Episode Title: Unchained
Original Airdate: 2-3-16
Season 4 continued its roller coaster ride with another episode filled with some great highs and some confusing, unnecessary lows. It’s been the tale of this season and there’s no getting around it at this point so it’s best to just accept what works and not get too worried about the mistakes that have carried through for most of the year.
I’d really like to see the show take a different approach with the credits sequence. If you avoid online blurbs, pictures for the next episode and generally go in cold from week to week, there’s a lot of unexpected cameos that get ruined simply from the credit roll. I looked down twice and saw Shado and Katana were showing up, but I would have been even more annoyed had I looked down and say Roy Harper was appearing thanks to the mention of Colton Haynes.
Team Arrow hasn’t been the same since Roy and his flip kicks left to lead the nomadic life. Considering how loose the show has been with long-term plots I was a bit surprised they’re sticking to firmly with Roy having to stay away in order to keep Oliver’s identity a secret. And wasn’t Lance leading that charge anyway and now that they’re allies again, who exactly would be trying to bring Green Arrow in?
Roy was being used as a reluctant pawn of The Calculator (Tom Amandes). It was great seeing him in action and Team Arrow welcoming him back into the fold. With Thea shelved due to her blood lust, I was happy to see Roy suit back up as Arsenal. The conclusion to the big battle with Arsenal avoiding the building explosion was one of the best action shots this season. As Oracle’s arch-nemesis it made sense for Arrow to borrow him and watching the Overwatch/Calculator computer trash-talking hacking duel provided some thoroughly entertaining scenes.
Felicity’s other subplot of trying to prepare for a big Palmer Tech presentation wasn’t as much fun. Just last week, Felicity overcame her lack of self-worth after being paralyzed and her questioning her abilities so soon felt like overkill. Thankfully, corporate Felicity’s storyline got a necessary jolt with the reveal that The Calculator is actually her father.
Most of this season’s issues can be traced back to the resurrection of Sara so she could be used for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Considering the anything goes aspect of the show and DC TV universe, in hindsight it really would have been a lot easier for Rip Hunter to snatch the Earth-2 version of Sara without undoing everything of significance in Season 3 of Arrow.
And if Constantine was able to fix all of Sara’s issues, why hasn’t Team Arrow called him up to do the same with Thea instead of letting her die? This storyline is confusing and nonsensical.
Making Oliver a mayoral candidate hasn’t paid off much by way of compelling subplots. Of note this week, Damien Darhk’s wife entered the race to prevent Oliver from running unopposed and with as little investment we have in that storyline, it’s hard to anticipate it suddenly becoming a major focus going forward.
More of a time-killer than usual this week, the island flashbacks were somewhat silly. Hallucinating from Baron Reiter’s interrogation, Oliver conversed with Shado, who tried to help him learn to forgive himself and tell the woman he loves — Taiana — that he killed her brother. Even in a dream, that sounded far-fetched.
Further stretching the numerous plots covered this week, Nyssa al Ghul was rescued from League of Assassin custody by her loyal followers (led by Natasha Gayle). As Nyssa traveled to confront Katana, I was convinced the show was killing off the final member of the Arrow version of the movie Suicide Squad characters like I mentioned last week. Fortunately, Katana and Nyssa seemed to work out their differences.
After re-establishing their truce, Oliver thanked Merlyn for his assistance just in time for Nyssa to propose a cure for Thea’s bloodlust if Oliver kills Merlyn. On one hand, this is a nice full circle play on the whole Merlyn/Thea/Oliver/Ras al Ghul storyline from last season, but this doesn’t fall in line with Nyssa’s vow to get revenge herself. Why would she suddenly use an ally as her instrument to kill Merlyn instead of doing it herself?