TV Recap: Arrow: “A.W.O.L.”

arrow_season4_posterWhen John (David Ramsey) and Lyla (Audrey Marie Anderson) are attacked, they discover that Andy (Eugene Byrd) has history with the organization that attacked them, Shadowspire. Meanwhile, Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) takes a break from Team Arrow as she adjusts to her new way of life.

The title of this show may be Arrow, but somewhere along the way, the side characters became almost as important as the titular vigilante. Diggle and Felicity are Oliver’s (Stephen Amell) most important allies and this episode focused on them. Unfortunately, only one of them had a good storyline.

I have been quietly critical of the Andy Diggle plot all season, but this episode made it abundantly clear how much it isn’t working. Simply put, Andy sucks. He’s a mean, annoying little bastard and he and John keep having the same vicious, bitter fight over and over again. This episode was more of the same except Andy suddenly got to be heroic. However, his reversal and John’s too-quick acceptance felt painfully cliché. Even if the moment hadn’t felt forced, it’s hard to care about Andy at all because he’s definitely going to die. I’m not saying he’s the one in the grave (why would Oliver be the last mourner at a funeral for John’s brother?), but if this plot is going to have any sort of lasting weight for John then Andy has to be martyred just as he’s fully rehabilitated. If he survives to reunite with his wife and child then this will have been the show’s biggest waste of screentime since Laurel’s (Katie Cassidy) alcoholism.

The only thing that kept this episode from being a total bust was Felicity. True, the whole hallucination thing is a lazy storytelling device, but it totally worked here. Felicity is Arrow‘s undisputed ray of sunshine—so much so that she can sometimes seem too perfect. So, it was fun and refreshing to see the bitchy, condescending version of the character that usually only comes out when she’s angry at Oliver in full force in the form of Goth Felicity. In fact, watching her undermine the current version–who I’ll call Sexy Librarian Felicity for reasons that should be fairly obvious–for taking her do-gooding legitimate made it easy to imagine an alternate reality where Team Arrow’s resident techie became a villain. Don’t let me down, The Flash, make this a reality.

Anyway, if there was one weak spot in the storyline, it was how quickly Sexy Librarian Felicity went from feeling inadequate to realizing Goth Felicity was the worse version of herself. They didn’t even have a big showdown. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe that was the right decision. Those scenes are always really embarrassing and what we got instead–Felicity essentially giving Oliver a big speech about female agency–was much stronger.

As I mentioned last week, the intimacy between Oliver and Felicity is one of this season’s best features. Having Felicity express her devotion to their cause not only reaffirms her role but gets Oliver closer to realizing he doesn’t get to take responsibility for other people’s decisions. Hopefully, that eventually applies to whatever allows Felicity to walk again too. Oliver promised he’d find a way, but that would undermine everything she said in that speech. Felicity Smoak is a being of pure will. She can make herself and her life into whatever she chooses. She should be the one who fixes herself, most likely with the same invention that’s supposed to save Palmer Tech or whatever.

Arrow Death Watch

John Diggle: 50%

Just saying, Andy becoming a reformed ex-H.I.V.E. member probably wouldn’t help John’s safety level. I’d say it was more likely if Andy were remotely strong enough to replace his brother on Team Arrow.

Thea Queen: 20%

I become less and less convinced every week.

Roy Harper (Colton Haynes): 80%

Much like Felicity, I am going to hope that deciding to make something happen is synonymous with it actually happening. I want this character dead. He serves little purpose and Haynes is boring in the role.

Amanda Waller: 100%

Well, that was shocking. I understand the DC higher ups are probably getting pushy about not having alternate versions of characters from the upcoming Suicide Squad movie out there, but that was unceremonious.

By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to.