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Warning: lots of spoilers ahead for the fifth episode of Season 4 of Arrow.
Season 4 of Arrow has taken audiences in an entirely new direction as the magical and mystical are explored further than we could have ever expected. The fifth episode – fittingly entitled “Haunted” – saw the show kick the mystical shenanigans up a notch by sending Oliver and Laurel on an otherworldly mission to recover Sara’s lost soul. Okay, yes, that sounds pretty ridiculous. Fortunately, there was one aspect of the episode that worked to sell the ridiuclousness of the plot without turning it into something silly. That aspect was John Constantine.
Matt Ryan reprised the role of Constantine from his short-lived NBC series Constantine so that he could drop in with some friendly advice for Oliver and a handy soul restoration for Sara. It was no mere cameo; Ryan as Constantine was definitely the highlight of the episode, and his minutes on screen felt all too short. Fortunately, Constantine’s departure from Star City was open-ended, so here are 3 big reasons why Constantine definitely needs to come back to Arrow.
1. Constantine Makes Magic Real. Magic and mysticism have been explicitly a part of Arrow since the Season 4 premiere, but there’s always been a sort of hokey absurdity about it. Even the menace that oozes out of every pore of new big bad Damien Darhk has not been enough to really make magic scary. Constantine showing up to chant some ominous strings of Latin and transform the impossible into the actual made the magic feel like something more than just a tool of the latest supervillain. Magic is a fact now on Arrow, and there’s nobody better than John Constantine to pop back in from time to time and give a lesson.
2. He’s An Exciting Variable. The fourth season of Arrow has been pretty great so far, but there’s no denying that four years have made a few elements of the series feel rather…stagnant. Constantine’s appearance in “Haunted” mixed everything up in the best way. The episode veered dangerously close to melodrama with this latest installment of the Lance family misfortunes until Constantine showed up to throw a wrench – or a dead peacock feather, as the case may be – into the tired formula. He was something new and exciting in an episode that otherwise might have felt stale and inorganic. John Constantine saved more than Sara’s soul in “Haunted,” and it was a joy to watch.
3. Matt Ryan Is Awesome. Matt Ryan is just plain awesome as John Constantine. He could deliver long monologues in dead languages while looking appropriately creepy just as easily as he could drop a "mate" and ask for a cigarette. There was a nice chemistry with Stephen Amell as Oliver, and Ryan somehow fit right in with a cast that had been established over four years, and without any grand gestures or sweeping statements. The only possible reason why a British guy in dress pants and a tie preaching about angels and demons could have possibly worked on Arrow is that Matt Ryan is a truly exceptional actor. That, or he just really does have magic. I don’t want to accuse him of anything, but he looked just a little bit too comfortable with those Latin incantations.
Either way, Matt Ryan clearly cast a spell of some sort in his appearance as John Constantine on Arrow, and the show definitely needs to bring him back for another go with the good guys of Star City.
Arrow airs on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.