Friday, 13 December 2013

Arrow S2x09 "Three Ghosts"

With major spoilers inside, I review Three Ghosts, the ninth episode of Arrow's second season starring Stephen Amell.

OH. MY. GOD. Words cannot describe how awesome that episode was. It's probably one of the best of an already very strong season and it cements its position in the Top 5 recurring shows of 2013 for me no questions asked. Everybody is on top form this week and Agents of SHIELD, this is how it's done. Arrow proves that it can adapt the most absurd of comics villain's onto a realistic small screen and it does so in a way that fits in with the whole Nolan-esque feel of the show. I mean, come on - Solomon Grundy? If you'd have told me that Solomon Grundy would feature on a non-superpower-based superhero live action TV series this time last year I would have laughed and asked if you were joking. However - the Arrow team goes all out with Three Ghosts in an episode that pleases just about everybody by the looks of things. We get lots of nods to the comics in a very action packed series.

Like last year's Years End, Three Ghosts could be viewed as a "Christmas Special" but only in name. It's part of a continuing story and is actually one of the most important episodes in the series so far, taking a great leap forward and setting the direction for the second season. Much like The Blacklist's tenth episode was a gamechanger, so was Three Ghosts - with another villain added to Ollie's ever growing list of rogues gallery adding him to the same page as Brother Blood, Cyrus Gold, Deadshot and more.

Oliver Queen wasn't the Island's only survivor. 

Following on from the end of last episode, Barry Allen now knows the identity of The Arrow in a classic case of "never meet your heroes" and Grant Gustin does a wonderful job in this episode. Whilst unlike The Scientist he wasn't the main focus with the attention diverted back onto Oliver he moves his way onto the show in such a success that I wouldn't mind him sticking around for more - maybe even a series regular in the Arrow-cave. However, considering there's a Flash pilot on the horizon - things are going to get very interesting indeed particularly as we witness Barry's transformation to become the world's fastest man in this episode. It's something that's pulled off very well indeed. I loved the way the writers slowly built up the tension - with several hints being dropped later on and by all accounts this was a success. Whilst it's a shame we'll have to wait for a while until we see Barry as the Flash in person it'll be something to look forward to and I hope he returns to Arrow in the future as a guest star. Can't wait.

Whilst Three Ghosts would have made a perfectly good end of season finale I'm happy that we've got it only a part way through a season because that means we've still got loads of awesome ground for this show to cover. The Three Ghosts of the title appear one after another in quick succession - first Shado, then Slade, and finally Tommy. We actually get to see Shado's death in this episode and it's a moment that's pulled off very well - with the push that transforms Slade into Deathstroke another strong highlight. Whilst it's a shame to see Manu Barrett no longer fight side by side with Oliver Queen it'll be interesting to watch these two characters face off especially given the fact that we know that Slade is now alive and well in the present. Malcolm Merlyn, Brother Blood, Slade Wilson, the League of Assassins, HIVE - Ollie's list of rogues is expanding and it's surely building up to what I'm sure will be an awesome episode. Both Shado and Slade's apperance in the present was handelded incredibly well but I think it's the final push with Tommy that was pulled off the best. The character that I couldn't stand in Season 1. The character whose death was pulled off so well that I was actually honestly on the verge of tears. And now the character who comes in a vision in Ollie's hour of need. This, along with Sara's reveal to Detective Lance and the death of Shado is one of the most emotional scenes of Season 2 and is probably one of my favourites as well. In fact, when you consider everything that happened in the whole series, could we be labeling Three Ghosts as the best episode yet?

Barry Allen leaves a parting gift for Oliver Queen.

Oh yes. I think we certainly can. If I had a minor niggle it would be that Sara mentioned in an earlier episode that Shado survived the Island but I think Three Ghosts has shown her die on screen. However, we all know that comic book characters don't get killed off and with Malcolm, Sara and Slade returning already this season as well as Deadshot surviving a shot to the eye in Season 1 (if I recall correctly) chances could be high that this isn't the end of Shado yet. Either way, now we know exactly what caused Slade to part terms with Ollie and the whole buildup and execution is handled incredibly well.

The biggest development was the reveal of Slade being alive on the Island. Could we be looking at the new Moriarty to Oliver's Sherlock Holmes? Malcolm Merlyn made a pretty good arch nemesis for Season 1 but I have a feeling that Slade will be a far more interesting nemesis especially given their past history and I really cannot wait for the reunion of the two. Fireworks are sure to go down for sure and this would almost make it up if we don't get Ra's Al Ghul this season.

However, even Three Ghosts isn't perfect. The Laurel/Sebastian Blood thing came out of nowhere and it seemed as though its only purpose was to get Laurel's character back into the series. Her character just isn't hitting the right spots for me and with the fact that the writers prove they can make anybody a better character (Quentin) or have their characters have a big impact on the series by killing them off (Tommy) so it'll be interesting to see what happens to Laurel as this goes on.

Therefore, despite a few minor niggles that I had with this episode , Three Ghosts goes down as the best episode of Arrow yet in my book and I may have to rewatch it at some point in the near future to tide me over until the show's return - even if I should be getting Season 1 by the end of the year so I may have to go back and rewatch it from the beginning. However, Three Ghosts is a must watch for any Arrow fan. It's just so damn good.

VERDICT: 4.75/5

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