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Ten Moments that Mattered: Tommy Merlyn "Returns"

Ten Moments that Mattered: Tommy Merlyn "Returns"

By Tim Beedle Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

As the holidays arrive and the year comes to a close, we thought we’d take a look back at 2013 and commemorate some of the moments that really stood out in the world of DC Entertainment in a two-week series we’re calling “Ten Moments that Mattered.” Some of these moments were happy. Some were sad. They played out in the pages of our comics, on the big and small screen and in the halls of our office. However, all of them made a profound difference in the world of DC Comics and in the hearts and minds of our fans. 2013 was a big year for us, but even in a big year, not all moments are created equal. Here are ten that mattered…

A Season 1 image of Colin Donnell as Tommy Merlyn

It’s been three weeks since it aired, and we’re still reeling from the Arrow mid-season finale, “Three Ghosts.” There are so many moments that really mattered in the final Arrow of 2013: Barry Allen getting struck by a fateful bolt of lightning. Oliver putting on the mask. Shado’s tragic demise. Pretty much everything concerning Slade Wilson. But of them all, Tommy Merlyn’s appearance as the third “ghost” (in a holiday-timed nod to “A Christmas Carol”) stands out.

All season long, Oliver has wrestled with what it means to be a hero. Is it possible for someone who has killed to be one? For someone whose family has been responsible for so much damage and loss of life? Can a slate ever be truly wiped clean?

In choosing Tommy for the third ghost, Arrow answers these questions with hope and optimism. After all, it was Tommy’s death and heartbreaking final words to Oliver that inspired him to change his methods in the first place. However, the problem has always been how that motivation came from a sense of failure, of trying to right his past wrongs in search of forgiveness that could never be given. It was a mission that could never truly be completed.

Or so we thought. In confronting Tommy and having Tommy deliver that forgiveness as well as the encouragement Oliver has needed since the end of Season 1, one of the biggest obstacles keeping him from his destiny has been removed. But this moment truly resonates because of how much we needed it as well. In the midst of such a stellar second season, it’s easy to forget how much we liked Tommy in the show’s initial season. In some ways, his return was just as revelatory for us as it was for Oliver.

You can watch the preview for “Three Ghosts” below, or click here to watch the full episode on The CW’s website.