Review: Arrow, “Unchained”

Progressive/nerd/parent review

Aww, hey everybody it's Roy! Look at those grins...
Aww, hey everybody it’s Roy! Look at those grins…

Arrow Season 4, Episode 12 “Unchained” (significant spoilers)

Bechdel-Wallace Score: 3/3 – A couple of different scenes scored 3 points this week, most of them involving Nyssa al Ghul and Tatsu.

Shukla Score: 3/3 – There were a couple scenes that I would have scored at 2.5, but multiple 2.5s is good enough for a 3. The Diggle brother dimension of the show was definitely missed this week.

Russo Score: 2.5/3 – I am still not entirely sure how to use this test on a TV show. There was a character in the episode who has been identified as gay in two or more previous episodes, but he was not identified as gay during the course of this particular episode. Since the Russo test is designed for movies, I am going to go ahead and say a character that has been identified as LGBTQ sometime this season counts towards the first point. Of course the character, Curtis Holt (Echo Kellum), was not solely defined by being gay this episode. He also was not a caricature or there as a token figure… …but it is a stretch to say that he mattered to the plot, so I only awarded a half point there.

Kittehs: 😺😺😺/5 – It was a good hour of TV and a better than average episode this season. A bit more time with Nyssa and/or Roy would have been appreciated, but I understand the show is always telling a standalone story, resolving a subplot, and advancing three other subplots each week. This is just one of the times when a good episode would have been better to me if it had had fewer purposes to serve. Three out of five kittehs, all smiling.

Low points: Oliver’s weight-of-the-world, “everything is my fault” martyrdom is beyond old. Hell, even the other characters are openly mocking him for it now! I assume this story beat is getting hit over and over this season as a buildup to his transformational moment, sometime after the graveyard flash forwards, but I think Oliver either needs to do this routine less often or have it be more interesting. Also, while I’m being fussy, his new hood is too shiny.

Highlights: See below re: Jungian message. Of course, the big highlight was Roy Harper/Arsenal showing up and then rejoining the team for the evening. It was good to see Oliver once again relearn the most basic kind of respect for his sister as a decision making adult. Nyssa’s prison break, fight with Tatsu, and covert hospital visitation were all fun scenes, probably my favorite of the episode.

Dad edits: If my kid were old enough for us to watch this show together, I would really enjoy talking with him about the concept of shadow work (facing one’s own, inner darkness) and how it relates to Oliver’s struggles in this episode, both in the present and in the island flashbacks. Any time a TV show I like has an episode with a strong Jungian message, I am a happy guy.

Arrow airs on The CW on Wednesdays at 8/7c

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