But even more special is the first episode I get to review features the return of Matt Ryan as DC/Vertigo’s HellBlazer…er John Constantine after the fantastic NBC show was cancelled due to a hideous time slot and bad promotion reminiscent of John Carter’s treatment by Disney (also initialed JC – a coincidence? HMMM). In that series they left us with a cliffhanger of Biblical proportions and no promise of resolution as the Angel Manny was revealed to be the leader of the evil wizards manifesting all over the Earth in the Rising Darkness.
While Emmys and fan demand couldn’t save the show it couldn’t change the fact that no one could portray the “Sometimes Dabbler in the Dark Arts” as effectively and accurately as Matt Ryan and when the soul separating Thea and the body animating Lazarus Pit of Malcom Merlyn created a rampaging Sara Lance then only one man could be called in to summon and restore the soul she desperately needs. If only Oliver knew him from his 5 years on the island or something…oh wait.
Was this a crossover of dreams or a train wreck of screams? I have the full breakdown.
So let’s get this monkey smoking…
S4 | Ep5
“Things take a turn for the worse with Sara, so Oliver calls in a favor from an old friend, John Constantine, who deals in the mystical.”
If you are caught up, you know that the decision to keep Malcom Merlyn as head of the League of Assassins has already had insane results in just 5 short episodes this season. While the resurrection of Sara is by far the most drastic (with blame to sling all over the place) everything from The being fed to ease her bloodlust to Oliver running for Mayor is in many ways connected to the decision Oliver made to install Merlyn as Ras Al Ghoul.
This episode is about the resolution of Sara’s return and the need to look at a bigger world than what you are comfortable with to get an accurate picture of reality through the veil of emotion. It is in this theme episode 5 comfortably nestles itself and drops the exorcist from Liverpool directly in the middle of it. It also at the same time is correcting the Batman cross characterizations from last season by returning the bright shiny idealist that is more like the comic book Oliver Queen and one of the best ways to do so is drop him against even darker characters like HellBlazer and the tainted soul of Thea Queen.
The Flagship Sails Expanded Seas
Arrow is the show that sets the tone for all of DC/WB’s TV universe. Regardless of network or corner of the DCU the show touches the formulas of running themes is always based in the success Arrow has shown. From the family secrets in Flash to the double deals in Gotham the Arrow formula has paid off in each when approached from a different tone. But it is no secret that Arrow is also the flagship expansion tool for DC.
From Atom to Arsenal the DC creatives love to use Arrow as the testing ground for concepts and themes. This week was no different as the theme of broadening your horizons to learn what you need to know is explored. The Arrow creative team is again setting the pace for the rest of the shows but now with Legends of Tomorrow and Flash sharing a universe the deliberate steps to grow the network universe is obvious and some clunkiness is expected along the way. But it has yet to materialize.
With genius smoothness they introduce Constantine in a flashback almost immediately and ask we suspend our belief (due to the convenience of the encounter and need to restore Sara in the present) in a way that more convinces us than asks. It is the flashback that effortlessly inserts NBC’s Ryan character seamlessly into the present DCU on CW. It is deft and clever and allows the narrative to flow without the explanatory and over shown clunkiness so many shows find when trying something that rarely ever works – a self-contained crossover in one episode – because the episode is rarely relevant to the overall arc.
Again this is deftly done and brilliantly executed in other ways as well. While letting the viewer fully enjoy the Constantine character there is real payoff for the long haul in the form of first showing the transformation of Oliver from dark brooding secret carrier to happy open leader we all hoped he would become. The mantle of darkness is falling off – episode by episode - and the optimistic Ollie is emerging. Secondly, the episode ends the feuding between Detective Lance and Laurel, eases tensions between Laurel and Ollie and allows the story to move beyond the League of Assassins for the Damien Darhk arc we are craving. Moreover, it sets Constantine up in the universe and thus opens the way for others from the mystical realm including Zatanna and Deadman.
While it is convenient and pretentious a little to have Constantine in Ollie’s past the episode worked brilliantly and establishes the occult heroes once and for all in the CW heroverse from DC.
Season 4 promises to be more Ollie Queen and less Batman this time around and the addition of Constantine is welcomed indeed. If you missed this episode go On Demand or Hulu as soon as you can. Catch up on Netflix if you need to. Green Arrow is back.
Tell the monkey to crush his butt…