In Review: Arrow, Episode 81 “Unchained”

The last fifteen minutes are good, the rest can be skipped.

Arrow, Episode 81 “Unchained” Broadcast on February 3, 2016

Written by Speed Weed & Beth Schwartz

Directed by Kevin Fair

“Previously on Arrow,” Felicity is paralyzed for life, Darhk’s powers backfire inexplicably when he tries to kill Speedy, Speedy asks Malcolm in making Darhk’s effect on her permanent, and Nyssa al Ghul vows to kill Malcolm.

In her cell, Nyssa is brought food. The bearer says, “The pepper came from the garden. The garden grows strong, even in your absence.” Recognition crosses the captive’s face. Within the pepper is a knife which allows her to take out the guard, pick up his sword, and battle the other guards. In another room, the guards fight each other, with the victors bowing before Nyssa when she enters. “It’s time to retake the mountain.” In Star City, Felicity tells John and Laurel that the burglar they’re looking for is coming near them. He escapes the heroes, so Overwatch contacts Arrow and Speedy to give them his next location. The younger Queen takes the criminal down near the edge of a roof, but suddenly grows dizzy and topples over the side. Arrow grabs her from certain doom. The burglar escapes, but Oliver doesn’t care; he’s more concerned with his sister’s ailment. Cue opening title sequence.

Back at headquarters, John, Laurel, and Oliver are told by Felicity that Thea is okay, for now. John and Felicity think she may have blacked out because she hasn’t let her feral side loose to feed her Lazarus Pit bloodlust. Oliver thinks he should have kept a closer eye on her, but he’s been busy with his campaign for mayor and going to Central City. The subject is changed to the thief who stole a piece of technology that can scan a building for its weaknesses. Felicity has to leave the meeting because she has to practice for the presentation for Palmer Industries. At the practice she stumbles though the words and causes trouble with her lack of skill with her wheelchair. It’s suggested that she turn the presentation over to someone else, because the company could go under if she botches it. Felicity agrees, but is saddened. In Thea’s apartment, Oliver is unhappy to see Malcolm there, who restates she needs to take a life; he says she’ll die if she doesn’t kill. Sara wasn’t like this, Oliver says, but that’s because John Constantine made her whole, Malcolm responds. Oliver is told her lust was sated when Darhk touched her. The conversation ends when Oliver gets a call from Laurel at HQ that the thief is active, stealing a weapon. Oliver gets to the location and faster than you can say “Parkour” there’s a chase and Oliver has him. Revealing his face, he’s stunned to see it’s Roy Harper, who punches Oliver and runs off. Oliver rises, not knowing what just happened. Cue first commercial break.

It was good to see Roy again, even if he started off as a bad guy. His relationship with Thea was as good as ever, and Colton Haynes’s scenes with Willa Holland were a highlight, especially their last scene together. When this pair weren’t together, they were okay, but they were much better together. The next biggest chunk of the episode went to Emily Bett Rickards, who was in overdrive as Felicity. The newly minted “Overwatch” is trying to keep Palmer Industries afloat and help her friends, with tonight’s villain just as good on a computer as she is. In fact, the best line of dialogue of the entire episode is her last line. However, the rah-rah speech from Curtis Holt was a little obvious. I did like the reference to two Felicitys, which went back to last week’s episode, but the rest of it was just too convenient for the moment. Stephen Amell doesn’t get much to do, outside of feel guilty and shoot arrows; he was as somber and one-note as Batman. The action seemed a little lesser from previous episodes, even. The cliffhanger was excellent, though; with every fan knowing what Oliver’s response is going to be.

The good: Colton Haynes and Willa Holland, the return of a former villain (whom I won’t spoil), a terrific exit from a building, and a new villain who has a super twist.

Fun lines: “You have no idea how much I enjoy hearing that,” “That’s his super power: Guilt Arrow,” “I don’t want you to hurt me either,” “The only way out is through,” “Why do you always ask me that?”, “I have to try,” “Just go normal,” and “(Felicity’s final word.)”

The bad: An okay script, though there’s little tension, Amell having to play things one-note, and Curtis being too convenient.

The final line: The last fifteen minutes are good, the rest can be skipped. Overall grade: C

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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