Warning: major spoilers ahead for the third episode of Season 4 of Arrow ahead.
Arrow's third Season 4 episode – entitled “Restoration” – featured an unauthorized field trip to Nanda Parbat, as Laurel and Thea brought Sara’s moldering body for a dunk in the Lazarus Pit. While literally nobody thought that this was a good idea aside from Laurel, Malcolm and Thea ultimately helped her lower Sara into the pool, and Sara transformed from mummified corpse into fetching blonde lady assassin after a few seconds in the mystical waters. Nyssa was so horrified at her beloved being brought back in such a way that she sabotaged the Lazarus Pit and ruined the healing properties of its waters, possibly forever.
Can we get a round of applause for Nyssa al Ghul?
Nyssa’s most humanizing trait since her introduction in Season 2 has always been her deep, hopeless, soul-crushing love for Sara. Yet given the chance to resurrect her beloved, Nyssa stuck to her scimitars and maintained that using the Lazarus Pit on the dead is wrong. Brava, Nyssa!
Of course, the spinoff Legends of Tomorrow will star Caity Lotz as White Canary, thus demanding that Sara indeed be resurrected, and so there was a total lack of suspense about whether or not the Pit would actually work on her. But the surprise of Nyssa using a trick of her dear old dead dad’s to destroy the restorative abilities of the Pit was fantastic. Ra’s being so paranoid as to have a secret way to destroy the Lazarus Pit is the greatest legacy that his character will leave on Arrow.
Granted, the Lazarus Pits are an iconic element of DC comic lore, and none of the events of Season 3 would have happened without the existence of the this one. Nevertheless, removing the magical pool of do-over juice from the equation was one of the best moves that Arrow has made in quite some time.
Arrow has, after all, been relatively realistic for a superhero series, and one of the major tenets of the show from the very beginning has been that the dead stay dead. It’s what made Robert Queen’s suicide so impactful and Tommy’s death so game-changing and Moira’s death so devastating. People have always died on Arrow, and the stakes have always remained high. Thea being saved via Lazarus Pit was a freebie. Technically, she was never 100% dead, and the only other person that we witnessed using the Pit – Ra’s al Ghul – was using it more as a mystical chemical peel to retain his youth rather than to heal grievous injuries. Prior to “Restoration,” death remained death.
Sara coming back after being dead, buried, and mummified in her pine box was hugely problematic for the series. If Sara could be dug up and resurrected, why not Tommy or Moira? If Sara could come back from the dead, why would it matter if anybody else on the show was ever in danger? If Sara could leap out of the Pit looking positively fabulous, how would we be expected to believe that any of the members of Team Arrow bothered with domestic hair products or moisturizer?
Thanks to Nyssa, the person who will die in five-and-a-half months will remain dead, along with everybody else who dies without some Flash time travel shenanigans crossing over for the assist. Even the flashback wig is now beyond resurrection. The dead will remain dead, and the bold move that Arrow made in allowing Nyssa to destroy the Lazarus Pit is one that may well save the sense of suspense in the rest of the series.
Okay, yes, Damien Darhk does still have a stash of Lazarus Pit waters lying around, but the resurrection crutch for the storytelling at large has been definitively removed by Nyssa al Ghul.
Tune in on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW to catch all of the people who will totally stay good and dead on Arrow in Season 4.