You always know it’s going to be a great, unique episode of Arrow when the flashbacks aren’t involving the long-simmering island storyline. There’s only a few episodes that have deviated from the usual flashback storyline in all four seasons of The CW’s DC Comics drama, and it’s always a nice change of pace—especially when things haven’t exactly been moving forward in a compelling way in the island flashbacks. So hold onto your hats, because “A.W.O.L.” did just that!
This week, we finally got an inside look into just where the Diggle brothers went their separate ways eight years ago. After Diggle caught his younger brother dealing back in Starling City, he convinced him to enlist in the army. But while overseas in Afghanistan, even though it seemed like Andy was taking to the hero life just fine, he was actually seduced by the dark side even more—just without his older brother realizing it. He got caught up in Shadowspire, and quickly made a name for himself. He ended up with a face-to-face meeting with Baron Reiter himself before Baron made his way to the island. Turns out, Andy helped get Baron the map of Lian Yu he needed to get there. Oops?
In the present, Shadowspire arrived in Star City to wreak some havoc on ARGUS. The dark organization infiltrated the government site to get the access codes to something called Rubicon, in a secure vault in a sublevel of ARGUS. In the process, Lt. Joiner murdered Amanda Waller herself when she refused to give him what he wanted. Who’s going to rein in the Suicide Squad now?! It looks like Lyla might be the highest ranking ARGUS agent after Waller, and she’s not even a part of ARGUS currently. Is she going to re-join in Waller’s absence? Diggle might not be too keen about that.
What’s interesting to note is that when Lyla filled in Team Arrow about Shadowspire, after Waller secretly gave her a thumb drive about it, Oliver got a weird look on his face when she told him the group was a U.S. Army special forces unit. He’s seen their logo on the island with Baron Reiter, but they certainly didn’t act like an official army unit. According to Lyla, ARGUS took them down three years ago when they were exposed as a cover for being war profiteers. Did Oliver have something to do with that? He’s certainly not sharing. (Because, of course.)
The arrival of Shadowspire in the present also gave Andy the chance for redemption in the eyes of his brother. He gave Diggle valuable intel about Shadowspire and even helped take them down in the field, saving Lyla’s life. That gave Diggle the confidence to bring Andy home and meet his daughter. But Andy told his brother that he’s still not ready to reconnect with his ex Carly and his son. Should Diggle trust his younger brother or will he get burned, again, for the third time?
Throughout all this, Felicity went through a roller coaster of emotions while dealing with coming to terms about her spinal cord injury and how she’ll never walk again. Oliver did his best to bring her back on the team and behind a keyboard to get a feeling of normalcy, but she needed to work out her issues on her own first. That involved hallucinating her old self—a.k.a. hacker goth Felicity—who tried to convince her to come back to her old ways of using her powers for personal gain and anarchy instead of being a hero. She also came with all her old anger towards the world, which would have been easy for this version of Felicity to slide back into, given her current circumstances.
But instead, Felicity conquered her fears and doubts, and earned herself a new codename with Team Arrow: Overwatch. Dedicated Arrow fans will recognize that name as the title of executive producer Marc Guggenheim’s first novel. Why didn’t she get the name Oracle like everyone thought she would? “I was going to go with Oracle, but it’s taken,” according to Oliver. Wait … by who?! This is important. The Arrow showrunners have been adamant that they’re not going to tell the story of the DC Comics character Oracle on the show after almost giving Felicity that origin story. So if it’s not Felicity, does that mean we’re still going to get Oracle after all, just with someone else?! Ahhh! Speculate away in the comments!
There were also some truly amazing Olicity moments throughout the hour, whether it was Oliver being the best, most supportive fiancé he could be, Felicity sharing her past of being hacker goth Felicity with him (and burning a photo of her old self with him), or Oliver telling her that he won’t stop searching this world for a way to get Felicity better again. He knows it’s not healthy to live in denial about Felicity’s diagnosis, but come on: they’ve seen people run faster than lightening, shrink down to the size of an atom, travel through time, and come back from the dead. There’s got to be something out there to help Felicity walk again. Right?
What did you think of “A.W.O.L.,” Arrow fans? Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!
Images: The CW
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on The CW.