Where did The Flash go? After introducing Barry Allen last week in Arrow, the DC Comics speedster wasn’t the focus this week. Until the end of the episode.
After eight episodes of not-so-subtly mentioning the particle accelerator at S.T.A.R Labs, we finally get what we want. In the final scene of “Three Ghosts,” the particle accelerator explodes and lighting strikes Barry while he’s standing in his lab—the same lighting strike that gave his character super speed in the comics. Looks like we’re going to be seeing an orange streak pretty soon.
Last week’s episode “The Scientist” ended with Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and Diggle (David Ramsey) finding a gravely injured Oliver (Stephen Amell) unconscious in warehouse after fighting one of Brother Blood’s (Kevin Alejandro) super-soldiers. Since calling 911 is not an actual option, Felicity and Diggle let assistant forensic investigator Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) in on Oliver’s secret in the hopes that he’ll help them save Oliver’s life. This week, Barry rushes around Oliver’s lair trying to figure out what’s wrong with him. Eventually, he determines that Oliver’s blood is clotting at an unnatural rate, and to stop the clotting he injects Oliver with rat poison in the hopes to thin his blood. Oliver is brought back from the brink of death once more.
The episode then dives into A Christmas Carol territory as Oliver starts to hallucinate. He’s visited by three ghosts from his past who call Oliver’s quest into question. Why is he still fighting crime after avenging his father’s death? Is he actually a hero or just a murdering vigilante? These are all questions that both the show and Oliver have been trying answer since the season premiere when Oliver adopted a no-kill rule to both honor his fallen Tom, and to turn himself into the hero that Starling City deserves.
The first ghost to visit Oliver is Shado, who says if he wished to honor her memory, he should take off her father’s hood and live. This conversation hints that Shado may not make it off The Island (see in flashbacks) alive. After Doctor Ivo (Dyland Neal) recaptures Oliver, Shado, and Sarah (Caity Lotz), he makes Oliver choose between the two women, and ultimately kills Shado.
Oliver is then visited by Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett), who argues that Oliver didn’t start this hood charade to atone for his father’s sins, but to atone for his own sins.“You are not a hero, or a friend, or a brother. You are nothing!” Slade angrily yells at Oliver. Slade’s presence in hallucination form sets up the final act reveal: he did not in fact die when he was injected with the super-soldier serum. He’s also the one who supplied Brother Blood with the serum in the first place. Slade has come to Starling City to destroy everything Oliver cares about away bit by bit, until he’s left with nothing, at which point he “will drive an arrow through his eye.”
The final ghost to visit Oliver is Tommy (Colin Donnell), Oliver’s best friend who died in the first season finale. This season, it’s been clear that Oliver holds himself at least partially responsible for Tommy’s death. Tommy appears in the middle of Oliver’s big fight with one of Brother Blood’s super-soldiers. It’s your standard hero fights, gets the sh*t kicked out of him, is magically inspired by something while he’s down, and gets back up and beats the villain. While this story point is used in almost every superhero film, it doesn’t feel played out here. It’s a poignant moment for Oliver; he’s reminded that he is in fact a hero.
Using hallucinations to further character development is among some of the most worn of TV tropes, and often slow an episode’s action. In Arrow, however, it works because it stays within the season’s theme of the search for real heroism. And now we’ve found The Flash.