The tension between Oliver and John endangers them both, as Damien Darhk employs a metahuman known as Double Down to deal with The Green Arrow as John goes off alone to chase a lead on the woman who paid to have his brother killed. Meanwhile, Laurel and Thea make a secret trip to Nanda Parbat to resurrect Sara in the Lazarus Pit. They expected resistance from Malcolm Merlyn but are surprised to find themselves opposed by Sara's former lover, Nyssa Al Ghul.
The Flash and JSA comics of Geoff Johns (the technology of Curtis Holt and the character of Double Down) and Green Arrow: Year One (the flashback sequences on Lian Yu).
Why doesn't Diggle wear his helmet when he's conducting surveillance on Nina Fayad? He got his new costume for a reason...
Laurel describes Sara's behavior as being just like Thea's when she came out of the Lazarus Pit but how would she know? She wasn't there when Thea was revived and didn't even know about The Lazarus Pit until last week!
Why does Nyssa blame Laurel for Sara's resurrection? It was done by Malcolm's order and he did it only to soothe Thea's conscience. Laurel had nothing to do with it!
Why does Merlyn have Nyssa imprisoned rather than have her killed? She's made no bones about her desire to kill him and now he has caught her committing an actual act of treason that endangers the whole League of Assassins!
The interplay between Stephen Amell and David Ramsey is brilliant. I was afraid they were going to drag out the "Diggle doesn't trust Ollie" story-line forever and if it weren't for the chemistry between these two actors, the resolution here might seem a bit too pat.
Emily Bett Rickards is glorious as the new strong-willed and expressive Felicity. It's hard to imagine the shrinking violet of Season 2 standing up to Ollie and Diggle as she does here and her telling them to grow up and work out their problems is the high point of the episode.
The second-section action scenes with Ollie fighting Double Down and Diggle chasing after Nina Fayad are well-shot, well choreographed and edited together well.
In the comics, Double Down was originally a gambler and con-artist named Jeremy Tell. After losing all his money in a high-stakes game, Tell shot the winner. The other gambler turned out to be owner of a mystically enchanted deck of cards, which "attacked" Tell, slashing and burning at his skin until the cards replaced his skin. This left Tell with the ability to pull the cards out of his skin and throw them at people at incredibly velocity with enough force to cut human flesh. He also developed a limited ability to telepathically manipulate the cards once they left his body.
The DCTVU version of Double Down is a metahuman - a Central City native who was getting a tattoo at the time of The STAR Labs Particle Accelerator Explosion. His powers are otherwise the same, though the TV version seems to have some sixth-sense that allows him to find the pieces of himself should they be picked up and moved before he can retrieve them.
The new origin story given to Double Down is reminiscent of another DC Comics villain - The Tattooed Man - who discovered a psychically sensitive chemical he could use create actual physical objects. He used the chemicals as the base for a tattoo ink and was soon able to bring his tattoos to life.
In the comics, Double Down was fond of throwing phrases related to poker and blackjack into his banter. We see that in the script here, with several lines about "deals" and the phrase "call it a draw" among others.
Nina Fayad is said to have just flown into the United States from Markovia. Markovia is a fictional Western European country in the DC Universe and is home to the superhero GeoForce
The head guard showing Ollie the ropes in the flashback refers to the slave labor as "The Losers". The Losers is the name of a Vertigo comics series by Andy Diggle and Jock- the same creative team behind Green Arrow: Year One, which is a major inspiration for the current Lian Yu storyline.
The "autonomous communication device" that Curtis Holt is working looks just like one of Mister Terrific's T-Spheres. In the comics, the T-Spheres are floating electronic devices that Michael Holt programmed with a number of special abilities. The T-Spheres act as a communicator/recorder, project holograms and laser-grids and can be used to hack electronic devices remotely. They also allow Mister Terrific to fly by bearing his weight and can be used as offensive weaponry, being capable of administering electric shocks, acting as physical projectiles and even releasing controlled explosions.
Curtis notes the irony of Felicity's name, since it derives from the same root word as felicitous, which refers to the ability to choose the right words for any circumstance - something Felicity has trouble with. However, Felicity is usually translated to mean "good fortune" or "lucky".
Felicity has trouble with her phone throughout the episode, with random blue letters appearing on her smart phone screen. In the final instance of this happening, some of the letters turn red and spell out her name. This may be the work of Ray Palmer who, as The Atom in the comics, had the ability to ride the electrons in a phone signal.
Felicity discovers that the HIVE agent they took the tooth from had only half the DNA markers that it should have. By all rights, the agent should have been a pile of goo.
The product being created by Baron Reiters men is called Slam - a drug that is the product of a genetically modified hybrid plant that is half heroin poppy and half coca leaf.
According to Merlyn, The Lazarus Pit contains traces of the souls of all the men and women who bathed in it and what the waters restore they can also take. This means that Thea must take life in order to calm the blood lust that now possesses her.
Curtis Holt develops contact lenses with built-in HD displays. Unfortunately, they are expensive at $100,000 per eye.
Holt also develops a spherical autonomous communication device. Unfortunately, the prototype has a problem with spontaneously exploding.
Felicity describes Double Down's card as being made of bio-organic material.
Curtis Holt determines that Double Down's cards contain motor proteins, proprioceptors and a neural net. They also contain Magnetite - the key component of tattoo ink. Magnetite is also used to guide the internal compass of birds - specifically homing pigeons. In theory the card could be used to track Double Down but Curtis finds it far more likely that whoever possessed the rest of the deck would be able to use it to track down the single card with much greater ease.
Merlyn: I really enjoy sparring with you, Nyssa,
(The two exchange several sword strokes)
Nyssa: I'm not sparring
Merlyn: I know. That's what makes it so much fun.
(The two exchange several more sword strokes)
Nyssa: You know I would show you no mercy given the opportunity.
Merlyn: That's why I take great care not to give you the opportunity.
(After killing one of Darhk's men with his powers)
Double Down: That one was free. Taking out the Green Arrow and his friends? That will cost.
Damien Darhk: Deal.
Felicity: Hold-ups are a little below your pay grade. Are you sure you don't want the SCPD to handle this one?
Ollie: How effective have the police been at solving the city's problems recently?
Felicity: That's a good point.
Ollie: It's been months, man. And I - I don't know how many apologies... John, you're a forgiving person -
John: Oliver, this isn't about forgiveness, man! I don't know how to move forward with this - us - doing what we do-
Ollie: We've worked fine since I got back!
John: We got lucky! Oliver, there was a time I would have taken a bullet for you. And I don't know if I would do that now. Which means that even when we are out there, we are not out there together. You crossed the line, man! And the fact that you could do that again sits in the back of my head somewhere.
Ollie: I get it! I get it! I understand that I crossed the line! I understand that I lost your trust. What I do not understand why you will not give me a chance to earn it back!
(Darkh has just caught one of Double Down's cards with his telekinesis)
Damien Darkh: Miss Fayad, many members of HIVE, they consider me to be a... charlatan. But this? This is a parlor trick. Slight of hand.
(Darkh tosses the card into Miss Fayad's neck. He then resummons the card to his hand and throws it at Double Down, where it stops just shy of his neck)
Damien Darkh: This demonstration is for you, Mr. Tell. Just in case you have any doubt as to how I process disappointment.
John: You took a bullet for me.
Oliver: They were metahuman tattoo playing cards.
John: Still counts Oliver. Still counts.
Felicity: Well, you seem pretty calm for a guy who nearly got killed by a metahuman.
Curtis: Miss Smoak, I came to Palmer Tech so I could help make this city a better place. Can you even imagine to know how excited I am to know that my boss is doing exactly that?
John was an All-State Varsity Track runner in the 100 meters in high school.
Nyssa addresses Thea as "sister-in-law", referring to her marriage to Oliver in 322.
It is confirmed that Thea never died before coming to Nanda Parbat in 320 but she was very close to death.
Merlyn says that The Lazarus Pit - while being rumored to raise the dead - has not been used in such a way since ages long past. This is why Nyssa did not ask her father to use The Pit to resurrect Sara.
This indirectly confirms that Merlyn truly did fake his death in 123 rather than being revived in the Lazarus Pit in secret, as some fans theorized.
Felicity briefly considered becoming a dental hygienist.
The HIVE agents in Darhk's employ attach their cyanide-capsules to their upper left bicuspids.
Felicity suggests that she, Oliver and John go out to celebrate, like they did after taking down Dodger in 115.
The woman who hired Deadshot to kill Andy Diggle was a HIVE operative named Nina Fayad.
Damien Darhk is revealed to be one of many partners in HIVE.
Nyssa says that her father used The Lazarus Pit to prolong his life, but at a heavy cost.
Ollie failed high school biology. Felicity got an A+.
Ironically, after the early part of Season One - where Oliver put her to work on various projects with half-assed lies before she found out about his secret identity - Felicity is now doing the same thing to Curtis Holt.
John finally tells Oliver about HIVE's connection to his brother's death.
John refers to the events of 206 in telling Oliver how Deadshot told him that HIVE was involved in his brother's death.
Oliver mentions how Ra's Al Ghul had described Darhk's followers as a hive, in 321.
HIVE is working on some secret project called Genesis and that they are about to enter Phase Three.
We see that the face-shielding tinted glass of Diggle's new helmet is retractable.
Curtis Holt and Double Down know that Felicity works with The Green Arrow and about the new Arrow Cave under the Palmer Technologies building.
Sara is resurrected by The Lazarus Pit but is left in a feral state, similar to Thea after she was restored by The Pit. She seems to possess some of her former memories, however, as she looks to Nyssa as she first emerges from the Pit before moving to attack Thea - i.e. her murderer.
Oliver admits that the name Team Arrow is starting to grow on him.
Double Down is transported to the new Metahuman wing at Iron Heights prison.
Oliver says he started work on a third Arrow Cave.
In the flashbacks, Oliver helps the woman who stole the Slam to escape into the forest.
Felicity keeps having trouble with her phone throughout the episode - random signals that show blue jumbles of symbols. The last time this happens, some red type appears in the middle of it and spells out her name. (Best guess? Ray Palmer is manipulating her phone signal at a microscopic level)
Nyssa destroys The Lazarus Pit and is imprisoned by Merlyn after she swears revenge on Laurel for what happened to Sara.
The Fridge Factor
Laurel is next to useless in this episode, serving no real purpose that could not be better served in the story by Thea. In fact, apart from her one scene with Nyssa - which accomplishes nothing except reminding us Laurel exists - Laurel doesn't do anything in the whole episode. Yet somehow Nyssa blames her for Sara's resurrection even though Merlyn gave the order to let it happen and that was entirely for Thea's benefit. It's as if the writers are struggling for reasons for Laurel to remain relevant to the greater story of the show and I'm going to call this now - Laurel is the character who will be dead in six months time.
The Bottom Line
Once again the villain of the week falls flat. It's curious - now that magic is on the table in the DCTVU - that they took a magical villain from the comics and turned him into a metahuman when his powers make little sense as an extension of a scientific accident.
Laurel and Thea continue to be the weak points of the series, with Willa Holland not quite being up to the task of playing a convincing berserker and Katie Cassidy being unable to convey any emotion beyond dull surprise. And yet this episode largely works purely because of the charisma of everyone else.
John Barrowman and Katrina Law are always a delight, even if their character's motives don't make sense. Caity Lotz proves capable of expressing more with one smoldering gaze and a grunt than one would think possible. Amell and Ramsey get to resolidify the Ollie/Digg bromance. And Emily Bett Rickards steals the show as a more commanding and confident Felicity.