This week’s Arrow is called “Unchained” but it very easily could have been titled “Reunion.” Several characters ranging from recurring to series regulars in the past all come back this week, along with a major new villain. They manage to cram a lot into one episode, and are building to something major happening soon.
In Nanda Parbat, Nyssa is still in the cell she’s been in since Malcolm became the new Ra’s. Of course, Ra’s/Malcolm isn’t around to keep an eye on things since he’s in Star City. I swear there must be an express train or a teleporter or something between the “hidden, remote” city and Star City. Anyway, with some surprise help, Nyssa promptly escapes. She and her new ally journey to find something to use in their struggle, which leads Nyssa to another returning character. They have a fight and then Nyssa, in a rare event for Arrow, stops fighting and talks through what she’s trying to do.
Felicity, who is seriously overusing codenames in celebration of finally getting her own, is guiding Team Arrow as they go after a thief. This burglar is going after high tech gadgets at companies with various ties to DC Comics. AmerTek is the company that John Henry Irons, better known as Steel, used to work at. Cadmus is a top secret research project that is frequently a support and/or antagonist for Superman, as well as creating the clone Superboy.
The thief himself has some amazing moves, evading and even outfighting the team. Clearly there is something more to him than just some random thief. Eventually, he’s unmasked, and it turns out to be Roy Harper. Roy, of course, is supposed to be far away playing dead after taking the blame for being the Arrow earlier. He mentions that he was most recently laying low in Hub City, comic book home of the Question, another street level vigilante who would actually fit in well on the Arrow side of things.
Roy hasn’t just randomly turned to crime. He’s being blackmailed by a very skilled online hacker who Roy has never actually met. The hacker, going by the handle Calculator, is demanding Roy do his bidding or he will release Roy’s real name and location to the media, which would, of course, cast a lot of suspicion on Oliver as Arrow. Roy’s even been fitted with contact lens cameras so Calculator (Felicity hates that name and refuses to use it) can watch Roy.
In DC Comics, the Calculator initially was an amazingly stupid concept villain. Later, he became the villain-side version of Oracle, providing intel to villains for a price. He was a very dangerous foe to Oracle’s Birds of Prey team. The fact that he’s being pitted against Felicity, to me at least, cements the fact that she’s Oracle even if they decided not to use the name.
Thea’s condition is getting worse. Her refusal to give in to the bloodlust is starting to have some bad effects on her, worrying Malcolm and Oliver particularly. Oliver broods that he didn’t notice she was getting worse so it’s all his fault. Diggle, in one of the best lines of the show, calls him Guilt Arrow. There’s a lot of Oliver moping this episode.
In another surprise, Oliver suddenly finds he has an opponent for Mayor. Ruve Adams is better known to the viewers as Damian Darhk’s wife. Her sudden emergence on to the political scene is going to make things a lot more interesting. I’ll give the writers credit for that one, it’s a great twist I didn’t see coming at all.
Amid all this, Oliver begins considering desperate options to try and heal Thea. Thea herself argues against this, saying it’s her life and her choice. Surprisingly, but believably, obsessed parent Malcolm Merlyn agrees with her. So does Team Arrow. One of the points of tension for the episode is Oliver agonizing over what to do about Thea.
Calculator’s plan is a very complicated bit of high tech terrorism that honestly doesn’t make a lot of sense. He’s building a device that Felicity at first thought was going to be an “Internet Bomb.” I guess the writers realized that this didn’t work, as it’s later revealed to be something that’s supposed to take out Star City’s electrical grid and other utilities which will somehow kill everyone in the city. How? I’m not sure. I’ve survived many blackouts in my time. The team, including a suited up Roy, go after Calculator’s henchmen as Felicity and Calculator duel online.
The other big subplot is about Felicity’s job as head of Palmer Technologies. She has a big presentation coming up, and she’s doing horribly in the rehearsals. After a major crisis of confidence, she goes on to do a great job, wheelchair notwithstanding. There’s a big reveal about Calculator at the end of the episode that sure as hell surprised me. It’s a very interesting twist.
Flashback Theater was another reunion. Shado returned, either as a spirit guide or a fever dream, guiding Oliver through the guilt he feels about how Diana’s brother died. He finally comes clean with her after a lot of possibly literal soul searching.
What I liked: Roy’s back! Yay! I wish he was still a part of the show, and I’m hoping the rumors about him popping up on Legends of Tomorrow are true. Calculator is a great foil for Felicity, as he was for Oracle. Malcolm’s stance on Thea’s choice rang true. They also touched on the Thea/Roy romance. And Ruve as Oliver’s opponent is going to be interesting. I absolutely loved “Guilt Arrow.” Felicity’s dislike of the Calculator name was fun.
What I didn’t: Calculator’s plan didn’t really make sense. Neither the internet bomb nor the kill everyone via power gird schemes worked. Oliver’s really going over the top on the whole guilt thing. That was really the only down spot this week for me.
I’ll give this one a high 3.5 out of 5. It was great to see Roy again. Next week should be very interesting.