Arrow, S4 Ep11 – A.W.O.L.

Taking a break from this season’s main plot involving Damien Darhk, “A.W.O.L.” focuses heavily on Diggle, his relationship with his brother, and a new criminal organization by the name of Shadowspire. Additionally, “A.W.O.L.” focuses on Felicity as she deals with her recent paralysis and reassesses her place on Team Arrow.

Arrow -- "A.W.O.L." -- Image AR411A_0173b.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Audrey Marie Anderson as Lyla Michaels and David Ramsey as John Diggle -- Photo: Liane Hentscher/ The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

From its opening scene we can tell immediately that “A.W.O.L.” will be Diggle-centric, as it begins with him and Lyla witnessing an A.R.G.U.S. agent being kidnapped right before their eyes. It’s only natural for Arrow to take a break from the main plot every once in a while and focus on an plot involving Diggle, Lyla, and A.R.G.U.S. In recent seasons these episodes would feature the Suicide Squad in some capacity, but it seems Arrow has phased out that concept from the show, given that Warner Bros. will soon be coming out with a Suicide Squad movie.

“A.W.O.L.” works well as a means of placing Diggle’s relationship with his brother up front and center. In recent episodes Diggle has been able to break through to his brother, slowly detaching him from his affiliation with Damien Darhk and H.I.V.E. We now find out that Andy has an affiliation with Shadowspire, which makes him an important asset in bringing this criminal organization down. We see Andy’s origins with Shadowspire in a few flashback scenes that show both him and Diggle in Afghanistan. While it was nice to get some flashbacks that were different than Ollie’s usual Lian Yu flashbacks, these flashbacks were almost just as boring and uninteresting.

It was pretty obvious that Shadowspire’s main focus was to get something from A.R.G.U.S. Andy even mentions that anything they do is meant as a distraction from their real plans, so when we find out they’re stealing rail guns we know that isn’t their only objective. Shadowspire eventually breaks into A.R.G.U.S., holding both Amanda Waller and Lyla hostage until one of them gives them access to something called Rubicon. When it’s determined that Waller would never give up access no matter how many of her soldiers are killed, Shadowspire leader Lieutenant Joyner (Erik Palladino) shoots and kills and Waller. This was definitely a shocking and unwelcome death. While Waller hasn’t always been the most important character on Arrow, her presence is usually very strong and adds a lot to the episodes she’s in. It feels like Waller was only killed off to make room for her movie counterpart played by Viola Davis. It’s a shame Cynthia Addai-Robinson’s version of the character had to go out the way she did, but hopefully we’ll still see her in flashbacks.

Diggle eventually learns how to trust his brother and together they fake out Shadowspire and take them down, with the help of Team Arrow of course. Fortunately no harm comes to Lyla and Andy is able to redeem himself in his brother’s eyes. The episode concludes on a very positive note as Andy is released and welcomed into Lyla and Diggle’s home, where he meets their daughter Sara.

Arrow, S4 Ep11 - A.W.O.L. (3)While “A.W.O.L.” focuses a lot on Diggle, a good portion of this episode focused on Felicity. Felicity deals with hallucinations of her former self fueled by the medication she’s on. Emily Bett Rickards definitely hams it up when she plays her past self, and for the most part her interactions with herself are fun to watch. Overall, this subplot plays out exactly as you’d expect. Felicity has trouble helping her team in the beginning and thus begins to question her role with the team. Eventually she redeems herself and successfully helps the team take down Shadowspire, letting her old self go in the process. Her subplot wasn’t the most compelling part of “A.W.O.L.”, but it did allow for some frustrating moments between her and Ollie and a means of seeing Goth Felicity again.

While “A.W.O.L.” was a welcome and much needed break from the Damien Darhk plot, and I usually enjoy episodes that are more Diggle-centric, this episode wasn’t as entertaining as I would’ve liked. A lot of what was going on seemed pointless, until the end when we realize the true leader of Shadowspire is the same man that Ollie has been dealing with in his flashbacks, so there is an actual connection between Shadowspire and one of this season’s main plots. How and whether this will tie in with Damien Darhk and H.I.V.E. is unclear. “A.W.O.L.” still had some great moments between Diggle and his brother, and it’s nice to see that Andy is returning to his old life and being accepted into Diggle’s home. I’m glad to see Lyla made it out alive and well. With death constantly looming over each episode I begin to worry about minor characters like Lyla and where they stand. It’s still a shame Amanda Waller was killed off, and I really hate to think the only reason she was killed off is because Suicide Squad is coming out later this year.

Next week’s episode will see the return of Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) as Team Arrow goes up against a villain known as The Calculator. Check out The CW’S official promo for “Unchained” below and feel free to let us know what you thought of “A.W.O.L.” in the comments.


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