Arrow "A.W.O.L." (REVIEW)
Written by Jacob Chimilar (@sweetlows)
This week sees a break from the main story line to give some back story to the Diggle Brothers and dives into Felicity's feelings about being in a wheelchair, potentially for the rest of her life.The episode starts off with a literal bang. A former colleague of Lyla's at ARGUS, Alan Chang bumps into her and Diggle telling her that he is in danger and she is the only person that he can trust because ARGUS has been compromised. Before he can explain any further a van pulls up and takes him away. Shady things are definitely a foot!
Elsewhere we see Felicity and Oliver in their home as he tries his best to get her back up to speed after her accident. Felicity simply isn't ready to take on that task. Oliver gives a nice speech about how her super power is her brain and that works just fine. That little tidbit gets used against her as the medication she now takes causes her to see hallucinations. First they are just auditory but they soon take shape in the form of her former self. A gothed out emo girl who hates the world, and the man. She torments Felicity and puts her into a state of self doubt and worthlessness. Afraid to tell Oliver she tries to deal with the issue alone. Something I feel was actually quite important in her not saying anything. Hearing voices and seeing people who should not be there is not something people often want address out of shame and it in and of itself is a shame that people view it as such. I thought it was a nice way to introduce someone's self doubt about coming back after a traumatic event in the form of a hallucination while also commenting on the stigma around mental health issues. That said it ended up being done in a trivial way in the form of a side effect of pills and she deals with it by simply dealing with it. I guess really deep important conversations about mental health aren't suited to the superhero tv show just yet, too bad. At least she is able to accept her current situation and continuing on with her life as normal. Which from one stand point is great, after all being in a wheelchair doesn't define a person, Felicity is still Felicity, just now in a wheelchair which was a well delivered message that people can take away from thankfully, 1 out of 2 ain't bad.
Back to the Diggles. This week's flashbacks focused on them and their time in the military. They worked for US Special Forces Unit Shadowspire that was serving in the war in Afghanistan. Both John and Andy were serving there and when some shady things started going down in the form of War Profiteering. Andy didn't want anything to do with it when he was offered a cut of drug sales they seized from an Afghan group. This was something John said Andy would normally jump at the chance to do and was happy to see him turn a new leaf. Later however we do see him turn himself over to Shadow Spire, and their leader, the familiar faced leader Baron, who is the man in charge in Oliver's Island Flashbacks. As it turns out, that team was eventually taken down by ARGUS for their crimes, spear headed by Amanda Waller and Alan Chang and now they are out for revenge.
Still facing a damaged relationship John and Andy talk about his involvement with Shadowspire and while Andy claims he is out of that group now, he can help figure out exactly where and when Shadowspire will strike. They set up what ends up being a decoy heist in order to execute their real plan. Breaking into ARGUS, with the help of Alan Chang's eyeball and take something known as The Rubicon. Things get more and more tense as the episode goes along as Shadowspire holds Amanda Waller and Lyla prisoner. John and Andy are held up in another cell, this one in ARGUS' facility, however they are helpless in any attempt to help as all they can do is watch on the monitors as the situation unfolds. This was a great scene that ends in Amanda Waller dying and Team Arrow and the Diggle brothers kicking some Shadowspire butt.
This episode was a nice breather from the main story narrative which has started to drag its feet a bit. Andy and John got some more bonding time together and Felicity's condition while not handled as nicely as I would have liked added some good drama to a very much self contained episode that focused more on letting characters breath and explore their histories, hopes, fears, and trust issues. That's the kind of TV I enjoy, and something Flash does very well, it's nice to see Arrow doing more of that as well. Keep it coming!