the Lazarus Pit as Constantine battled evil forces that threatened them. Working together, Oliver and Laurel were able to pull Sara’s soul out of the Pit and everyone made it back safely, which led to some beautiful family reunions. Whether it was Oliver embracing Felicity (full thoughts on that below), Laurel embracing her father, or the moment where Sara – the real Sara – opened her eyes and was embraced by her family, it was a beautiful ending to what was an emotionally-draining arc revolving the retrieval of Sara’s soul. Because, as teased for next week’s Arrow and an ongoing storyline in Legends of Tomorrow, Sara’s fight to regain her humanity is far from over. But at least we have Sara – the real Sara – back.
Clinging to His Lifeline
Sorry, I just need to talk about this moment between Oliver and Felicity. When Oliver and Laurel went to that mystical realm to retrieve Sara’s soul, there was a possibility that he might never see Felicity again. So when they returned – with Sara’s soul – Oliver immediately runs to Felicity and just holds her in his arms as if he’s clinging to a lifeline. And really he is. He could’ve died, and he knows it. So the first thing he needs to do is feel her in his arms, to feel her hand on his chest, to feel that they’re both alive. It was such a small moment, but it’s incredibly significant when you think of who Oliver Queen is, and that’s someone who cannot live without Felicity Smoak. She’s his lifeline, she’s the one person that has brought him back from darkness, and she’s the one that has forever touched his soul. But just as much, Felicity knows that she could’ve lost Oliver. So she clings at his shirt, lets his arms envelop her, to feel that he’s alive and that she’s alive.
You also have to continue to be in awe at how Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards shine in their portrayal of these characters in this relationship, as well as individuals. One of the beautiful things about the Olicity relationship is that a lot of these moments aren’t scripted but ad-libbed by the actors themselves. And I can’t help but wonder how the script read for this particular scene? Did it merely say Oliver embraces Felicity? Because I have a sneaking suspicion that Oliver’s leaning his face on Felicity’s head and kissing her temple was all Amell. In a season where Oliver and Felicity are a team within a team, it’s moments like these where the romance doesn’t take center stage that you see just how much both of them rely on each other and how both of them cannot live without the other.
Shocker! Ray Palmer is Alive!
Okay so Ray Palmer being alive is the worst-kept secret in the Arrow fandom, seeing as we all knew that he was alive thanks to his upcoming stint on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, which was announced back in May after his “death.” So the focus has been more around: what happened to Ray? How’s he going to get back? And that storyline has been linked to the story through Felicity, who used to date but still cares very much about him. After we saw last week that Felicity listened to Ray’s last recorded message, we learned that the message was actually not the whole message. So Felicity set Curtis with the task of peeling back the layers and finding the whole message, which he did after too many energy drinks that led to one of my favorite funny moments between Felicity and Curtis. The two listened to the message together and were shocked, unlike us, when Ray’s voice told them to he was still alive…and in trouble. And considering the spoilers for next week’s episode, it sounds like Ray is in Damien Darhk’s clutches.
WHAT’S ON OUR MINDS…
- I don’t think this show could’ve emphasized any more that Oliver and Laurel are just “friends.” And I enjoyed every second of it.
- I love that Oliver has history with John Constantine on Lian Yu.
- *Darth Vader Voice* “This is your overlord, Felicity Smoak.” There are no words for how much I love Felicity Smoak.
- I absolutely love this more mature Oliver Queen in season 4.
- Diggle and Quentin might just be the next great team-up.
- One of the things that’s amazing about Oliver and Felicity’s relationship is that they have that foundation of friendship so they can talk openly with each other, as they did regarding losing loved ones. It’s something I want more of. That’s why they are OTP.
- Andrew Diggle was a bad guy…I’m in shock? WTF?
- One of my favorite lines of the night was about as mature as playboy Oliver: “Are you sticking around for a cupcake?” I love Damien Darhk’s humor.
- Was the white outfit Sara was wearing when Oliver and Laurel pulled her out of the Lazarus Pit intentional foreshadowing of her becoming White Canary?
- I’m still not over that beautiful hug between Oliver and Felicity at the end. Dear lord.
- Curtis Holt on energy drinks is ridiculously funny – “I think I may be having a cardiac incident anyway.”
- “I’m alive and I’m in trouble.” Ray Palmer being alive is literally the worst kept secret on this show.
NEXT TIME ON “ARROW”
“Lost Souls” (Episode 4×06)
Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 8/7c on The CW
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW.