Warning: Spoilers ahead. All the spoilers. Really, if you haven't yet seen the mid-season finale of Arrow, leave this website and go watch it, because every article is going to be spoileriffic.
Now, for everyone who has seen The Climb, you've probably also been scouring the internet for articles, comments, discussions (it's going to be a heckuva Meme-Monday on Stephen Amell's facebook page!), and noticed that "The Lazarus Pit" keeps popping up in discussion.
I'm sure that many comic book fans, especially Batman fans, are already more than familiar with DC's own fountain of youth, in which case, take a high five for being an awesome fan! (And you may not find the rest of this all too useful.) But for those who are left scratching their heads at this new development, here's some handy info!
1. The Basics
As you may have guessed from context (and the name, I mean, come on!), one of the key functions of the Lazarus Pit is that it can bring people back from the dead. Yes, even if Ra's Al Ghul skewered you on top of a mountain. The Pit is like a hot spring; an opening that leads to magical hot liquid bubbling up out of the earth, in which people can bathe. As well as bringing the dead back to life, the Lazarus pit has the ability to delay ageing, heal wounds, and make the bather super strong. This is why Ra's looks impressively chipper for someone who is probably around a century old (give or take). It's also usually green, because comics.
However, there are some catches. Obviously. The big one is that one must be injured to benefit from the pit - healthy people are destroyed. In terms of resurrection, the Pit may bring someone back to life, but it has a fairly nasty side effect in the form of making them temporarily insane. Meaning that if Oliver does pull a Lazarus, he could spend an unspecified period of time running around trying to kill the people he loves (which would, admittedly, make for an incredible story arc!). The last major caveat is that the Pit can only revive people who are very recently dead or dying. Meaning that you can't just go reviving your childhood dog if you find the Pit as an adult. Sorry Fido.
2. The More Complicated Bits
There could be one Pit (presumably belonging to Ra's Al Ghul), or there could be many. In the history of the Pits in the comics, there were originally many, Batman tried to destroy them, and at times it was assumed that Ra's Al Ghul controlled the last Pit in the world. There have been a few scattered around the globe (including one in the Batcave, by the way), so the current [Arrow](series:720988) universe can essentially choose how many they want, and who should have access to them.
Originally, when there were Pits all over the place, each Pit could only be used a single time. Nyssa eventually figured out how to circumvent this annoying little rule, however, allowing someone to continually use the same Pit to be rejuvenated over and over again. I would assume that the Pit or Pits we will see in Arrow will be of the multi-use variety, but it is possible that the writers could choose to make them single-use only.
Final rule is...there are no rules. It's a magical object in a comic book universe, and as such, pretty much anything can happen. Although the Pit usually cannot revive the long dead, it's been known to happen (creating zombies, in at least one case). In another case, the Pit has been used without the usual resultant insanity. On top of all of which, Arrow represents a whole new universe. While it is based on the comic books, the writers are free to create new characters, new storylines, or alter things as they go along (just as reboots, alternate universes, etc etc do within the comics).
3. What It All Means For The Arrow-verse
Well, it could mean a whole lot of things!
First and foremost, obviously, is that it means that Oliver doesn't actually have to die. He's already posted photos of himself filming the 60th episode, and I doubt that anyone would kill off the star of a show (without bringing him back), and I'm pretty darn confident he's not really gone. The question remains, of course, who brings him back and why? There are plenty of candidates, from Maseo to Malcolm Merlyn to Nyssa, and all of these would lead to very different storylines. Will the writers choose to include the post-pit-crazies as a larger story arc, or include them as part of flashbacks to his healing/post-pit incarceration?
Second, there is the return of Tommy Merlyn. It's been confirmed that he re-appears in the 60th episode, and while I originally presumed that it would be in the form of a flashback, now it seems that there is another option in play. Has Tommy been resurrected, and if so, by whom? To what purpose? Has Tommy also been training in some far-off place, or does this give us a sense of how much time it takes to recover from the Lazarus pit (meaning that we wouldn't see Oliver outside of flashbacks for the next season)?
This would also have an impact on the death of Sara and everything that has come from it. Is Nyssa's fury because she feels that if she was told immediately, she could have brought Sara back? Could she be furious because now Sara is too long dead to be helped?
Finally, the introduction of the Pit would have a massive impact on the tone of the show. Thus far, The Flash has been much more focused on the impossible (metahumans and time travel), while Arrow has stayed grounded. Bringing a magic bath-thing to the show would be a huge departure for them, and we will have to wait and see if it is a good one. While I personally am a fan of a little fantasy, it's possible that this will mark a more general change in direction for the show, and not everyone is happy about change.
4. Bonus Category! The Thing That Might Be Confusing You
If you are a movie/TV fan, and not a comic book reader, then a) I hope you found this helpful, but more importantly b) you may be wondering why you've heard this name before. It's because it was used in The Dark Knight Rises, as the name for the prison pit that Bruce climbed out of. This one is far more symbolic than literal, in that being in the Pit causes madness, and that being able to get out is a kind of "rebirth" (or second chance). Interesting as this is, it's not hugely relevant to what's going on in Arrow right now, so put that one out of your mind.
What do you think? Will we see a Lazarus Pit in Arrow, or is Oliver actually dead? If we do see the Pit, how will it work? Are there any other bits of Lazarus-related info that you think is important for a non-comic-fan to be aware of, or more you want to add? Comment and let me know!