TV Recap: Arrow: “Haunted”

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When Sara (Caity Lotz) starts killing Thea (Willa Holland) lookalikes, Oliver (Stephen Amell) calls in someone from his past who knows a little something about magic, John Constantine (guest star Matt Ryan). Meanwhile, Oliver’s new campaign advisor Alex Davis (Parker Young) encourages him to distance himself from the Lance family and their past public scandal.

Did this episode of Arrow feel a little off to anyone else? I’m not saying “Haunted” was a bad hour of television, but it seemed a little confused tonally and narratively. Unfortunately, the cause of that confusion was mostly thanks to an appearance by NBC’s own John Constantine.

Full disclosure, while I enjoyed the Constantine pilot, I gave up a few episodes later because I found the Zed character to be so obnoxious. However, Matt Ryan’s performance was genuinely fantastic and I was excited when it was announced he would reprise the role on Arrow. However, his playful energy and wry wit didn’t quite fit the show’s more serious tone. The flashbacks usually feel superfluous to any given episode, but these especially felt like wasted time. Watching Oliver and Constantine’s personalities clash on their subpar Indiana Jones adventure may have been amusing, but it did nothing for the overall plot of Arrow. Constantine’s time in the present day restoring Sara’s soul was at least more relevant, but that storyline had its own problems.

Both Sara directing her post-resurrection rage into hunting Thea lookalikes and Thea’s seeming willingness to sacrifice herself were narratively satisfying. Less so was the way this whole resurrection situation turned into a weird metaphor for Oliver dealing with his Lance sister emotional baggage. Technically, he never really got closure on his complex romances with either Laurel or Sara. The former ended because their cheating hurt Tommy (Colin Donnell), who then died. The latter because the writers needed to set up the fantastic Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) kidnapping/love confession fake out of the Season 2 finale. My guess is that the writers are trying to make sure Oliver deals with all of his outstanding past relationships before proposing to Felicity, but this seemed an odd time to do so. There hasn’t been a hint of romance between him and a Lance sister for at least a season, so is this even a problem?

Still, some of the character moments that came out of it worked really well. Laurel was right in saying that Oliver bends his sense of right to serve his purposes and often makes decision for people instead of trusting their judgement. However, even if he didn’t use to see her as an equal, he does now and her accusation that Oliver doesn’t care about her family felt off base. I mean, he’s slept with like half of them and what he said to Quentin (Paul Blackthorne) last week pretty much proves that he’s invested in the Lance family. Though considering she doesn’t know about that or their secret pact to trick Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough), her point about him keeping secrets is valid. And that’s always been Oliver’s biggest problem, his inability to trust people. He’s made a lot of progress this season and his arc should continue to be about Oliver repairing the relationships he’s damaged by lying. This just wasn’t the way to move that storyline forward.

Arrow Death Watch

Quentin Lance: 50% because Oliver keeping secrets from the Lance family in particular has never failed to come back and bite him in the ass
Thea Queen: 50% because it’s unclear if she meant what she said to Sara about wanting to die
Felicity Smoak: -0.2% LOL
John Diggle: 10% though the reveal about his brother’s criminal past may take him down some dark roads
Constantine’s Bisexuality: 100% which is weird considering Sara and all