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.

Arrow -- "Haunted" -- Image AR404B_0312b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Matt Ryan as Constantine and Stephen Amell as The Arrow -- Photo: Cate Cameron/ The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Arrow — “Haunted” — Image AR404B_0312b.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Matt Ryan as Constantine and Stephen Amell as The Arrow — Photo: Cate Cameron/ The CW — © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.

Arrow -- "Haunted" -- Image AR404B_0177b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak and Willa Holland as Thea Queen -- Photo: Cate Cameron/ The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Arrow — “Haunted” — Image AR404B_0177b.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak and Willa Holland as Thea Queen — Photo: Cate Cameron/ The CW — © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.

Arrow -- "Haunted" -- Image AR404A_0114b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen and Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance -- Photo: Katie Yu/ The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Arrow — “Haunted” — Image AR404A_0114b.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen and Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance — Photo: Katie Yu/ The CW — © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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.

Arrow -- "Haunted" -- Image AR404B_0060b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Matt Ryan as Constantine, Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, Paul Blackthorne as Detective Quentin Lance and Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance -- Photo: Cate Cameron/ The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Arrow — “Haunted” — Image AR404B_0060b.jpg — Pictured (L-R): Matt Ryan as Constantine, Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, Paul Blackthorne as Detective Quentin Lance and Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance — Photo: Cate Cameron/ The CW — © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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?

Black Canary and Arrow, moviepilot.com
Black Canary and Arrow, moviepilot.com

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.

Caity Lotz as Sara Lance, accesshollywood.com
Caity Lotz as Sara Lance, accesshollywood.com

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.

7 Comments »

  1. Once again, great recap! I agree with you about the flashbacks. I have grown tired of them since early Season 3. This season it seems like they are moving at a snail’s pace and it actually is hard to stay involved, as a viewer. I really loved the Diggle/Lance team-up in this episode. Constantine was a huge win for me. I will admit I never watched his show on NBC but this almost makes me want to. I know the show runners have said this is just a one episode deal but I hope they can find a way to bring him back later this season. Thea is a complete mess and I am starting to think her trajectory is going to lead her right down into that pine box. That makes me sad.

    For the first time in a long time I disagree with you and surprise, surprise it involves that speech Laurel gave Oliver. I had no issue with Laurel calling Oliver a hypocrite because he is in this situation. I took issue with the next two points she hit. She claims Oliver doesn’t see her as an equal. In my opinion, that is a false assumption by her. Originally…yes she could have made that claim. When she first started her vigilantism, Oliver did not think she was ready or even deserved to be a vigilante. That was not his choice to make. However, if he didn’t view her as a partner and as an equal would he have been okay with leaving her to guard the city and to watch over Thea? I don’t think so. And frankly, if I am being brutally honest….Laurel is nowhere close to an equal to Oliver when it comes to training and combat. Three months with a boxing coach and former vigilante (who in his first action against Brick’s men got his butt kicked) and a few weeks with Nyssa does not equal 5 years of trials, training and combat Oliver had. It does not equal the amount of training Diggle has had. It doesn’t even compare to the months of training Thea had with Merlyn. So no….Laurel is not an equal in that department. Second, when Laurel said Oliver doesn’t give a damn about her family…that irritated me. Old Oliver was selfish and it was his selfishness that tore that family apart. But since Oliver returned from that island…he has been a changed man. He has shown countless times that he cares and loves Laurel, Sara and even Quentin. So for Laurel to make that statement was beyond ridiculous and completely asinine. Like I said, when Laurel started her speech to Oliver I was on board but then she came across as someone who knew they screwed up big time and instead of owning it she turned it around and tried to play victim and place blame on Oliver. That is not a sign of a strong character in my opinion.
    I apologize for the rant and I’m sure I came off as some bigoted sexist but I can assure you that was not my intent. Anyways, another great post and look forward to future articles!!

    Like

    • I agree with you completely that Oliver and Laurel are not equals in the field or in the super hero department. I almost threw an off-hand remark into the post to reflect that, but decided not to because I think her comment suggests more than her work in the field. Oliver has an out-sized need to protect women. This is an endearing quality, until it stands in the way of a woman’s own growth and success. Laurel’s fighting skills still make me cringe. And, this is probably stepping on sacred ground, the canary cry bugs me. Perhaps I should see it as a symbol of feminine empowerment, much like Buffy’s scream in “Hush,” but when Laurel uses it I feel like it connects female power with weakness -she can’t fight so she screams. Melinda May, for example, would not scream the bad guys away, she would destroy them. (Hmm, maybe I should write a post about all this).

      Arrow should do more to emphasize Laurel’s intelligence and education. She is an attorney, but we never see her succeed or even practice in that area. Oliver loves the Lance family, but Laurel was speaking out of anger. I don’t think she really believes that he does not love her family. It is very clear, however, that Oliver thought Sara should stay dead while he saved his own sister. Ouch. That would hurt. Whether or not Sara should have stayed dead is not the point any more. She is back and she needs help. Oliver stepped up to help her and brought Laurel in as an equal partner.

      I didn’t watch Constantine either. The character seemed interesting so I hope to see him again soon. I love it when shows have cross-overs and when they respect a fan base enough to bring back a character from a cancelled show.

      Thank you for your comments! They were not sexist and not even a rant. Very well-argued!

      Like

      • While I still think Oliver was being hypocritical…I can kind of understand his point. Thea was not dead so his decision was an action to save her life. Was it misguided not to listen to the warnings from Malcolm? Sure. Sara on the other hand was dead and had been dead for over a year. It was no longer about saving her life but rather dealing in the realm of necromancy. There are certain boundaries a person shouldn’t cross and this was one of them. And because of Laurel’s decision tons of people died and her sister almost had to be put down again. And frankly I don’t think she owned up to it. All she did was whine and play the victim card and Oliver had to swoop in and find a way to save the day. I love the Laurel character and up until her becoming a Vigilante I could agree or at least rationalize her actions and behavior. From early Season 3 onward she has established such an ignorance and naivety about so many things. Do you think it is because she is trying so hard to keep up with the rest of Team Arrow and to prove her worthiness? I genuinely asking because I want smart, sassy, lawyer Laurel back.

        Like

      • Smart, sassy Lawyer!Laurel is the character at her best. It’s also Katie at her best, because watching her narrow her eyes and use big legalese words that would intimidate anyone into complying, if the actual argument didn’t work. In this role you want to give her a fist-pump for proving what a HBIC she is, and much of her intelligence and savvy are on display instead of being nominally informed attributes.

        She had perhaps one or two scenes in the episodes where everyone is hunting Oliver and Roy gives himself up as the Arrow, but they were some of her best – always arguing with her dad to either get Oliver out of lock-up, allow him to see his friends while he is in custody, and try to find a way to get Roy out. It was like a ballet (or an Aaron Sorkin walk-and-talk from The West Wing) and she was seamlessly woven into the narrative instead of clumsily being shoved in.

        I may have been one of the few people who didn’t like her on The Flash (I think I was still stewing over the “Canary arc”). It was too much of a comedy set-up, almost vaudevillian in how you knew Cisco would react to meeting her. And she soaked up the praise that was actually owed to Sara, because Laurel wan’t talented enough or well-known enough to deserve that kind of reaction. I don’t think Central City, obsessed with the Flash as their own hero, would know anything about the Black Canary except what they heard before Barry came onto the scene. This made the cute ‘ha ha, look how happy Cisco is to have a signed picture with the Black Canary!’ feel like it was Laurel in cosplay. The whole thing was too smug, too… opposite of fan service? It was more about making Laurel look good than anything else, and the comedic performance was sure to get praise. Just… too calculated for me.

        I seriously should have done my thesis on Laurel Lance. She’s my favorite petrie dish to stare at through a microscope, because there are so many in-universe and production-level decisions that led her to this point

        Like

    • No, no! You don’t come across as bigoted or sexist at all to me, but then again I have always had a hard time trying to reconcile my feminist need to support female characters and how godawful Laurel has been from the start.

      In this episode all of the terrible character traits that make it so difficult to like her were on full display. In some ways we’re right back in the middle of season 2, with Laurel blaming other people for everything that’s wrong in her life. What I found particular egregious was the “what about MY feelings?” bit. Laurel has always been incredibly self-absorbed, but it goes back to her complete inability to own up to her mistakes. It’s like the southern plantation owner saying “what about my feelings; what I feel about enslaving an entire race and forcing them to live short, painful lives toiling in my cotton fields?!” You’re 100% correct. She’s playing the victim, and unfortunately it’s a trait I see in her fans when I encounter them on social media. They too like to play the victimized fandom, the last bastion of righteousness in a world full of rabid zombie shippers.

      I almost made a post on Tumblr, based on a car accident I was in yesterday morning:

      ME: So I was in a car accident yesterday…

      LAUREL FANS: You’re gonna say it’s Laurel’s fault, right?

      ME: Not exactly…

      LAUREL FANS: You Olicity shippers always blame everything on Laurel. So come on, say this is Laurel’s fault!

      ME: Okay, fine. My real-world car accident was somehow inexplicably the fault of Laurel Lance, a fictional character,

      LAUREL FANS: SEE?! WE KNEW IT! EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS LAUREL’S FAULT!

      ME: But you told me to…

      LAUREL FANS: Blaming Laurel again! You didn’t blame Oliver when HE caused a car accident! Such hypocrites!

      ME: That’s because he didn’t cause my previous two car accidents… I was fiddling with the radio with the first one, and with the second one I was going too fast on an icy patch of road…

      While the behavior of Laurel stans is ridiculous, the fact that *once again* she didn’t have to pay any consequences is absolutely frustrating. It’s beyond slap-on-the-wrist accountability; personally I think Oliver, Lance, Thea and Sara should refuse to speak to her for what she has done. I’m glad we don’t have to watch an entire span of episodes for this to be resolved; it does show how much Oliver has grown as a person. However, it also shows that Laurel hasn’t changed at all; whatever “crucible” she (or the writers) claim to have been through did absolutely nothing.

      I’m as annoyed with the writers for their lack of self-awareness as much as I am with the characters, though you could say it was a clever move to wrap Laurel’s get-out-of-jail-free-yet-again card in the insulation from a crossover episode. “Hey, everyone! Go watch Oliver and Constantine! We’d also love it if you could totally forget that he was required to clean up Laurel’s mess. Oh, look! Peacock feather!”

      Laurel Lance is fascinating to me in how she ever came to exist the way she does; if the writers are really just that Don’t they realize she is a terrible person dressed up like a hero–and she’s why The Flash will always be considered the superior show.

      …And now back to work.

      Like

  2. My senior thesis thing is ramping up so I really don’t have time for my usual diatribe (I actually sent one this week to Maureen Ryan, TV critic for Variety… she was thankfully amused).

    All I’m going to say is Oliver was on Percocet for that last scene in the campaign office, and he should listen to the political consultant.

    Also, Laurel doesn’t understand scale or magnitude, alongside her complete lack of good judgment. “Mostly dead” is different from “corpse rotting in a grave for a year.” Yet he’s somehow cool with the whole “you raised your sister from the dead and now she’s a soulless killing machine and now I gotta call up a friend to clean up your mess, once again” thing.

    Hence, suspicion of Percocet.

    Like

    • Very funny! Oliver does not strike me as the smartest guy in the room, but he made the sympathetic choice to keep Laurel in his life. Laurel’s character is doing what the writers need her to do to launch Legends of Tomorrow. I think they have decided that her character is so unpopular that things cannot get worse so they might as well make her the bad guy.

      Good luck with the thesis!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s