Arrow Season 4, Episode 11 Recap And Review: A.W.O.L.


John Diggle fans, this episode is for you.

There hasn’t been a truly Diggle-centric episode in Season 4 of Arrow to date, but “A.W.O.L.” is poised to change that by examining his past and present with bother Andy. We’ve also got Felicity Smoak attempting to work her way back into the Team Arrow mix, a transition that looks like it will not go smoothly.

That’s almost enough without any villains threatening Star City, but there’s likely to be one of those too. Let’s see who’s going “A.W.O.L.,” shall we?

On-the-Mark Recap: John and Lyla are finishing up what is probably a rare date when their small act of PDA is interrupted by an ex-A.R.G.U.S. type named Chang. He wants Lyla’s help, but he’s attacked by a group of paramilitary men who drag him into a van. Diggle tries to give chase, but he gets shot in the arm and eventually falls off the back of the van.

How’s Felicity’s recovery going? Not too bad since Oliver Queen is waiting on her hand and foot. He makes the case that she’s still a vital member of the team and that her superpower is her brain, to which she jokes that her code name could be Hot Wheels. For her wheelchair, you see. Despite the jokes, she’s not ready to resume an active role just yet.

Without her, Team Arrow has to pursue leads on Chang’s whereabouts in their own various ways. For John, that means taking a cheeseburger to his imprisoned brother, who asks how Diggle got hooked up with Green Arrow. John replies that he’s not fighting crime as much as he’s helping to hold the city together.

As Felicity takes more pain meds, she starts to hear a voice. She’s convinced she’s losing it (though honestly, she talks to herself a lot even undr normal circumstances), but even she’s unprepared for seeing herself as she appeared in her hacker days.

Thanks to Laurel Lance’s ADA connections, she and John find an Asian John Doe. It’s Chang, who’s both dead and mutilated. As in, eyeball taken out of socket mutilated. Gross.

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That sets up a trip for John and Lyla to see Amanda Waller, who isn’t much help. Or is she? As she shakes hands with Lyla, Waller also passes her a flash drive.

Oh, and Felicity realizes she’s hallucinating. I’d say so.

Lyla shares the flash drive in the Arrow Lair 3.0, discovering that the info on it leads to a group called Shadowspire. John knows them from his days in Afghanistan, and Andy was involved with them too. So, go ask him, I guess? The brothers argue, but Andy agrees to help and gives John a lead on what Shadowspire might be doing.

While staking out the freeport where Shadowspire is lurking, Team Arrow calls for Felicity’s help. Despite her hallucinatory self advising her not to, she jumps on the laptop and is able to identify how many enemies are in the area. Black Canary and Speedy go to free the A.R.G.U.S. agents only to find they are already dead. Green Arrow and Spartan engage the Shadowspire troops, but Green Arrow ends up trapped in a storage container with some kind of automatic door, and John ends up surrounded. The enemy leader looks familiar to John, but he’s got no time to talk as Green Arrow uses an explosive arrow to free himself and get away with Diggle.

Let’s play the blame game, as Kanye and John Legend might say. Both Felicity and Oliver blame themselves for what almost happened to John, and Felicity announces that she can’t be part of the team. She’s trying to listen to Oliver explain why she’s wrong, but Hacker Felicity keeps talking over him, and he finally get weirded out by Felicity yelling at someone who’s not there.

Andy is surprised when he’s taken to A.R.G.U.S. HQ, where Waller wants to debrief him and find out where her security leak is. Turns out the dead agents were guarding a shipment of railguns, though Andy says he knows how Shadowspire operates, leading him to think that it’s a distraction. They’re after something else.

Oliver tries putting his problems aside during a training session with Laurel, but she can tell something is wrong. He says the most Oliver thing possible: Everything that’s happening is my fault. He also shares his worries about Barry Allen’s time travel gambit from earlier this season and Flash’s warning that time tries to fight back when you change it. Maybe that’s what’s gone wrong …

Not even reading gets Felicity a break from her other self. Hacker Felicity cuts to the chase, yelling at our heroine to stop feeling sorry for herself and to stop pretending she’s someone she’s not. And yep, Felicity just made herself cry.

Team Arrow stakes out the railgun shipment while Lyla remembers why she dislikes Waller so much. It has to do with her callous disregard for human life. But something’s wrong, as Shadowspire isn’t after the railguns: They attack the A.R.G.U.S. base, dropping the eyeball outside (ew …) as they easily take over the facility. The leader is Lt. Joiner, who commanded the Diggles in the Army, and he knows Waller too. John sees what’s going on through the camera system, and Andy says now isn’t the time not to trust him.

At the Arrow Lair, Oliver gets the 411 from John before he’s surprised by the arrival of Felicity. She gives a good speech about how she’s come to terms with her old, angry self, realizing that she needs to get back to doing some good. Felicity reassures Oliver that what happened to her wasn’t their fault, but the fault of one man — a man they’re going to stop because it’s what they do.

Back to the hostage situation … Joiner sends some troops to investigate the unauthorized transmission from the detention area. Lyla says Waller will never give up the Rubicon codes, whatever those are, so Joiner shoots Amanda in the head. Damn!

Felicity manages to get Team Arrow into the A.R.G.U.S. base undetected while Andy convinces the Shadowspire troops that Joiner will welcome his help. He’s right, and his cause is aided by him giving up John’s location. It’s a convincing performance, if that’s what it really is.

Team Arrow runs into some Shadowspire troops while John is beaten up and captured by a few others. Joiner holds a gun on him, convincing Lyla to enter the codes. Only Felicity is on the other end, working her computer voodoo to prevent the codes from opening up a vault in the base. She even has time to tell Hacker Felicity to go away.

Lyla says she can’t get in, and Joiner is just about to shoot Diggle when Andy jumps him. The masks arrive a moment later, and we’ve got ourselves a Pier 6 brawl, as the great Gordon Solie used to say. Working together, the Diggles, Green Arrow and Lyla are able to knock out all of the Shadowspire troops, and the brothers shake hands.

Ah, but what to do about Andy? That’s the topic at the Arrow Lair as they all drink a toast to the late Amanda Waller. Not sure she deserved that, but hey.

Later, Felicity shows Oliver a picture of Hacker Felicity, and the two of them marvel at how much they’ve both grown. Felicity burns the pic of her former self, putting the past in the past. Though Oliver says it wouldn’t be healthy for them to deny that she might not walk again, he also reflects on all the crazy things they’ve seen in their superhero world and vows not to give up searching for a way to help her.

As for Andy, looks like the Diggles are taking him in for now. He even gets to meet his niece, Sara. Happy ending for once? Not too shabby.

Meanwhile, (Back) in Afghanistan: The Diggles take on a mission together to cut off an opium shipment, but their Hummer is hit by an RPG. They set a trap for their attackers and end up taking them out, though Andy nearly buys it in the process.

Back at the base, Andy complains about having to guard the opium they’ve siezed. Lt. Joiner offers them a cut if some of it goes missing, but Andy loudly rebukes him, making his older brother proud.

That feeling fades when John sees Andy talking to Joiner later, though the younger Diggle claims he was just teaching the officer how to count cards in blackjack. John apologizes for doubting him.

Except he was right to suspect Andy, who we see accepting money from Joiner later. It’s more than he expects, but that’s because Joiner’s boss is pleased with what else they’ve found — and wouldn’t you know it, Joiner reports to Reiter, the man from Lian Yu. Cue dramatic music!

Burning Questions:

  • When Oliver quipped that he was going to give Felicity the code name Oracle except “it was taken,” was that the most direct reference to the Batman family on the show so far?
  • Wait, is Waller really dead?
  • And isn’t Andy still being positioned for a semi-redemptive death before the end of the season?

Next: Arrow Season 4, Episode 10 Recap: Blood Debts

Final Thought: Well, this one didn’t disappoint on the Diggle front. Andy’s redemption came much quicker than I expected given what a hardened Ghost he was earlier this season, but it worked in the context of this episode. I also enjoyed the way the writers decided not to let Felicity wallow in self-pity for long. She’s too strong for that. Tying Shadowspire to the Lian Yu flashbacks was also a nice tough, promising more in the weeks to come.