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Monday, December 16, 2013

ARROW Has More Than "Three Ghosts"

Article first published as ARROW Has More Than "Three Ghosts" on TheTVKing.

The CW's Arrow ended its fall run with an exciting two-parter, the second half of which aired this week. In "Three Ghosts," Oliver (Stephen Amell) hallucinates people from his past after his near-brush with death. There's no time for rest and recuperation, however, when Brother Blood (Kevin Alejandro) kidnaps Roy Harper (Colton Haynes).

The visions Oliver sees in this episode are a logical development for his character. He is constantly thinking about his past, with much of each episode being set in flashback. It makes total sense that that's where his mind would go when it wonders, even with the surprise final ghost that is as satisfying as it is unexpected. It's just an extension of what we've already seen.

Things take a darker turn, however, when Oliver chooses to save Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) at the expense of Shado (Celina Jade) while trapped on the island. It's an impossible decision to make, two women he cares about being held at gunpoint, and both going to die if he doesn't pick. Ivo (Dylan Neal) is just plain sadistic for putting Oliver in this position, and it's this type of thing that helps one understand why Oliver was so psychologically damaged upon his return to society, explaining why this time occupies his thoughts.

Honestly, I am getting a little tired of this stuff in the past. I understand that it informs who Oliver is, and in "Three Ghosts," it's used effectively. But sometimes it's just another story that doesn't connect much to the present, and when that happens, the installments drags in those scenes. Perhaps this isn't a popular opinion, but as Arrow becomes more and more of a hero, it's time to put the past behind him and move forward with his life. I think this should happen sooner, rather than later, by the end of season two, not seasons five or six.

That being said, it is kind of neat how Slade (Manu Bennett) is revealed as the villain behind Brother Blood, and that's only because we've gotten so much of Slade in the past. He has understandable motivation, blaming Oliver for Shado's death, and apparently he didn't survive the island as well as Oliver did, which is also something one can be sympathetic about, given what we've seen of that place so far. Plus, Slade is a genuine super-powered bad guy because of the injection he received, so he's a formidable foe with a personal grudge, whom Oliver doesn't even realize is in town. And he looks cool with the eye patch, even if the grey hair looks fake. Nice setup for the back half of the year!

As Oliver battles an external force, he also needs to pay more attention to an internal one. No, not whether he should be good or not; his vision of Tommy (Colin Donnell) indicates that that struggle is pretty much over). I'm talking about his feelings for Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards), which he is in denial about.

Oliver has plenty of reason to avoid a new relationship. He hasn't been a good boyfriend in the past, which he feels bad about, and people he cares about are constantly in danger. He thinks he needs to focus on the mission, not his personal life. Yet, Felicity knows the truth about Oliver and fights by his side, proving she is strong and worthy. She may consider him out of her reach, he being her boss and the vigilante hero, but she's wrong. Almost no one is as close to Oliver as Felicity, so it's time he paid her a bit more attention. He deserves love, too.

If Oliver doesn't come around, Felicity has Barry (Grant Gustin, Glee) to fall back on. The boy who becomes the Flash at the end of "Three Ghosts," presumably, is definitely interested, and has made that interest known. While Felicity seems a little older than he and they live in different cities, it's not inconceivable she could go to him for his planned spinoff. It would be a loss for Arrow, but as long as Felicity is happy, fans should be happy, too.

Gustin is doing a good job with Barry. Given his evil-ish role in Glee, which was mostly one-note, I had my doubts about his abilities. Yet, in two hours he has established a likeable character who could realistically grow into a crusader to root for. Enough history has been mentioned to provide an origin for his part, and I'm actually really looking forward to the new series, should it go forward.

Oliver's other challenge will be dealing with Roy. Now that Roy has been injected with the super venom, he is vulnerable to Brother Blood and Slade's influence. The extra powers that come with it may make him eligible to be Arrow's sidekick, but it's more likely Arrow will try to do right by Thea (Willa Holland) by continuing to try to keep Roy out of harm's way. Clearly, that is not a choice Roy is willing to live with, and could encourage Roy towards the wrong side of the battle.

Arrow is shaping up nicely in its second year (not that the first was bad), developing its characters further and bringing in nice, big arcs that are well thought out. It has set itself apart from Smallville, which was a concern at first, and it has the elements it needs for a nice, long run, as long as it keeps doing what it's doing. There are few complaints to be found at this point, as while Arrow is somewhat limited by the rules of the format, it does a credit to its particular genre, pushing the boundaries where it can.

Arrow will return with new episodes January 15th on the CW.

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