Three Ghosts brings the first half of Arrow’s second season to a dramatic close. Even the most pro-Arrow fans have been blown away by what we’ve been given this season, and Three Ghosts gives us a typically- fantastic mid-season finale. Now, just to be clear, I won’t cover any major spoilers in the meat of this review, but I will be mentioning them at the end. This episode of Arrow, particularly with the show now going on a break, is just too good not to discuss certain key events.
As last week’s episode ended with Oliver (Stephen Amell) about to kick the proverbial bucket, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) took extreme measures in bringing Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) in to the Team Arrow fold. Seemingly one of the few people that has any chance of stopping Ollie’s near-certain demise, Barry uses all of his smarts to get the Emerald Archer up and running. Unfortunately for Ollie, one side-effect of Barry’s cure is that he begins to hallucinate, making him “compromised” for action at times. With Cyrus Gold (Graham Shiels) tearing his way through Starling City’s finest at the orders of Sebastian Blood (Kevin Alejandro), simply put, Oliver hasn’t got time to be anything but at his best. Even then, is that going to be enough to take down the near-indestructible Brother Cyrus?
As well as the major, major threat of Cyrus Gold, this episode also brings us further, brilliant interactions between Barry Allen and the Arrow characters. Grant Gustin, despite some initial concerns as to his casting, is great as the bumbling, geeky Barry Allen. He’s got a unique awkwardness to him, but that’s not to say that the character doesn’t have a spine. At one point early on in Three Ghosts, Barry shows his minerals by standing up to Ollie as he’s venting at Felicity. We also get to see ‘the scientist’ side of Barry Allen at work, coming to the rescue just in time for Oliver to send the Grim Reaper packing. As well as this, it’s great to watch Barry drooling like a kid in a sweetshop when in the ‘Arrowcave’ amongst the vigilante’s outfit and goodies. Oh, and you know that whole ‘The Flash’ thing, right? Let’s just say, all systems are go.
Moving on to the villains on show, we again get some more time with Dr Ivo (Dylan Neal) during Oliver’s island flashbacks. Forcing Ollie to make a truly heart-breaking decision, it surely cannot end well for the dastardly Ivo. Similarly, the island also shows us the apparent demise of Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett). Injected with the mirakuru serum, Slade Wilson is seemingly no more. This serum also happens to be what has been injected into Cyrus Gold and what Brother Blood is trying to create an army out of. Here we see Brother Blood coming face-to-face, or even mask-to-hood, with the Arrow. In the middle of all of this is Roy Harper (Colton Haynes), who’s been taken by Blood and used as a test subject. Will Roy go the way of the other ‘failed’ subjects or will the serum affect him in other ways?
There really are some great moments in Three Ghosts. We’re given high stakes for Ollie on the island, we’re shown that Oliver is hallucinating and seeing figures from his past in the present day, we get several references to DC’s Solomon Grundy, and there’s even some brilliantly blunt questions about just why has Oliver never thought of a better disguise than simply some smudged paint around his eyes. Throughout the episode, some of Oliver’s troubled hallucinations, particularly when he’s at the Queen mansion, play out like the stunning, trippy moment in Batman: Arkham Asylum when Batman, under the influence of the Scarecrow’s fear gas, finds himself viewing the death of his parents.
Despite all of the big, brash events and developments of Three Ghosts, it’s also the little things that matter so much. For instance, when Detective Lance (Paul Blackthorn) meets with the Arrow, the first thing he asks him is if he’s heard from Lance’s absent daughter, Sarah (Caity Lotz). That’s continuity, folks. So, so simple, yet something that various shows seem to pay no attention to. Again, the relationship and dialogue between Oliver and Felicity is crisp, heartfelt and expertly handled. When the under-the-weather Arrow prepares to go into battle against Cyrus Gold, the man that beat the snot of out the full-strength Arrow, Felicity is massively concerned. She turns to Ollie and asks him to promise to her that he will return. Our hero stoically keeps silent. Simple but hugely effective from Arrow. Ditto, Oliver gets a stirring, uplifting speech from somebody at the moment when he really needs it the most; a speech that makes you realise that you’re now looking at a fully-fledged hero.
For weeks, we’ve been promised that this mid-season finale will see somebody die, and it delivers on that front. Death, drama and the coming of age of a hero - a hero that now has a mask, no less - Arrow treats its audience to an episode completely worthy of bringing such a great season to a pause. Like several other episodes of this current run, Three Ghosts is an episode that just keeps on giving. There are bombshells, twists and and turns at regular intervals, and the last 15 minutes is just one jaw-dropping reveal after another. Please, sir, can I have some more?
If you’ve got this far, not only have you managed to make it through this rather lengthy review, you’re perfectly happy dealing with spoilers. Yes, we saw the death of Slade Wilson, but it appears that we’re only just starting to see the ascension of Deathstroke the Terminator. Coming back to life on the island (or was he just not dead in the first place?), the modern-day Slade finds himself in Starling City! Personally, I’d previously said that I’d expect to see that happen at the end of Season 2 at the earliest, possibly not even until further down the line than that. But no, Slade is in Starling City, is funding Brother Blood, has an eye-patch and has clearly laid out his plans to bring trouble and trauma to Oliver Queen and every one of those around him. Even better, there is a clear, concise reason that Slade is looking to take down Oliver – the death of Shado – which makes the character all the more fascinating. All of the best villains are the ones that have a believable reason for doing what they are doing – well, bar the crazed Joker. You can definitely see why Slade, if not a little misguided, is out for revenge of Ollie. Now we just need for him to don the mask. You remember that Deathstroke mask with the arrow through the eye, the one seen on the island? I’m sure we’ll come to see just why Slade is now wearing an eye-patch.
On the other side of the fence, we were also given The Flash. Kinda. One of the show’s climactic scenes (of which there seemed to be many), showed Barry’s ‘accident’ happening. With the character confirmed to return for one more episode towards the season’s end, it’ll be interesting to see how far into being The Flash he is by that point. And then we’ve got the whole Flash solo show to come in the next year or so. Exciting times to be a fan of the Scarlet Speedster. In other heroes news, with Roy injected with the mirakuru serum and then brought back to life by the Arrow, I guess that means he’ll now have superpowers similar to Brother Cyrus and Slade Wilson. It seems as if that Red Arrow moniker is getting closer and closer for the character.
All in all, a fantastic episode that makes the show’s January return seem an age away.