Did you binge watch Arrow episodes 4.05, 4.06 and 4.07 over the recent holiday season? Or better yet, do you plan to? (Looks at Nate Winchester wondering what’s taking him so long). Or do you just want to fondly recall those episodes because it’s so far freaking long Winter Hellatus? Then I have a review for you.
4.05 – “Haunted”
I confess. I did watch a few episodes of “Constantine” on NBC. I thought it was a pretty entertaining show, especially for a Friday night. But I got busy, the episodes accumulated on the DVR, the show got cancelled, and suddenly it wasn’t worth it watching the remaining episodes. I didn’t want to get too attached. So how happy was I to see John Constantine on Arrow? Well, I was curious for sure. What did he have to do with this universe?
Constantine showing up on the infamous Arrow island in the flashbacks our obvious clue that whatever’s happening on that island is a mystical artifact hunt. The type of thing that will one day tie into what Damien Darhk is all about I’m sure. But we didn’t get the introduction to Constantine in the present day until much later after his adventure in the painfully slow and uninteresting flashbacks. It would have been nice to have him in the present day story for the whole thing.
Okay, the plot was pretty thin. Oliver and Laurel join Constantine on the other side, and Sara’s soul is stuck in the otherside’s version of the Lazarus pit guarded by dispensable League of Assassin guards. Geez, you couldn’t bring back the old Ra’s Al Ghul or something? While Oliver and Laurel, both with full weapons and superhero suits, are tasked with rescuing Sara from the pit, easily taking on the guards, John Constantine gets to take on a set by himself and proves what an amazing warrior he is. The whole thing looks like it easily took place on a soundstage. It was Star Trek The Original Series hokey, but still, once I accepted that we weren’t getting anything elaborate, I enjoyed watching Constantine do his thing. After all, his show was cancelled. Cut him some slack.
Of course they rescued Sara’s soul. She has to be fully intact for the Legends of Tomorrow spinoff. Heck, I want John Constantine as part of that spinoff now. If anything, he seems to have an open door for more Arrow episodes, which means he’s ripe for The Flash episodes as well.
The other important item addressed in this episode was the friendship of Oliver and Laurel. I guess we never got resolution on those two, even though Laurel’s been the Black Canary and fighting on his team for almost a year now. Although in fairness, Oliver was a bit distracted with that whole being dead/becoming heir to Ra’s Al Ghul/quitting superhero life to shack up with Felicity thing. I never had any doubt that Oliver would back Laurel in this situation, but it was still good to see. It puts them both on a level playing field now, which is thematically a big shift this season. I like to see Oliver among a group of equals instead of subordinates, ditching the whole “do it my way” mantra that dominated the earlier seasons. It does well for the character building. Maybe that whole ridiculous fall at the end of season three did actually mean something.
Not enough time was given at all to the aftermath of getting Sara back and Constantine was gone in a flash. That left me feeling flat about the whole adventure, but it was good seeing Matt Ryan again. I still wish that there would have been a joke about how he wears the coat better than Castiel in “Supernatural.” After all, that show has joked about Constantine! Ah well, maybe on another appearance.
4.06 – “Lost Souls”
Remember Ray Palmer? You know, the guy who supposedly died in episode 3.23? The guy we know isn’t dead because Brandon Routh as The Atom as been plastered all over the Legends of Tomorrow promo material? All I can say is Arrow is taking it’s sweet time in getting this guy undead, and then bizarrely treating it as though he never left. I’m still wondering how Damien Darhk knew that he was in miniature form, and how in the world did he find him? Not that it really matters, because as soon as the techno wizard crime fighting duo of Felicity and Curtis restored him to normal size (a little too science fiction-y for this show if you ask me), it was like Ray had just gone on a milk run. “Oh, hey Ray, you’re back. How was six months of captivity?”
As for Sara, I accept that emotionally her return this time didn’t have much of an impact. I personally think that the Lances are all tapped out. After all, this is the second time she’s come back from the dead. We didn’t need a replay of the whole tears and hugs saga we got during her first resurrection. However, for them to go through that whole adventure just for her to give her mom the obligatory “I’m alive” phone call and then just leave, it seemed like a real waste of time in the end. I know, it’s the setup for LOT, but couldn’t it have been more interesting? Heck, Hawkgirl and Hawkman got more of a punch in their stories (see our crossover spectacular review for all that action).
I personally can’t wait for LOT to premiere so that Arrow and The Flash can get back to telling their stories. The amount of effort that has gone into this spinoff at the expense of these two shows is ridiculous. Both shows have built such a huge universe that taking time away from those universes to help build another has been criminal. I’m wondering if the useless flashback scenes in Arrow are suffering because they have to make way for these secondary stories. Maybe not though, since they were really weak last season and they continue to be very weak this season. At least the Oliver and Felicity and Team Arrow vs. Damien Darhk material remains strong, otherwise I would be sounding some serious warning bells.
4.07 – “Brotherhood”
Oh right, we were so distracted with these other stories we forgot about the whole Diggle/Andy thing! After all, Ray Palmer and Sara Lance weren’t going to resurrect themselves. This seemed like the right time to pick this up and we learn once again that episodes are better when Diggle actually gets some focus. Exponentially better.
Sorry, but after seeing Sara and Ray come to life, was there any doubt that Andy Diggle would be alive? I saw that coming a mile away. Speaking of which, what did happen to Diggle’s sister-in-law from season one? She was like in every episode back then. Ah well, considering I only just remembered her now, I obviously didn’t miss her. Anyway, learning that Andy is alive and is a part of H.I.V.E. confirmed Diggle’s worst fears about his brother, and the real golden moments are when that reality hits hard. He discussed his feelings with Oliver, then with Laurel (I loved seeing that, those two have a real chemistry), and of course with Lyla, aka his rock. Watching him struggle with this idea that his brother wasn’t who he thought he was did not feel tedious at all. It was the saving grace of an otherwise scattered episode.
While the episode definitely fell short on dialogue, at least they got the sentiment right. Team Arrow are all there for each other, even if they were there to take on a deceiving not-so dead brother. Diggle’s comment, “My brother needs me, my green brother,” can be interpreted as both eye-rolling or sentimentally strong. I think it falls in the middle, a truly corny line for a show that likes to go there from time to time. It’s not like we haven’t seen it before. At least we can put that whole “you endangered my child” thing to rest. The rift is over.
I know they’ve been amping up the action quite on bit on Arrow this season, and this was the directing debut of long time Stunt Coordinator James Bamford, but this episode went too heavy on the action for me, so much so where it disrupted the usual balance. There are those that love more stunts and find it enthralling, but I think it hurt the story more than helped in this case, especially when it involved such a powerful moment for a main character. Not to say that the action wasn’t well choreographed or shot. From a technical standpoint, all of it was executed beautifully. Bamford stayed true to the new visual style that’s been happening this season, so I give him huge credit for that.
Then there’s that really weak end to Ray’s story. He doesn’t want to tell the world he’s alive nor is he willing to take back his fortune from Felicity. He’d rather hole up and work on the ATOM suit. He’s definitely not ready to take his company back from Felicity, who’s more than eager to push it off. I get the whole disappointment over his legacy, but hey, they did at least rename the city. He won that battle. He also got to help our heroes this week for old times sake. I know his existential crisis was all for the LOT setup and to that I say great, now go to your new show and don’t look back. We have characters on this show with real problems like Diggle. I do promise to spend my Thursdays with you Ray, but this review is all about the Wednesday show.
One more note, I’m so over the flashbacks.
Coming up, my thoughts on the midseason finale (which was freaking amazing BTW). Missed my 4.08 crossover review with Nate Winchester? You can read that here: