TV Recap: Arrow, “Restoration”

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Laurel (Katie Cassidy) travels to Nanda Parbat to convince Malcolm (John Barrowman) to put Sara (Caity Lotz) in the Lazarus Pit, but both he and Nyssa (Katrina Law) warn her it’s a bad idea. Back in Star City, Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Diggle (David Ramsey) finally address their broken friendship as the latter’s investigation into H.I.V.E. conflicts with his responsibilities to Team Arrow.

Sara Lance is back! Granted, she’s got the temperament of a feral dog, but this development alone is enough to make this my favorite Arrow episode ever. Yes, I know I’ve spent the last year ranting about how much I want death to matter on this show, but much like Laurel, I can’t think straight when it comes to Sara.

Speaking of, Laurel has been written fairly unevenly in the past, but one of her most consistent traits is not taking other people’s advice. Like, Tommy’s (Colin Donnell) dead because she just had to go to CNRI during the Undertaking. While the existence of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow guarantees that Sara will eventually stop growling at people, watching Laurel realize that maybe she can be a little selfish when it comes to her family until then is going to be really enjoyable.

However, the most exciting part of this Lazarus Pit storyline (except Sara being back, obviously) is what it means for Thea. Malcolm has never been in the running for Parent of the Year, but he was especially terrible this episode. Watching him make up a story about a magical sage who could help Thea, send some assassins to kill her in her sleep and then not understand when she didn’t thank him for helping sate her bloodlust was sick and hilarious. On a less fun note, it seems increasingly likely that Thea is dead in the flashforward. There’s just no way she exists on this show as a literal serial killer who has to off people every once in awhile just to function. It would make great television, but Arrow isn’t Dexter.

You know, if someone had told me 3 years ago that a storyline involving Laurel, Thea and Malcolm would be more exciting than one involving Oliver, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and Diggle, I would have slapped that person in the mouth and walked away cackling. But this is where we are. Unlike the fans who made “Original Team Arrow” a thing in the first place, the return of the core trio doesn’t thrill me on any basic level. Shows have to evolve and Arrow is better as an ensemble. Double Down may be linked to Darhk and H.I.V.E., but watching the team return to a tired procedural format in fan service of a storyline that won’t be resolved for at least another 10 episodes doesn’t exactly inspire deep investment.

Still, I’ll admit that OTA is the heart of the show and this episode was great for the way it focused on their emotional connection. Specifically, it was nice to see Diggle and Oliver get over their trust issues. Their brotherhood has been a fundamental building block of the show since the beginning and it’s been really disorienting having them try to work together without that fundamental bond. It’s especially exciting watching Oliver fight to get somebody’s trust back when so much of the show has been about him pushing people away. It is endlessly thrilling to see Amell play an emotionally open Oliver. Ditto Ramsey’s performance. The scripts haven’t really given him more than one level to play, but he’s good enough to create them anyway.

However, my favorite OTA callback actually involved a new member of the Arrow ensemble: Echo Kellum’s Curtis Holt. Last year, Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) was set up as both a love interest and intellectual equal for Felicity and he failed at both. Curtis (who very clearly declared his queerness last episode) is only supposed to be the latter and he actually succeeds. Though he learned that Felicity works with the Green Arrow by episode’s end, those early scenes where they recreated the Oliver/Felicity dynamic from Season 1 were highlights of the episode. Here’s hoping he becomes a full member of New Team Arrow soon.

Arrow Death Watch

John Diggle: 30%

Thea Queen: 60%

Quentin Lance: 10%

Malcolm Merlyn: 1% wishful thinking

Felicity Smoak: 0.5% LOL, please

Roy Harper: 7% wouldn’t that be perverse?

The broken trust between Oliver and Diggle: 100%