Wednesday, October 21, 2015

REVIEW: 'Arrow' - Oliver and Diggle Talk Things Out While Laurel Takes Sara to the Lazarus Pit in 'Restoration'

The CW's Arrow - Episode 4.03 "Restoration"

The growing tension between Oliver and Diggle puts both their lives at risk when they go after Damien Darhk and a H.I.V.E. deployed meta-human. Laurel talks Thea into returning to Nanda Parbat to ask her father to put Sara into the Lazarus Pit. However, Laurel is surprised when Nyssa refuses to do it.

"Restoration" is all about rebuilding the trust between Oliver and Diggle. What Oliver did to Diggle's family at the end of the last season couldn't be smoothed over in an instant. The two of them have been friends for so long on the show. This divide had the potential to be a great source of conflict between the two. And yet, it's also a good thing that the show didn't drag it out for too long. They have much bigger problems to worry about than the person they are fighting alongside. Damien Darhk and H.I.V.E. have big plans for Star City. Oliver and Diggle need to be united if they have any hopes of taking him down and getting the answers they desperately want.

This episode forces Oliver and Diggle to communicate with how they are feeling. Thea and Laurel are gone for a little while. So it's just the original Team Arrow trio left to protect the city from whatever evil Damien has planned next. They are still divided because they no longer know how to work with each other. Something dramatically shifted when Oliver joined the League of Assassins. It wasn't a particularly good story last season. But the consequences of those actions still feel earned in the moment. Their dynamic isn't what it used to be. That needed to be adequately explored this season. Out there in the field, they need to have each other's backs. If they don't, they won't be successful with their various missions.

A new meta-human has come to Star City. His name is Jeremy Tell - but Cisco wants the team to refer to him as Double Down. He's a villain whose sole purpose is to bring Oliver and Diggle together again. He can create some kind of biological playing card weapons that can be just as lethal as bullets. It's a cool trick but one that is somewhat difficult to make sense of and describe. He's not the best villain. He serves his purpose and does little more than that. He forces some truths to come out about the team while also allowing the audience to get a better understanding of the threat that H.I.V.E. currently poses.

Diggle does share with Oliver the truth behind his two-year investigation of H.I.V.E. They are the organization that killed his brother. He wants to know why. The one person who could provide him with answers is swiftly killed by Damien solely as a part of a demonstration to motivate Tell. Answers are probably coming sometime this season. But right now is too soon for them. Right now is all about mending the bond between Oliver and Diggle. That happens because Oliver takes a bullet for Diggle. It's a quick way to re-establish that trust. It's not all that original but it's still very effective. The two of them work better when they are a team in the field. They are able to stop Tell because they have each other's backs and trust each other with the full truth. That's a quality that has been missed. It's so good to have it back again.

Meanwhile, Thea and Laurel have traveled to Nanda Parbat to get some answers from Malcolm. This is the first glimpse this season of Malcolm as the new Ra's. Nyssa is still serving under him for the League but is also plotting his demise. Thea desperately wants to know how she can stop the effects of the Lazarus Pit from completely destroying her life. Plus, Laurel wants Sara to be lowered into the pit as well in the hopes that she will return as the same woman she used to be. It's a lot more complicated than that. Even though she's aware of what Thea is dealing with, Laurel still wants to do it. She's clinging onto this hope that Sara can return the same as she was. Nyssa is against the idea. She has mourned Sara and started to get her life back together. Malcolm can't do anything to help Thea's bloodlust except to say she needs to kill in order to quench the urge for a little while. That's the fate that Laurel is assigning to her sister. And yet, she still goes through with it. No one in the league knows exactly what will happen. Sara does return. But she's more animal than person - angry whenever she sees Thea, aka the person who killed her. It's a tense situation where Laurel has gotten what she wanted. Will that be enough? Or are things only going to get more monstrous in the future?

Some more thoughts:
  • "Restoration" was written by Wendy Mericle & Speed Weed and directed by Wendey Stanzler.
  • This is a fantastic Felicity episode. First of all, she forces Oliver and Diggle to talk to each other. That desperately needed to happen. And then, she was a lot of fun to watch even though Tell was trying to kill her and Curtis. She was a complete badass during the reveal that the new secret lair is in the basement of Palmer Technologies and blindly firing the gun at Tell. This probably won't be the last time she will be in peril this season. But she was more than capable of handling things by herself.
  • Curtis also learns that Felicity is working with the Green Arrow. That's a relief because their brief interactions where she wanted him to analyze Tell's card without telling him anything about it where very reminiscent of the early Season 1 days of Oliver and Felicity.
  • Diggle still looks so silly in that new helmet - especially when he's not in action and he's just talking with that thing on his head. Sure, it's great that he has some new gadgets this season. But the overall look is just weird and hasn't had a good enough explanation.
  • Oliver has a big surprise for Diggle and Felicity regarding what their new lair should be considering Tell was able to infiltrate their most recent one. Too bad the audience has to wait a week to see what he's talking about.
  • Nyssa also destroys the Lazarus Pit so that no one else can be placed in it. That's probably a good thing. Otherwise, death would have no meaning in this universe. Major stakes come from death. If that threat isn't real, the show will lose some value.
  • In this week's island flashbacks, Oliver saves one of the female workers from the extreme conditions of working on the island. Overall, this story is just a tad too cryptic and bland to be seen as all that important. Oliver is now comfortable with torturing people but he still does his best to save this girl from death. Hopefully, she will provide more answers in the next episode.