Arrow: 209 “Three Ghosts” Review
Reviewed by Phil Boothman.
What’s this? An Arrow Christmas episode, following the plot and themes of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, in which our protagonist is visited by three ghosts who show him the error of his ways in time for Christmas Day?
Thankfully, no: unless A Christmas Carol involves Scrooge getting the hell beaten out of him by the second ghost in his secret lair and then finding his strength to kick a superhuman soon-to-be-zombie creature’s ass all over the villain’s secret lair in return. And while I may not be completely up to date on my Dickens, I’m fairly certain that doesn’t happen.
Instead, we get the conclusion to last week’s cliffhanger, in which future-Flash CSI agent Barry Allen is let in on Oliver’s secret in order to save him from an unknown poison. Because, you know, CSI agents are exactly the same as doctors, so that should all work out pretty well: fortunately it does, as Barry manages to create an anticoagulant out of rat poison and save Oliver from all of his blood clotting. Of course, Oliver is none too pleased about Felicity revealing his secret to a nerdy stranger, but Barry stands up to him and made me actually start to like him a lot more than I did last episode.
Anyway, Team Arrow manages to track down Cyrus Gold, the superhuman from last episode and also the origin of a strange, super-strong zombie creature in DC Comics called ‘Solomon Grundy’ (in case you were wondering what all the references to that poem were about), and Gold manages to take down both Diggle and an entire squad of cops that Oliver sends after him. Naturally, Lance goes with them, gets beaten so hard that he ends up in the Intensive Care Unit and watches as his boss and former partner gets shot in the head.
Throughout this process, Oliver is visited by three ‘ghosts’: firstly Shado, who tells him to give up and spend his remaining time with his family and friends before something comes which he won’t be able to stop; then Slade, who beats the crap out of him and tells him that he failed both Shado and his city; and finally, as he is about to give up and die after another beating, Tommy, who tells him to get back up and keep fighting. It was nice to see a quick cameo from someone who was such a big part of the first season, and also refreshing for a previously-dead person to show up and not actually be alive. Anyway, with the appearance of Tommy, the slightly odd psychological-ghosts thing is resolved and Oliver lives to fight another day.
Elsewhere, Roy recovers from his unfortunate arrow-wound and breaks into the offices of the doctor who carried out the blood drive to steal some documents, and is almost immediately caught by Gold and brought in front of Brother Blood, who injects him with the Mirakuru serum and lets him die. However, Oliver shows up, takes out Gold and destroys the remaining serum and the centrifuge before reviving Roy, who doesn’t appear to have suffered any negative side effects. Other than the enhanced healing that shows up later in the episode, that is…
Back on the island, Ivo takes the remaining members of Team Island into the forest and tells Oliver he has to choose who dies: Shado or Sarah. In a genuinely shocking moment, Ivo shoots Shado in the head, but is forced to run away when Slade, presumed dead last week, turns up with superhuman strength and takes out Ivo’s squad, one with a punch apparently through the chest.
Of course, Slade’s return on the island was no surprise, as he also showed up in the present day as the mastermind behind Brother Blood’s scheme, in full ‘Deathstroke’ mode, complete with grey hair, a goatee beard and an eyepatch. He also seems pretty upset with Oliver, stating that he wants to destroy everything Oliver loves and then put an arrow through his eye. A former ally turned enemy with super strength, an evil empire of villains and a serious grudge against Oliver? Count me in for the rest of the season!
And, as if this insanity wasn’t enough of an early Christmas present from the team behind Arrow, they also throw in a little topper at the end: Barry returns home to Central City, watching the ignition of the new Particle Accelerator, only for it to explode due to a freak lightning storm. Caught between the explosion, a bolt of lightning, and various weird chemicals in his lab, Barry is knocked unconscious, but we see a brief discharge of energy just underneath his skin: thus, we not only get the reveal of the season’s Big Bad, but we also get the origin of the Flash.
While the ‘three ghosts’ conceit did seem a little contrived, the episode as a whole wrapped things from last week up nicely, and set some big things in motion for the future of this season.
All in all, Arrow is becoming a perfect encapsulation of the culture found within the pages of a comic book: nobody stays dead for long, there is always a bigger villain, and there’s always fun to be had, even in the darkest of moments.
Villain Count: 2 this week: firstly, Solomon Grundy, who is bound to turn up again after the focus given to the weird goop left on Cyrus Gold’s face after Oliver defeated him, and more importantly the real introduction of Deathstroke as a villain.