Arrow: “Unchained” Season 4 Episode 12 Review

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A lot of fun things were in play in “Unchained.” Not only was Roy back, but so were Nyssa and Katana. Even Shado was back to some degree. Then there was the big reveal of Felicity’s father. It was an episode more about setting things up for the future, but there appears to be a lot of stuff to be excited about.

But the big novel idea of this episode mostly lied on having Roy back fighting crime in his Arsenal gear. It took a while to get there and the road was a little bumpy, but I definitely forgot how great Roy was when used well, which he was here. A villain called the Calculator (sigh) is forcing Roy to steal things for him or he’ll reveal his location to the authorities. Once Team Arrow apprehends him, temporarily saving him, we get some fun banter in their reunion/catch-up session. Roy has charisma, and it was fun to briefly revisit Oliver as his father figure of sorts.

The climax was a lot of fun, with Oliver jumping in at the last minute to save his sidekicks. But it was Roy’s heroic move to be the last one out before the explosion that really worked. It was just nice to see him be part of the big superhero team again in such a meaningful way.

Roy also got to share a few scenes with Thea before he was sent off, the last of which was actually quite emotional. I’m not saying the Roy/Thea relationship always worked, but it’s ingrained in the show’s DNA enough that their declarations of love as they said goodbye was actually really upsetting. As Thea wishes the best for Roy’s future, and he wishes for it to all happen with her, I can’t help but start dreaming up endings for Arrow. Maybe when this whole superhero gig blows up in Oliver’s face, Thea can go into hiding with Roy.

As for the Calculator, his fun rapport with Felicity over the web wasn’t just there for show. The closing moments of the episode revealed him as her father. This could go about a hundred different ways, but it’s exciting that Arrow really brushed over Felicity’s wheelchair woes to give her some drama to deal with that has nothing to do with her disability.

Meanwhile, the continual arc about Oliver’s guilt is actually really interesting. Having Roy state it so plainly was refreshing, as it felt like Oliver actually listened. But will the upcoming death on this series only facilitate more guilt?

“Unchained” managed to accomplish a lot while planting the seeds for the future. It did so with strong character revelations and great callbacks to the past. Arrow is on a bit of a strong streak since it came back from the holiday break. Let’s hope it lasts. Grade: B+

Some Other Notes:

  • Okay, so Nyssa vs. Katana was clearly just so the show could say that happened. Two of Arrow‘s greatest antiheroes are back in the fold, so there’s nothing to complain about.
  • Speaking of Nyssa, Arrow fans who played the final batch of Arkham Knight DLC had a nice surprise. In that story, Nyssa was waging war with the League of Assassins to put her father’s body officially to rest. I’m excited to see if Arrow will put her in a similar position of leadership. Speaking of fantasy endings for this series, Nyssa needs to be the Demon’s Head by the series’ end.
  • Shado’s return in the flashbacks and how Oliver got that rock were just so confusing. This might be the worst season of flashbacks. More reason to just drop them completely with season five.
  • I love how Oliver and Roy sort of had a Bruce and Dick dynamic after the first Robin split off and became Nightwing. There’s something really rewarding about the mutual respect, but also something somewhat tragic at the failed partnership.

By Matt Dougherty

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