By Josh Melo
‘Arrow’ Review – S4 Ep.11 (AWOL)
Dividing its attention between the fissure dividing the Diggle brothers and the burdened psyche of a post accident Felicity, AWOL is the perfect blend of emotional poignancy and super hero action. In other news, big twists are revealed and Felicity finally gets a code name!
The majority of AWOL deals with the complicated relationship between Diggle and his brother Andy. After weeks of getting nowhere, the two have finally begun to break down the barriers between them built by the lies of HIVE and the freshly introduced Shadowspire. David Ramsay is always a blast to watch and when he is handed the reins of an episode he never disappoints. Portraying the perfect balance between the focused leader and desperate husband, his scenes during the ARGUS invasion were outstanding.
Not to be outdone however, is Eugene Byrd. “The little Diggle” thus far has been relegated to sitting in a cage and pouting for a few minutes every week. Here, they finally give him some material to play with. Shadowspire, a criminal organization from their army days, has found their way to Star City and are ready to sow chaos. Initially this stunts any emotional growth between the brothers but when push comes to shove, the two have each other’s backs.
It was interesting to see Byrd play around with some real material for a change. Longing to live up to John’s lofty expectations but put off by being judged for his past failures, Andy has come a long way since he was first introduced and, if a spot opens up on the team, I wouldn’t mind seeing him step in (or he’s going to end up in the grave we keep seeing).
Laurel and Oliver taking a break from crime fighting to enjoy some quiet sparring.
Introducing Shadowspire this late in the game is an interesting move. If they are a completely isolated organization, bringing them in now distracts from the growing conflict between Dahrk and HIVE. That being said, the surprise appearance by Baron Reiter was unexpected but very welcome. The decision to shift the flashbacks focus on to Diggle and Andy was a smart move, the fact that it managed to tie in a number of mysteries from the Oliver flashbacks was impressive (considering that 10 episodes worth of Oliver scenes have given us nothing). This week’s flashbacks managed to paint a compelling picture of the Diggle brothers’ history while making seemingly meaningless plot points relevant again, which is a very tall order.
The final, and perhaps most shocking, development to come out of the ARGUS storyline this week was the “death” of Amanda Waller. With Arrow being a comic book show we can’t rule out an eventual return, but as of now it seems pretty definite, Waller was shot in the face. The Suicide Squad played a major role in past Diggle episodes but has been relegated to the sidelines for quite some time now. Offing Waller so nonchalantly was more than likely Arrow’s way of making sure there is even less potential confusion when the upcoming Suicide Squad film hits theaters (though they seem content with keeping Grant Gustin busy). With Amanda Waller out of the picture, it does leave an ARGUS shaped void in the fabric of the show. Will Lyla step up to fill in? The implied relationship between Lyla and Waller seems to suggest that, perhaps, Waller deemed her worthy of carrying on the legacy. It certainly would make for a number of compelling adventures in the future.
The rest of the episode focused mainly on Felicity coping with her new life in a wheel chair. I have no personal experience in the area but I’m assuming that getting gunned down by mind controlled terrorists would be hard to get over. Her struggle to get over that trauma manifested itself in the form of “Goth Felicity”. At first, having her get into arguments with her formerly edgy self seemed a tad gimmicky (or a lot gimmicky) but as the episode wore on the shtick won me over. How can you complain when you have double the amount of Emily Bett Rickards?
During her crisis of identity, Oliver gifted her with her very own code name, Overwatch! With Diggle recently being named Spartan, it was only a matter of time before Felicity joined the club. Everyone had his or her money of Oracle (which entertained a funny reference in the episode) but in the end Marc Guggenheim’s need for self promotion won the day! Joking aside, apparently “Overwatch” was a fan suggested name that happened to be one of Guggenheim’s published novels. It has a nice ring to it and fits with the characters identity.
It’s a shame we didn’t get to see any Damien Dahrk but AWOL turned out to be one of the more interesting episodes regardless. David Ramsay and Eugene Byrd were brilliant together and the ramifications spiraling out of tonight’s event have the potential to bring massive change to the larger Arrow world. Plus, it was great to see Emily Bett Rickards pull double duty!
Overall, AWOL gets an 8.5/10.