Arrow “Haunted” Review (Season 4, Episode 5)

The choices we make today are the consequences we must live with tomorrow. That’s a lesson some folks never seem to learn. At least that’s what I kept thinking as I was watching this week’s Arrow. This episode was basically Team Arrow dealing with the fallout of Laurel bringing Sara back and Sara’s subsequent escape from Laurel’s custody. I tried not to get overly snarky while writing this review, but I don’t believe I was all that successful.

My primary problem with this episode was Laurel and her inability to accept responsibility for all of the damage she caused. When Oliver confronted her about what she’d done she threw everything that he’d done back in his face as if that somehow excuses the choices she made. Yes. Oliver lied to them. Yes. Oliver kept secrets from them. Yes. Oliver was wrong. However, none of that excuses anything that Laurel has done. Deflecting onto Oliver also isn’t going to change the fact that Laurel got involved with powers that she has zero understanding about, and her lack of understanding has caused a soulless monster to be unleashed on Startling City. It’s interesting Laurel claims her issue with Oliver is hypocrisy given the fact that she’s swimming in that same pool. People are dead because Laurel was too hard-headed to listen when Oliver, Thea, Nyssa, and Malcolm told her not to bring Sara back. Even after it was clear that Sara was off the rails (she’d already killed at least 5 people) Laurel still acted as if Oliver and Captain Lance were the real threats. Part of being a grown up is not blaming other people for the choices you made. Laurel finally got around to admitting she was wrong, but it felt pretty disingenuous.

It’s no secret that I’m not a Laurel fan. At least, I’m not anymore. I actually enjoyed Laurel during the first season. She was smart and tough, and she had a history with Oliver that was just ripe for dramatic action. I was looking forward to watching her character evolve, and since I never read any of the Green Arrow comics, I didn’t have any preconceived notions of who Laurel was supposed to be. However, somewhere between season one and season two they decided to turn Laurel into a whiny, self-absorbed damsel in distress. I was disappointed and I’d hoped the powers that be would figure out their error and fix it. Sadly, it seems they’ve doubled down instead. In addition to Laurel playing the blame game, she jumped down Oliver’s throat about things that don’t even make sense. First of all, Laurel’s argument that she and Oliver need to be equals is ridiculous. What does that even mean? How exactly is Oliver not treating her as an equal? Is he supposed to go consult Laurel about things she knows absolutely nothing about? Such as magic and mystical powers? Is Oliver supposed to defer to Laurel on combat strategy due to her vast experience in combat situations? Oh wait. She doesn’t have any. The fact of the matter is, Oliver has been through a crucible that Laurel can never begin to understand. He’s learned things about himself that he probably wishes he didn’t know, and he’s learned things about what’s really out there in the world too. Laurel hasn’t done any of that. It would be one thing if she and Oliver had shared some of those experiences, but they didn’t. Not even close. I’m not trivializing Laurel’s journey. I understand and respect that it hasn’t always been easy for her, but she needs to stop trying to compare herself with Oliver. She may not have called it that, but that’s exactly what it is. That’s why she keeps bringing up Oliver’s refusal to support her becoming Black Canary.

As I recall, Oliver tried to dissuade her from becoming a vigilante because she hadn’t been properly trained (two weeks of kickboxing and some self defense classes doesn’t mean you’re prepared) and because she was still grieving. She wasn’t in the right headspace at the time to make that decision and Oliver told her as much. Oliver wouldn’t have been being a good friend if he didn’t try to stop Laurel back then. But what has Oliver said lately about her being Black Canary? Has he tried to stop her from going out on missions? Has he tried to persuade her to hang up her leather suit? No. He’s just treated her like a member of the team. Is he supposed to pat her on the head and tell her ‘good job’ every time she doesn’t get one of the team members hurt or killed?

Then my favorite part was Laurel’s complaint that Oliver never told her he was The Arrow. To be fair, the only people he actually told were Dig and Felicity, and Felicity mostly figured it out on her own because she’s smart. But my question is, why would Oliver have told Laurel he was The Arrow? When he first got back to Starling City, Laurel made it pretty clear that she didn’t want anything to do with him. He tried to respect that and keep his distance. Then Laurel decided that The Arrow was to blame for Tommy’s death and she went on a crusade to get him arrested. Not to mention the fact that the more people who knew Oliver’s secret identity, the more danger it put him (and them) in. The fact of the matter is, Oliver has a right to keep some things to himself just like anyone else. What right does Laurel have to demand that Oliver reveal all his secrets to her? It’s not like they were dating or married. Just because you’re friends with someone doesn’t mean you get to know more than they’re willing to share. But the more you show yourself worthy of the trust your friend is placing in you, they’ll trust you with more and more of themselves. Oliver was a different person when he came back from the island, and Laurel either didn’t see it or willfully ignored it. Whatever the case, she didn’t show Oliver that he could trust her with that information, so he didn’t tell her. And how long ago was that anyway? Get over it already.

Despite there being too much Laurel, this episode was ok. John Constantine is a pretty colorful character I wouldn’t mind seeing again. If Team Arrow is intending to take on Damien Darhk, they might need Constantine’s help. Speaking of Darhk, I wonder if he was telling the truth about Dig’s brother being a drug kingpin. I don’t know that I buy it because it all seems entirely too clean and simple. If it was just that simple, though, I feel so bad for Diggle. On the one hand, not knowing was eating him up inside. But on the other hand, is knowing the truth really any better? For Diggle’s sake, I hope there was more to it than that. It also looks like Ray Palmer isn’t dead and is trapped somewhere unpleasant. I had a feeling Ray wasn’t gone, but his return could be awkward. I guess we’ll see fairly soon. So what did y’all think of this week’s Arrow?