This review contains spoilers.
I didn’t watch Constantine. I feel like it’s best I get that out in the open before attempting to write about Haunted because, as much as I enjoyed the episode and as excited I am about the precedent it sets for the shared universe in general, I have zero prior knowledge of the character aside from one pilot episode half-watched over a year ago. But, yeah, Constantine was in an episode of Arrow, guys. What a world we live in.
First and foremost, I was kind of impressed with how the episode wasn’t entirely constructed as a way to bring in the character, but rather the character was slotted into this point in the season pretty seamlessly. Yes, he was given a fair bit of attention – more than if some random person from the comics had been used for a similar purpose – but really Sara was our focus point.
Objectively, the fact that this is an episode of television that exists is pretty darn special, and I’m going to appreciate that specialness alongside all of those die-hard fans that had their favourite show ripped away from them while The CW’s DC universe continued to spawn new spin-offs every year. Now, Constantine has been retroactively included in that universe.
The bulk of the character’s appearance was actually in the Lian Yu flashbacks, making them the first I didn’t glaze over watching since season two. Nothing much happened there, of course, but it provided some slightly humorous reasoning for Oliver to call up his old friend once Sara was recovered. It all felt like the writers playing with what we expect from television and winking at us. Yeah, they know it’s dumb, and they don’t care.
The second most notable thing about Haunted was how it addressed the weird, strained relationship between Oliver and Laurel pretty head on. Once the ‘OTP forever and ever’, they’re now almost rivals, clashing over every decision either one of them makes and going behind each others backs every other week.
I feel like the main turning points for this were that hallway confrontation during Laurel’s drugs phase, and the moment she became the Black Canary. Now, we might be witnessing a third stage of their relationship, one that I hope includes Oliver getting off his high horse and beginning to respect her as an equal.
Having Sara back changes the context around Laurel as a character, though, because the reason she became a superhero in the first place has just been taken away. I also suspect that Sara’s recovery won’t be exactly smooth sailing and, as Laurel says in this episode, that’s on her. For once Oliver’s judgment is somewhat warranted, and he didn’t seem too bothered by the prospect of cutting his ex out of his life when the political strategist suggested it.
This was a packed hour of television, so along with the main points there were also some stray story threads that will play a larger role later in the season. The first was Diggle’s brother, and the reason for him being killed by HIVE. Apparently he was a bad guy, and Damien Darhk was involved in ordering the hit on him while in Afghanistan.
And in this week’s Legends Of Tomorrow set-up (if you don’t count all of the Sara stuff) we had Ray’s real final message to Felicity, decrypted by Curtis (I love Curtis). He’s alive and he’s in trouble, presumably shrunken somewhere and with no knowledge of how to get back to normal size.
I have no idea how the show is going to pull this off without it looking truly ridiculous but, hey, The Flash featured King Shark last week and Arrow just brought in Constantine, so what do I know? The rules don’t seem to apply and it can do whatever the heck it likes – we’re all just along for the ride.
Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Beyond Redemption, here.