Arrow Season 4 Episode 5 – TV Review
I must confess that I am one of those weak-willed people who watched the premiere of Constantine and then promptly forgot it existed.
We are many.
TL;DR Constantine’s inclusion is a bit stunt-y, but surprisingly unobtrusive; Sara is restored to her old self (I think?); Laurel and Oliver fight over his poor treatment of her; Felicity finds out Ray is alive; flashback Oliver treads water on a wacky adventure with flashback Constantine.
Lian Yu is a really happening place.
The Star City plot this week centres on the hunt for Sara now that she’s escaped into the night and struck up a killing spree. Laurel tries to contain it, but Oliver ends up finding out and grills Laurel and Thea for recklessly resurrecting Sara in the Lazarus pit. The Super Friends realise that Sara is supernaturally drawn to Thea and is on a quest to kill her, as Thea is her murderer. They manage to use Thea as bait to lure Sara out, and once they have her subdued, Oliver calls in a favour from his old friend John Constantine. Constantine, Oliver, and Laurel venture into a spirit world and save Sara’s soul, and it’s all campy good fun. It’s good to see Arrow take a break from its never-ending brooding. Meanwhile, Damien commands Quentin to put a virus into a government server farm. Diggle accompanies him for security, and they find out the virus is being used to delete files on people. Including Diggle’s dead brother. Quentin demands the truth from Damien, and it turns out the reason Damien and HIVE ordered Li’l Diggle’s assassination was because he was a budding crime lord in Afghanistan, and HIVE didn’t like him on their turf. Diggle is, appropriately, crushed. Meanwhile, Felicity and Afrojack discover a message for help from a not-dead Ray. And in flashback, Oliver is taken hostage by Constantine on Lian Yu. He uses Oliver’s knowledge of the island to find a magical bunker, wherein Oliver saves his life from a booby trap.
Well, as you can tell, Arrow has survived the I Just Hate Everything Five Episode Ultimatum.
But the moment we slip back into a torrent of League nonsense, or another buff Australian man threatens Star City, then I’m reconsidering.
Why I hate this episode:
It still irks me that the city was renamed. And why is Star such an improvement on Starling?
Despite being a ton of fun, Constantine is very obviously shoehorned in. I don’t think even the most stalwart Arrow or Constantine fan would deny that. “Hey, my formerly dead girlfriend could use a magical exorcist type expert. It’s a good thing I know one, and can contact him after all this time. What do you mean I’ve never mentioned that I’ve literally seen magic before?”
The metuhumans were tough enough to swallow in the world of Arrow, but this episode is yet another example of the gradual creep-in of magic. I’m not sure if well-trained martial artists in leather suits are going to cut it as heroes, anymore.
Everything Afrojack does for Felicity is something Felicity would have done herself in earlier seasons. Did we really need to get our diversity card stamped so badly that we’d introduce a redundant character?
If Lazarus madness can only be sated by killing the one who killed you, what happens if someone who dies in an accident goes into the Lazarus pit? Or a suicide?
Oh, and the big bad torturers of Sara’s soul in the spirit plane are just three faceless League goons. What kind of boss battle is that?
But it’s not all bad:
Constantine kicks arse when battling them, though. It kind of makes me want to go watch the rest of his show.
The most impressive thing about this episode is that Sara has been cured of her rabid Lazarus madness already (I hope). I’m glad Arrow didn’t prolong that any longer than they needed to. I suspect she isn’t totally out of the woods yet (look at Thea’s lingering symptoms. And she wasn’t half-rotted when she went in), which is why she will abandon her family to go play with the Legends of Tomorrow.
Speaking of Legends of Tomorrow, Ray is officially alive. I’ve still got my heart set on him being stuck in shrunken form inside Felicity’s phone. That would be adorable.
A major element of this episode is the relationship between Laurel and Oliver, which Arrow has tended to ignore over the past couple of seasons. Oliver initially goes off on Laurel for taking Sara to Nanda Parbat without telling him, but Laurel rightly points out that he did the same thing when he took Thea there and didn’t tell her. She’s got you there, buddy.
Laurel slams Oliver for never treating her as an equal, which is also a fair point. But, thankfully, by the end of the episode, Laurel and Oliver have made peace, with Oliver so committed to his friendship with Laurel that he ignores the advice of his uppity political strategist and doesn’t distance himself from her. Election be damned.
Diggle gets the answers he’s been searching for, but they don’t make him happy. His heartbreak at finding out the reason for his brother’s death was because his brother was a no-goodnick is affecting.
Damien’s relationship with Quentin is growing to be on the snarky side, and I like that. We’ve had our grizzled, Australian strongmen already. It’s time for a suit-wearing, arrogant, telekinetic smartass. And I know scores of fangirls would flay me for it, but I never bought John Barrowman as a menacing threat. Sorry.
The couple of fight scenes are happily above par for an Arrow episode. Thea’s rough-and-tumble with Sara when Sara ambushes her at home is a particular highlight. Thea barely escapes Sara by scrambling down her apartment building’s stairwell. Throwing herself down them, even. She kicks open a door on a level on her way, and only scrapes out of sight in time for Sara to follow the misdirection. I loved it.
The fight in the spirit world is low on stakes, but high on choreography. And the attack on Sara at Verdant when Thea is used as bait includes a struggle moment for Laurel where she almost executes Sara like Quentin had intended to do. Oliver steps in with a tranquiliser arrow in time, but Laurel always looks super fine when brandishing a gun.
On Lian Yu, Constantine tells Oliver that the island is a nexus point that draws in bad people. Yeah, I’d say so. He also says that his employers (the drug farmers, not ARGUS. This time.) are up to something more evil than just flower cultivation. I’m sure it’ll turn out to be something so earth-shattering that Oliver didn’t mention it to anyone until several years after returning home.
Oh, and Laurel’s hair is looking better and better. Gone are the dog days of brown hair to differentiate her from Sara. And that hideous Canary wig.