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[TV Review] ‘Arrow’ Episode 4.05 – “Haunted”

When last we happened upon where Laurel Lance was keeping her resurrected sister Sara (Caity Lotz) hidden, she had escaped!  R’uh r’oh!  This week, of course, opens with the aftermath.  It seems our bloodthirsty former Canary is now stalking the streets offing thugs and drug dealers, all the while searching for her killer: Thea Queen!  With the body count rising, Oliver and the rest of Team Arrow eventually find out that their former friend and teammate is alive and none too well.

Naturally this leads to a few arguments, particularly between Laurel and Oliver, but all are well done.  Furthermore, they not only further the story at hand, but also manage to continue repairing the damage of last year’s writing snafus and repairing the relationships that these characters have with one another.  Seriously, the writing team on this series has stepped up, owned their past mistakes, and is now rectifying them.  I couldn’t be happier.

So what can be done with a soulless Sara causing wanton destruction (even if it’s mostly against criminals) and attempting to murder Thea?  That soul must be retrieved and restored, and Oliver knows just the man to do it!  Enter the petty dabbler in the dark arts himself, John Constantine (Matt Ryan).  Reprising his role from the now-defunct NBC series, “Constantine“, Ryan is a marvelous fit for this world and has a good chemistry with its cast, particularly Stephen Amell.  It’s a shame that the “Hellblazer” hero gets one of his best episodes on someone else’s show, but I’m more than happy to have him (and his deceased series) added to the DC TV Universe.

You’d think the Constantine fun would stop there, but you’d be wrong.  Not only does he saunter in to help Oliver during the present day storyline, but he also shows up in the flashback arc as well.  While this angle of the episode isn’t as compelling (are they ever?), it does manage to finally shine some magical light on where things might be headed later on in the season.  This is the first portion of the flashback tale this year that has even remotely clicked for me and while John is gone from the shores of Lian Yu and the threat of Baron Reiter now, I hope things continue to pick up on the island.

Constantine also served to warn Oliver about the threat of Damien Darhk.  The focus on Damien mostly took a backseat this week, but we were still treated to a few fun scenes of Neal McDonough chewing some scenery, which is never a bad thing.  The little mission that he sends Quentin on, with Diggle in tow, also managed to finally shine some light on the mystery of Diggle’s brother’s murder, a plot thread that has been dangling since the first season.  Even though Diggle’s grudge against Hive remains, it was nice to finally receive some closure on that end.

Speaking of Quentin Lance and the actor playing him, Paul Blackthorne, it was a bit amusing to see him standing alongside Matt Ryan as he casts spells, given that Blackthorne himself played a master of magic in Syfy’s “The Dresden Files” years ago.  I suspect Blackthorne himself found it fun as well.  Here’s hoping that we haven’t seen the last of Ryan’s Constantine on this series, especially given the dark magic-powered Damien Darhk.  I’d love for him to saunter back on screen later this season, as well as eventually guest star on “The Flash” and/or “Legends of Tomorrow“.  He might not have his own series anymore, but John Constantine has found a new home that he fits cozily within.  The same goes for underrated filmmaker John Badham (Saturday Night Fever, Dracula ’79), who previously worked on “Constantine” and helmed this episode.  Between Lexi Alexander last week and Badham here, the series is upping their directorial game and I hope that continues.

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