Oliver Queen has a tendency to hang onto things. He lets the weight of the world rest on his shoulders so often it’s amazing he still has such great posture. And “Unchained,” both in its present-day and flashback scenes, is about Oliver coming to terms with the idea that he can’t control everyone else’s life. Try as he might, they’re still people in their own right, who are allowed to make their own decisions instead of letting the Green Arrow to decree the course of their lives.
Of course, Oliver has been facing this challenge since the beginning of the season and learning to make Team Arrow more of an actual team and less an operation focused solely around one person’s directives.
And that team receives a blast from the past when Roy arrives back in town in a fashion they certainly didn’t expect. The gang is out one night chasing a burglar who slips out from underneath them when Thea collapses and almost falls off a roof to her doom.
The rest of the group assume it’s another effect of the Lazarus Pit, especially since Thea hasn’t had to satiate that blood lust recently. Oliver is shocked by the very suggestion, realizing he’s been so focused on everything else (which, to be fair, includes his fiancée being shot and suffering a major spinal injury) that he hasn’t been keeping up with her.