Through the Darhkness
Last week’s Arrow “Unchained” proved that the only way out, is through;
and Oliver Queen is still stuck in his past.
“Unchained” opens in Nanda Parbat, to an imprisoned Nyssa. Her daily meal armed with a shiv, Nyssa escapes; as her allies start a coup, to force Malcolm Merlin – who is in Star City – out of his leadership. Nyssa, and her Shiv-serving ally, leave in search of the well-guarded, and ambiguous, Lotus.
Back in Star City, Team Arrow are in pursuit of a thief; whose combat game, clearly confirms that he is Roy Harper; to us at least.
As he is cornered by Thea on a rooftop, she faints, giving him the chance to flee, as Oliver saves his sister from a fatal fall.
Back at the foundry; Thea resting at home, Diggle shares his concerns about the effects of Thea’s Bloodlust – or the effects of not giving into it. Oliver feels guilty for not keeping a better eye on Thea, coining the superpower ‘Guilt-Arrow’, and shaping up the journey, that leaves us with a guiltless, but responsible Oliver; at a graveside.
With Palmer Tech an imminent target of Roy’s theft, we see the return of Curtis, as Felicity practices the presentation of his new company-saving tech, to a member of the board. With the clumsiness that comes with assimilating to a wheelchair, she is advised to allow someone else to give the presentation. With the notion that Felicity’s condition is hindering her, the episode welcomes the necessity of her character in the fight against the calculator.
Elsewhere, Malcolm warns Thea and Oliver that if she does not fulfil her Bloodlust, then the powers of the Lazarus Pit will take her life. Sara is only spared her life, through the help of John Constantine; who apparently, isn’t due for a crossover into the Arrow-verse anytime soon – especially with Darhk’s reign of Star City.
Their only hope seems to be Damien Darhk, who temporarily quelled Thea’s bloodlust before. Unwilling to have her brother indebted to Darhk, Thea argues for him to respect her choices. Malcolm, unable to convince Thea to adhere to his bounty list, tells Oliver “sometimes the greatest act of love, is no action at all”.
As Roy commits theft once more, he is caught by Oliver, who out of costume is shocked to see Roy. Punching him out, he is able to flee once more.
As if tempting fate, Felicity questions “whose shocking return do we look forward to next?” unaware of the real depths of the Calculator’s – who has blackmailed Roy into doing his work -arrival in Star City. Whilst the reference is made to fans regarding her father, I’m still hopeful for the return of Robert Queen (from Earth 2)- what could be more shocking?
At the Mayoral office, we learn that Darhk continues to strike, pitting his wife; Ruvé Adams, against Oliver in the race for Mayor.
Back on Lian Yu, Oliver is being tortured by Reiter, into unconsciousness. With the theory of ancestral protection seemingly proving true, Shado appears to mentor Oliver in a vision.
Back in Star City, Oliver confronts Ruvé; seeking a meeting with Damien, in order to help Thea.
As Roy targets Palmer Tech, Felicity observes that something is wrong with him; ordering Oliver to shoot him…
…with a tranquilliser arrow.
Faking his death, upon discovering tech in his eye; to enforce his compliance, Ray confesses that he is being blackmailed by the Calculator; about his role as the deceased O.G Arrow.
Back on Lian Yu, Shado tells Oliver that he needs to work through his darkness and return to his family. Guilty for the man he’s become, Shado reminds him of the words of Amanda Waller; “the only way out is through”. Having eventually let it go, to begin his mission as the Arrow, I can’t help but think the victim of his mourning in 4 months time, will serve as a reaffirmation of his mission that served season 1.
In Japan, Nyssa finds Tatsu, who is a member of the ambiguous Crescent Order; protecting the even more mysterious; Lotus. Upon the revelation that her goal to obtain it is linked to Oliver Queen, Nyssa goes to Star City with the Lotus.
Back at the foundry, Roy asks Oliver if he ever tires of his responsibilities, and learns of Thea’s condition. Deteriorating before him, her wound from Ra’s reappears and disappears.
At the foundry, Felicity hacks the Calculator’s eye tech to gain access to his computer system, wherein they talk to each other. Disguising each other’s voices, each remain unaware of their true identities, as the Calculator reveals he wants to take down a city using a web-nuke composed from the items he had Roy steal.
Like Darhk, the Calculator establishes himself as a villain that wants to destroy a city, albeit via its electrical grid; and not through the combination, of botanical analogies and the Atom’s tech.
With Oliver’s mentoring on Lian Yu, and the similarities between our two villains, perhaps it is time to question whether Oliver has to fight the Darkness or the Darhkness? – playing on theories posed with 4×11’s arrival of Shadowspire, that ultimately argued Dahrk’s innocence in the case of the unknown character’s death. As the Calculator has his mercenaries deploy the nuke, Oliver has to choose between stopping it, and meeting with Darhk. Ultimately respecting Thea’s choice, he stops the Calculator with Felicity’s hacker skills gaining him some time to do so. Having defeated the Calculator, for now, Felicity frees Roy by wiping any dirt he had on him, and Thea encourages him to lead a normal life; cueing his exit once more.
Back on Lian Yu, Shado encourages Oliver to admit to killing Taiana’s brother and is given a similar hōzen to the one that he gifted to Thea in season 1. With the first hōzen’s symbolism of revival; and coordinates to the submarine, that still play’s heavily into Baron Reiter’s desires on the island; is this hōzen trigger a clue into Thea’s survival?
The inscription on the back on Thea’s Hozen reads “毒箭不需要殺” as in “poisoned arrows do not need to kill.” . With the idea of ancestral protection, does this inscription lead to aiding Thea’s fight against the bloodlust?
Manifesting into a tangible form, themes from season 1 seem to be making a resurgence in time for Oliver to transform once more.
The episode ends with Felicity’s presentation. As Curtis encourages her to be the girl who fights for a city, and not the clumsy girl fighting for a company, it’s a success.
Unbeknownst to Oliver, he is seated next to the Calculator, who reveals himself to Felicity;who confirms his identity as her father.
As Nyssa offers Oliver the Lotus; an elixir capable of saving Thea; who is now in a coma, we learn that Oliver must kill Malcolm in return. Whilst this is set to be the focus of next week’s episode; the Calculator won’t be too far away, especially as he enter’s Felicity’s life once more.
Arrow airs Tonight at 8|7c on the CW!
[Featured Image Courtesy of the CW, Source Content for Gifs: Arrow “Unchained”, the CW 2016 ]