‘Arrow’ Season 2 Mid-Season Finale Review

Published 10 months ago by

Emily Bett Rickards Stephen Amell and David Ramsey in Arrow Season 2 Episode 9 Arrow Season 2 Mid Season Finale Review
[This is a review of Arrow season 2, episode 9. There will be SPOILERS.]

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As the level of storytelling and development of character has steadily improved over the course of season 2, the ambitions of the Arrow writers rooms seems to have increased as well. And that has largely taken what was once a problematically large cast of characters and turned it into the kind of supporting operation the show has always been searching for. Sure, the show is still trying to find the right fit for one or two of the characters whose roles and purpose have changed as the series’ roster unexpectedly grew between season 1 and season 2, but, seeing as how the show has risen to the challenge of surpassing what it accomplished last season, there’s a better than average chance the writers will find the right fit for all involved.

In that regard, using Arrow as the launch pad for the introduction of one of DC’s more recognizable heroes with the Flash doesn’t just feel like a move made in the interest of The CW and their upcoming programming schedule; it feels like a part of the natural progression of a world fans are likely interested in seeing open out. Last week’s introduction of Grant Gustin’s very green Barry Allen was the first major step in changing everything about the world Oliver Queen and his gradually expanding Team Arrow did all of their superheroing in. And in order to follow through on that, the mid-season finale had a great deal of heavy lifting to do. But rather than feel like a burden, it began to feel like the series was officially turning the page toward something different that still managed to feel like the natural progression of the Arrow narrative.

There seems to be a trend over at Arrow where Oliver is treated to a series of unsettling visitations during the holidays, and for some reason this feels completely appropriate. Last year’s mid-season finale, ‘Year’s End,’ saw Ollie haunted by the wraith-like Dark Archer – who wound up being revealed not only as Malcolm Merlyn, but also as the primary antagonist for the remainder of the season. ‘Three Ghosts’ delivers much the same kind of story, in that it reveals the circumstances behind Brother Blood’s desire to create an army of super soldiers is actually part of a larger plan of vengeance being carried out by none other than Oliver’s former comrade Slade Wilson.

Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen in Arrow Season 2 Episode 9 Arrow Season 2 Mid Season Finale Review

Normally this revelation would be enough to drive a single episode, but ‘Three Ghosts’ goes the extra mile and manages to balance out the disclosure of Slade’s intent with the continuation of Oliver’s battle against the superpowered Cyrus Gold (a.k.a. Solomon Grundy) – all while managing to find time to throw Roy, Det. Lance, and even Laurel into the story, without any of it feeling extraneous. Oh, and did I mention that Barry Allen makes Oliver a handy-dandy mask, and later winds up being struck by a bolt of lightning from a cloud of recently accelerated particles? It’s a huge episode to be sure, as it introduces a number of compelling threads for the series to explore when it comes back from hiatus, but it also manages to give Oliver a second crack at tanning Cyrus’ rather durable hide – affording the episode the opportunity to reach some sort of a conclusion, rather than existing primarily to set the table for storylines to come.

But at least those potential storylines all seem like an interesting extension of what the Arrowverse has managed to develop so far. Bringing Slade into the present makes the island flashbacks infinitely more interesting, as the character has transitioned from mentor to potential nemesis, after Oliver rushed to save Sara’s life over Shado’s when Dr. Ivo was threatening the two women. While Ivo’s motivations for making Oliver choose, or even for wanting to kill either of the women in the manner he did were a little murky, the larger payoff of it becoming the impetus for Slade’s rage makes it easy to overlook. There’s a potential downside to Slade’s story given that we know its beginning and where it will eventually end up, which means the filler is going to consist of the writers showing their work with some tricky narrative math, but that’s essentially the entire purpose of the island flashback’s anyway. Besides, this season Arrow has integrated the flashbacks into the main plot by more than just theme, so there’s reason to believe that Slade’s dual roles will only reinforce that as a positive.

‘Three Ghosts’ also took some time to expand the narratives of Roy and Felicity – though only by having the latter character openly admit to having feelings for Oliver. It’s a little rote, but at least it is something for the show to build on, and a potential romantic plot between two likeable characters is fairly inevitable anyway, so pointing Felicity’s character arc toward the establishment of a more emotional connection between her and Ollie could work out to strengthen the already strong bond there seems to be with the core Team Arrow characters. While, Diggle’s mostly been in the background since his near-starring role in ‘Keep Your Enemies Closer,’ he’s at least been the focal point of a storyline, so hopefully the continual examination of Felicity’s feelings for Oliver will lead to a weightier narrative for her.

Colton Haynes in Arrow Season 2 Episode 9 Arrow Season 2 Mid Season Finale Review

Finally, in an episode that didn’t shy away from handing out promising plotlines like some sort of showrunning Kris Kringle, Arrow has finally brought young Roy Harper into the thick of it, while at the same time explaining the purpose (at least the narrative purpose) of Oliver putting an arrow through his young assistant’s leg last episode. Apparently mistaken for little more than a thieving street rat, Roy is taken hostage by Brother Blood and injected with the super solider serum. Roy in peril and his subsequent rescue by Arrow is nothing new, but his surviving the serum injection serves as a potentially monumental game changer for the character that could accelerate his evolution into becoming the hero he’s been working to become since last season.

At any rate, ‘Three Ghosts’ was a potent mix of fan service moments (Colin Donnell’s brief appearance was a welcome sight) and table setting for the season to come. Arrow has proven itself to be more than a reliable performer this season; it seems to be interested in developing a progressively deeper narrative and mythology that gives everyone something to look forward to when the series returns next month.

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Arrow will return on Wednesday, January 15, 2014 with ‘Blast Radius’ on The CW. Check out a preview below:

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  1. This episode proved that every character can play a necessary part in the show when they’re given the right material to do so. No melodrama, no problem of the week, just everyone working together as a strong ensemble. I did miss seeing Colin Salmon but it was long overdue for the underutilized Roger Cross to be released from the series. Sad to see Shado go, though the lack of Isabelle wasn’t even noticeable.

    The two moments of friction between Oliver and Felicity, with her revealing his secret and with the feelings being mostly one-sided between them, played very well into Slade’s plan. The moment when Slade told Blood that the vigilante is his friend was very cool but also a bit chilling. Great actor that Manu Bennett. He’s got a presence that’s too big for the small screen.

    I’m wondering how much longer Diggle will be necessary to the series. Love the character, but with so many superheroes being born, where does a good man fit in?

    Tommy’s appearance was nice. I’d been waiting to see it and thought the writers handled it very well.

    • thats why i’m hoping Diggle gets the serum, i enjoy his character plus Oliver doesn’t trust too many people

      • I believe another SR commenter suggested that Diggle become Green Lantern. There are all kinds of options for his character if written well.

        • Let’s just jump straight into Simon Baz while we’re at it.

    • Diggle is Oliver’s conscience and his counsel. The first person he shared his secret with and is his trusted partner in crimefighting. Diggle is also the person Oliver goes to with his problems, and the person who confronts Oliver when he needs it. They won’t write him out of the show.

      • I agree with all those points. Unfortunately, it’s those same attributes which often make a character’s sacrifice that much more appealing due to the ramifications it has for the hero.

  2. @BigNerd, Sarah asked Oliver what happened to Slade and when she saw Oliver’s green Arrow outfit she said she remembered Shado wearing it first! Shado’s death makes sense!

  3. Loved this episode for many reasons! Man, I gotta love Slade in that scene with Brother Blood. Excited to see him put on the Deathstroke costume, hope they do change the look. As for Barry Allen, wow! It was nice for them to have Barry get in the same accident like in the comics.

  4. I thought it was great that Oliver hasn’t called Thea “Speedy” for a quite some time now (at least I don’t think I’ve heard it), but the one time he says it again it’s the scene where she, Sin, and Roy were in the room. Cant wait for Roy to become the hero hes trying to be.

  5. Arrow poops all over AGents of Shield. AOS will never and I mean never by as good as this one episode. Great plot, character development, action choreography and great pacing. Arrow is now up there with WAlking Dead in my opinion.

    • I’m not convinced AOS was meant to last. It seems like a low-budget excuse to make people hate Coulsen or as theorized convert him to Vision.

  6. I thought this episode was alright, probably the least better ones of the season so far. The only parts I cared for were the ones with Slade Wilson(AWESOME ENDING), Barry Allen (Grant Gustin does a great job if you ask me) and a few scenes that deal with Oliver Queen’s hallucinations. I thought the part with officer Lance kinda pointless (though I do like the character), Laurel Lance as always, annoyed me lol and Speedy and Roy’s little side show kinda half baked (though that may be because it was a very small portion of the show). I’m just excited for Slade Wilson now, he’s finally in the present!

    • I may not share your feelings on the episode as a whole, but I’m on the same page when it comes to your accolades for Manu Bennett (sp?) and Grant Gustin? The former has had an intriguing on-screen presence from the get-go, whereas the latter quickly outgrew (pun intended) the low expectations most of us were placing in him beforehand.

      There simply has to be a way to connect the two continuities. As I have proposed before: put some make-up on Gustin to age him – so all of the TV stories can serve as a prelude / origin story for both Green Arrow and Flash (possibly set about five years before MoS) and have Deathstroke face off against either Batman or both billionaire playboys in Justice League 2 or 3. I think his super solider advantage would warrant a team-up of that kind, while the rest of the team are busy battling their respective equals.

  7. Was hoping for a more epic flash origin scene, episode was good though.

  8. Good Episode. It is true that they had to fit quite a bit into this episode, but they managed to pull it off. I’m kind of mad Shado died like that, but glad to see Slade in the present and looking forward to the real Deathstroke.

    • He needed a mask. Shado dying that way is really the only logical reason Slade would have such a grudge.

      • Yeah, I know why they killed her off and that wasn’t too surprising. I just thought there would be a bigger build up to her death scene. I felt like it came out of nowhere, but maybe that’s what they were going for.

        • Its sad that Shado is dead since now she cant give birth to Connor Hawke. Would have been cool to have Green Arrow’s son in here eventually.

          • You still might get the chance. Connor Hawke’s mother wasn’t Shado, it was Moonday Hawke, if I remember correctly.

            • Looks like you are right. I am apparently not the only one who has made this mistake. Looks like a writer of Green Arrow messed it up too (from wikipedia)…..

              There was some confusion in recent years about the identity of Connor’s mother. Throughout the later issues of the first Green Arrow series written by Chuck Dixon, Connor’s mother was identified as Sandra “Moonday” Hawke; a flighty ex-Hippie, who had reportedly been one of many conquests for a young Oliver Queen. Moonday played a frequent supporting role in the series, often requiring rescue due to the machinations of her husband – an arms dealer named Milo Armitage, who would be a frequent foe of the new Green Arrow.

              Shado, an murderer who also mothered a child with Oliver Queen, is often incorrectly identified as Connor Hawke’s mother. One reason for this is because of a Wizard Magazine issue, which incorrectly identified Connor’s first appearance in comics being in Green Arrow vol. 2 #24. While this was the first appearance of Shado’s infant son (who was later revealed to be named Robert), Connor appeared as a man in his early-twenties in Green Arrow vol. 2 #0. Both Robert and Connor were seen together, many years apart in age, in Chuck Dixon’s 2007 Dragon’s Blood miniseries.

              The issue has been further confused by Birds of Prey #109, in which Barbara Gordon incorrectly identifies Shado as Connor Hawke’s mother when running down a list of women whom Oliver Queen cheated on long-time girlfriend Dinah Lance with. Writer Tony Bedard has acknowledged this as “just a good old fashioned f*ck-up on my part.”

  9. Does anybody else remember when a couple episodes ago, Oliver was talking to sarah and she asked what happened to Shado and Slade? Why would she ask that when she knew Shado has been killed? Great episode but that confused me. If i missed something can someone let me know. Thanks!

    • She asks about Slade, not Shado.

  10. Remember when everyone was whining about the Grant Gustin casting? Guess these film makers know what they’re doing after all, huh?

  11. love this show, and great episode – but i’m sorry, Slade being mad at Oliver makes no sense. It was obvious that there was nothing Oliver could have done to save Shado. It makes no sense to me, his anger is completely misdirected.

    • Sometimes, that’s how grief works. Also, Slade might be angry about that whole “arrow to the eye” thing. I know I would be.

    • It’s not misdirected, they just haven’t showed the falling out on the show yet. We now know that something happened between those two on the island and can expect it in the flashbacks.
      We’ve seen this coming since the first two minutes of the pilot episode where is shows Deathstroke’s mask and an arrow through his right eye sitting on a pole.

  12. Wow was the writing in this episode uneven. It got away with it because of the sheer volume of plot and fan service all dumped into the one episode. Before you could get annoyed with the sloppy and inconsistent moments you were processing the awesome ones.

  13. Barry mentioned knowing how it feels when someone has no idea how you feel about them… and it’s hinted that Iris West in the Flash show won’t have a clue of her childhood friend, Barry’s, feelings. Is that what Barry was referring to?

  14. I hope they do a natural progression of Flash’s powers rather than give them all to him at once. Maybe they can put a physical barrier on how long and how fast he can be at the beginning, and then as time goes on, they can have him build up an ‘endurance’ of sorts so that his speed can last longer. And he could be extremely physically exhausted after he uses his powers until he uses it long enough so that he gets less and less exhausted.

    I’d just like to see a believable sorta progression, kind of like selling some wacky science thing to an audience as believable science by having a good explanation and progression.

    I also want to see him get to the point where he does have sorta full on powers. Maybe they can show him training, seeing how far he can run over the ocean. Maybe he has to chase down a villain that fled to another country or something.

    They could also add certain other barriers such as how fast can he go, what happens when he reaches his fastest speed, etc.

    Also curious on how they’re gonna show his powers: have everything be slow motion around him, or him being a blur, or like Faora in MOS? Would also like to see him deal with the fact that everything around him is too slow for him, his life seems wasted because he has to slow himself down now, something philosophically introspective or something.

    Man, can you imagine a sorta ‘car chase’ scene between him and Dr. Zoom without the cars on screen? Really hope Flash takes off well.

    • I hope they come up with some new way to show his speed. Avoid the blur effect as much as possible. But I suppose there are few ways to do it. I also hope they don’t use the “Wink of an Eye” Trek episode method.

  15. Really liking this show. Now if only they could come up with similar shows for Doctor Fate, Martian Manhunter, and The Atom!

  16. I wonder if the serum will work on Shado now (er, then)… so like Slade, she can show up again.

    I don’t like this storyline though. It’d be better if Arrow stayed away from superpowers completely. Be more Dark Knight. No Japanese Super Soldier Serum (or that AoS Extremis thing) instead it should have been a hidden biological weapon created by Unit 731 that would kill all non Japanese people by giving them deadly body deformations (hence the deformed skeletons)

  17. I really enjoy this show!…..but……some little things would make it better….the fighting is a bit cheesy, especially how he uses the bow, the first few episodes seemed top notch…..small things….hmmmmm…how did Barry so quickly make the correct LIQUID dose of rat poison??? I realize that its a comic book show and I think its the best one out there…..hmmmmm….the little things…….Great show!…..but…….

  18. I thoroughly enjoyed the mid-season finale of “Arrow”. Though, I have been loyally watching the show I have been feeling disappointed in the disjointed nature of the sub-plots, which appear to pop in and out with no apparent rhyme or reason. The mid-season finale neatly tied a lot of very loose ends together, which I hope will be the beginning of “Arrow” becoming not just a fun super-hero show but a well acted one as well.

    I was also quite impressed with how Barry Allen was developed into the nascent “Flash”. It follows the original 1960s story practically to a tee. HOWEVER, will it follow his first experience with his new powers? That is something I am looking forward to seeing.

    And the question to everyone here is what was the Flash’s first super-power experience??? There were actually two, one following the other…

  19. Great episode. I loved all the surprises in it. I’m very excited for the second half of the season.

    One thing…Roy was running when he stole that file. Running pretty darn good for a guy who just had an arrow through the leg ;)

  20. To be honest. Never expect Arrow to be this GOOD.
    I thought Arrow will end up like HEROES or Alpha which have a great season 1 but followed with disappointing season 2. Arrow story is developing very well and manage to keep up (if not exceeding) all viewer,comic fan or non-comic fan.

  21. I enjoyed the episode for the most part. Definitely can’t wait for it to return to see where they go with it all. My only issue is with all these super powered people running around now is it kind of makes Aarow less significant. I know this has been brought up and argued before with Batman but if your sidekick has super strength, speed agilit etc. how can the hero compete?

  22. As long as they’re light with the over the top elements, I can’t see how this series can go downhill. An unpopular opinion I know, but I’m glad we’re not seeing the Flash later on in Arrow.