TV Show Review

TV Review: ARROW: Season 4, Episode 12: Unchained [The CW]

Stephen Amell Willa Holland Arrow Unchained

The CW‘s Arrow Unchained TV Show Review. Arrow: Season 4, Episode 12: Unchained brought old faces and new issues. There was a lot to digest from Arrow‘s latest episode, which explored the pressures bearing on Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) as they navigated harsh realities. Unchained left Felicity with daddy issues, Thea (Willa Holland) in a world of trouble, and Oliver contemplating deals with devils.

Nyssa Al Ghul (Katrina Law) returned to Arrow after a prison break “League of Assassins style” – quick and easy with a little help from a tiny blade inside a large pepper. I like that Malcolm Merlyn’s (John Barrowman) reign is strongly contested by Nyssa’s loyalists. Merlyn bargained for his seat, he did not earn it in their eyes. I am looking forward to the showdown between Nyssa and Merlyn, but first, Nyssa went to collect a mystical potion from an old friend of Oliver’s, Tatsu Yamashiro (Rila Fukushima) aka Katana. Surprise! The ladies were killing it in their fight sequences this episode. Very nice.

Except, back in Star City, Thea fainted while chasing a thief. Everyone guessed it was side effects from the Lazarus Pit. It was more like side effects from her contact with Damien Darkh (Neal McDonough). Merlyn explained that Thea’s bloodlust is vital, and if she does not kill, or restore her soul, her benevolence will kill her. (By the way, who could miss that dark look that Oliver gave Merlyn upon seeing him in Thea’s apartment? Brrrr.) Thea’s condition would worsen unless she took a life. Oliver had to cope with the possibility of Thea’s death.

Oliver chased after the thief again on his own, without his disguise, which did not make sense, but…okay he was not thinking straight. After a chase sequence that marked the return of Green Arrow’s parkour talent from earlier seasons, the thief was revealed to be Roy Harper (Colton Haynes). Welcome home, uh, kinda. Roy was back to his klepto roots under the forced direction of an evil tech genius who calls himself “The Calculator” (Tom Amandes), who happened to be Felicity’s estranged father who was in town to install a “web nuke” that could somehow be used to kill thousands of people. It looks like Felicity’s earlier hacktivist self was a chip off the old block. It will be interesting to see how this family reunion will go.

Unchained was largely about the pressures bearing on both Oliver and Felicity. Felicity struggled with her disability during a presentation, but that was to be expected. That board member guy was an… okay I cannot call him what I want to call him so I will just say he was VERY rude. He basically told her that she was no longer any good to the company. Boooo! Felicity needed to regain her confidence in the board room, but regardless of her condition, she is still one of the greatest minds the city has. So what was with all the hate from that guy?!  Anyways, with a little nudge from her buddy Curtis Holt (Echo Kellum), she showed the board that she was still very much in control of the company and her circumstances. Way to go O-Dub!

Meanwhile, Oliver has an opponent in the mayoral race, Ruvé Adams (Janet Kidder), Darkh’s sinister wife. Ms. Adams’ sudden public debut was less worrisome to Oliver than his sister’s condition and he saw an opportunity in Adams. I had a very strong feeling that Oliver felt so guilty and sad about Thea’s deteriorating health that he was willing to trade the mayoral seat, all of Star City, for Darkh’s help with Thea’s condition. That would have been a deal with the devil. He would, and has, dealt with the devil for her.

Thea, and everyone, was determined not to let Oliver carry the weight of her possible death on his shoulders, but what Unchained reminded us of is that Thea has always been Oliver’s main motivation for crime fighting. The thought of losing her would be unbearable for him (and we are back to speculation about who is in that grave!). Losing Thea would certainly undermine Oliver’s purpose for heroism. Amell and Holland committed to some heartfelt performances in this episode and brought me back to the first two seasons when Arrow was more of an intimate struggle about family.

In flashbacks, Reiter (Jimmy Akingbola) was torturing Oliver for information about his magical tattoo. In the midst of his torture, Oliver contemplated his own significance much like he was doing in the present. He dreamed of Shado (Celina Jade) (another wonderful surprise cameo) who counseled Oliver to let go of his guilt that made him feel he deserved the torture. It was all a metaphor for helping him cope with losing control of everything: the campaign, Felicity’s injury, and Thea’s condition.

Thea got to say goodbye to Roy before she slipped into a coma. My goodness, I honestly would miss Thea if she were gone. (You better not do it WB!) Fortunately, Nyssa promised to give Thea an elixir to revive her, but, unfortunately, only if Oliver killed Merlyn. Oliver has an impossible diplomatic mission ahead if he is going to talk Nyssa into giving him the elixir, talk her out of killing Thea’s father, and possibly brokering a treaty between the two. That is assuming he plans to talk. This will not be pretty, but we know Oliver will do anything to save Thea. All together a solid and loaded episode. What did you think of Unchained?

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About the author


I am a lover of all things film and a published poet with a law degree from Howard University School of Law. As a self-professed couch potato, I can usually be caught watching anything produced by Joss and Jed Whedon. My favorite TV shows include the Buffy & Angel Series, Sons of Anarchy, Oz, and The Shield. My favorite current TV shows are ...TBD. So for now, I am open to everything on TV and even Netflix, which is doing big things. A D.C. native that frequents local and international film festivals, you can catch my film reviews at

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