Arrow “A.W.O.L” Review (Season 4, Episode 11)

Arrow "Restoration" Season 4 Episode 3 (7)

One of the most difficult things to know in life is yourself. It seems like it should be easy because we spend more time with ourselves than we spend with anyone else, but its that intimacy that oftentimes makes it difficult for us to see ourselves as we really are. Even more difficult is to look at ourselves as we were in the past and compare that person to who we are today. Sometimes, the old us hasn’t changed all that much. But sometimes, we look back at the person we were and we don’t even recognize them anymore. If there was any takeaway from this week’s Arrow, it would be know thyself.

Felicity isn’t coping as well with the changes in her life as it first appeared. Oliver has apparently made up for his absence while Felicity was in the hospital by waiting on her hand and foot. He carries her up and down the stairs, makes sure she takes her meds on time, and cooks her dinner. He’s also being as emotionally supportive as he can be. Basically, he’s being a really good fiancee. Felicity obviously appreciates his attentiveness, but at the same time, she’s freaking out about the things she can no longer do for herself. I actually appreciate the show taking a little time to explore how Felicity is coping with being confined to a wheelchair because her quick acceptance of her situation in last week’s episode didn’t really ring true. This was much more honest and did much more service to her character. One of the many things that I love about Felicity is how capable and adaptable she is. Even when she’s the damsel in distress, she’s never completely in distress. She’s always somehow aided in her own rescue, and she’s always had Oliver’s back. Since her injury, Felicity has felt like less of an asset to Oliver, and she’s begun to fear that everything she’s built with Oliver is all a lie. The pain meds she was taking helpfully provided a hallucination of Angry Goth Girl Felicity to berate and belittle current Felicity for becoming weak and dependent on someone else. There are many problems with that argument, but the most obvious is the fact that it’s not weakness to realize that you need other people. No one gets through this life on their own. From time to time, we all need a little help from our friends. Also, just because our circumstances change doesn’t mean we have to let that stop us from being the person we’ve chosen to become. That was the conclusion Felicity ultimately reached after having a little talk with herself. We don’t know a whole lot about Felicity’s history before she got hooked up with Team Arrow, but suffice it to say she had some issues. She was angry, rebellious, and fiercely independent. In the five years since, she’s realized that anger gets you nowhere and it’s much better to help other people than rage at them all the time. The woman Felicity has become has saved Starling City a couple of times and she’s saved Oliver’s life even more than that. She’s still strong and independent, but she’s no longer alone. She’s got friends who are really more like family. She has a man who loves her. Oh, and did I mention that she’s a hero? She is a vital part of Team Arrow whether she can walk or not, and it was great to see Felicity back in the saddle.

While Felicity was working through her issues, Team Arrow was trying to thwart the nefarious efforts of a soldier from Diggle’s past. Lieutenant Joyner was a part of a quasi-secret war profiteer group known as Shadowspire, and the group was on a mission to steal RUBICON from ARGUS. I wasn’t so much interested in Joyner or what he wanted, but I was interested in his past with the Diggle brothers. Apparently he tried to recruit them while they were serving in Afghanistan, but John wasn’t biting. Can’t say the same for Andy though. We learned in last week’s episode that Andy only joined the military at John’s insistence because John thought it was the only way to get his brother onto the straight and narrow. For a while, Andy let John believe that the military had changed him when in reality, Andy was still the same hustler in military that he’d been when he was a civilian. This revelation was problematic for John because he’s only just now figuring out how to relate to Andy again. All those years ago in Afghanistan, Andy pretended to be someone he wasn’t. He demanded that John trust him and, even though it appeared that John had some reservations, he decided to trust Andy. That didn’t work out so well back then, and I’m a bit leery of John trusting Andy now. Admittedly, Andy helped save John and Lila’s lives, but I’m not convinced he doesn’t have some ulterior motive. The truth is, I’m not sure Andy even really knows who he is anymore. There’s no telling what Damien Darhk did to him, but whatever it is got a really solid hold on Andy. It seems that some of the “real” Andy is breaking through, but I’m not convinced it isn’t all a ruse. For John’s sake, I really want Andy to be on the up and up. I want whatever hold Damien Darhk had over him to be gone. I want him to be the little brother that John loves so much. But things are rarely that simple, and I don’t think it’s a good idea for John to completely trust Andy just yet.

All in all, this was a much more compelling episode than the last few have been because it spend some time focusing on the emotional growth of the characters. So much of this season has been spent being a springboard for other CW shows that it seems Arrow has kind of lost its character focus. So I was really pleased that this episode was more character driven. That being said, I was kind of disappointed with the way Amanda Waller went out. It’s not that I was her biggest fan or anything, but Waller and ARGUS were such a big part of the story for her death to be so anticlimactic. Killing her and having ARGUS compromised effectively removes that element of the story from the board, but it just doesn’t feel like that move was necessarily organic to the story. Maybe it was just me though. So what did y’all think of this week’s Arrow?