SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for Arrow
On Tuesday the CW aired the fifth episode, entitled ‘Haunted’, of the exciting and ambitious fourth season of Arrow, which, once again, opened things up for the entire DC Comics television universe on the network. Arrow is already the catalyst for the entire universe by, after airing two very successful seasons of the show, introducing Grant Gustin as Barry Allen and spawning the CW’s biggest hit to date – The Flash. This week, Arrow tied up some loose ends leading up to the CW’s next DC Comics based show, Legends of Tomorrow, and introduced Matt Ryan’s uncanny portrayal of John Constantine to the show.
Constantine was originally NBC’s adaptation of the Hellblazer comic books for the small screen, and it succeeded in being a fun and entertaining show with the promise to be truthful to the supernatural source material. However, the show did not succeed in drawing eyeballs to those small screens and was cancelled after only thirteen episodes. Constantine was perhaps too obscure of a comic book property to maintain viewers on a Friday night (a tough time slot for any TV show), but it built up a devoted fan base that wants to see the character come back in a significant way.
The self-proclaimed ‘petty dabbler in the dark arts’ was announced to appear on an episode of Arrow back in August, with Matt Ryan set to reprise the role. While it was unclear exactly how John Constantine would fit into the originally grounded-in-reality world of Arrow, it was safe to assume that his presence would embrace the mysticism his original show inhabited. Considering the introduction of the League of Shadows and tease of Damien Dahrk (a manipulator of dark magic) in season three, it’s easy to see how Constantine would be a perfect fit in this new, ambitious world.
Introduced in the same way many people from Oliver Queen’s past are, Ryan’s debut scene as Constantine takes place in the form of a flashback on Lian Yu, the island that made a trust-fund pretty boy the vigilante that would ultimately be known as the ‘Green Arrow’ (as played by Stephen Amell). John’s first encounter with Oliver introduces him to the magic he never thought could really exist, as Constantine is on the hunt for a magical artifact. In present day, Team Arrow is dealing with a literally soul-less Sara Lance, who was irresponsibly resurrected by DC Comics’ version of the ‘fountain of youth’ – the Lazarus Pit. Oliver realized that the only way to save Sara is to call in a favor to Constantine and rescue her soul from another dimension.
Although executive producer admitted to Deadline that Constantine appearing on Arrow was intended as a ‘one-off’ and there aren’t any plans to use the character in the future, another executive producer, Wendy Mericle, teased that a future for the character on Arrow or the CW is possible. Constantine interacting with established DC Comics characters like Oliver, Felicity Smoak, Laurel Lance, etc., was exciting and will hopefully lead to a resurrection of the character on television.
‘Haunted’ not only introduced John Constantine into the fold, but also tied up some loose ends leading up to the CW’s Legends of Tomorrow spin-off series. The original Legends of Tomorrow teaser trailer introduced new characters and featured characters from both Arrow and The Flash, but the reveal that Sara Lance (who will be known as the ‘White Canary’) and Ray Palmer (the ‘A.T.O.M.’) would be involved with the show teased big things for Arrow’s fourth season. As mentioned earlier, Constantine helped Sara get her soul back and the mystery of how she figured back into the universe was wrapped up, but Ray Palmer was still thought to be dead to Team Arrow and the people of Star City (the audience likely wasn’t convinced). That is, until Felicity’s side-story to find out the contents of Palmer’s last known living recording revealed that he’s actually alive and shrunken down to microscopic size.
‘Haunted’ serves as a reminder that even though The Flash is drawing in relatively big ratings and getting the most buzz on the CW, Arrow is the show that started it all and still gets to influence and expand the primary DC TV universe (Supergirl and Gotham excluded). The ripple effects of this episode will be felt throughout the rest of Arrow’s fourth season and into next year’s Legends of Tomorrow, while the future of Matt Ryan’s portrayal of John Constantine isn’t as dour as it was when Constantine was cancelled.
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