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Arrow S3.20 "The Fallen" review

We were all so busy wondering if Arrow would use the Lazarus Pit to resurrect Oliver all those months ago that the fact it’s pressed into service to save the life of Thea makes for an effective twist: a surprising, left-field solution to last week’s shock cliffhanger but an eminently logical one, hidden in plain sight. Well played, showrunners.

“The Fallen” starts strongly, picking up just where “Broken Arrow” left us, and there’s instant drama as Oliver discovers Thea’s shockingly bloodied body. I wasn’t convinced she’d survived that last encounter so the fact that Willa Holland is still claiming a paycheque on the show was an unexpected bonus. Wait! She’s dead! Wait! She’s breathing! Wait! She’s flatlining! Wait! She’s alive! She’s just… not conscious! It’s a rollercoaster, I tell you. A rollercoaster. Stephen Amell sells Oliver’s reaction to Thea’s situation by underplaying it– he’s almost catatonic with shock as he sits outside the hospital room and tells Felicity “They left her there to die…”, his voice quiet and broken, far from gravelly vigilante mode.

There’s a cool H Rider Haggard vibe to the scenes inside Nanda Parbat: a pinch of King Solomon’s Mines, a touch of She and just a soupcon of Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom as Thea is lowered into the mystical waters. The Pit’s healing properties are clearly incredibly swift: she vaults out of that bath like a videogame heroine in one of the odder moments we’ve seen in Arrow. It’s good that the show doesn’t feel compelled to explain every detail of how the Lazarus Pits work: they’re left as a potent mix of science and shadows.

Arrow Trivia

Colombian-born director Antonio Negret also helmed 2013 short GI Joe: Cobra Recruitment, a promo for GI Joe: Retaliation. This is his first episode of Arrow.

Digg gets a strong scene with Maseo – “All I see are a bunch of weak men, running from their lives,” he says, only to have his assumptions handed back to him on a plate – but ultimately this episode belongs to Felicity, for good and for bad. She’s allowed to have real agency in the moment she stands up to Ra’s and his schemes. We’ve rarely seen her stronger. The sex scene is equally memorable, even if it’s a moment that feels just on the edge of fan service: you can hear a billion Tumblr postings being born with every candelit Olicitygasm. And then the episode undoes the good stuff with her crackbrained scheme to drug – or potentially poison – Oliver with some mysterious substance she knows nothing about. “I can’t lose you! I won’t!” she cries, with a worrying hint of bunnyboiler. Come on, Arrow. Felicity’s smarter than that. She’d be analysing that powder up the wazoo before she even dreamed of using it on Oliver. And no, her admitting “It was an insane idea!” doesn’t make it less of a betrayal of her established smarts.

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It's the pits

So Arrow finally – finally! – names the Lazarus Pits. In the DCU these mysterious healing waters could originally only be used one time per person.

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Did you spot?

The producers had a choice of two masks for Oliver’s League makeover. “We liked the one that had a hint of green in it because it was a bit of a nod to Oliver’s former life,” says Marc Guggenheim.

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The crying game

We’re just going to put John Barrowman’s crying face here. Now imagine a waxwork of Michael McIntyre melting in a fire at Madame Tussauds.

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Best line

Felicity: “We’re always saying goodbye to each other. You’d think we’d be good at it by now.”

Arrow is broadcast in the UK on Sky 1 HD on Thursday nights, and in the US on Wednesday nights.

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