Spoilers ahead for “Unchained,” the latest episode of The CW’s Arrow!
So, we finally got to meet Felicity’s father — it just took until the end of the episode to actually realize it. What started as just another “Baddie of the Week” episode turned into a whole lot more on Wednesday night.
We also got to see the long-awaited return of Colton Haynes’ Roy Harper, and it made for some excellent romance (and bromance). It was also a hard reminder of just how critical a role Roy played in the ensemble the past few years, and the show felt whole again by having him back in the fold. Yes, Haynes was only signed on for his original arc (and the story kind of needs him to be gone), but it’d be great to have him back a bit more often.
We didn’t know it at the time, but Roy’s return also set up an arc that’s certain to shake things up in the back half of the season. But first things first …
Roy is back!
Oh, how we’ve missed you, Roy Harper. The Green Arrow’s former protege, Arsenal, came back to Starling City in disguise, and landed on Team Arrow’s radar as a burglar who has been pulling off several major heists (while also doing a solid job of evading our heroes). Once they figure out it’s Roy, he punches Oliver in the face (heehee), and Felicity eventually figures out Roy is being controlled by someone else, who is keeping tabs on him via a super-high-tech contact lens.
So, Oliver shoots Roy (longtime fans will get a kick out of that detail) to fake his death (again), and he falls right back into step with the gang to help take out this new villain who has used him as a pawn. Along with providing some backup, the episode gave Roy some excellent character moments as he reconnects with the team. It also provided some closure after his rather abrupt departure.
He gets to bro-out with Oliver and Diggle, and shares a sweet moment with Thea. Time and distance may have pushed these two characters apart, but they’ll always be one another’s true love. Here’s hoping that once the series eventually comes to a close, they can find their way to one another (assuming they’re alive, of course).
The “Baddie of the Week” is a lot more than that
Character actor Tom Amendes popped up as the uber-hacker The Calculator, giving Felicity a run for her money as he uses all that stolen tech Roy was snagging to blow up the grid in Star City in an effort to kill a bunch of people (for reasons?). But, when both he and Felicity used voice masking tools as they smack-talked, you just knew they were setting up some type of reveal for later in the episode.
Turns out, da-da-da-dum, The Calculator is actually Felicity’s long-lost father! He pops up at Felicity’s Palmer Technologies presentation, sitting right beside a completely oblivious Oliver, and finally reconnects with Felicity in a fascinating (if somewhat telegraphed) cliffhanger. Felicity’s father has been a mystery pretty much ever since the series began, so it’ll be interesting to see where the writers take this story now that they’ve finally introduced him.
In a chat with TV Line, showrunner Wendy Mericle said the story was a perfect fit, when coupled with their desire to bring Roy back for an episode:
“We knew we wanted to bring Roy back, and we wanted to do that in a way that was organic. When we sent him off, we pretty much sold the world on the idea that he was the Arrow and he was gone, so we needed somebody who was going to be able to dig out that information and be really smart about it. We wanted Felicity’s father to be somebody who had a very similar skill set to her, to kind of explain the genetics of her brainpower, and it just seemed like a perfect marriage to have Roy working for this guy who seemingly has a higher, better agenda, something that has some socially conscious angle, but doing it in ways that are very questionable.”
Moving forward, you know there’s an interesting face off coming down the line. Hey, who knows, maybe The Calculator is that mysterious man Oliver is vowing to kill in the future-set scene at the graveyard (as opposed to Dhark). Felicity did seem very distraught, after all.
Thea needs to kill
Teasers for the back half of the season already clued us in to the fact that Thea would be struggling with a health issue, and it seems it’s related to her resurrection in the Lazarus Pit. Which, it’s worth noting, Sara Lance avoided this nasty side effect because John Constantine “made her whole” during his cameo appearance. Too bad they can’t get Matt Ryan back for another episode, because the Sara fix turned out to be insanely rushed and easy. But, whatever I digress.
With her condition only getting worse, Nysa al Ghul shows up at the perfect time to offer a tricky solution — she has a cure, but she’ll only hand it over if Oliver kills Malcolm Merlyn.
Nyssa al Ghul stages a coup
Speaking of Nyssa, she escapes from League of Assassins jail with the help of a contingent of fighters who are apparently not too happy with the way Malcolm Merlyn is running things, and seems very motivated to take back the League. This story has been on the back burner for a while, and it’s nice to see the League start weaving its way back into the narrative.
The League has played, and continues to play, a big part in the show’s mythos. By throwing the mythical Lotus cure into the mix (which, how did Malcolm not already know about this thing, by the way?), it sets up another showdown between Oliver and Malcolm, showing how far these characters have come, while simultaneously putting them back at one another’s throats. Will Malcolm sacrifice himself to save Thea? Will Oliver even fight him, since it’d mean killing Thea’s father? Big questions that will be lingering until next week.
Felicity can do it all
Last but not least, Felicity got a chance to shine. Again. After having some trouble getting used to the logistics of barreling around in a wheelchair, Felicity channels her inner superhero and translates those skills into her Palmer Technologies gig. Her duties as the head of the company are a nice foil to her role as Overwatch (just don’t call her Oracle), and it’s great to see her finally carry that confidence over to the public side.
Her superpower has always been her mind, and that’s a distinction she’s finally embraced wholeheartedly.
Latest odds on the mystery grave: Thea seems like a prime contender, considering the fact that she’s teetering on her deathbed. But, it still doesn’t seem likely they’d kill her off, since she’s literally the only family Oliver has left. Capt. Lance remains an option, along with Felicity’s mother, Diggle, and Laurel. Sadly, apart from Thea’s condition, this installment didn’t provide many hints.
Line of the night: "Wearing red doesn't make you The Flash, Roy."