I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that this episode was one of Arrow’s best in the series. Oddly enough, “Restoration” succeeded by fully embracing the magical (and meta-human) side of the world that Oliver and Company now find themselves in. We had a superpowered card dealer, a resurrection via Lazarus pit, and even a technological communication presumably from beyond the grave. The best part about it all is that our heroes remain grounded in their very human, very constrained nature even while their enemies are developing supernatural powers. I quite liked the tone of this episode so if Arrow can manage to keep that going for the rest of the season, then we’re in for a treat.
For tonight’s recap, we’ll be breaking things down by location, starting with Ollie’s time on Lian Yu in the past. Remember that he’s acting on Amanda Waller’s orders to infiltrate Baron Reiter’s operation, one that employs armed mercenaries to oversee slave workers harvesting opium poppies and coca leaves for a blended drug nicknamed “Slam.” When some of the Slam goes missing and one of the workers makes a run for it, the soldiers turn violent. Oliver steps in to suggest that perhaps torture is a more efficient tactic, but his real plan is to spirit away the attractive and outspoken woman who has happened to catch his eye. He manages to get her away from the rest of the group – though he blows up another mercenary by landmine in the process – and, now that she trusts him, takes her deeper into the woods. While there’s romantic potential blooming here, I’m wondering if Oliver is going to try to return to the group or if he’ll just contact Waller and attempt to take them out from a safe distance. Stay tuned!
Now, let’s head to Nanda Parbat, because apparently it was quite easy for Thea and Laurel to do so, even with Sara’s corpse and coffin in tow. Nyssa and Malcolm look like they’re having some fun dueling with swords, even though the previous Heiress to the Demon is really trying to kill the current Ra’s al Ghul. (Just to remind viewers that the Lazarus pit has healing powers, Malcolm uses its water to heal a cut on his neck.) The fun’s over when Laurel admits that she wants to bring Sara back to life, something that Nyssa, Malcolm, and even Thea are set against.
What follows is an interesting series of philosophical quandaries. First, Nyssa tries to talk Laurel out of the plan because, as Sara’s lover, has gone through the grieving process and has come to terms with her loss. She worries that if Sara does come back, she will be monstrous, even as Laurel forces herself to believe that only the best of her sister’s spirit will return.
Equally interesting is Malcolm’s consultation of Thea. He not only warns against raising Sara via the pit, he offers Thea a chance to remove her curse by accompanying her on a visit to a mountaintop sage schooled in ancient healing arts. Yeah, there’s no sage. Malcolm sent two assassins to kill Thea in the middle of the night just so that she could expertly dispatch them and slake her bloodlust, something she’ll have to do every few weeks now. She’s essentially a badass warrior vampire without any of the weaknesses to sunlight and garlic. Malcolm, ever one to shake things up and see what happens, then offers to revive Sara in order to clear Thea’s conscience.
The good thing is that we get to say goodbye to the desiccated corpse of Sara Lance; the bad thing is that she comes back crazier than Frankenstein’s monster. Laurel is the only one who seems optimistic that Sara can eventually calm down, but Nyssa takes her skepticism a step further. She destroys the Lazarus pit so that it can never raise someone from the dead again, then promises to kill Malcolm with the knowledge that he won’t be coming back. Pretty harsh, but it’s certainly one way to keep the tension in the show now that we know characters can’t simply be thrown into that bloody water to come back again and again. And it’s a fun sequence that plays up comic book drama while giving Caity Lotz an interesting angle to use for her performance, especially as she transitions into Legends of Tomorrow.
Now, onto the main event! The original members of Team Arrow – Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity – are chasing down H.I.V.E. Ghosts through a lumberyard. Even with the combined skills of Green Arrow’s dirt bike-riding, Felicity’s hydraulic-machine hacking, and Diggle’s … helmet … they lose the Ghost, their one lead. At least they keep him from committing suicide by cyanide, so he’s probably better off, right?
Nope! As it turns out, Damien Darhk prefers his Ghosts to die in defeat rather than retreating to fight another day. In a show of dominance – and a display of newly arrived meta-human Double Down’s powers – he has the Ghost executed in front of his H.I.V.E. associate, Mina Fayad. Diggle learns from a friendly A.R.G.U.S. agent that Ms. Fayad is the woman who put the hit out on his brother years ago. Things are starting to gel together plotwise, but Diggle and Oliver still have some things to work out on a personal level.
Acting separately, Green Arrow responds to a robbery while Diggle tracks Fayad. Both solo operations end poorly with Green Arrow having to face off against an unexpected meta-human in the card-throwing Double Down, while Diggle is pinned down by automatic weapon fire. The Green Arrow/Double Down fight is a fun one since the meta-human gets to indulge in some creative card throwing, even managing to clip the vigilante during his retreat. Back at the Arrow Cave, Felicity forces the boys to make up before she takes this card to Curtis Holt for analysis.
While Diggle and Oliver reconcile and track down Fayad (too late, it appears, since Darhk has executed her), Felicity learns that the playing card is composed of biological material and tattoo ink. Holt thinks he can use it to track the card’s owner, but it would be much easier for the owner to track them. Cue Double Down’s violent arrival at Palmer Technologies. What unfolds next is a crazy, silly flight and fight with Felicity and Holt feeling as Double Down chases them through the facility. Felicity unwittingly reveals that she’s working with the Green Arrow (which Holt actually admires) and takes them to the facility’s basement armory. Though Felicity may never win a marksmanship award with an automatic rifle, it’s fun seeing her get a chance to take action every now and then.
After all of this setup, the final fight with Diggle and Green Arrow against Double Down isn’t a big one, but it has big implications. They manage to stop the meta-human before he can head back to his hometown of Central City and snag his arms to prevent him from tossing any more cards. He’s a sneaky fellow, though, and he whips one at Diggle that Oliver steps in front of; he’s fine, don’t worry. Trust is now restored between the two friends, just like that! Despite having him all trussed up, Double Down is more afraid of Darhk than he is of Diggle’s helmet, so he keeps his trap shut when questioned about his shady boss and is sent off to Iron Heights.
“Restoration” had so much going on but it all managed to work. H.I.V.E., the Ghosts, and Damien Darhk had some interesting waypoints along that story’s road, though Neal McDonough’s performances each week continue to be a highlight, no matter how brief they are. I’m glad Diggle and Oliver can trust each other again, but Thea’s life is starting to crumble around her and Sara’s troubles are just beginning. Plus, magic and meta-humans are starting to play more and more of a role as the season goes on, opening up almost limitless possibilities. There’s plenty to keep viewers interested, as long as you don’t mind putting up with a few minute spent revisiting Lian Yu again. I just can’t wait to see how crazy they get in the episodes to come!
Rating: ★★★★ Very good
In tonight’s episode, we learn that Diggle was on his Varsity track team.
Diggle: “Thea and Laurel picked a helluva day for a spa treatment.”
Double Down: “That one was free. Taking out the Green Arrow and his friends, that’ll cost.” Damien Darhk: “Deal.”
I rather like DC’s version of Marvel’s Gambit, especially as a bad guy. Apparently his cards once even managed to cut Superman in the comics.
Don’t think I’ve pointed this out before, but Ollie’s boss on the island is Baron Reiter, aka Baron Blitzkrieg. Curiously, he was originally an Earth-Two resident in the comics.
Felicity: “I don’t like you going out there without backup.” Oliver: “I’m not. I have you.”
Cisco manages to name Jeremy Tell’s meta-human “Double Down” since he’s a Central City citizen who was apparently getting a tattoo when the particle accelerator wave hit.
What’s up with the Ghost’s genetic markers only being half what they’re supposed to be? Are the Ghosts some sort of clones?
Holt: “This is an autonomous communication device, which is great, except it spontaneously explodes.”
Holt’s R&D – the HD contact lenses and autonomous communications spheres – are examples of his eventual Mr. Terrific tech.
Did you catch Darhk and Fayad drop a kernel of knowledge about their so-called Phase Three: Genesis? Any idea what that’s about? We know they want to raze the city to the ground, so maybe Genesis is rebuilding it?
Darhk: “This demonstration is for you, Mr. Tell. Just in case you have any question in how I process disappointment.” Darhk is a legit badass.
Malcolm: “There is nothing I wouldn’t do to help my daughter.”
Double Down: “You guys are a special kind of stupid. I was going to blow town, call it a draw.”
Diggle: “You took a bullet for me!” Green Arrow: “They were … meta-human … tattoo playing cards.” Diggle: “Still counts, Oliver. Still counts.”
Sounds like we’re going to get Arrow Cave 3.0 soon! I’m pretty sure that was promised in some interviews with the cast, but we haven’t seen what it looks like just yet.
Nyssa: “What happened to Sara that day was on Malcolm’s hands, but what’s happening now is on yours.”
So yeah that’s definitely Ray Palmer attempting to contact Felicity through her phone, right? Yeah, I thought so.