Arrow: 4.12 Unchained
There was no reference to the death of Amanda Waller or Diggle's brother Andy this week but Arrow was already moving on from those events as the cold war between the Green Arrow and Damien Darhk offered the chance for a new villain to strike - the very comic-book villain sounding The Calculator (Tom Amandes). But it was also an episode for old faces as Nyssa broke free of her imprisonment in Nanda Parbat, encountered Tatsu Yamashiro / Katana in Japan and team Arrow has a surprise reunion with an old friend Roy Harper. Even Malcolm Merlyn and Curtis Holt, not seen since the show returned from its mid-season break, managed to join the action.
Four years in and it is nice that Arrow has such a diverse range of characters and stories in play that they can weave in and out of the show when needed. After a spectacular escape (and violent civil conflict between the League in the opening of Unchained), Katrina Law made a welcome return as the daughter of Ra's Al Ghul. I've rather liked her character, particularly her friendship with Laurel and I hope we see more of that now she is back.
Her trip to Japan for the cure to Thea's condition offered a chance to see where Katana had ended up after the death of her family last season. I half expected her to die considering that she - like Waller - is appearing in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie but at least she lived to fight another day. Though given that big screen appearance this might be it from Rila Fukushima for a while. Now that Nyssa has offered Oliver her demand, kill Malcolm in exchange for Thea's cure, I am intrigued to see how this will all play out.
It was always too obvious that it would be Felicity in the grave glimpsed in the season opener and now we know she isn't, my money is on Thea. Will she refuse to allow Oliver to make that choice? She continued to resist her 'father of the year' Malcolm's attempt to sate her cure with his suggestion that he could bring her a nice juicy Pedophile to kill. And after that final heart to heart with Roy, telling him to go and live a good life with a wife, two kids and a minivan, I suspect this might be the last moment they share together. My money is on Colton Haynes making one more appearance this season in time for Thea's funeral. And unlike last season, I don't see her coming back.
As for Roy, his return stealing technology and fighting Oliver felt like a bit of a contrived mystery - has he turned to crime now? - but it was immediately made better by the fact that The Calculator was controlling him. Once he was able to get out of the 'fake death' scenario it was great to see Arsenal back in action, zip lining away from the exploding base as he teamed up with his old comrades. It does feel a bit like a plot contrivance that he has to stay away to protect the idea that he died as the original Arrow, particularly now that Star City has the Green Arrow and chums and if the writers really wanted to bring him back to the fold they could find a way, but I hope he makes more appearances, perhaps in The Flash or Legends Of Tomorrow next time?
The Calculator was a great foil for the recently re-energised Felicity to battle with as he sought to use technology to bring down the city. The Flash already made reference to the fact that she was the best hacker in the world this week and here she proved it, even if she needed a little help from one of Ray Palmer's devices. We also got to see the balance between her life as a crime fighter and as CEO of Palmer Technologies, with feels a little bit of a distraction at times, even though there was great rapport between Felicity and Curtis. And it meant that she got to give that big presentation to the company and her dad - yes her father is the evil genius she was fighting against! I loved that little twist and think that might add a little extra spark to the show. After all, evil dads are all the rage in Arrow.
Some interesting stuff in the island-based flashbacks too with the surprise return of another old character Shado. At first I thought this was a twist too far but the idea that she represented part of a vision actually worked, given the larger supernatural element this story has been taking. She seemed to be setting Oliver on the path to who he was in the pilot and the flashbacks must surely be coming to end with the recently announced season five. After all he was a bearded guy with a bow and arrow when he was found so he has to spend at least half a year alone in the wilderness to get to that point surely?
Unchained wasn't a brilliant episode of Arrow but it was a very enjoyable one thanks to a great villain - and the promise of more to come between Felicity and her evil father. There were plenty of reunions with Nyssa, Shado, Katana and most significantly Roy. Oh and her Damien Darhk's wife is also running for mayor. She certainly looked capable and knowledgeable of her husband's evil actions when she debuted a couple of weeks ago. That is certainly to keep the show on its toes as it passes beyond its mid point on season four...