TV REVIEW: ARROW Season 2, Episode 9 – Three Ghosts

arrow-tvreview-logosmallThe mid season finale of Arrow Season 2 aired this evening. Weirdly, this is also a sort of pilot for a new series – seeing the origin of another DC Comics character as well as introducing two other villains (well, one we’ve already seen) from the comics continuity into the world of Arrow. How does the episode fare? Does it hold the viewers’ interest? Are we left wanting more? You can see what I thought below.

After a battle with Cyrus Gold, Oliver is poisoned and left for dead, and Felicity gives him an antidote that causes hallucinations of his past. Meanwhile, Brother Blood captures Roy, Barry continues assisting Felicity, and Lance loses someone when he tries to run surveillance on Cyrus.

Episode nine marks the mid-season finale for Arrow. Set at Christmas, the story can’t really be called a “Christmas episode” but it does have elements of a Christmas Carol in it. Well, sort of. OK, there are three ghosts but they’re all from the past. So not really that much in common at all when you think about it.

Following on from last week, we get a great scene where Barry performs science (I love the eliminations he goes through). It seems that there are after effects to Ollie’s trauma last week and, being the science guy, Barry is tasked with finding out what is effecting our hero. As with last week, these quiet scenes with Barry work really well and Grant Gustin seems to have a great presence without being in-your-face about anything. Good casting.

The ghosts in the title refer to the hallucinations that Oliver has following the beating and injection he received last time. These take the form of Shado, Slade and Tommy – all of whom died in Oliver’s presence. Clearly the man has some survivor’s guilt issues to work through and on the whole this works for me. The resolution of this plot point, not so much. I found that slightly cheesey and clichéd, but that’s to be expected.

This is another episode that focuses more on the support characters than Ollie. Feeling compromised, our hooded vigilante has taken a back seat sending Diggle on investigations. Meanwhile, Thea and Sin decide to carry on with the investigation that they (with the injured Roy) started last week. This led to an interesting revelation for me. They visit Laurel. Who I had completely forgotten existed after she didn’t appear (or appeared briefly only) last week. If nothing else is, then that is a sign that a character is surplus to requirements in my book.

I have to again applaud the creative team for the way in which they are introducing super-powered individuals to the show. I had a big fear that this element would feel forced but I needn’t have worried. Yes, the Mirakuru drug makes an easy in, but it’s clear that the world will have others as well, not just people like the “Solomon Grundy” that we see here tear up Diggle and then a police unit with ease. The world of Arrow is opening up and the team (and that of the follow up show, The Flash) are clearly not afraid to use “magic science” in more ways than just the introduction of a super soldier serum.

Events this week are seminal. Roy, Thea and Sin’s desire to find out what happened to Sin’s friend at the blood drive is really the drive through for me this week. If only because it shows the potential sidekicks using their own resources and initiative to follow up on leads. Even if that ended pretty badly for some. Or well.

Ok, earlier I mentioned the cheesey resolution to Ollie’s crisis of faith. Yet, the scene that follows was one of those stand up, punch the air and cry “YEAH!” moments. Suddenly secure, Ollie finds his centre and uses agility, skill and cunning to take out an opponent who should by rights rip him to pieces. It shows there’s more to Queen than a leather suit and a hood. Excellent.

One wonders just how much Roy remembers from his time in that basement. One also wonders what he’ll do with any knowledge or abilities that come out of it.

And the final couple of scenes? Exactly what I’ve been waiting for. Fantastic. Loved it. The island sequences were superb. Particularly the final one which adds another layer of subtext and conjecture to the current events in Starling City.

The episode does exactly what a mid-season finale should. It turns plots on their head, reversing the role of the big bad. It introduces the spin off (I loved Barry’s final scene) in a satisfactory manner. The creators had the stones to actually present the comic origin for Barry’s Flash! OK, they mixed in a more modern element to it too.

This episode is possibly my favourite yet. It succeeds not only in making me want to see more Arrow, but also has me anticipating the Flash series, which previously I was indifferent about. Tinkley “Barry Theme” aside. I loved the final moment. I loved the interactions. I loved the Solomon Grundy reference. But most of all … Ollie has a proper mask now. That was weirdly important to me.

Rating: 4.5 /5
Reviewer: Wedgedoc

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