Arrow: 4.03 Restoration
Restoration is a key word for this episode and indeed the whole of season of Arrow; while season three had so momentous moments it was almost the most decisive year in the show's history with the flashbacks failing to engage and the 'Dark Arrow' storyline proving to be a steps too far for some. While I enjoyed the majority of season three, I do agree that it was lacking that special something that made season two so great. Fortunately season four is showing real promise; let's look at the ways this week's episode got there...
Sara's restoration; it's been widely known for a while now that Caity Lotz is coming back to the Arrow-verse in new spinoff Legends Of Tomorrow as White Canary no less so the money was always on the Lazarus Pit playing a part in her resurrection. Laurel's decision to dig up her sister's corpse was rather dark, even for this show and I liked that even Malcolm refused at first to use the pit to bring her back. Her eventual return was suitably shocking as an almost-rabid version of Sara and I really looking forward to the emotional fall out once Oliver and Quentin find out.
Malcolm and Thea: She came with Laurel hoping to find a way to reverse the effects of the pit on her, Malcolm took it as an opportunity to reconnect with his estranged daughter. The sudden possibility of a father / daughter trip into the mountains to find a cure seemed a little convenient so I like how he did the fatherly thing of sending masked warriors in her bedroom for her to kill just to sate her bloodlust. Shall we put him forward for father of the year?
Return to the island: Despite it feeling similar to season one and two, I am immediately invested in the flashbacks for the way that have returned to the island. As Oliver grows lighter in the present day, here we are closer to the killer of Arrow season one, even if his heroics in saving the female slave betrayed that. His enjoyment in torturing the other slave while 'undercover' was very obvious too. I continue to be intrigued by where this whole storyline is going.
Oliver and Diggle: On a slightly lighter note, this episode finally dealt with the fallout of Oliver's actions last week after Felicity gave them a rather forceful pep talk; their converging missions - Diggle tracking down the HIVE operative Mina Fayad who had his brother killed and Oliver tracking the assassin sent to kill him - converged with the season's main running plot in spectacular style. Nice use of a metahuman Jeremy Tell / Double Down making use of the shared universe too. He was a supervillain ripped straight from the comics with his ability to rip tattooed playing cards from his body and use them as razor sharp killing devices.
JR Bourne made a great guest appearance, going face to face with the main who hired him - Damien Darkh and proving more than a match for Green Arrow and Diggle (does he have a codename?). It also allowed Oliver to deliver the very droll line "They were metahuman tattoo playing cards." when Diggle remarked that he had taken a bullet for him. At least the time was taken to fully resolve their conflict. Oliver's actions were big enough that Diggle was right to retain his anger but had it gone on much longer it would have been an unnecessary drain on the show.
Talking of Darkh, Neal McDonough continued to deliver a dark and very twisted performance, both OTT and yet without becoming too hammy. I am really liking the supernatural element of his character too; the scene where he controlled Double Down's playing cards and used it to slaughter Fayad for her failures was shocking and believable. He is becoming a very dangerous character in a way that Ra's Al Ghul never quite managed last season.
I also remarked last week that I was really looking forward to seeing Felicity and Palmer Technologies employee Curtis Holt working together. This week their partnership brought a nice fun contrast to the tension and dark subject matter in Nanda Parbat and the scene where they took on Double Down and he discovered she worked on Team Arrow was action-packed and funny in equal measure.
Yes, there was a lot of set up for future events like Legends Of Tomorrow (this week's episode of The Flash did the same thing with Captain Cold) but it delivered a great villain in Double Down, continued to delve deeper into the darkness that is Damien Darkh and teased some great character moments to come. Nyssa's rage at everyone for resurrecting Sara Lance is reason enough to be intrigued for what happens next and we have a certain John Constantine coming up; so far Arrow season four is doing everything right.