This week made me wonder how anything on Arrow could possibly get done without Felicity Smoak. The answer is “very little,” apparently.
While the episode “AWOL” turns focus to John Diggle and his brother Andy, the subplot in which Felicity is taking too many meds and begins to see hallucinations of her “edgy” past self, tears the entire hour to shreds, unintentionally funny shreds.
When an old ARGUS colleague named Chang approaches Diggle and his wife in public, because reasons, Team Arrow begins to investigate in a pre-2005 TV crime procedure while Felicity is temporarily benched. Felicity’s situation this week comes across as forced internal conflict, as the situation of her spinal injury hasn’t shaken the faith that she and Oliver genuinely have with each other. While Oliver’s regrets and worries come from things that stemmed from the plot, specifically regarding Barry’s warning about mucking about with the timeline and telling her about his son, Felicity’s own back story, aside from an annoying mom, is only just now being fleshed out after the audience knowing the character for four years. Even though I’m interested to see what connections she’ll have to this new villain, The Calculator, hinted at in the episode, having a character hallucinate their past self to embody their regrets and their shame is corny, (yes, even corny for Arrow) and especially lazy. Although, there was a cool tease on a potential superheroic codename for Felicity with Oliver calling her “Overwatch,” and the wacko speculators like myself we’re treated to a tongue-in-cheek Oracle reference, suggesting that Felicity’s fate will be a bit different than what we were expecting, or maybe it will be exactly the same, this version of the Green Arrow is less like the original comic character and more like Batman, after all.
Oh right, back to Diggle. Chang is kidnapped by random guys in a van, who are not representative of HIVE as Damien Darhk put them on vacation last week. Before this occurs, they’re told to reach out to Amanda Waller. By sneaky means when visiting ARGUS, Lila and Diggle discover the kidnappers are from an organization called Shadowspire, who we see in a flashback in this same episode as they recruit Andy to the dark side of military contract work, despite the more heroic intentions of his older brother. Yes, the conceited appearance of Shadowspire is perfectly timed with the new reconnection between John and Andy Diggle. After a failed attempt to strike at Shadowspire when Felicity lets her hallucinations get the best of her when trying to hack into their security, John briefly struggles with trusting his brother again when both Lila and Waller’s lives are endangered. As Oliver, Thea and Laurel steak outside Of the ARGUS facility, they proved to be especially useless without the help of Felicity while Shadowspire had been overtaking the base the entire time.
All the episode’s steps to get to the moment where John finally trusts his brother again comes across as pretty forced and contrived, but ultimately the plan they come up with plays off pretty well when Shadowspire pulls Andy from his cell, and the character that we as an audience haven’t gotten to know all that well, and therefore don’t know if he’s to be trusted, begins to negotiate on behalf of our protagonists. Of course, as the show adds a potentially new, diverse hero to Arrow’s roster, it takes one away by putting a bullet and Amanda Waller’s head with little to no payoff or reason by the end of the episode. However, it does put the existence of ARGUS into question: whether it will be stripped down completely, or if Lila will be forced to get back into the game as a working mother, considering most of her problems with her old job boiled down to Amanda Waller’s ethics.
Arrow 4×11 “A.W.O.L.” Rating: (5/10)
Are you a fan of Arrow, The Flash, and Supergirl? Check out Ally’s review of this week’s other episode in the DCTV Universe!
At the end of every week, Evan and Allyson meet up to chat about the weekly happenings on our podcast TYF DC Debrief! Available on several platforms! You can join the conversation with us every week on Twitter @EvGriff42 @AllysonAJ and @TYFOfficial
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