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Arrow - Unchained - Review

Arrow, “Unchained,” was written by the team of Speed Weed and Beth Schwartz and was directed by Kevin Fair, whose other credits include Arctic Air and Smallville – clearly he understands superheros and action! The episode featured the return of Colton Haynes as Roy Harper, and Haynes exceptional performance in this episode made me miss him even more! We also have a stunning parkour sequence with plenty of shots of Stephen Amell doing stunts that must have turned some studio execs hair gray!

The episode opens in Nanda Parbat with the return of Katrina Law as Nyssa. She is still imprisoned as the episode opens, but we quickly see that she has a core of loyal followers among the League who would like to see her in power and Malcolm (John Barrowman) overthrown. She leaves to find the Lotus at a temple that turns out to be guarded by Tatsu! It was lovely to also have the return of Rila Fukushima as Tatsu.

Tatsu is charged with guarding the Lotus, so we are treated to a great sword fight between Tatsu and Nyssa. They fight to a basic standoff. Tatsu assures Nyssa she has nowhere else to be and is happy to keep fighting. Nyssa, however, tells Tatsu that she has business with Oliver (Amell). And that appears to end the fight…

Meanwhile, in Star City, the team is chasing a robber who has mad parkour skills. Thea (Willa Holland) manages to get the drop on the robber, but then faints. Oliver barely manages to prevent her from falling off the building. Thea claims it’s exhaustion, but Diggle (David Ramsey) is immediately suspicious that it’s a side effect of the Lazarus Pit. Oliver immediately wants to take responsibility and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) wants to know how he manages to blame himself for everything. Diggle immediately dubs him Guilt-Arrow with this new super-power!

Malcolm turns up at Thea’s apartment. Oliver arrives, and Malcolm confirms this is the Pit. If the life Thea owes doesn’t come from others, it will come from her. Oliver says that Sara wasn’t like this and Oliver points out that she had Constantine to help her. Which begs the question, shouldn’t we get in touch with him??? Oliver finally learns about Darhk’s (Neal McDonough) effect on Thea.

Oliver goes after the robber in that crazy parkour chase and discovers that the robber is Roy! Laurel (Katie Cassidy) wonders if it’s just someone who can look like Roy. When the others think she’s being ridiculous, she points out that it’s far from the craziest thing they would have seen at this point! So true!

Oliver is then called into his campaign office. Alex tells him that he’s going to have competition in the race for Mayor. Ruve Adams (Janet Kidder) has thrown her hat in the ring – clearly still
distancing herself from Dahrk. Oliver meets with her and tells her that he has a proposition for her husband. He’s ready to make a deal to save Thea – though he doesn’t tell Ruve this.

The team – Felicity – determine that the robber is collecting items that could destroy the Internet, but it’s missing a huge power source. Felicity realizes that the power cell Palmer Technologies is about to debut completely fits the bill, and Roy hits Palmer Tech next, having a pretty respectable fight with Curtis (Echo Kellum) – let’s not forget that Curtis is an athlete!

Felicity realizes from the video that Roy has some kind of technology implanted in his eye.
Oliver shoots him, much to Laurel and Diggle’s distress! They bring him back to the lair, which Felicity has turned into a faraday cage – keeping all other surveillance out and keeping Roy safe. Roy tells them he got made by the “Calculator” (Tom Amandes) and was being blackmailed to commit the robberies. The camera insured he didn’t betray the Calculator.

I loved the exchanges between Amell and Haynes here. Especially when Roy says he can’t believe that Oliver shot him, and Oliver says, “Really?” Once again, Oliver tries to take on the guilt of what Roy did. Just like the others, Roy won’t let him and asks him if he ever gets tired of carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Roy goes to see Thea. She’s much weaker and while he’s there, she starts coughing and the wound from Rha’s opens up and then closes again. Oliver tells Thea he’s going to approach Darhk and Thea is totally against it. She tells him it’s not up to him to fix – it’s not on him. It’s her life. Even Malcolm tells Oliver it’s a stupid plan. He also tells him that it’s not their decision. “Sometimes the greatest act of love is no action.”

Meanwhile, Felicity has used the chip from Roy’s eye to track down the Calculator and a rivalry has sprung up between the two of them. She realizes that he’s not trying to shut down the Internet. He’s trying to shut down the city and thereby destroy it. She also gets his location from the chip.

The team deploys. Oliver thinks twice about his meeting with Dahrk and ditches it to join them. Roy is also with them – back in the Arsenal suit. Which of course, begs the question – what about the alterations for Thea? Haynes is slight, but not close to as tiny as Holland! Felicity tells the Calculator she has friends on the ground and he counters with his hired mercenaries – enter Oliver.

When it turns out they will have to detonate their bomb manually, Roy offers to stay behind. Oliver tells him to run as fast as he can, but allows Roy to do it. There’s a fabulous hero shot of Roy with the explosion behind him as he escapes in the nick of time!

Oliver tells Roy that he’s glad he’s back and that he’s been missed, but Roy tells him he has to leave again. Oliver promises to back whatever play Thea wants. We get a fabulous scene between Haynes and Holland as they tearfully say good bye again. He tells her that he thought of staying for her, but she tells him to go and have a wonderful, normal life.

Thea falls into a coma and is hospitalized. Nyssa appears at her bedside and tells Oliver that she can save Thea with the Lotus, but Oliver will have to kill Malcolm.

Meanwhile, Felicity has been preparing for her presentation of the power cell to the Board. In her initial run through, she’s suddenly the awkward IT girl again. Dennis (Dean McKenzie) suggests that anything less than a perfect presentation won’t save Palmer Technology from bankruptcy. It’s clear he want someone not in a wheelchair to do the presentation. Felicity simply agrees. I liked what this storyline had to say about those who use wheelchairs and how they are perceived.

In the lair, Felicity moves easily around in the wheelchair, her confidence complete. Curtis comments on it, telling her that there are two Felicities, and that the company needs the one that kicks ass and takes names. In the end, Felicity does the presentation and nails it. Sitting beside Oliver at the presentation is the Calculator! Who turns out to be Felicity’s FATHER!!! Great twist show!

Finally, the flashbacks this week feature the return of yet another character – Shado (Celina Jade)! This was another big surprise, but it turns out she appeared to Oliver in a delirium brought on by Reiter’s (Jimmy Akingbola) torture. She tells him that he has to forgive himself and that the only way out is through. She tells him that his darkness is his guilt over killing Taiana’s (Elysia Rotaru) brother. When he wakes after the fever breaks, he confesses to Taiana. He tells her there were reasons – but infuriatingly doesn’t try to explain! He is also holding the stone that Shado gave him in the vision.

So many great returns in this episode! It must have been like old home week on the set! Will Oliver agree to kill Malcolm? Wouldn’t it be easier to try to contact Constantine? What is Felicity’s father really up to? Did he know that Overwatch is Felicity? What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The X-Files, Defiance, Bitten, Killjoys, and a few others! I'm active on the Con scene when I have the time. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.
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