Arrow Review: “Haunted”

ArrowSeason4

Jim’s Review

This week’s Arrow wasn’t bad. It had a sort of utilitarian feel to it. That’s to say it seemed less about moving forward long-running story arcs than resetting certain continuity points.

The first of those points would be John Constantine. I get that there’s still some of Ollie’s five-year-jaunt to cover for the show, but establishing this relationship with Constantine came off as lazy to me. In other words, they’re really running the risk of just front-loading the series with a roster full of people and tools Ollie’s supposed to have had access to all along. It screams ret-con (retroactive continuity, for the uninitiated), and it’s sloppy.

The other talking point here is Sara’s restoration. I’m pretty sure it’s safe to talk about that now without worrying about being spoiler-y. It’s good to have her back, as I was beginning to like her character a bit more just about the time she was killed, but as it looks like she’ll be resurrected to be on a different show, it’s cause to be a bit wary of how much she’ll play into Arrow going forward.

Lowering the stakes is another thing Arrow is playing a bit too fast and loose with right now. By that I mean they’ve established death as a thing that can be beaten. That’s an ongoing problem with superhero comics as it is, and I think it’s a bigger problem for a TV show to welcome in. They’ve tried to temper that by showing the drawbacks to the Lazarus Pit, but now Constantine has shown with a wave of his hands, and a magic blend of his famous herbs and spices, he can negate the effects of the pit. What they really needed in order to restore the consequences of death was for Constantine to give some hocus pocus explanation as to why what they did can’t really be done again. They didn’t give us that.

I’m glad to see the show going back to Diggle and his brother, but I’m hoping what this episode showed us isn’t the end of it. It’s just too arbitrary of a way to close out a story that’s spanned the series so far.

The scenes on the island didn’t do it for me. I get that maybe this has always been the plan, to use the island to shoehorn Constantine back into the show, but seeing a guy constantly point out that everything was fine until Ollie arrived, then two guys died under strange circumstances, only to have that waved off? That feels way too much like parody.

I still don’t care about Felicity’s story, and I’ve stopped expecting that to change. Much like the story with Sara, they’re just using it to set up Legends of Tomorrow. I think they want to find the same success for that show as they did with The Flash, but I don’t think Arrow’s story suffered as much for its setup of that one.

I still think Damien is stealing the show. He’s compelling and menacing all at once, and I think putting that big baddie on a slow boil is working for this season.

Kyle’s Take

I baked some chocolate chip cookies, and the sweet smell wafted Jim’s direction, tempting him to jump to the other side of the death doesn’t mean anything in Arrow when you introduce a Lazarus Pit argument. Arrow wasn’t like this prior to Flash airing. The two shows are like Annie get your Gun and “Anything you can do I can do better.” I can go back in time and change events. Well, death doesn’t mean anything on my show. Oh, yeah. I have a multiverse, so if I lose one of my characters, I have 51 spares.

I liked Constantine well enough, but this was Constantine light. Not only do John Constantine spells work once (in both the comics and the TV show), you have to give up something in order to get something. So if someone was gaining a soul, someone else would have to lose a soul. That didn’t happen. And oh my, I had a How I Met Your Mother flashback. In one episode of How I Met Your Mother, Ted visited Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris’s character) at his bachelor pad, while a Gregorian chant played over his sound system. Ted asked Barney, Are those monks singing Bro? Yes—yes, they are, Ted. That’s right, I have a monk guy. I thought of that scene when Ollie said he had a soul guy. That’s how absurd “Haunted” got: sitcom absurd.

Anyway, let’s talk about the other elements of “Haunted.” Diggle’s thread with HIVE was dropped—for now—but I hope we haven’t heard the last of it. I don’t care about Felicity or Sara’s arcs: those are not for Arrow, they’re for Legends of Tomorrow and most folks who read our blog know my thoughts on when the CW jacks one show to promote a new one. I don’t like it. Damien is still a great character but I wonder if the Diggle thread suffered because Arrow wanted Damien to be a more accessible antagonist. We’ll have to see.

Arrow had more Easter eggs this week than in weeks past. Here’s a link to our Arrow secrets page. Thanks for reading.

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