Review: Arrow S4E11

Review: Arrow - "A.W.O.L."

By: Dave Clark

Tonight brings us another pulse pounding episode of Arrow! The episode kicked off, letting us know this would be a very Diggle-centric episode by giving us Dig and Lyla out on a date together. Suddenly Agent Chang of A.R.G.U.S. explains he's been compromised and needs Lyla to get a message to Amanda Waller, but the group gets attacked and he's taken away in a van of Shadowspire (a U.S. Army Special Forces Unit) operatives. Diggle and Lyla go visit Waller after Chang's body shows up on the streets and it's clear that they tortured him for information. Waller secretly gives Lyla a flash drive after telling them that she has no other information to give. The information on the drive reveals that Shadowspire is picking off A.R.G.U.S. agents as a measure of revenge for taking them down for war profiteering three years ago. 

This episode's flashbacks give us a look into Diggle's past, and we see his relationship with his brother Andy while they're serving in Afghanistan in 2005. Shadowspire's team is led by Lieutenant Joyner, a man that Diggle and Andy met in the war. With his team he breaks into A.R.G.U.S. and takes Lyla and Waller hostage. Turns out revenge isn't what Shadowspire is after, Joyner wants access to something called Rubicon. He begins shooting A.R.G.U.S. agents every 20 minutes to persuade Waller into giving him access. After Waller admits that he could kill everyone in the room and she still wouldn't give him access, Joyner shoots Waller in the head, suggesting that with her dead, Lyla would be more forth coming with the information. Diggle trusts Andy to help him save Lyla, and the two work together finally. In the flashback we see the man in charge of Shadowspire is Baron Reiter, the same man that was on the island with Oliver and now he has the map of Lian Yu.

At the plush home of Oliver Queen, Felicity is adjusting to her life in a wheelchair while on pain meds. She begins to see the younger goth version of herself around the house, questioning her every move. Felicity is hesitant to get back to work on Team Arrow but is forced to jump into the hacking fray as they need her help but she ends up getting the team separated and Diggle nearly gets caught. Oliver comes home to see how she's doing and to explain that it wasn't her fault. He apologizes for pushing her into getting back into the vigilante game again so soon. She tells Oliver that she can't be part of the team anymore, her injury has changed everything for her and she fears she will never do any of the things she used to be able to do. She would eventually come to terms with who she really is and adopts the new codename Overwatch as she helps the team infiltrate A.R.G.U.S. to stop Shadowspire.

Oliver is still struggling with feeling responsible for what happened to Felicity. It takes both Laurel and Felicity to make him realize that it's not his fault but it's Darhk's fault and that he needs to focus his anger and frustration on the man that caused this pain. She tells Oliver that they're going to stop Darhk, but not out of anger or revenge, but because it's the right thing to do.

I really didn't like this episode. The writing or the editing was extremely off in their pacing. Everything jumped around too much and it was hard to stay focused on any one storyline. We jumped from Diggle's flashbacks to Team Arrow fighting Shadowspire, to scenes with Diggle and Amanda Waller to scenes of Felicity fighting with her own self. It was confusing and it was erratic and it was nearly unwatchable tonight.

What I Liked:

  • The return of Amanda Waller. I liked this version of her in our little DC television world.
  • She hasn't been the best character but Laurel has been growing on me and I liked her scene with Oliver tonight. She made sense and she looked strong. More of this please, writers.
  • Felicity reading The Shining. She has great taste in books. 
  • The codename choice for Felicity. I'm so glad they didn't choose Oracle AND Oliver made mention that Oracle was already taken. I loved that line. I'm not sold on Overwatch being her codename...but it's better than taking Oracle.
  • Seeing Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Speedy fighting in costume. I love the action sequences on this show and getting to see these three fight together is something special. 

What I Didn't Like:

  • The weird pacing of this episode. It really jumps around a lot between flashbacks, between very brief glimpses into Felicity and her hallucinations, and to the present drama.
  • They killed off Amanda Waller. I get that the Suicide Squad movie is coming out and we can't mix our TV universe with our Cinematic universe. I get it. But do we need to eliminate the characters that already appeared on Arrow? We lost Deadshot, we lost Harley Quinn (she was replaced by Cupid), and now we lose Waller. It's lame.