Arrow’s “A.W.O.L.” Finds The Team Adjusting To The New Normal

Credit: The CW
Credit: The CW

This week’s Arrow episode, titled “A.W.O.L.” is the best example of why it really pays off to take a moment to focus on one’s core characters instead of blindly chasing down the next big bad. Arrow is at its strongest when it offers a glimpse at the mindset of our favorites. While we did find a villain-of-the-week in Shadowspire, the episode really centered on the Diggle family dynamic and Felicity’s recovery.

Brothers in Arms
in “A.W.O.L.” the flashbacks take us back to 2005 as Andy and John Diggle spend their time with the military in Afghanistan. They offered a nice break from Oliver’s flashback situation, which honestly seems a little been-there-done-that. While this week’s flashbacks mostly deal with the Diggles’ time in the military they also reveal an interesting connection to Oliver. Because six years before Oliver finds himself working for the military camp on Lian Yu, Reiter approached Andy Diggle and sent him on his merry way to Purgatory himself. The fact that Andy Diggle and Oliver Queen most likely spent some time on the island together is a twist we did not see coming. Did they meet in the past? Is there a connection we somehow missed? We’d like to believe that this season’s flashbacks just got a little more interesting.

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With the death of one of Lyla’s former colleagues, the Diggle-Michaels family finds themselves back in the crosshairs of ARGUS. Shadowspire, a special US-military organization, which Diggle is familiar with due to his time in the army, is back to take revenge on ARGUS for intercepting their mission. John confronts his brother about being part of Shadowspire and Andy offers to help the team find the remaining missing ARGUS agents, however unsuccessful. While Shadowspire sets up a trap for Team Arrow, they simultaneously make a move on the ARGUS main base. Lieutenant Joyner kills Waller in yet another twist we didn’t see coming (but really should have expected ever since they announced the Suicide Squad movie) and holds Lyla hostage. It is Andy who manages to save the day by helping his brother and Team Arrow defeat Shadowspire. In the final scene, John introduces his brother to his niece, Sara, and we believe the brothers might just be on the path to reconnect. Either way we’re thankful that for once Arrow delivers us a rare happy-ish end.

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Felicity vs Felicity
The highlight of the episode was most definitely the showdown between present Felicity and her own past self. The past version of Felicity is certainly not the nice, bubbly blonde we fell in love with four years ago, quite the opposite. Goth Felicity, or rather the hallucinations caused by Felicity’s medication, is the embodiment of all her insecurities. Felicity’s initial reaction to her new situation may have been a calm one but this episode reveals that she does struggle with the loss of agency. She starts doubting her own strength, her place in the team and even her own identity. What we can’t help but admire about Felicity is that she overcomes her insecurities herself. The team has her back but she does not define herself just through her part in the team. Being able to support them gives her purpose, but it is her own strength that moves her. This week is a testament to how important Felicity has become to the show and Emily Bett Rickards took the character – both versions of it – to a whole new level, which definitely earned her the spot of this episode’s MVP.

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Codename: Overwatch
With Felicity struggling to get back to her old form, Oliver takes it upon himself to find her a suitable codename. He rejects the cynical suggestion of “hot wheels” and chooses Overwatch to be Felicity’s new secret identity. It is a very fitting representation of what she is to the team. She is the eyes and the ears of every mission and the one who keeps her extended family safe. We could still give you a million reasons why we would have preferred Oracle, but as Oliver so rightly put it, that codename was already taken. That moment certainly broke the fourth wall of television but we don’t really mind. Oliver and Felicity share several tender and meaningful scenes and eventually end the episode on a high note and stronger than ever. Way to build up a functioning and healthy relationship before ripping it away from us in just a few short weeks. We’re not ready just yet.

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Favorite Lines

If I know you — and I do — you’re probably thinking what happened was your fault. I’m here to tell you that it’s not and that it’s not mine either. It’s the fault of only one man, and he has an extremely on-the-nose and alliterative name. Heh. And we’re going to stop him, not out of guilt or vengeance, or regret. We are going to stop him because it’s what we do. That’s who we are.” – Felicity

The doctor said your condition is permanent, and I don’t think that it’s healthy or productive for either of us to live in denial, but… I have seen people speed and shrink and fly. We watched a friend of ours come back from the dead. That is the world we live in now… And I will not stop searching it until we find a way to make you walk again.” – Oliver

Catch Arrow Wednesdays at 8/7 ct on The CW.

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