HomeTelevisionTV Recap: Arrow: "Unchained"

TV Recap: Arrow: “Unchained”

arrow_season4_posterAfter a masked robber steals from various tech companies in Starling City, Team Arrow is shocked to discover their former partner Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) is the culprit. It turns out a man calling himself “The Calculator” (Tom Amandes) blackmailed Roy into helping him and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) must balance trying to find him before he destroys Starling City with an important presentation at Palmer Tech. Elsewhere, Thea’s (Willa Holland) decision not to slake her blood lust has put her life in danger and Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Malcolm (John Barrowman) are desperate to find a way to heal her.

Now that is what a good episode of Arrow looks like. After only giving us about a third of one last week, the show bounced back with an hour that deftly serviced every major and minor storyline and still had time to fit in two great cliffhangers.

The first was that The Calculator is Felicity’s dad. For years, I’ve railed against the mere concept of Papa Smoak. Arrow places soap opera-levels of importance on family ties and bringing in Felicity’s father as a villain (as if he’d be anything but, please) seemed too cliché. More importantly, I bristled at the way it would ultimately lessen Mama Smoak’s (Charlotte Ross) importance in shaping who her daughter is today. Papa Smoak is influential largely through his absence and the trust issues it created for Felicity in romantic relationships. Maybe the guy who left those two fabulous women doesn’t deserve to be heard.

However, this episode convinced me this can become a great storyline. A lot of that was due to how the character was introduced. For most of the episode, we were led to believe that The Calculator was nothing more than a skilled hacker. It’s not often Felicity (who looked more Oracle in this episode than ever, but whatever, DC) meets a genuine intellectual match, so the scenes where they sparred verbally and through their keyboards were great fun. Their dialogue was so similar–subtly hinting at their shared history–but with enough differences to keep the audience from guessing at the reveal before it came. Where he was condescending, she was confident yet playful, and that she eventually outsmarted him seems especially poignant and clever given what we know now.

How the character works into the show longterm remains to be seen, but I suspect remembering the effects her absent father had on her will eventually help Felicity forgive Oliver for lying about his illegitimate child. His decision to lie is still dumb as hell and makes no narrative sense, but it’s the story we have.

The other cliffhanger was Nyssa (Katrina Law) promising to give Oliver a cure to Thea’s bloodlust if he killed Malcolm. This is honestly everything I want. Malcolm continues to be the worst (not even that out-of-character speech about letting Thea choose to kill or not can convince me otherwise). Plus, Nyssa deserves her revenge. Regardless, there’s no way Oliver will succeed in killing Malcolm. I’m still banking on him becoming the Big Bad for Season 5. That said, I don’t think that means Thea is going to die. Which brings me to…

Arrow Death Watch

Thea Queen: 20%

Like Felicity before her, this bloodlust sickness storyline is a red herring. I’d lower her chances even more if I thought Oliver might kill Malcolm.

Nyssa al Ghul: 5%

Malcolm isn’t going to forgive her putting out a hit on him and holding his daughter’s cure hostage. However, the characters’ reactions to the death in the flash-forward don’t make sense for her.

Roy Harper: 10%

That he got to leave Starling City yet again with a clean slate puts almost a complete damper on my dreams, but he’d still be a great candidate for all the reasons I listed last week. Fingers crossed he comes back to die.

My Confidence in my Predictions: 100%

At this point, it’s anyone’s game. Hell, even Quentin (Paul Blackthorne), Laurel (Katie Cassidy) and Mama Smoak are still in the running, if distantly. However, I’m actually more excited about that than worried. Not knowing what’s coming is at least half the fun—depending on how you define the word.

Marisa Carpico
Marisa Carpico
By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to.

Most Recent

Stay Connected