A.W.O.L – 5/10
Season 4 of Arrow has been somewhat of a return to form for a show that had lost its way; this is thanks in no small part to the presence of Damian Darhk as its big bad and a definite improvement in the writing. Sadly, this week’s offering was not up to par with the rest of the season so far. The brunt of the episode focused on Diggle’s reconciliation with his nefarious brother and Felicity’s attempts to come to terms with life in a wheelchair. Of the two stories, it was the tale of two brothers that proved to be most enjoyable, with this week’s flashbacks focussing on John and Andy’s time in Afghanistan and Andy’s recruitment into a shady military group called Shadowspire (another fantastic name from the vaults of DC comics). Meanwhile, Felicity’s arc focused on a Fight Club style confrontation with her darkest timeline-past hacker-awful goth cliché-self.
We quickly learnt that Shadowspire’s mission in Star City was being led by a blast from the Diggles’ past, Lieutenant Joiner, the man who first converted Andy to the dark side of the force. When Diggle and Lila witness the kidnapping of an A.R.G.U.S. agent by Shadowspire they enlist the help of Team Arrow to try to rescue him. It’s not long before the Diggles are once again crossing paths with Amanda Waller. Cynthia Addai-Robinson may talk a good game but she has never convinced as The Wall, not physically or in her performance. Hopefully Viola Davis can do a better job in Suicide Squad. When Shadowspire storms the A.R.G.U.S. facility, killing Waller and taking Lila hostage, Diggle is forced to work with his younger brother to save the day. Sure enough the brothers and Team Arrow manage to defeat Joiner and his men, earning Andy a place on the Diggle family couch.
Whilst it’s always good to have a Diggle-centric episode Felicity’s arc seriously detracted from everything that was going on. While there is undoubtedly great drama to be drawn from her current situation, this was quite literally the worst way to go about it. Felicity being tormented by her alter ego was a painfully awkward concept to begin with and Emily Bett Rickards isn’t a strong enough performer to rescue it. Thankfully it’s not something that will be explored beyond this week (I hope), as Felicity seemed to have defeated her demons by the end of the episode. She even has a new code name, ‘Overwatcher’. Away from Felicity it was revealed via flashback that Shadowspire was commanded by none other than Oli’s old pal, Baron Reiter. This not only means that Reiter could be connected to H.I.V.E. but also that Andy could have been on Lean Yu.
While this wasn’t a bad episode, featuring a couple of very enjoyable fight scenes and some quality Diggle time, Felicity’s story served as a constant break in momentum. It didn’t help that Oli was mostly sidelined this week, serving only to pop up every so often so he could blame himself for her suffering. It would have been more effective to have explored Felicity’s struggle more naturally over a number of weeks, pretty much anything would have been better than Felicity Durden. Similarly, Joiner made for a deeply uncharismatic villain when compared to Darhk or Baron Reiter, although I doubt we will be seeing him again. One final thing, Oli’s vow that he would find a way to help Felicity to walk again suggests that her situation won’t be permanent. Personally I think this is a shame as it certainly adds a new dynamic to the show, provided it isn’t dealt with using imaginary friends.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- Oli claiming that the codename ‘Oracle’ was already taken is just further evidence that the Batverse exists within the Arrowverse. Come on DC/CW, stop with the Easter Eggs and just pull the trigger!
- Do we actually believe that Amanda Waller is dead? It seemed like a fairly unceremonious exit for such an important character.
- Is Diggle being too trusting of Andy? Could he still be under Darhk’s control? Even if he isn’t could Andy still be willing to betray his brother.