NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of Arrow are present in this review
It’s the episode of Arrow that Constantine fans and DC fans in general have been waiting for, following NBC’s cancellation of their fan-favourite DC Comics-inspired series after just thirteen episodes last season. Matt Ryan’s John Constantine has made his way to Arrow, in yet another great episode for what’s shaping up to be one of the show’s best seasons yet!
Surprisingly though, you saw more of Constantine in the flashbacks than you did during the present day events. This ended up working very well however, as it showed how Oliver could ever become friends and allies with a character like Constantine that is so far removed from Oliver’s own character and circumstances. The flashbacks felt like an aside that sort of broke away from the main conflict with Reiter for the time being, but they were still some of the show’s most enjoyable flashbacks in quite a while, with Constantine displaying his magical aptitude after Oliver is forced to escort him to the hidden location of the Staff of Horus, while Constantine makes sly references to his affiliation with Heaven all the while. Oliver even ends up saving Constantine’s life from a trap, and Constantine thanks him with a business card, and yes, it still says, “Master of the Dark Arts”, as it should!
The coolest twist however is that the Chinese lettering that’s tattooed on Oliver’s side, and has been there since the start of the series, was revealed to come from none other than Constantine! Apparently, Constantine used a spell to place the tattoo on Oliver as some sort of unnamed insurance for his battle against Reiter. Since the tattoo is still there, it will probably come into play during the inevitable battle with Damien Darhk. Hell, it might even help to explain how Oliver survived a fatal stabbing by Ra’s Al Ghul last season, depending on how the spell works!
Even more fascinating however is that Constantine offers Oliver an escape from the island and a trip home on his boat before leaving, which Oliver, surprisingly, refuses. He says that he can’t leave the people toiling in the drug fields, and has to put a stop to Reiter’s operation, regardless of what Amanda Waller wants. Constantine declares that Oliver is a good man, and that’s where the flashbacks ended off.
I must say that “Haunted” really proved the stupidity of NBC for not handling the Constantine series properly, banishing it to the worst possible timeslot from the get-go, and cancelling it far too early. Matt Ryan is still amazing in this role, being just as cheeky, sly and entertaining as he was in NBC’s aborted series, and seeing him play off of another established DC personality in such a great way felt incredibly rewarding. It’s excellent that Ryan’s Constantine is still allowed to explore his potential on Arrow, even after the death of his own series, and given this season having far more of a supernatural bend than prior seasons, I really hope that Constantine returns later this season, or even pokes his head up on The Flash or Legends of Tomorrow! Now that we’ve seen Constantine and how he interacts with Oliver and Team Arrow, it could be just as exciting and novel to see how he deals with Team Flash, or the titular Legends of next year’s upcoming series.
Regardless, the present day events with Team Arrow were pretty straightforward this week, but still very enjoyable and exciting. The crazed Sara Lance is on a rampage, attacking anyone who resembles Thea, and even Oliver and Laurel together can’t seem to stop her. Diggle ends up being indisposed during the efforts to round up Sara, since he has to team up with Captain Lance on a hacking attempt requested by Damien Darhk, with Diggle deciding that Captain Lance is best utilized as a mole that stays close to Darhk, and can help feed Team Arrow information on his operation.
The Diggle/Lance arc was pretty straightforward as well, but it did come with the interesting twist that Darhk is trying to erase a file pertaining to information on Diggle’s brother. Lance confronts Darhk about the information on Andrew Diggle, and Darhk surprisingly tells him straight, saying that H.I.V.E. targeted Andrew Diggle because Andrew Diggle was a bad man who was into all sorts of bad trades during his military tour. When Lance presents the intel file to Diggle soon afterward, it also appears that Darhk is telling the truth, as he apologizes for the contents, though Diggle thanks him, since he now knows why his brother died. It’s an interesting idea to have Andrew Diggle possibly being the villain in whatever scenario went down, since we’ve spent the whole series assuming that he was a victim of Deadshot so far, though it’s also possible that Darhk is lying about what really happened. Still, it should definitely make Diggle’s storyline a lot more interesting this season.
For now, Felicity kind of remained separate from the other characters, as she continued to pester Curtis Holt about the mysterious messages in her phone. Apparently, Felicity wants Curtis to clean up background noise on the recording of Ray’s voice, and he does so after a hilarious array of energy drinks, which Felicity then bans him from ever consuming again. Can’t Felicity do this cleanup work herself? She is a tech goddess after all. Well, in any case, it gives Curtis something to do, and the two inevitably discover that Ray is actually alive, and needs their help to get back to civilization. Of course he does. Like I said, it’s great that Ray is coming back for Legends of Tomorrow next year, but he seems to be tying up Felicity’s character a lot so far this season, keeping her more removed from the rest of the action on Team Arrow, and that can be annoying.
That leaves the plot to round up Sara, which also didn’t have many twists and turns this week, beyond Thea almost begging Sara to kill her when she’s attacked in the hospital, following Sara’s initial attempt to choke the life out of her. Thea even confides in Laurel about the true demand of the Lazarus Pit, and how Sara killing her would not only cure Sara, but free Thea from the inevitable return of her bloodlust, now that she can’t fix herself by killing the person who killed her last season, as Ra’s Al Ghul is already dead. Obviously, that won’t fly according to Laurel though (who finally ditches her arrogance and selfishness this episode, thankfully), and after Sara is too strong for even a team effort, Oliver decides to call up his old friend, John Constantine, after at least managing to hit Sara with a tranquilizer arrow.
Constantine comes to the Arrow Cave, where he decides to enact a ritual to save Sara’s soul, bringing himself, Oliver and Laurel into the world of Sara’s mind. Even Diggle and Captain Lance return to bear witness, though, like Thea, they’re left in the real world. This leads to a solid climax of Oliver and Laurel having to pull Sara from a demon-filled Lazarus Pit, as well as take on phantoms that resemble the League of Assassins, and Ra’s Al Ghul. Constantine striking the final blow on the Ra’s Al Ghul apparition after some trickery was pretty satisfying too!
With Sara saved, and presumably back to normal, Constantine leaves with the promise from Oliver that Oliver will be there whenever Constantine needs him, excitingly leaving the door open for another Constantine appearance to come on Arrow, and it can’t come soon enough! Oliver even learns from Constantine that he’s well aware of Damien Darhk, and Constantine warns Oliver to watch himself, and if he were smart, he’d leave town, since Darhk is very bad news. Obviously, Oliver won’t do that, or else we wouldn’t have a show here, but it continues to tease that Constantine may yet return in the battle against Damien Darhk later this season. We can only hope!
Obviously, Constantine was the best part of “Haunted”, and helped to tie together what would have otherwise been a pretty straightforward plot to get Sara back to normal this week. Still, his inclusion was very inspired, and leaves all sorts of promise for Matt Ryan to bring the character back to Arrow again in the future. Ideally, I’d love a full revival of the Constantine series that NBC so carelessly threw away, but that’s probably a pipe dream now. I’ll certainly settle for more team-ups between Constantine and Green Arrow however, and hey, while Constantine is letting the wind guide him, maybe he should stop in Central City next. You never know when Zoom could start sending wizards, ghouls and ghosts after Barry Allen!
- Matt Ryan's Constantine is still awesome, in every way
- Laurel finally gets more sympathetic and heroic
- The tease of Andrew Diggle possibly not being so noble
- Felicity still feels removed from the rest of the action