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REVIEW: Arrow 4×11 “A.W.O.L”

Written by Scott Swartz

Don’t you just love the smell of a Diggle centric episode in the morning, I mean its hard to top a quality episode where the side characters get to take center stage. Take for example “A.W.O.L” a Diggle and Felicity centric episode that manages to bring back some of the better qualities of earlier seasons. Diggle having a much needed heart to heart with his brother, Felicity being a competent drug user, Oliver being useful in an episode and not completely nerfed. I mean this was some good ol’ fashion season one and two vibes and you know what, it worked. I would kill to have the writers actual write like this all the time it just felt like a nice and tight story that ended up paying off for a lot of the characters involved. Hell, even the flashbacks were worthwhile. How long has it been since we even cared about the flashbacks?

First off this episode gets points alone for making me actual care about what happens to Andy Diggle. Up until now he has just been a nuisance to the plot and a way to add drama into John Diggle’s life. Now however, Diggle prime has finally found a way to somewhat forgive Andy and let him back into his life. It was nice seeing exactly how Diggle and Andy’s relationship has evolved over time considering we have seen very little of said relationship, but the flashbacks managed to do just enough to make me understand Andy’s position on the world. Not everything is as black and white to Andy and we can clearly see that he believes the world would need whatever Darhk is planning. It is also clear that Diggle didn’t exactly treat his brother with a ton of respect when they were soldiers which makes things infinitely more complicated between them. I would love if we got another opportunity to see some flashbacks between the two except from Andy’s perspective as it may shed more light on how he views John.

While David Ramsey was doing great tonight Emily Bett Rickards managed to elevate herself to a higher level of Felicity. Yes, Felicity was dosed on pain meds and not at the top of her game, but seeing her overcome her struggles when confronted by a hallucination of her former self turned out surprisingly well. I don’t know what it was about the writing this week, but it just felt like Felicity as a character was way more believable and likable again. She was able to overcome her own personal demons and reestablish herself as a valuable member of the team, rather than the nagging and annoying presence we have slightly come to expect at this point. It truly felt like a return to basics and a much stronger plot than anything we have seen this season. Unfortunately, now is the time for progression and not regression so let’s hope that it is time for good ol’ Felicity to make a comeback.

As with everything we were not without our downsides, in this case it was the fact that Shadowspire wasn’t exactly a super intimidating villain. Even when they made their big play of killing of Waller, I never felt like they would not be beaten or that there would be any sort of real causality on our heroes side. They were more filler for the actual character development that we got as opposed to any sort of meaningful plot. I mean there was a tiny tie in with Baron being the head of Shadowspire, but since I don’t really care about this years flashbacks I am hard pressed to care that he showed up. Hopefully, we may get a tiny reference to Andy having been in his employ, but beyond that there was really not a whole lot they could do to make me care about a lackluster villain.

Overall it was a satisfying week that felt like a return to form.

Final Grade B+

+Excellent work for Diggle and Felicity

+The flashbacks added to the story

+Oliver was more competent this week

-Shadowspire was a lame villain

Extra Thoughts

-So Ollie just casually mentions to Laurel that Barry can time travel and everyone is cool with it. Welcome to the new normal

-Waller get’s killed this week. Another one for the Suicide Squad checklist, so I imagine Katana has a target on her back now.

-Laurel actually did her job this week. I enjoy confident Laurel

-Oracle is already taken guys. Give me my god damn Nightwing and Red Hood!

About the author

Scott Swartz