TV Review: Arrow - Season 4 Episode 11 "A.W.O.L."
Join us each week as we review the latest episode of ARROW. Warning: the following review contains major spoilers for the newest episode of the show.
Episode 11: "A.W.O.L."
Synopsis: Diggle must learn to trust his brother Andy when an enemy of their wartime past, an agent of the criminal organization Shadowspire, pays a visit to Star City. However, Diggle learns more than he bargained for about their shared time at war. Meanwhile, Oliverhas to learn a whole new way of life.
Review: There are good streaks of episodes on Arrow and we are currently right in the middle of one. At the halfway point of the fourth season, tonight's episode pulls together elements of various subplots being teased through the season along with adding some context for the Lian Yu flashbacks that have taken up half the running time of each episode to date. We also get some news regarding Felicity's physical state that also carries with it some potential hints at the existence of Batman in the Arrow universe. All of that comes in an hour that includes no appearances from Damien Darhk. It may seem counterintuitive, but this episode of Arrow works because it features a smaller amount of the titular character. In exchange, the supporting cast gets to shine.
Andy Diggle has been in custody of Team Arrow for several weeks now as his brother tries to get any intel on Damien Darhk and H.I.V.E., but instead, tonight's story introduces another DC Comics group. Flashbacks to the Diggle brothers during their war days in Afghanistan shows that they had run-ins with Lt. Joyner and the private military force known as Shadowspire. In Star City, the younger Diggle reveals that Shadowspire is in town after killing three ARGUS agents. Amanda Waller doesn't reveal much about her murdered agents but Team Arrow stakes out a potential heist of rail-guns. But, having stolen the eyeball of an ARGUS agent, we soon learn that Shadowspire's target is ARGUS itself.
Shadowspire's mission is to retrieve a deadly weapon known as Rubicon and begins to murder ARGUS agents until Amanda Waller reveals the codes to unlock the vault it is housed in. Diggle and his brother are in a holding cell underground and manage to get a signal out to Oliver and the rest of the team so they can assist at ARGUS headquarters. When Lt. Joyner next questions Amanda Waller, she reveals that Layla Diggle knows Waller will never give up the codes. Joyner then shoots Waller in the head, killing her, and forcing Layla to take over as head of ARGUS. The Diggles then put together a plan. Andy Diggle poses as a snitch and gets his brother captured, but it is all a ploy to get them in the same room as Joyner where they quickly take him down. Remotely, Felicity manages to hold the team off from acquiring Rubicon. The episode wraps up with Andy being released from holding and meeting his niece for the first time.
Where this story comes together with the flashbacks we have been enduring all season is Shadowspire. Back in Afghanistan, Andy Diggle is introduced to the head of Shadowspire and it is none other than Baron Reiter. Reiter has been searching for something on Lian Yu which is where Oliver Queen met him. It is interesting to see that the Diggle and Queen storylines connected years before they met for the first time, but how it impacts the Damien Darhk arc has yet to be revealed. Something tells me that H.I.V.E.'s plan, Operation Genesis, has to do with Reiter's search on Lian Yu, but that remains to be seen. It was interesting that the show decided to kill off Amanda Waller in this episode as she has had some influence in the series over the last three seasons. Could we have seen the last of the small screen Suicide Squad?
The other plot running through this episode had to do with Felicity dealing with her spinal injury. Questioning her worth to the team, Felicity begins to hallucinate visions of herself from her college days replete with dyed hair and Goth fashion. Goth Felicity teases her blonde current self and says she is hiding her true self. Felicity pushes Oliver away until she comes to terms with the decisions she made to be a part of Team Arrow and act as a hero herself. Going back into action, Oliver gives Felicity her codename: Overwatch. Fans have theorized that Felicity would become DC Comics character Oracle, but Oliver tells her that name was already taken. That seems to be a direct reference to the existence of Barbara Gordon in the Arrowverse. Does that also mean that Batman exists as well? It would be very cool if that was the case.
Some may say that tonight's Arrow was a filler episode as it does not advance the overall season plot very much, but I have a sneaking feeling that Andy Diggle and his connection to Shadowspire and H.I.V.E. will have an impact on what comes next. Could Andy or John Diggle be the body that Oliver visits at the cemetery? It is possible that one of them falls prey to Damien Darhk's wrath and either would certainly be worthy of Oliver Queen's vengeance. No, tonight's episode was definitely not filler, especially since the flashbacks helped tie many plot elements together while propelling us towards a final battle with H.I.V.E.. Next week will see the return of Roy Harper and Nyssa Al Ghul, so I would not worry about waiting too long for more details regarding Operation Genesis.
Next on ARROW: "Unchained" airs February 3rd: The team faces off against a formidable villain nicknamed The Calculator. Meanwhile, Nyssa makes her move and Roy Harper returns to Star City.