Review: Arrow 4×12-Unchained

This review contains spoilers.

I can’t believe you shot me

In this episode, Roy Harper returns to Star City to help the team with a new villain called The Calculator.

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Previously on Arrow, Thea Queen was nearly killed by Ra’s Al Ghul but was resurrected by the Lazarus Pit. Unfortunately, the Lazarus Pit has a side effect. It has given Thea a blood lust; she has an intense desire to kill that she has been resisting. But the blood lust was temporarily taken away when Damien Darhk tried to use his magic powers on Thea. Damien also ordered his troops to kill Oliver and Felicity which resulted in the latter being permanently paralyzed and stuck in a wheelchair. After Ra’s outed Oliver as the Arrow, Roy took the fall and faked his death to keep Ollie in the clear. Nyssa Al Ghul was thrown in a League of Assassins prison by Malcolm, the new Head of the Demon, after she destroyed the Lazarus Pit in response to Sara Lance’s resurrection.

The episode begins with Nyssa breaking out of the prison. It is great to see Katrina Law back as Nyssa. She is one of the best members of the recurring cast and an awesome person. She is intense and captivating to watch.

In Star City, Team Arrow is chasing down a burglar. If you knew ahead of time that Colton Haynes was returning this episode, you can immediately tell that the burglar is Roy so there isn’t much of a surprise there. Speedy corners Burglar-Roy on the roof before fainting which allows the latter to escape.

In the Arrow cave, Diggle and Laurel suggest that she maybe is suffering from the effects of the blood lust. At Palmer Technologies, Felicity is practicing the presentation of Curtis Holt’s Power Cell and doing a terrible job. A member of the board suggests that someone else should do the presentation which Felicity interprets as a slight against her being in wheelchair. The guy isn’t being prejudiced; Felicity obviously doesn’t have any presentation skills and would bankrupt the company whether she could walk or not.

Ollie goes to check on Thea where Malcolm is waiting. Malcolm explains that if Thea doesn’t satisfy the blood lust, it will kill her. When Oliver questions why Sara wasn’t like this, Malcolm says that when Constantine saved Sara’s soul, he restored the balance. This directly contradicts the latest episode of Legends of Tomorrow but that’s not important here. However, it does raise the question of why doesn’t Oliver call Constantine? They are obviously dealing with magic and no one knows magic better than him. It seems like an easy solution that isn’t being addressed because either Matt Ryan isn’t available or DC has other plans for Constantine.

Diggle and Laurel discover a second robbery near Oliver and ask him to investigate. Ollie complies and just walks over in his street clothes and has a big parkour chase with Burglar-Roy. Beyond the natural stupidity of acting like a superhero out of costume when you are a public figure, it brings up a huge plot hole later. Oliver discovers that the burglar is Roy who punches Ollie before escaping.

Team Arrow minus Thea discusses why Roy might be stealing something. It is also revealed that Darhk’s wife is running for mayor against Ollie.

In the flashbacks, Oliver is being tortured so that he will reveal what the magic tattoos from Constantine mean. However, his captors are taken out by an archer who is revealed to be Shado.

As great as it is to see the 700 guest stars this episode has, Celina Jade is the most welcome for me. Shado has always been one of my favorite characters on both the show and in the comics so it brought a huge smile to my face when I saw her.

Back in the present, Green Arrow meets with Darhk’s wife to set up a meeting with Darhk. Felicity discovers that the next place Roy is going to rob is Palmer Tech for the power cell. Team Arrow minus Speedy arrives but Roy throws the Power Cell to a drone. Green Arrow tranquilizes Roy before taking him to the Arrow cave. Felicity figured out that there is some advanced tech in Roy’s eye. Roy wakes up and explains what is going on. Someone calling himself The Calculator figured out who Roy was and blackmailed him into stealing three pieces of tech. The piece in Roy’s eye was a contact with a camera built in. The camera is where the plot hole comes in. The Calculator watches Oliver Queen chase down the man he believes to be The Arrow and nearly beat him. Roy looks directly at Oliver’s face during that chase so the Calculator should immediately know that Ollie is Green Arrow. There is a chance he already knows due to his relationship with Felicity but it’s unclear.

Back in the flashback, Shado reveals that she is an hallucination. She tries to tell Oliver to forgive himself for his actions but Oliver can’t. This is consistent with who Oliver was in season one. He was very ashamed of who he had become at that point. He doesn’t tell his family and friends because he can’t take the way they would look at him which is proven when Tommy learns of Oliver’s secrets. I like how much of season one Oliver is starting to show and it doesn’t feel forced. And his guilt would naturally take Shado’s form since she is probably his biggest failure and regret.

In the present, Nyssa arrives in Japan to find something called The Lotus. However, it is guarded by Katana. While I love Rila Fukushima, Katana was never developed that well and just serves as a reminder of how bad season three is. The two have a cool sword fight before Nyssa informs Katana that she is trying to help Oliver. I was actually quite surprised by this outcome. I figured that Nyssa was going to kill Katana since the writers were seemingly forced to kill Deadshot and Amanda Waller. They don’t do that which is nice but it also makes Katana’s role pointless. It could have been anyone. It was nice to see Fukushima and I love sword fights so I won’t complain too much about this scene.

In Star City, Oliver and Roy have a really nice talk. I didn’t realize how much I missed Roy until he came back especially in the next scene when he goes to see Thea. Their relationship is one of my favorite aspects of the first two seasons and it is incredibly sweet to see them in a scene together again. However, their reunion is cut short when the wound from Ra’s starts to reappear. It does fade after a few seconds but clearly Thea is getting worse.

Felicity hacks into the Calculator’s computer and they have a fun back and forth. However, the Calculator is clearly Felicity’s father as soon as he starts talking. The show has unfortunately become predictable which is one of the reasons it is so hard to watch and actually feel anything. Felicity is able to figure that the Calculator plans to destroy all of the power in the city using the tech that Roy stole. Luckily, Felicity remembers that Ray invented a piece of technology that could stop the Calculator’s plan.

Arrow -- "Unchained" -- Image AR412B_0469r.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen and Tom Amandes as Noah Kuttler/Calculator -- Photo: Liane Hentscher/ The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

In the flashback, Shado tells Oliver that he needs to tell Diane the truth about killing her brother before giving him a stone with runes on it. The score during the flashbacks is incredible. Blake Neely always adds great flourishes to the music and the piece that goes along with Shado is a really pretty track.

In the present, Felicity storms into Palmer Tech to find Ray’s tech before Curtis gives her a cheesy speech about believing in herself. This is a major problem with the show lately. It always feels the need to say how great Felicity is and I don’t know why. We can see it on the screen. We don’t need every character saying things no person would ever say just to make a character seem more important. All the writers need to do is show Felicity “kicking ass and taking names” and we will say those things about her. Having every character constantly build up Felicity like a God makes me like her less because it feels like pandering. It is also their bad habit of simply saying a character’s arc out loud in a speech instead of actually showing the arc just like they did with Felicity’s identity crisis from the last episode.

Oliver discusses his plan to meet Darhk with Thea and Malcolm both of whom tell him that it is a terrible idea. Both point out the obvious that Oliver doesn’t have any control of the situation. It is Thea’s life and it is up to her to decide. If she dies, that is what will happen. She does not want to kill and she does not want Oliver to make an insane deal with Darhk. This is an unusual maturity for this show. Last season, Ollie joined the League of Assassins, killed people, married Nyssa and nearly destroyed Starling City just so he could save Thea. Oliver was a selfish idiot and I cannot believe that he is stupid enough to immediately want to do the same thing. People cannot control death and I am glad that the writers are attempting to have Oliver learn that lesson.

Felicity discovers the location of the Calculator’s weapon so Spartan, Black Canary and Arsenal go to stop him. Green Arrow decides to ditch his meeting with Darhk and go help the team instead. Arsenal destroys the weapon but they don’t catch the Calculator.

In the flashback, Oliver tells Diane that he killed her brother and it is revealed that Shado’s stone from the hallucination is actually in his hand.

In the present, Felicity does a good presentation thanks to Curtis’ awful speech but the Calculator is in the audience. During this, Thea and Roy have one last scene where they get to say goodbye. These two have incredible chemistry and I love how much they love each other even if they can’t be together. After Felicity’s speech, it is revealed that the Calculator is Felicity’s father to no one’s surprise.

Thea slips back into a coma like she was before the Lazarus Pit. At the hospital, Nyssa offers Oliver a deal. The episode ends with Nyssa telling Oliver that she can cure Thea but only if Ollie kills Malcolm.

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Verdict

The episode relies entirely on the returning guest stars. It is much more interested in bringing up emotions from the past than telling much of a story. Frankly, I am okay with that. Most of the storytelling from seasons three and four has been weak in my opinion and I was impressed that I felt anything with this episode. The main plot is generic and predictable but everything with the various guest stars was fun and Oliver has genuine growth in both the present and the flashbacks. It’s not a great episode by any means but it is engaging which is more than I can say for a lot of recent episodes of this show.

 

3outof5

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Sean Blumenshine

I am currently a senior at Wichita State University studying communications. I started reading comics in 2013 because of how much I loved Man of Steel and season one of Arrow. My favorite hero is the Green Arrow and my favorite villain is the Joker.