Just a few days ago, I was arguing here that “Arrow,” the current CW show about the early days of the DC Comics hero Green Arrow, might be the best superhero TV show of all time.
Last night’s “mid-season finale” episode of “Arrow” really backed up my argument.
(A word about mid-season finales or winter finales or whatever the networks are calling them: Shows like “Mad Men” and “The Walking Dead” take very deliberate breaks in the middle of their 14 or 16-episode seasons – mostly to avoid periods when networks think no one is watching, like the holidays, even though they’re wrong – and build to a strong climax for the final episode before that break. Although it would sound a little overblown on a sitcom, for example, mid-season finale seems appropriate for hour-long serialized shows that have built to a dramatic temporary stopping point. Like “Arrow.”)
“Three Ghosts,” last night’s “Arrow,” has as many dramatic elements as some season finales. And if you missed the significance of the title, it’s a reference to Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” During the course of the episode, Oliver is haunted by three figures from his past. Thankfully, the Dickensian undertones were decidedly undertones.
“Three Ghosts” had a lot on its plate:
Although the flashbacks to five years earlier on the island aren’t likely to be done, last night’s episode went a long way toward tying those events into the Arrow’s present-day Starling City action.
We learned the fate of a couple of characters. Maybe.
We saw the origins, I’m thinking, of at least two more. Cyrus Gold, one of Brother Blood’s “super soldiers,” might have bigger (and deader) things ahead for him. As the poem that Diggle discovered goes, “Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday …”
Although it was a surprise, we saw the origin of the Flash, the DC hero who’s getting his own CW series (most likely) next fall. Grant Gustin has been guest-starring the past couple of episodes as Barry Allen, a CSI from Central City. The network had said Allen would appear in only these two episodes before moving on to his own series pilot. I didn’t expect to see the accident – true to the comics – that turns Allen into the Scarlet Speedster at the end of this episode, but I was glad they did it.
I guess you could argue that we saw the origin of Green Arrow, too, since Allen’s parting gift to Oliver Queen was a green mask that he could wear in place of camo makeup. As the episode closed, Ollie donned the mask. Is he still Arrow? Or is he Green Arrow? He’s sure not “the Hood” or “the Vigilante” anymore.
The episode had something for every cast member to do and emphasized, with one exception, what a strong ensemble this show is built around.
By the end of the episode, the series has set up a much more compelling “Big Bad” than Brother Blood. I won’t spoil it here if you haven’t watched it yet, but it’s not surprising to anyone with some comics history under their utility belt.
Here’s looking forward to the back half of the season.