The mid-season finale of The CW’s Arrow had everything you could ask for: comic book references, wall-to-wall action, and an added bonus of Christmas cheer. It even managed to make good on its episode title of “Three Ghosts”, one of whom included a special guest star. Speaking of special guest stars, this episode also featured Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, who did his part to help the hooded do-gooder before making his way back home to Central City with explosive consequences. There’s lots to get to in this mid-season finale, so hit the jump to get right to it.
This episode was particularly difficult to break down into discussion points because each of the separate plot arcs came together and crossed paths throughout the hour, and they did it quite well. We’ll start with Roy, Thea and Sin, who certainly have a part to play, but their roles only intersect with the main storyline intermittently. If you remember from last week, Roy gets shot through the leg by none other than Arrow himself, so it’s with a bit of dark humor and irony that Oliver yanks the arrow out and has Diggle patch the kid up. Once he’s on the mend, the trio tracks down Laurel Lance (who has been fairly absent since the end of Moira’s trial), who looks into the legality of Blood’s blood drive and finds that Blood has a rather extensive medical file on each of the donors. Surprise, surprise! The suitable ones turn out to be test subjects for Blood’s Mirakuru/Miracle serum, a fact that Roy finds out about too late as he gets injected. Thankfully, Arrow had crashed the party and manages to bring Roy back around, but the fallout from the injection remains to be seen.
Speaking of Arrow, when we start the episode off, he’s in bad shape. We weren’t exactly sure what he managed to get injected with last time (ketamine? blood samples? the serum itself?) but it looks like it was some sort of coagulant. Resident brain Barry Allen treats Ollie with rat poison and the Green Guy is good as new again. Sort of. In staying honest to the episode’s title, Oliver starts to see ghosts from his past. We learn that Oliver blames himself for Shado’s death (even if it was at the hands of Dr. Ivo, because Oliver prevented him from shooting Sara); we also learn that Oliver belives Slade to be dead from succumbing to his wounds and not responding to the Miracle serum. Keep that in mind.
So that’s two ghosts, right? Shado voices Oliver’s fears by confirming that he and everyone he loves will die if he keeps fighting, while Slade acts out Oliver’s doubts, quite literally beating him into submission and gloating over Oliver about how weak he has become. So who’s the third ghost? None other than Oliver’s best friend Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell), who reminds Ollie that he’s strong, that he’s beaten worse odds and stronger foes before. In a crucial moment of self doubt and weakness, Tommy’s encouragement is the spark that Oliver needs.
In the end, Oliver manages to take out Cyrus (who, up until this point, has rampaged around and taken out numerous police, including putting Quentin in the ICU), but comic fans know that he’ll likely be back in the future; they made too many references to Solomon Grundy for that not to happen. Oliver also shut down Blood’s operation, but only temporarily. It turns out that Blood, who is now running for Mayor while wooing Laurel, is not the big boss after all. That honor belongs to a man who has serum running through his veins, enough to supply Blood with another dose to begin expanding the ranks of their soldiers; a man who has a score to settle with Oliver; a man who’s sporting an eyepatch. It’s none other than Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett), alive and well after recovering with the help of the serum, but apparently losing an eye somewhere along the way. I guess we’ll have to wait and see that battle at some point!
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Gustin’s time spent on these last two episodes. I quite like his take on the quirky, somewhat nerdy and definitely socially awkward crime scene analyst. How that’s going to play into his role as The Flash is anybody’s guess. The team really took advantage of his expertise in this go-round: he saved Oliver from certain death, he managed to snag a fingerprint and used it to identify Cyrus, and he scanned Ollie’s blood to determine that, nope, all the problems were in his mind. So what about that S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator they’ve been talking about all year? Well, it seems that, just as the science geeks were firing it up – with Barry watching from the not-so-safe, leaky science lab straight out of a Mary Shelley novel – the raging storm caused it to become unstable, leading to a massive shockwave racing across the city. I loved the scene with Barry caught in the blast, watching in relative slow motion as beakers of colored liquid exploded all around him. The final moment with him grabbing on to the chain and getting struck with a super-powered bolt of lightning (complete with Harry Potter scar) may have been a tad predictable, but it was certainly still thrilling. Can’t wait to see what the writers do with that series!
Since we won’t see Arrow again until the middle of January, it was fitting that the writers left both the actors and the viewers with a little holiday treat: that iconic green mask we’ve been waiting to see since the beginning!
Quips & Quivers:
Oliver: “Speedy, open the door!”
Oliver: “Diggle, I need you to come to the Queen mansion. Roy’s been shot … with an arrow … it’s a long story.”
Felicity: “Shado, Sara … how many women were you marooned with? Are you sure this wasn’t Fantasy Island?”
I’m glad Barry voiced the fan’s question about Ollie’s grease paint and the lack of a mask.
“Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday” That’s one!
I’m glad David Ramsey got in on some of the action this time. That guy is too good to just let him mope around and clean up after Ollie.
Laurel: “I noticed on the drive up that your house was infested with Christmas decorations.”
Barry: “Oliver Queen … he’s a billionaire by day and saves the city by night.” Felicity: “Sounds like you want to date him.”
Blood: “Brother Cyrus, the police are eager to meet you. Introduce yourself.”
Oliver: “You’re not real.” Slade: “Neither are you.”
Slade: “You are not a hero, or a friend, or a brother; you are nothing. Do not turn your back on me, not again.”
I think it was just as strange for us to see Shado and Slade in the contemporary timeline as it was for Oliver.
Slade: “The island didn’t make you strong, kid; it revealed you to be weak.”
Quentin to Oliver: “I hate to disappoint you, but not every death in this city is on you.”
Diggle: “I think those are sharp enough.” Oliver: “Apparently I’m not.”
I love that Oliver is actually talking to his teammates about what’s going on with him, rather than hiding it like so many other protagonists tend to do. Diggle even comisserates as he tells Oliver he experienced the same thing, seeing “ghosts” as “survivor’s guilt”.
Oliver to Roy: “I am not leaving anyone else to die! You’re strong, kid! Fight!”
Slade to Blood: “Remember, your mask can be worn by another.”
Slade: “I’ll tear his life apart, destroy his followers, corrupt his loved ones, and once he’s lost everyone and everything he values, I will drive an arrow through his eye.”
It’s not all rosy as the team knows that Brother Blood is still out there and the plans to create a super-soldier army are still in the works.
Diggle: “Even the Arrow deserves a Christmas present.” Ollie finally gets his mask!
Oliver: “How do I look?” Felicity: “Like a hero.”
Arrow returns to The CW on Wednesday, March 19th.