Arrow AWOL recap – S4, Ep. 11

CW’s two premier superhero franchises took up advanced juggling this week. The Flash managed to keep its numerous subplots in the air with ease while Arrow found most of them tumbling to the ground. That’s been pretty indicative of this season as the ideas have been there, but the execution remains just a little off.

The hunt for Damien Darhk took a backseat this week as Lyla and Diggle uncovered a plot involving Shadowspire, another splinter group of ex-military operating in Star City. Coincidentally, Andy was also affiliated with Shadowspire thanks to his dealings with the leader, Lt. Joyner (Erik Palladino) during his tour of duty.

arrow awol review -laurel and oliverDuring these flashbacks, we learn Andy struggled to stay on the straight and narrow even then, working alongside fellow soldiers to profiteer from the war. The writers have done some major retconning of Andy and brushing it off by saying Diggle actually didn’t know him all that well is a stretch. Andy’s sudden change of heart is still a tough sell as there’s been little reason why he would betray all of his villainous allies so swiftly.

Ultimately, Diggle and Lyla reunited with Amanda Waller and ARGUS to track Shadowspire. Andy warns Diggle that Shadowspire is all about misdirection just as they attack ARGUS headquarters, which is apparently as well guarded as 24s CTU. Joyner wants some codes and threatens to kill off the remaining ARGUS members unless Waller gives him access.

Waller retains her cool edge vowing never to give him the codes so Joyner kills her and gives Lyla the ultimatum. There’s no doubt Amanda Waller’s death was a shocking moment, but it seemed like such a chump way to kill off a semi-regular character. And what’s the deal with killing off all the characters who will be appearing in Suicide Squad? Does the DC TV and movie division think viewers would find it too complicated to have a TV and movie version Waller around? Word of advice to Rila Fukushima, who plays the Arrow version Katana — don’t take any calls about appearing for an upcoming episode.

arrow awol review - diggle, laurel and lylaThanks to some major help from Andy and some assistance from the rest of Team Arrow, Diggle and Lyla are able to take down Shadowspire in a very strong fighting segment. While the story may sputter, the action sequences have never been better.

Felicity’s subplot fell flat largely due to the inconsistencies with Sandman’s sister Death variant Felicity’s conversations with her current day self. On one hand, it was an interesting approach to the inner conflict Felicity faced with her concern over getting back into action. The issue though was how irrelevant this felt for Felicity, who didn’t need the internal pep talk to decide she was ready to get back in front of the computer and help the team. And Death Felicity kept shifting her point from one moment to the next seemingly guiding Felicity to end the pity party and the next return to her old goth girl ways. With a few episodes to allow that reluctance to develop this Oracle-lite subplot would have resonated stronger, but it came across too out of character for Felicity. It’s not like she was Laurel or Thea whose contributions to the team would be significantly impacted if they were paralyzed.

A.W.O.L.The show finally addressed a longstanding gripe of Diggle and Felicity not having cool code-names like the rest of Team Arrow. Diggle’s Spartan has a nice ring to it and effectively Arrow-universe covers the comic character The Guardian. Felicity gets Overwatch … because Oracle was already taken. That was a cute nod to the fans who’ve grown tired of Arrow basically adapting all things Batman for its use.

One very interesting aspect revealed through the flashbacks was that Andy had some dealings with Baron Reiter, which helped lead him to the island. I’m not sure if a follow-up is necessary, but it was good to see flashbacks involving other characters besides Oliver this time.

In the end, Diggle decides Andy has proven he’s not so bad after all and invites him over for dinner so he can make his niece. Considering where their relationship was three weeks ago, this is an accelerated reconciliation even for this show.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Felicity and Diggle family drama made for an uneven episode especially with the confusing Goth Felicity. The death of Waller should have been more meaningful, but at least the fight segments were strong.

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