Arrow: Three Ghosts, review

The midseason finale of Arrow features Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, a ton of action, and enough DC Universe hints to keep us busy until January!

We don’t need too much preamble for “Three Ghosts” which is the second part of Arrow‘s midseason finale that began with “The Scientist” so it’s safe to jump right in. There will be major spoilers throughout, so just be aware of what you’re getting into if you haven’t watched “Three Ghosts” yet! Feel free to go back and give our review of “The Scientist” a look if you need a little lead-in to this!

“Three Ghosts” opens with Barry saving Oliver’s life via some unconventional (and perhaps questionable) medical techniques. Whether it’s the combination of drugs in his system or the generally tough couple of weeks that Ollie has had, he ends up hallucinating, hence the “Three Ghosts” of the title. It’s these hallucinations that prevent Oliver from taking a more active role in apprehending Cyrus Gold at first, and the lack of vigilante back-up ends up putting Officer Lance (and a small team of police officers) in mortal danger.

It’s good to see that even after taking a beating and watching a good cop forced to eat a bullet at the hand of Solomon Grundy that they didn’t pull a Moira Queen and hit the reset button with Quentin Lance and his attitude about Green Arrow. Their hospital bed chat was brief, and I fully expected this to become a “blame game,” but I was pleasantly surprised. Paul Blackthorne’s Quentin Lance has really been a lot of fun this season, and it’s good to see him get more screen time. I look forward to seeing how his relationship with the ever-increasing vigilante population of Starling City evolves.

Roy gets caught snooping around, as Roy, Sin, and Thea are still looking for answers about the death of a friend of theirs…a victim of a forced miraclo, ahem, I mean, “mirakuru” overdose. Roy ends up at the mercy of Brother Blood and gets a syringe full of the drug for his troubles. Does this mean Roy is going to have metahuman abilities, even temporarily? We’ll find out in January. In the meantime, though, the whole “getting shot through the leg with an arrow” thing seems to have been moved on from a little quickly, although there were some amusing moments watching Oliver deal with that in a rather hands-on fashion.

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The “three ghosts” are all people that Oliver feels he failed. Shado (and he sure did fail her in a rather permanent fashion, which we learn in an island flashback), Slade (although Slade’s ultimate island fate is still unknown), and Tommy, who was a nice surprise. At first glance, the whole thing felt a little tidy. But when it’s revealed at the very end of the episode that it’s Slade who is supplying Sebastian Blood with workable serum samples (and probably a whole lot more), and he does his “supervillain monologue” about how he’s going to ruin Oliver’s life, suddenly things fall into place a little. Oliver took it upon himself to atone for his father’s failings in season one and he’s been blaming himself for his own in the first half of season two. That’s a weakness that Slade will be able to exploit fully in the second half of season two, and potentially beyond. 

All in all, “Three Ghosts” isn’t quite as good as “The Scientist.” In fact, when you take out the Barry Allen stuff, the whole Brother Blood/Solomon Grundy thing really could have been wrapped up in one episode. Still, there’s so much else going on here that I wouldn’t feel cheated.

The implications of Slade’s emergence in Starling City are enormous, as we’re basically going to have Slade and Merlyn competing over who can take Oliver down (and take over the city), potentially with Ra’s al Ghul waiting in the wings. Season one ended with a kind of goofy earthquake machine plot device, but season two could potentially end in League of Assassins ninjas vs. Brother Blood super-zombies with Starling City caught in the middle. Yowza. 

DC Universe Watch: This one seemed light on the DCU easter eggs, but please correct me if I’m wrong down in the comments! I guess when you’re building up to the origin of the Flash, you give Green Arrow a proper mask (which looks TERRIFIC by the way, and the fact that it came from Barry was cute), and we see the return of Slade Wilson, rocking the proper Deathstroke eyepatch and facial hair, well…how much more do you need? I don’t think you’ll hear anyone complaining that this show was light on superheroes and villains anytime soon.

I mean really, when you get right down to it, this was an episode about Green Arrow, Roy Harper, and Barry Allen (with an assist from a Birds of Prey supporting character) taking on Solomon Grundy and Brother Blood…with Deathstroke behind it all. When it comes to superhero TV nirvana, you can’t beat that with a stick! I kinda doubt that Cyrus Gold is dead, as these mirakuru-enhanced types seem to keep coming back, and I’d say there’s a better than even chance that the next time we see Cyrus/Solomon he will LOOK a little more like his comic book counterpart.

Also, even though the particle accelerator was indeed used as a component of Barry’s origin (more on that in a second), I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that we’ll see some version of Firestorm before the season ends. The origins of that character just play way too well with this whole particle accelerator narrative, and since it looks like we’ll be dealing with the fallout (sigh…sorry…it was unavoidable), of the particle accelerator malfunction for at least some of the second half of season two, I’d say there’s a decent chance we’ll see Ronnie Raymond soon enough. I’m right! You’ll see! If not, well…feel free to laugh at me at the end of the season. What’s more, between the presence of miraclo permeating the show, and whatever havoc the accelerator meltdown might have on the surrounding area, I think Arrow has just opened the door to all kinds of metahuman activity in future episodes!

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Flash Watch: Well, aside from Grant Gustin’s continuing to sell me on his performance as Barry Allen, we sure did see the classic Flash origin! Alright, so they split the difference with this one. The big question was whether or not this was going to have anything to do with the controversial particle accelerator in Starling City or if they’d go the more traditional lightning bolt route. They did both…and you know what? It works just fine.

Flash’s origin is one of the most iconic in all of comics, so it’s best not to mess with it too much. That scene marked the first time that Arrow has tried to do anything so aggressively and purely “comic book” in the show’s entire run, and it was important to get it right. They did. We got the lightning bolt and the brightly colored chemicals, and the barest hint of speed force energy coursing through Barry’s body. Anyone else think that when the particle accelerator went up off in the distance that it looked red and gold? This is only the second time that the Flash’s origin has been attempted in live-action (the other was also handled superbly on the 1990 Flash TV series), and it’s nice to see that the Arrow showrunners know not to mess with a good thing.  

[related article: 8 Reasons The Flash is Perfect for Television]

Before that lightning strike we’re treated to a good look at Barry’s “board of clues” that deals with all the strangeness surrounding his mother’s murder. Comic fans will certainly recognize many of these details from the Geoff Johns-penned comics Flash: Rebirth and Flashpoint. These three minutes or so will probably make an appearance in some form when we finally get around to seeing the official Flash TV pilot…which can’t get here soon enough!

Oh, and this was a nice touch…when discussing the possibility of a mask for Ollie, Barry suggests: “Try a compressible microfiber.” Oh, you mean like the Flash suit you’re gonna wear that fits inside a cool ring, Barry? Brilliant!   

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4 out of 5