Arrow “Unchained”

The large recurring theme throughout all of this season on Arrow has been Oliver Queen’s insistence on shouldering every burden. That everything that happened was his fault. Slowly he is beginning to move past this dismal view, and extending the weight of his burdens to his allies. While there were quite a few things that happened through this episode, it all came down to his internal struggle, which was a nice way to focus the installment, if not seeming a bit overdone with how much focus it has received thus far.

Thea’s lack of partaking in her bloodlust have gone to critical levels, as she is now bedridden with a terrible illness. This seems like an odd thing to be happening on the side of events, an odd diversion from the threats posed elsewhere, but it becomes evident that this is the emotional crux of the story. Oliver feels it is his responsibility to save her life when she has the means to save herself and chooses not to, that there is nothing you can do to save someone who doesn’t want you to. Having a hallucination induced throwback in the Lian Yu scenes (haven’t we done enough of that already?) of Shado established this, the first person he doomed because of his actions. The first person who perished because he didn’t do everything he could when it wasn’t truly his fault. Then, Shado said to choose Sara, and here Thea says she doesn’t want him to deal with Damien. In the end, like anyone, they make their own choices.

The more proper threat to Star City this week seemed to just be a rampant burglary issue throughout the town. Not only was it teased all over that Roy Harper would be reappearing this week, but watching that thief’s flips and tricks seemed awfully familiar. Having him originally be an antagonistic figure to Team Arrow against his own wishes was a thankful twist, and set the stage for a larger scale, though infinitely more cliche villain in The Calculator.

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It’s never quite established WHY he wants to destroy the whole city, aside from the fact that he’s a bad guy and that’s what bad guys do. He played a foil to Felicity’s Overwatch persona, akin to her cyber battles with the Bug Eyed Bandit in The Flash, and made for some good old-fashioned technobabble while Team Arrow dealt with the nameless goons. Curtis’ acknowledgement that she only seeemed like she gave it her all when working to help the vigilantes (without questioning her when she said she was going to “save a city” which is a bit worrisome to say the least) served as resolution for her internal struggle to adapt to her wheelchair confinement from last week. She is most at home behind the keyboard, saving people. Here she branched out and saved people in front of a board room. Having the Calculator end up being her father? I wish we’d got to see more of that conversation. Whether he knows that she was his adversary remains to be seen, though it is highly likely.

Lastly: the Nyssa stuff. While Malcolm was sitting around in Star City worrying about his ill daughter, Nyssa went full on coup d’etat on the League of Assassins. Considering how easily she dispatched the guard at the gate with that tiny knife, it seems odd she didn’t do that months ago with some part of her outfit, or even her nails, honestly the knife didn’t seem to change much. Deciding to find a cure for Thea in order to set the stage for the Green Arrow VS Dark Archer once more is an interesting dilemma. I was highly worried when Nyssa showed up in Japan and ran across Katana however. Given how the show has handled Suicide Squad characters, killing off Deadshot and Amanda Waller, I was convinced that Katana was next. Her fate remains ambiguous, though I wouldn’t be surprised if we get an offhand mention of her passing to Nyssa’s hands. A shame.

Honestly Roy being in town was some of the least interesting material. His decision to sacrifice himself for Team Arrow and the city was fitting with Oliver’s internal struggle, and of course he made it out alive. Suiting up one last time was a far more proper send off than he had last season, and even though not too much was done with him, it was nice to see a true farewell.

For my review of last week’s episode, “A.W.O.L.,” click here.

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