“Haunted” wastes no time in establishing Oliver’s internal conflict by putting his political image at odds with his scandalous past; in particular, his continued association with Laurel. The scene which incites the conflict is wholly unremarkable, but it acts as the tinderbox of the theme of the episode, which is (*gasp*) unity. The thing that “Haunted” succeeds at most is how well it weaves its external and internal conflicts together. Each conflict directly impacts the other to form a tight and consistent narrative that takes advantage of the already well established personalities of the characters involved. The controversial friendship between Oliver and Laurel is the crux of the story and the events that follow put them head to head multiple times throughout the episode. The scenes between Amell and Cassidy are well acted, but still come off as being disingenuous. This is mostly due to Laurel’s refusal to accept responsibility for the lives Sara has taken since her resurrection. This fault works against all that character development that she’s been through in seasons past. It’s a flaw that led to moments, that should have struck an emotional chord, instead coming off as self-important and whiny.
Laurel: “Put yourself in my shoes, Oliver!”
Oliver: “Are those the shoes you were wearing when you lost a blonde voodoo murder zombie!?”
Constantine’s not quite a bad guy, not quite a good guy schtick works remarkably well, and Matt Ryan’s portrayal is monumentally more compelling as a side character than as a main. His mannerisms and quirks are more effective as comedic material without being constrained by the responsibilities of driving the plot forward that a main character has. With Ryan’s Constantine and Amell’s Oliver Queen at opposite ends of the spectrum, as far as personalities are concerned, their interactions end up being incredibly entertaining in an almost buddy cop way.
The seed storylines of Ray’s message and Lance’s errand act as intriguing interludes that foreshadow bigger events happening later on. Surprisingly, Lance and Diggle working together isn’t something we’ve seen yet. We’re four seasons in and these two characters haven’t done a lot of solo interacting. Nothing really special though. They’re both strong characters, but their chemistry either isn’t there, or isn’t being taken advantage of in this particular outing. Oddly enough though, that distance seems to add emotional weight to the loneliness of the reveal of Diggle’s brother’s past. The way Lance delivers the news reminds me of a soldier bringing a condolence letter to a loved one, and it makes the scene much more dramatic than if someone with a more sympathetic connection had delivered it. There’s not a lot going on for Felicity and Curtis for the duration of the episode, beyond some entertaining and nerdy banter, but the final reveal sets itself up nicely for Ray Palmer’s return in the coming episodes.
Final Word: “Haunted” is meant to be the fans’ first major insight in to magical aspect of the Arrowverse; however, quite ironically, the episode lacks whimsy. Despite being a major aspect to introduce, it doesn’t seem to have enough of an impact on the world of Arrow, nor does it really stand out. While the mysticism may be underwhelming, what magic there is is owed to Matt Ryan, who plays his ridiculous role with enough sincerity to make it convincing. Constantine and Oliver’s flashback adventure is brief, but entertaining; and Constantine reveals just enough information about magic to be considered natural, but not so little as to seem like a cop out. His casual approach to its application successfully hints at his familiarity with the concept, and the lack of wonder that comes with that experience. Thea and Laurel’s little adventure has been successful at bringing the two characters together, improving their chemistry, and making them a stronger onscreen team. The exhibition of both sides of the argument of how Oliver’s public connection to Laurel will affect his campaign strategy is effectively linked to the main plot. The conclusion reached by the end of the episode seems to coincide naturally with the outcome of the external conflict, making the resolution of Oliver’s internal conflict and the resolution of the main plot link in a convincing and satisfying way.
“Haunted” gets an 8.3/10. Magic is a hard sell when you’ve gone so long without it, but Matt Ryan acting as the avatar of that world and its absolute madness sells the hell out of the concept, even if the visual representation comes off as sort of mundane.