This week’s Arrow was all about O.T.A. – or “Original Team Arrow.” In the last couple of seasons, Arrow has become a more complex show that’s introduced a great many new characters into the Arrow Cave for O.T.A. to play with. With Black Canary and Speedy abroad to deal with things Lazarus Pit-related, it was up to Oliver, Diggle and Felicity to deal with all things Darhk. The theme of the week is best summed up in the episode’s title, “Restoration,” but really it was about how for our three main characters, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Yes, it seemed like old times as Oliver and Diggle tracked down a couple of Ghosts while Felicity assisted from HQ. While the the circumstances were familiar, the team is not as solid as it needs to be. Diggle is still in a stew about Oliver’s actions while conning Ra’s al Ghul last spring, and while he refuses to cut Oliver any slack on keeping his cards close, Diggle himself is holding on to a pretty big secret himself, that he’s already got a personal connection to the machinations of Damien Darhk. An ARGUS agent comes through with a pretty big piece of the puzzle this week, the name of the woman that hired Deadshot to kill Diggle’s brother, Mina Fayad.
Diggle beats himself up pretty hard after the Fayad lead blew up. Although he comes clean with Oliver and Felicity about the H.I.V.E. connection, it’s only after he bungles the surveillance, and right before Darhk has Fayad killed for being less than stealthy. Diggle laments how his pigheadedness has seemed to cost him the one lead to find that man that ordered his brother’s death, and he makes peace with Oliver when the Green Arrow takes a bullet (or playing card) for his partner. But what has Oliver given up? He lied to his friends, begged for their help, and then left them to handle the crusade he started to go live the sweet life. There is that grave in the future, but there is still a feeling that the ends justify the means in Oliver’s case, and we’re supposed to think that’s okay.
The real bad guy this week is a meta-human named Jeremy Tell (J.R. Bourne) who goes by the Cisco-approved nickname Double Down. He was getting a tattoo when the dark matter wave hit, and now we can turn the playing card tattoos on his skin into throwing knives, he’s like Gambit and Marrow combined. Overall, Double Down is not a particularly interesting or inventive bad guy, but his arrival has interesting implications. It turns out that Darhk is not H.I.V.E.’s leader, but one of its partners, and the other partners are kind of getting impatient with his being unable to eliminate the barriers to starting “Phase 3,” namely Team Arrow.
One other interesting development from Double Down is that he also has the ability to track his meta-human tattoo played cards, which leads him to Palmer Tech, and Felicity who asked new friend Curtis to run an analysis on them. Curtis gets a sooner than expected glimpse into the world of Team Arrow, while Felicity shows off her fighting skills, which mostly just involved pointing a machine gun the right way and holding on for dear life. Arrow has no shortage of awesome, well-executed action, but the treat here was seeing one of the show’s non-fighters in the crosshairs and seeing it played more for comedy than intensity. At least I hope it was comedy.
At the end of the episode, it seemed as though O.T.A. were back to where they used to be, enjoying a delightful drink on the patio of a Star City drinking establishment. I don’t we’ve ever seen a Team Arrow post-crime fighting wrap party before, but apparently margaritas were once served after dealing with the Dodger. Fitting to the reference, despite the meta-humans, the internal drama, the new hideout, the new costumes, and whatever’s going on with Damien Darhk, this felt very much like old school Arrow. (If one can call the first season of a four season-long series “old.”)
Somewhat more problematic this week was the return to Nanda Parbat for a mission that, let’s face it, pushed the outside boundaries of ludicrous. I can understand Laurel not thinking practically about the consequences of bringing her sister back to life via the Lazarus Pit, but at no point did Thea say, “Here’s why this is a bad idea…”? Didn’t anyone stop and think that there was a reason why no one had tried this before? And by the way, how did the two of them get a coffin with a one year-old cadaver over international borders, did they fly that vampire airline from True Blood?
I think it’s safe to say one’s esteem of Nyssa increased greatly in this episode, and Katrina Law was able to show real strength in her compassion and concern about the extent to which Laurel wants to go to in order to resurrect Sara. It was also a tad short-sighted for Laurel to think that Nyssa could have used the Lazarus Pit to save Sara and didn’t take it without a good reason. Laurel talks about them both loving Sara, but Nyssa willingness to accept Sara’s death, and to accept the grief and fight to move on shows that maybe she loved Sara just a little bit more. And how about that humor? You couldn’t help but laugh when Nyssa greeted Thea as “sister-in-law.” Maybe Oliver should check Nanda Parbat marriage law before popping the question to Felicity.
As the current Mrs. Queen ponders the right time to get revenge and take the throne that’s rightfully hers, Thea struggles with the need to have a father who does and say normal things, and having a father that quotes Sarek from Star Trek III and tries to help her by sacrificing a couple of his guys to slake Thea’s blood lust. Apparently, the only cure for post-Lazarus Pit anger is killing people because all the souls of the people that used the pit want you to or whatever. It’s a temporary cure, but it basically means Thea will have to become a serial killer to stop herself from being a multiple spree-killer.
If you think that’s the end of it, then you don’t know Malcolm Merlyn, because he’s always got an ace up his sleeve, and one can’t help but think that the cure to Sara’s present condition will also help Thea in the long run. But we have just reached the tip of the resurrection on Arrow as Felicity’s buggy phone shows signs of having a mind of its own, perhaps the mind of a brilliant scientist that’s shrunk himself to microscopic size. I have a feeling that much of the next couple of weeks is going to be about building up to something, shall we say, legendary…