Arrow: “A.W.O.L.” Season 4 Episode 11 Review

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“A.W.O.L.” was a very welcome reminder that when these DC shows click, they really click. With Legends of Tomorrow still trying to prove its worth while The Flash tries desperately to reclaim itself with the Zoom conflict, Arrow took an episode to explore two of its biggest characters that aren’t Oliver at very pivotal and emotional moments in their lives.  

Andy Diggle has been held captive by Team Arrow for four whole episodes now. Granted, they were all pretty big episodes, but having our resident Diggle deal with it here felt a bit overdue. Luckily, this season’s even slogier slog through the flashbacks took a break to visit John and Andy on their tour in Afghanistan. These moments of them at what John thought was their best interjected between warring factions involving their family made for an emotionally resonant episode for Oliver’s sidekick from the beginning.

Meanwhile, Felicity is dealing with the fact that she’s stuck in a wheelchair, possibly for the rest of her life. Her medication has her hallucinating the goth/punk version of herself. It’s a bit of a cheap narrative tactic to bring Felicity through her necessary arc for the episode, but Emily Bett Rickards was up to the task for both her roles.

As Felicity regained the strength to continue helping Team Arrow, John learned to trust his brother in a moment where everything was on the line. I like that Arrow didn’t force these two storylines to mirror each other, instead having them work together in all the right moments. Pacing wise, “A.W.O.L.” was probably the best episode of the season.

But there is one big negative mark on this episode, and that’s the unbelievably anticlimactic death of Amanda Waller. Shot in the head at point blank for essentially no reason, one of DC’s biggest power players is suddenly and unceremoniously out of the picture. Why? Probably for the same reason Deadshot died last season and that Harley Quinn cameo from a while back didn’t manifest into more. Warner Bros. and DC seem to be saving these characters for their big screen introduction later this year in the Suicide Squad movie. While Arrow hardly featured the definitive version of Waller, this death should have been given more attention.

Otherwise, “A.W.O.L.” was among the best episodes of the season so far. By having Diggle and Felicity take the spotlight right when their characters needed to, Arrow got to do something both poignant and fresh. Grade: B+

Some Other Notes:

  • I’m not always as on board with Olicity as the rest of Arrow‘s fanbase, but this episode definitely featured them at their best as a couple.
  • Still, one of my favorite dynamics that never gets enough attention is Felicity and Diggle’s. Their conversation at the end was really lovely. They may not be the most superheroic members of the team, but they are its greatest influencers.
  • Did I somehow miss everyone calling Diggle “Spartan” all season?
  • Oliver names Felicity “Shadow” because “Oracle” was apparently taken. Yeah, DC? After all this time are you finally going to tell us that Batman has existed this whole time and even long enough for Joker to shoot Barbara Gordon in the spine leaving her to invent the “Oracle” role Felicity so perfectly fits? Didn’t think so. Stop teasing us.

By Matt Dougherty

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