New guy Alex has to be the worst political strategist ever. Politically speaking, one of the best things to come out of the disaster on the Queen's Gambit is Oliver's continued friendship with Laurel Lance.
But introducing the arrogant young man on Arrow Season 4 Episode 5 helped to facilitate a reunion between Oliver and Laurel that has been a long time coming.
While "Haunted" featured the return of a beloved NBC character, John Constantine, the hour really belonged to Laurel and Oliver, who have not really tended to their faltering friendship since her drinking and his reveal that he knew Sara was alive but failed to share the news.
Now we can truly say they've moved beyond those issues.
All things considered, Oliver wasn't nearly as upset at Laurel (or Thea) after he discovered what happened in Nanda Parbat as expected. He's changed just enough that things that would have once angered him a great deal now leave him more disappointed and with an urgency to solve the problem instead of casting blame.
That's pretty impressive, and no doubt due in large part to his relationship with Felicity.
Thea, I don't have the right to be mad at anyone for keeping secrets and I'm sorry that I made you feel as though you had to.Oliver
His easy-going demeanor also allowed for Laurel to address something that has been bothering her for a while. Was anyone else cheering for her when she finally addressed the elephant in the room?
So why didn't you tell me about Thea seven months ago? Because you don't see me as an equal.Laurel
Considering how much Oliver seemed to know about bloodlust, it's a little bit surprising Oliver didn't immediately think Thea would be in jeopardy. Additionally, should he really have been shocked to learn how Thea was keeping the bloodlust at bay?
I ask that because Oliver seemed to think Laurel should know more about what was going on with Thea given the very limited knowledge she had about the whole situation.
I'm sorry about what happened to Thea. I really am. I love your family, I always have. I just wish that sometimes you would give a damn about mine.Laurel
Yet when the rubber met the road, Laurel would have chosen Thea over Sara. That says something about their family history and the current friendship they're fostering as allies and roommates.
If the only way to save Sara is to kill you, then that's no cure at all.Laurel
And it wasn't just lip service, either. When Oliver and Laurel finally caught up with Sara, Laurel was going to pull the trigger on her sister, so to speak. Of course, we knew Oliver had been thinking about his old friend John Constantine. Sara's soul could be restored, but through mystical ways.
Even though Constantine was on the island, and that seems like a purpose in and of itself, we were treated to pointless flashbacks once again. It seemed like they were thrown in at the last minute to provide Constantine a reason to be on Arrow.
That's all well and good, and I'm damn glad he was added into the mix. But it still showcases a major problem with the flashbacks. Constantine's scenes were almost like a short walk through a video game in which he and Oliver had to pass a few mystical tests to collect the scepter. Thanks, Constantine, nice to know you, be on your way, I'll collect my favor later.
Oh well. I fear there will never be a real purpose for the flashbacks other than to introduce something they want to toss into the present with no other reasonable way to do it. Or a way to get around really answering questions they have no desire to address.
It was pretty cool that Sara's soul was literally still swimming around in a pit similar to the Lazarus Pit. Once inside the spell, it didn't take long at all to bring her back, but we didn't get to actually see much from the restored Sara other than a familial hug. They're really out dragging her comeback.
That's OK. She was an integral player on Arrow for quite a long time, so keeping her around for a while makes sense.
It's too bad they couldn't have kept Constantine around, though, since Thea thought he was all kinds of yummy, and he seems like a much better candidate for dating and action than Alex. They could bring him back to help fight off Darhk at a later time. And, unless I missed it, didn't Constantine leave without addressing Thea's own constant craving to scratch the itch presented by her bloodlust? Does she just have to work it out on her own?
Thea is so wonderful and maturing so nicely, seeing her with a guy like Alex just doesn't sit well. Maybe we just got a bad introduction to him, or maybe it's just that I want to much more for Thea that settling for anything less that perfect doesn't seem to suit these days.
The secondary plot concerned delicious Damien Darhk. Knowing he had his hands full with Laurel and Sara, Oliver suggested Lance work with Diggle on the latest task Darhk handed down. That's a duo who would not ordinarily work together, and they were quite a pair. To be honest, there isn't anyone Diggle works with who doesn't come alive in his presence, and Lance continued his hot streak. He's degrees better than the man from Arrow Season 3, even though he made a deal with the devil.
The news Diggle ultimately received about his brother, Andy, however, wasn't exactly what he was expecting. Somehow I don't see that stopping him from putting an end to HIVE. He looked so heartbroken after reading the file. He'll want more answers.
And finally, there was one more little plot thread moving in the background with Felicity and Curtis. We discovered yet another terrific trait belonging to Curtis; he's a bronze medal winning Olympic athlete. And he will pretty much do anything for Felicity at any time. That includes drinking far too many energy drinks in his attempt to break through an encrypted message from Ray Palmer.
So in our big Arrow sendoff for DC's Legends of Tomorrow, we still have to deal with more Sara (still cannot wait for the Canaries/Speedy fight scene) and the rescue (?) of Ray, who announced that he's alive and in trouble.
This was a great episode, especially if you're a fan of Laurel and John Constantine. Still, Olicity fans got a lovely moment in which the two were at home in front of the fire, and Diggle made progress on his investigation into his brother, so there was a little of something for everyone.
Now it's over to you. Did you enjoy "Haunted" or were you hoping for something more? Don't be shy. Let your fingers do the talking and hit the comments! Don't forget that you can watch Arrow online via TV Fanatic. Don't miss out!
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.