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

Arrow, “A.W.O.L.,” was written by the team of Brian Ford Sullivan and Emilio Ortega Aldrich and was directed by Charlotte Brandstrom, a French director whose other credits include Madam Secretary, Chicago PD, and Wallander. The episode features non-Island flashbacks of Diggle (David Ramsey) and Andy (Eugene Bird). We also get what seems to be a quick wrap up to Felicity’s (Emily Bett Rickards) dealing with her new situation. I liked how they made us really think she was becoming Oracle – and then christened her Overwatch!

As the episode opens, Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson) and Diggle are out for a walk when Alan Chang (Kevan Ohtsji) suddenly appears. He tells them that he’s been compromised and then a van appears, and he’s taken. Diggle is shot but still manages to hold onto the van for some time before having to let go.

Meanwhile, Oliver (Stephen Amell) carries Felicity down the stairs and gives her her medicine. Felicity tries to tell Oliver that he should be concentrating on winning the mayoral race and catching Darhk (Neal McDonough), not looking after her. Felicity muses that maybe her name should be hotwheels, but Oliver touches her forehead and tells her that her super power is right there – her mind. Oliver does jump back to work as soon as he gets the call about Lyla and Diggle.

The team meets at the lair. The quickly determine that the attack wasn’t HIVE. Laurel (Katie Cassidy) goes to check with the cops about the bullet while Thea (Willa Holland) goes to check the crime scene. Diggle takes his brother a cheeseburger. Andy says he never figured Diggle for a masked vigilante. He’s a bit ticked off that he never gets to ask questions! Diggle tells Andy that Oliver is a good man, and that they aren’t ‘fighting crime’, they’re saving a city.

Back at the loft, Felicity is taking more pills. I was really worried the show was going to slide down the addiction road again, and I was very relieved when that was not the case! Having Felicity hallucinate her younger self was a lot more interesting. It was also a nice misdirect for Felicity to hear voices – like Oracle, but for it to turn out to be a manifestation more of her own rage and self-doubt over her condition. Her younger self tells her that she used to be strong and confident and she wasted it.

I loved how we see all of the women really coming into their own. At the crime scene where they discover Chang’s tortured body – which is missing an eye – used to break into ARGUS later – Laurel gives the SCPD detective (Donna Soares) a hard time for her lack of initiative.

Lyla and Diggle go to Waller (Cynthia Addai-Robinson) for information. Waller tells Lyla that her presence has really been missed. She tells them that she deeply regrets Chang’s death but otherwise appears to stonewall them, until she passes Lyla a thumb drive while shaking her hand. They find information that identifies yet another secret agency – this time it’s Shadowspire who are war profiteers.

This week’s flashbacks show Diggle and Andy in Afghanistan. It seems like Andy is as much of a hero as his brother. I liked the opening flashback with lots of motorized stunts and Andy blowing up Diggle’s homemade bomb. Lieutenant Joyner (Erik Palladino) takes an interest in Andy, asking him what he’ll do after the war. Andy suggest personal security. He doesn’t appear to want anything to do with dirty war profiteers. Yet as the flashbacks progress, it seems like that’s exactly the route Andy is going.

It’s hilarious when, in the present, Diggle asks Andy how many secret societies he belongs to! Andy tells Diggle he only saw what he wanted. Regardless, Andy broke ties with them after his discharge because Shadowspire only interested in dealing with enlisted men.

They get a lead on the Shadowspire compound, and Oliver pressures Felicity into helping them. She insists she’s not ready, and she’s right. We see Joyner is still around, calling the shots. Spartan gets caught and Oliver gets blown out of a container. It all turns out alright in the end. But Felicity is devastated and blames herself. Oliver tells her that she can’t let her injury stop her. This is a great scene as Felicity struggles to ignore her younger self and talk to Oliver at the same time – with her younger self just over Oliver’s shoulder. Oliver is clearly confused by her behavior but leaves her alone when she demands it – though it’s likely she just wanted her younger self gone!

Kudos to Rickards for playing so many scenes against herself and bringing passion and emotion to both sides of the equation. I also have to give props to the effects department, particularly for shots like the one in which young Felicity takes the book out of present Felicity's hands! Young Felicty tells her older self that you against the world was going to be your armor. She tells her that people wear masks to hide who they are. First she signed up to be an over-qualified IT girl and then a superhero. But older and wiser Felicity knows better. After all, our superheros became their true selves by donning masks and helping others.

I loved the scene of Oliver and Laurel sparring – almost as good as a fight scene and in some ways better as you can see the actors really working! Laurel tells Oliver not to be so hard on himself. I love that the entire team keeps calling him on that! Oliver admits to her that he’s tortured by the fear that his changing the past with Barry has caused this to happen to Felicity. Of course, the logical alternative to not changing the past was that they were all dead… Laurel also tells Oliver – not for the first time – that Felicity makes her own choices. Oliver keeps forgetting that he’s not surrounded by a bunch of damsels in distress. Thank you show for moving us WAY past that!

Meanwhile, Diggle and Lyla take Andy to Waller to be de-briefed on Shadowspire. Waller is concerned about the security breach and Diggle is sure they are after the ordinances. However, Andy tells them it’s all about misdirection – they are after something else.

Joyner and his men infiltrate ARGUS, and it turns out he and Waller know each other. It seems that ARGUS is the endgame. Joyner wants rubicon. Diggle manages to rewire the surveillance system to send a message to the team. Andy keeps insisting that there’s no time to wait on the team and that Diggle should let him out to help.

Felicity arrives at the lair – with Curtis as her driver – to help. She tells Oliver, “This is who I am. I wanted to come along to help the world. Anger doesn’t help. The old me was angry.” Like Laurel, she know Oliver is blaming himself and she tells him not to. It’s not either of their fault. She tells Oliver that they are going to stop him because it’s what they do and who they are. They aren’t doing it out of guilt or vengeance. It’s an interesting speech given what Felicity says in four months when Oliver gets into the limo…

Joyner is killing people to get Waller to comply. Lyla explains to him that Waller doesn’t make decisions based on the value of human life. Knowing that he has no leverage with Waller because of this, Joyner shoots her in the head! I admit it, I was shocked! I did not see that coming. And a direct shot to the forehead like that is irrevocably fatal. Now Lyla is on the hook to make the deal in 20 minutes.

Oliver, Thea, and Laurel arrive at ARGUS to help. It’s here that Oliver dubs Felicity Overwatch, saying under his breath that “Oracle was taken.” Hilarious! Likely DC has said that they can’t use the code name of a paralyzed Barbara Gorden because they are planning on using it themselves in one of the movie franchises. Felicty is back on her game and gets them in.

The Shadowspire men find Andy who tells them to tell Joyner that they have the guy who taught him to count cards. He also tells them that Lyla is his sister-in-law. He also gives up that Diggle is in the vents. Once Diggle is taken, he tells Lyla to tell them. Rubicon is a vault in the basement. The entire team come together in the climactic fight scene. I did think that Lyla has suddenly forgotten how to fight effectively. Of course, with Waller dead, it really does open the door for Lyla to step into her shoes.

I loved Felicity telling Diggle that he did a good job with the security system and him telling her he wanted to make her proud! Aw! Felicity tells him he did!

The final flashback shows Andy getting money for a job from Joyner and then meeting the Baron (Jimmy Akingbola) who is looking for Purgatory.

Meanwhile, Felicity and Oliver are at home. She wants to show him some of her past. She shows Oliver a picture of Young Felicity with black hair. She tells him that the old her would have stolen Rubicon. Oliver points out that the old him would have snapped Joyner’s neck. But they’ve both grown. Felicity burns the picture – a nice phoenix like image. Oliver vows that while they will be realistic, he’s also not going to stop looking for a way for her to walk again.

The final scene shows Diggle having Andy meet Sarah and move in with them. Andy tells Diggle that he’s not ready to be re-united with his wife and son. It’s still sweet the way that Lyla invites him in and welcomes him.

I find it hard to believe that Andy is simply going to walk away from what he’s been doing. I feel like there must still be something we don’t know about why he was doing what he was doing… How did you like the episode? Felicity’s codename? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The X-Files, Defiance, Bitten, Killjoys, and a few others! I'm active on the Con scene when I have the time. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.
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