Its funny how through my time reviewing Arrow, I’ve become of all things a fashion critic.  Given the tight skimpy things they’ve put on people like Thea, Laurel, and Felicity, it’s no wonder.  But I have to say, grand slam home run this time Arrow.  No, I’m not talking about Barry Allen’s eggplant colored sweater. 

I LOVE the new mask. 

Sure, the strap on the back on Oliver’s spiky and short hair looks a little goofy but the front view with the hood on…Whoa!  Is it hot in here?  I’m with Felicity.  A hero I can believe in for sure.  Who figured a mask was all he needed?   Merely focusing on the fashion though, despite the shallow hormonal delights it brings me, does “Three Ghosts” little justice. 

This was an excellent episode all the way around.  It fixed so many of last week’s problems, starting with Barry Allen.  Oh yes, this kid can be my Flash any day.  I’m just bummed I have to wait until a Pilot episode now next season to see what happens to the poor kid now that he’s been zapped with super speed juice.  That wayward particle accelerator couldn’t have only gotten him, could it?  Heroes need sidekicks. 

Barry pulled his weight by saving his hero The Vigilante (yay for Digg telling him he prefers Arrow) with a strange antidote of rat poison.  Not that it got him any praise, because Oliver was rather angry to see him in the cave.  Only he gets to tell people his secret.  Right Ollie, how did that work with The Huntress?  Luckily Felicity was there to provide moral support.  It does suck when you meet your heroes, right? 

The storytelling was so much tighter and better this week, and anything that lets us look at Oliver’s inner struggles through the manifestations of three ghosts is a win (especially during the holidays).   All the little threads blended together well, even the Thea and Roy storyline!  Heck, even the Lances had a purpose.  

Once Oliver recovered from death, he got pretty busy.  Thea called Oliver to help fix the arrow in Roy’s leg without tipping off Moira.  Good thing for her Ollie knows how to handle arrow wounds.  He summoned the ex-army medic Mr. Diggle to help.  Oh Digg, for Christmas I wish you a better story line in the second half of the season.

It wasn’t just Thea and Roy though.  The island backstory and the current events collided big time!  After he was done with Thea and Roy, ghost number one visited Oliver, and that’s when we sadly found out Shado is dead.  She tried to tell him to surrender to whatever he was fighting and live.  Considering these ghosts were an inner reflection of Oliver’s unspoken thoughts, it’s interesting that was what was going through his mind at that time.  One can assume that it’s the guilt over what he’s doing that’s hurting innocents like Roy.  Of course something also clicked inside of Oliver, because seeing ghosts is not normal.  He went back to the cave and asked Barry about side effects of mixing rat poison with a blood coagulant.  Hallucinations of course!  Gee Barry, you think you might have mentioned that upfront?  Given the fact Ollie was being a real jerk before he left earlier, it’s not like he earned that courtesy. 

Ghost number two was way more interesting, in the form of one very pissed off Slade Wilson.  He basically had the same message for Oliver as Shado ghost, although he wasn’t so gentle about it.  He berates Oliver and then proceeds to beat him up, which is a really good trick since he’s a hallucination.  How did Oliver manage, albeit in a hallucinatory state, to knock himself around the lair like that, even breaking the Arrow suit cage?  Especially when young Mr. Allen let him know that seeing such ghosts was psychological since his blood test came up clean?  That’s some really strong guilt there Oliver!  Talk about self-punishment.  Turns out, this is very important for later.

The island flashbacks were vital to Oliver’s state of mind this week and offered more origins of that guilt that may have caused fake Slade to go off the rails.  The jerk bastard Ivo captured Oliver, Shado, and Sara and made Oliver choose which one he’d shoot.  Oliver tried to get him to stop by offering himself, but Ivo shot Shado dead anyway.  After Slade woke up a now non-dead super soldier, he went beserk and killed all the bad guys after finding Shado, with whom he’d fallen in love.  I get why that happened, because she did nurse him after he was burned, but I would have liked to seen that play out a little more.  Oliver certainly blames himself, but the question is, did the real Slade blame him?  

Speaking of guilt, Oliver tips off the cops to Cyrus Gold’s whereabouts through Quentin, which is kind of foolish since he’s a super hulked up monster that even The Arrow can’t take out.  Gold either seriously hurts or kills the entire team, landing Quentin in the ICU and Detective Hilton, the asshole that demoted him, dead.  Ollie in Arrow suit slips into the hospital to apologize to Quentin, and he doesn’t think an apology is necessary.  Quentin doesn’t think he should feel responsible for everything that happens in the city.  He’s got some of that responsibility too, as do others.  I enjoyed seeing Oliver get a pep talk for once, and I think it played a major role in the forgiving message of Ghost number three…

Tommy!!  Oh man, I almost bust into tears when a saw Tommy.  For someone that I thought was a weak link in season one, I sure do miss him now.  You see, Oliver found Cyrus Gold and took him on at the lab.  What was even worse was that Roy was there, unconscious or dead (not sure which) because didn’t give up on his investigation, and was captured by Gold trying to steal evidence.  So Blood put on the mask and injected Roy with the super solider serum.  He flatlined.  Ollie in his angry confrontation got the crap beat out of him.  But while on the floor Tommy appeared and commanded him to fight.  He even took time to assure a grief stricken Oliver that he didn’t kill him, he tried to save him.  “You are a hero.”  Yep, that’s when I actually did bust into tears.  Oh Tommy, you are my hero.  Please come back and haunt Oliver some more.  

Thanks to the Tommy ghost, Oliver gets back up and prevails over Gold, killing him.  That didn’t stop Blood from fleeing though, and he ended up visiting the real guy behind this whole super soldier scheme to give him a report.  You see, the guy is a super soldier himself, injected during Ivo’s original experiments.  How do we know?  We saw it in the flashback!  Suddenly, island story becomes current.  The new evil boss is Deathstroke, aka Slade Wilson!  He’s the one that started up the program again.  Manu Bennett gets a real role!  I knew this was eventually, probably going to happen, but I had no idea now!  Oh, and he wants the Vigilante unharmed.  He knows who it is, but won’t tell Blood.  He just wants him alive so he can suffer.  Uh oh, what did you do to cross him Ollie?  Well, his eye is missing.  Something tells me we’re gonna find out more about that.  

So, new villain in place, new superhero established in Central City (one who offered himself as a consolation prize to Felicity if things didn’t work out with Ollie), Roy is back in Thea’s bed noticing some very weird changes (Speedy wasn’t a super solider, right?) and Team Arrow has a whole new look and resolve just because of a mask.  But it’s awesome.  Thanks to the superior design of Barry Allen, this changes everything.  Game on…in five weeks that is.  Psych!  

Happy Winter Hiatus everyone!

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