It’s difficult to truly escape one’s past; there’s always a skeleton in the closet or a girlfriend’s sister on a sunken yacht. Although Oliver Queen returned to Star(ling) City four years ago a changed man, Laurel understandably had trouble letting go of the ghost of Ollie past. And even though she’s now been brought into the Team Arrow fold, this week’s episode shows that there’s still a sense of mistrust and just plain misunderstanding between these two characters.
“Haunted” opens with a woman in a back alley being attacked by two random bad dudes. Their assault, however, is short-lived, as a feral Sara leaps down into the fray. She attacks the perps like a vampire slayer on steroids, even viciously stabbing one of them. Afterward, the woman thanks Sara for saving her, but she speaks too soon: Sara attacks the woman. Before she can do major damage, police sirens scare Sara away.
Since escaping Laurel’s basement, Sara has been on a killing spree — specifically, women. When Captain Lance interviews the latest victim, she tells him that her blonde attacker spoke some kind of “Middle Eastern” language. Quentin’s face drops, understanding that it’s likely Sara. Laurel arrives at the scene and admits to her dad that Sara escaped from her basement. She explains to an exasperated Quentin that she withheld this information from him and Oliver because both would only “see Sara as a thing that needed to be stopped.” Quentin, who last week almost put Sara out of her misery with a pistol, doesn’t disagree with her: “People are dying. If I had pulled that trigger, maybe they wouldn’t be.”
It doesn’t take too long for Oliver to find out about Sara. When responding to an attack at a nightclub, the Arrow sees a blonde woman about to beat Black Canary with her own baton. He shoots the baton out of the blonde’s hand with an arrow. When she turns around to face him, he turns pale. It’s Sara. Back at the Arrow lair, Oliver confronts Thea and Laurel about their “spa” trip to Nanda Parbat and surmises that Sara took a dip in the crazy pit. A frustrated Oliver wishes they had come to him sooner. “Come to you for what? Your expertise in magical resurrection or that judgmental look on your face?” Laurel snaps. “For help finding her Laurel,” Oliver yells.
Look, can Oliver sometimes be a judgmental prick? Sure, but Laurel has picked the wrong time to make this point, given her role in Sara’s killing spree. If there ever was a time for Oliver to be judgmental, it’s probably now. Moreover, Laurel’s knee-jerk reaction is wrapped up in what Oliver thinks of her decision-making, rather than in her responsibility to Sara’s victims. This scene encapsulates the unsatisfactory dynamic between Laurel and Oliver. They miscommunicate so easily and are so quick to anger that I’m left wondering if anything connects them to each other except their past. They genuinely don’t seem to trust or, at times, even like one another. This is not to say that Laurel has to like Oliver. In fact, having Laurel be an embittered thorn in Oliver’s side would be interesting to explore, but the show never quite takes it that far, which makes their friendship more confusing than complicated.
There’s a stark contrast between that scene and Oliver’s open discussion with Felicity at the loft. Felicity can’t believe Sara’s back. “I know that it’s possible,” she says, “but how — is — it — possible?” (Emily Bett Rickards’s line readings continue to slay.) Felicity tries to look at the bright side by pointing out that having Sara back might help Oliver with the pain of losing her — something, Felicity admits, she’s facing with her discovery that she might be able to hear Ray’s last words. But as Oliver notes, “What’s happening with Sara isn’t healing anyone’s pain. It’s making it worse.” And it’s about to get a lot worse: Felicity and Oliver make the connection that all of Sara’s victims bear an eerie resemblance to Thea.
Unfortunately for Thea, she ignores Oliver’s warning phone call. Fortunately for viewers, this leads to an excellent fighting sequence, wherein Sara breaks into Thea and Laurel’s apartment and attacks Thea. The fight is intense and messy and punctuated with broken dishes and cabinets. Thea manages to get away long enough to limp into the apartment-building stairwell, but Sara is close behind. Caity Lotz’s physicality as Sara stalks her prey in this scene is pretty great. Thea kicks open a door in the stairwell — a misdirect that leads Sara into the wrong doorway and allows an injured Thea to make it safely to a hospital.
At the hospital, Thea confesses to Oliver that she understands Sara’s Lazarus Pit bloodlust more than he knows. Her own bloodlust hasn’t disappeared, but has been merely put at bay by Malcolm’s offering in Nanda Parbat. Laurel then arrives and when she innocently asks, “Is Thea okay?” Oliver is ready to bring that judgment Laurel had expected earlier. Laurel has some opinions of her own, too. She’s mad that Oliver never told her about the pit or that it could help Sara. Oliver points out the obvious: Thea was alive; Sara was very much dead. Laurel interprets this logic as a sign that Oliver doesn’t see her as an equal, and he never thinks about what she’s going through. That Laurel is making Thea’s injuries, brought upon by Laurel’s decision to raise her sister from the dead in secret, about a lack of respect for her is Laurel at her most Laurel.
Later, as Laurel sits by Thea’s bedside, she’s confronted with the truth about Sara’s bloodlust for Thea. Laurel reassures Thea that Thea’s safety is her first priority (progress, Laurel!). This is great, except, while Laurel is outside Thea’s hospital room, Sara somehow sneaks past her and into Thea’s room. Luckily, Oliver arrives in time to hear the commotion from Sara’s attack and saves Thea.
Oliver and Laurel aren’t the only ones with sibling troubles. When Quentin asks Diggle to accompany him on a Damien Darhk/H.I.V.E.-related matter, Diggle discovers that Darhk wants to delete old records, including records for Diggle’s brother, Andy, whom H.I.V.E. assassinated six years ago. When Quentin sees how important it is to Diggle, he demands information from Darhk. (Stop digging your grave, Quentin, with these redemptive gestures! Sob!) Darhk gladly informs him that Andy was an enterprising military man and was essentially operating as a crime lord, one that got in H.I.V.E.’s way. Quentin reluctantly delivers the bad news to Diggle.
Oliver has good news, though, for Laurel. He happens to know an expert in mysticism and soul restoration: John Constantine (Matt Ryan). I never watched the NBC series Constantine, so seeing Constantine appear in this episode didn’t do too much for me, other than help serve the plot along. Team Arrow captures Sara, and Constantine prepares a ritual that will take him, Oliver, and Laurel into another realm, in order to defeat whatever it is that’s holding Sara’s soul hostage. The other realm turns out to look like a trippy, hazy version of Nanda Parbat. I liked the revolving-door trick, but otherwise this sequence was underwhelming. It seemed rather low-stakes, and Oliver and Laurel rescued Sara’s soul without a sweat. But, on the bright side, Laurel and Oliver seem to have made peace for now, and, more important, the ritual worked. Sara’s soul has returned!
Meanwhile, Felicity derails bronze-medal Olympic champion Curtis’s plans to hit the gym by asking him to help her de-scramble Ray’s last recording. Ray’s message? He’s alive!
Conklin tries to turn Oliver into Reiter, but Reiter is too busy beating up Constantine, who’s on Lian Yu in search of magical artifacts. Constantine escapes the work camp, with Oliver in tow, and heads to find an orb. Oliver saves Constantine from an Indiana Jones–type trap, and a mutual respect is born. Constantine warns Oliver that Reiter is not on the island just for the drugs.
- “This is your overlord, Felicity Smoak.” Of course Felicity would do this with the new PA system.
- “You have to admire her consistency,” says Quentin to Oliver about Laurel’s tendency to lie about Sara’s life-death status.
- I loved how quiet and simple David Ramsey played the scene where Diggle found out about his brother. A strong performance.
- The new lair comes with a garage!
- “I’m just glad the latest person from Oliver’s past is not another gorgeous woman,” says Felicity about Constantine.
- BIG BELLY BURGER!
- “Her marble collection is a little incomplete,” says Felicity about Sara.
- “Are you sticking around for a cupcake or something?” Really enjoying Damien Snarhk.
- Felicity and Curtis continue to bring so much delight to each episode.
MISSING THE MARK
- The Chappaquiddick reference really drew me out of the story and the DC universe.
- Except for the Sara-Thea fight, the action sequences — usually this show’s strength — were a bit ho-hum.
- Although I completely understand why it had to happen, I’m kind of bummed that they announced Legends and its cast before these episodes. How exciting would these episodes feel if it wasn’t already expected that both Sara and Ray would be returning from the dead?
NUMBER OF SHIRTLESS STEPHEN AMELL SCENES: 1/4 (That’s just mean, y’all.)
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