Arrow Goes Down the Rabbit Hole with Constantine
Arrow moves along at a steady-clip this week thanks to the family drama surrounding Sara Lance whose soul has gone missing and the sexy-sorcerer called in to retrieve it. “Haunted” features Constantine’s Matt Ryan and highlighted three pairs – one old, one new, and one deadly. Oliver and Laurel repeat their familiar dance of hostility, while Diggle and Lance forge a fresh alliance. Sara unleashes her rage on Thea who reveals her self-destructive tendencies. Despite all of this angst, the episode feels light and airy while it balances real emotions with a nod to the ridiculousness of Lazarus Pits and a chain-smoking Hellblazer.
John Constantine’s Indiana Jones action with Oliver to locate the magic phallic symbol cast the perfect campy tone as Arrow moves into the world of magic. This Welshmen in a trench coat – more precisely a Welshmen playing a Brit in a trench coat – performed more than one miracle this week. He restored Sara’s soul and caused me to watch the flashback scenes for the first time in ages. There is no part of me that cares about Oliver’s exploits on Military Island. I don’t even know the name of the woman he saved a few episodes back while I was fast-forwarding and, like Felicity, I’d like to keep it that way.
Oliver called on his island friend to help clean up Laurel’s mess. Amell and Cassidy’s strong performances grounded some silly premises in emotional reality. It is not every day that one’s sister returns from the dead in need of her missing soul. That only happens about once a year in Star City. Though to be clear, Thea was “nearly dead” when she swam in the magic hot tub, and in Lazarus Pit terms, that caveat makes a big difference. Laurel’s sister Sara has been running about Star City attacking would-be rapists [good] and their female victims [bad]. Laurel recognizes the negative aspects of her sister’s behavior but does not regret her choice to bring Sara back to life. You have to admire her tenacity and persistent belief that reuniting her family trumps good judgement.
Oliver lambasts Laurel for her choices, and she correctly notes Oliver’s hypocrisy – he can save his sister but she cannot save hers. She is right. Oliver does not see her as an equal and has a history of this type of behavior, especially toward women. Laurel goes a long way toward redeeming herself in that conversation. Stronger people than her, real people, would be hard pressed to give up the chance to resurrect a loved one if given the choice. Oliver and Laurel’s conversation also shows that the writers have wisely recast these two actors as pseudo-siblings with Lance serving as a father to Oliver, and Laurel caring for Thea like a sister. This dynamic emphasizes a platonic yet emotionally-charged relationship between the two that actually works, and the writers should exploit it further.
Captain Lance took advantage of his connections with Team Arrow and Damien Darhk to bring Diggle information about Dig’s slain brother. Lance and Diggle are Arrow’s new Starsky and Hutch [I am older than you; look it up], sneaking into a federal facility to upload some hinky tech. Lance knocks Diggle out to distract the security guards in a classic sitcom move adding levity and distracting from Captain Lance’s rather substantial family problems. Later he arrives in the lair as an invited guest to his daughter’s resurrection ceremony and stands by while a complete stranger calls on the forces of darkness [or light? I was not sure] to bring his baby girl back.
BTW, why did Laurel and Oliver leave one realm dressed as civilians and appear “on the other side” dressed as superheroes? How does that work?
As noted earlier, Sara has been having some transition issues. She doesn’t know much, but she knows Thea killed her so she is out for revenge. [Has anyone else noticed that Sara moves like the First Slayer?] Thea suffers from her own “blood lust” which will never be quenched because she cannot kill Ra’s, the man who nearly killed her. She understands Sara’s desire to strangle her. Thea returns to a pattern of self-loathing that we have seen from her before and at one point tells Sara to go ahead and kill her. Oliver intervenes and Thea lives another day, presumably still carrying her blood lust. Thankfully, Constantine reunites Sara with her soul and she returns to her family.
Felicity “Overlord” Smoak and Constantine pepper the episode with a host of one-liners. The new and improved Oliver Queen, happy and self-evolved, chooses friendship over politics, and Damien Darhk offers Lance a cupcake. Thea still has some stuff to work out, and Ray is stuck in a box. But somewhere along the way, Arrow shows it has learned how to relax and have a good time. And, I like it.