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Arrow – Restoration Review

"Just how stupid can these guys be?"

In the past, Arrow has made some dubious choices from a logical storytelling standpoint. Most recently, there was Oliver giving Malcolm Merlyn the title of Ra’s knowing full well that it would likely come back to bite him in the ass. And while I have occasionally railed these ridiculous and often stupid choices in my reviews, these choices reflect poorly on more than just individual episodes. Each time a character makes a horrible mistake, particularly in the face of clear reason, it makes the character less interesting and makes viewers less likely to trust in their intelligence moving forward. With that said, “Restoration” managed something I didn’t think even Arrow could pull off: it has made me doubt the intelligence of three central characters.

I will admit, I’m glad Sara is back on the game board. She is one of my favorite characters in the Arrowverse, and Caity Lotz is an excellent actor. I’m even glad we’ll get a chance to see her change from feral Sara into a walking and talking slightly-less feral Sara. But I’m incredibly disappointed in the writers for how they handled Sara’s resurrection, because in doing so, the show completely trashed three characters. Now, perhaps I rank character intelligence higher on my list of key character traits than most people, but the number one television sin I cannot stand is when a character, in the face of sound counsel, makes a number of incredibly stupid decisions and things still work out fine in the end. True, we don’t know for sure that things work out for the motley resurrection crew in the end, but considering Sara is well enough in the trailers for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow to be walking, talking, and fighting without killing her teammates, I think we can say she is ok in the end of things. Maybe Sara kills someone important next week in her feral state? But I highly doubt that is going to happen.

So, since Sara will likely heal enough to be around company in the future, that means that these three characters are willing to ignore every possibly warning sign, risk their own lives and the lives of their loved ones (even after professing to love them…I’m looking at you, Malcolm), on the off chance that the Lazarus Pit would bring back a woman who has been dead almost a year (it’s been six months since Thea came back, but we don’t really know exactly how long last season lasted, so I’ll ballpark it at 8 months since Sara died). Here’s the basic timeline of events as I see them: Sara dies, everyone is devastated. Two months pass, all the Ra’s insanity goes on. Thea is mortally wounded by Ra’s and Oliver (and company) head to Nanda Parbat to get her healed up. Thea comes back a bit of a mess, but she seems ok after a few days, the season finale happens and Merlyn becomes the new Ra’s. Six months pass. Laurel, despite knowing that Thea is now a bloodthirsty killer as a result of her time in the Pit, suddenly decides she wants Sara alive again. Knowing that the Pit can mess people who haven’t been dead for almost a year up really, really badly, Laurel decides she wants her sister back.

Arrow -- "Restoration" -- Image AR403B_0048b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance, John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn and Katrina Law as Nyssa al Ghul -- Photo: Diyah Pera /The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Arrow — “Restoration” —  Pictured (L-R): Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance, John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn and Katrina Law as Nyssa al Ghul — Photo: Diyah Pera /The CW — © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Now, I have two sisters, and I completely sympathize with Laurel. If something happened to them and I knew I could save them, I would do everything in my power to do it. But why does she wait the extra six months? Why not immediately exhume the body and bring it there once the team got back to Star City? It’s not like things got better or easier six months later (I would argue that, even with Oliver and Felicity back in the action, the presence of Damien Darhk makes now an even worse time for this). So, the timing of the whole enterprise is just stupid. Sure, saving the city nightly is a big job, but a week long vacation was surely an option. But, I’m willing to suspend disbelief on the strange timing of Laurel’s choice. I’m much less willing to accept the comedy of idiocy that happened once Laurel and Thea arrived at Nanda Parbat.

It appears that there is only one intelligent person in Nanda Parbat, and that person is Nyssa. Because, wow, not a single intelligent or thought out decision was made by Merlyn, Thea, or Laurel in the course of the episode. Laurel was warned- repeatedly- that bringing someone back who had been dead for so long had never been done. She was warned that Sara wouldn’t come back “right.” Hell, she’s seen the effects of the Pit on Thea. Yet she still pushed for the resurrection. As for Merlyn, sure, he might not care if Sara comes back as a rabid dog that needs to be put down, but he should never have allowed this to happen because it puts Thea in dire danger. Merlyn told Thea that her bloodlust would remain until she killed the one responsible for her fate (which Thea correctly pointed out she can’t do, since Ra’s was the one who stabbed her). He also said they don’t really know all that much about how the Pit works. Well, Thea was the one who technically killed Sara, and if the Pit doesn’t take into account the source of a killer’s orders, that means Sara’s bloodlust can only be sated through killing Thea. I understand the show wants us to think that Merlyn is the bad guy here, and that he will be the one responsible for Sara’s death, but he didn’t kill her. And, since Merlyn’s constant refrain is his love for Thea, I can’t imagine him ever taking the risk regarding her safety. There are so many unknowns here that the practical Malcolm Merlyn would never have risked it. And then there’s Thea, who knows how dangerous the Pit can be and knows she might be at the top of resurrected Sara’s hit list. Why she doesn’t put a stop to this (other than guilt, which wasn’t clearly displayed in Willa Holland’s performance if that was the case)?

There were so many less ridiculous ways the show could have used the Pit to revive Sara. The best option would have been Merlyn holding a large favor over Laurel’s head for the privilege of bringing Sara back, which would have made for some interesting dynamics moving forward. But I just can’t get over how each of these characters actively worked against their own knowledge- including statements they had made mere moments earlier- to come to the decision that bringing Sara back was perfectly fine. And what annoys me the most is that there will almost certainly be no major consequences for this action. Sure, Sara may reject Laurel and her father. She may attack Thea or Merlyn. She may even lash out and kill various nameless guards (or, god forbid, Nyssa), but the worst thing Laurel will have to live with for her selfish choice is more guilt. And that doesn’t make her a more interesting or complex character. It just cheapens her intelligence and makes the audience less likely to trust her opinions and choices the next time she proposes a plan. And that is just bad writing.

Arrow -- "Restoration" -- Image AR403A_0217b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Steven Amell as Oliver Queen, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak and David Ramsey as John Diggle -- Photo: Diyah Pera /The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Arrow — “Restoration” —  Pictured (L-R): Steven Amell as Oliver Queen, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak and David Ramsey as John Diggle — Photo: Diyah Pera /The CW — © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Final Thoughts:

— It was lovely to see Felicity be capable on her own. And I’m glad Ollie and Diggle are friends again. That’s all I have on those storylines.

— Merlyn’s “gift” to Thea of the two guards to kill was the smartest thing he did all episode. Yes, we don’t want Thea to become a mindless killer, but I like that the writers have given her what is essentially a ticking time bomb in her head. It gives Thea additional weight as a character, and we know that a few months down the road, things will get really rough for her and Ollie. Loved that foreshadowing.

— Ok, Damien Darhk is starting to enter the twirling mustache villain zone. We need more characterization, less smoke and mirrors, and less sending villains of the week in to do his bidding.

 

Rating
6.0
Pros
  • Sara is back
  • Ollie and Diggle are friends again
Cons
  • Characters making bonehead choices
  • Lack of logic in arc
  • Low stakes with stupidity

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Comments

  • Irish Jim

    I thought the story was that Laurel didn’t know that Thea was cured by the Lazarus Pit until a couple weeks ago and that was when she decided to try to revive Sarah. Why the writers waited so long to do this is more of a mystery.
    I was OK with the story last night until Malcolm did the 180 and decided to allow the ceremony. It should have been that Laurel had to sneak Sarah to the pit against his wishes.

    So Sarah is going to be part of this new super “Hero” group (containing a villain or 2) and she is going to have an insatiable desire to kill? Sounds like a vampire without the fangs. I am glad to have her back, but unless they soften the effects, it is going to be strange.

    Dahrk has been somewhat of a disappointment. So far they have portrayed him as being unbeatable, yet he won’t engage GA directly. I don’t think he is supposed to have powers so I am not sure where he gets the telekinesis or whatever it is he does.

    I still don’t see the new geeky guy as Mr. Terrific. One version of Mr. Terrific has him with 5 different black belts. At the very least, he is supposed to be extremely athletic – like a 6′ 3″ 220 pound gymnast – a bigger version of Oliver without the bow. So far he looks very clumsy.

    I am guessing shrunken Ray is in Felicity’s phone trying to send her a message. A tech geek like Felicity doesn’t do anything when her phone malfunctions? Wouldn’t be worried that some bad guy is hacking it?

    • Jean Henegan

      The line that made me think that Laurel knew more about Thea’s transformation than one would think was when she told Thea that she was “just like Sara” when she was initially healed. So I presumed that Oliver shared more than we saw with her regarding the effects of the Pit.

      Unless Sara kills off Thea or Malcolm (whomever the show decides is responsible for her death), she should, in theory, need to kill on occasion. That could be interesting, but it will also get pretty tedious.

      I completely agree with your assessment of Felicity’s phone. As we’re nearing the first half of the season Arrow/Flash crossover, the shows will need to start lining up all the Legends of Tomorrow players for one big meet-up.

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About / Bio
TV critic based in Chicago. When not watching and writing about awesome television shows, I can be found lamenting over the latest disappointing performance by any of the various Chicago sports teams or my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Follow me @JeaniusIsMe on Twitter.

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