Tonight’s episode begins with Diggle and Lyla enjoying a night out together when they are suddenly confronted by one of Lyla’s former colleagues at A.R.G.U.S., Alan Chang. He tells them that he’s been compromised and needs to get a message over to Waller but before he can elaborate they are suddenly attacked by a group of masked men. Despite Diggle and Lyla’s best efforts, Chang gets abducted.
When Diggle and Lyla fill in the rest of the team on what happened, they are both adamant that this wasn’t the work of the Ghosts but some kind of military operation. The team gets to work looking for Chang though by the time they find him, he has already been tortured to death and his eyeball removed.
Diggle and Lyla break the news to Waller at A.R.G.U.S. and when they ask her what Chang was working she simply tells them it’s not their concern. As they’re leaving A.R.G.U.S. though, Waller slips a flash drive to Lyla containing the information of Chang’s investigation.
When the team looks over the flash drive, they find out that A.R.G.U.S. has been targeting an evil military organization called Shadowspire led by a man named Lt. Joyner. They also find out that there are two other A.R.G.U.S. agents involved in the Shadowspire investigation that have also gone missing. The plot thickens when Diggle takes a look at the Shadowspire logo and realizes that Andy used to be a member (at this point even Diggle is getting surprised at how many evil organizations Andy is a part of).
Diggle goes to Andy’s cell to ask him about Shadowspire and Andy tells him that they will likely be operating out of the nearest free-port and will also likely be the location of the missing A.R.G.U.S. agents. The mission proves to be a bust however when they find the agents dead.
Afterwards, Diggle and Lyla have Andy transferred to an A.R.G.U.S. prison so that Waller can get more information on Shadowspire. As it turns out the dead agents were had been assigned to guard a shipment of rail guns but it had been a completely black operation, leaving Waller to ask Andy how Shadowspire had any way of knowing about it. Diggle is worried at how much damage the rail guns can do if they fall in the wrong hands but Andy says that it’s far more likely they’re just using the gun shipment as a diversion for what they’re really planning.
Back at Arrow HQ, Oliver and Laurel do some sparring though Laurel can tell Oliver is distracted. Once again, Oliver is feeling like what happened to Felicity is his fault and has been remembering Barry’s warning about changing timeline’s during their run-in with Vandal Savage. Laurel tells Oliver to stop being so hard on himself and says the only person responsible for what happened to Felicity is Damien. This scene is pretty much pointless but it was worth it just to see the look on Laurel’s face when Oliver casually reveals to her that Barry can time travel.
Despite Andy’s warnings, Team Arrow stands guard over the rail gun shipment, while Diggle stays behind at A.R.G.U.S. to keep an eye on his brother. Just as Andy predicted though, Shawdowspire is nowhere to be found at the gun shipment and are instead seen breaking into A.R.G.U.S., using Chang’s eye to gain access (for me this is stupid on so many levels that I’m going to save it for the analysis). Lyla and Waller are taken hostage, while Diggle witnesses it all on a security feed. Joyner’s demands to Waller are mysterious but relatively straightforward. He wants her access codes to something called Rubicon and he’ll kill an agent every 20 minutes until his demands are met.
Meanwhile, Diggle has no cell service thanks to a Shadowspire frequency jammer, so he decides to send the security feed over to Arrow HQ so he can alert the rest of the team of the situation. Andy insists though that they don’t have the time to wait for them to show up and that Diggle has to start trusting him.
Waller’s twenty minutes have come and gone and unsurprisingly she isn’t budging. Both Waller and Lyla tell Joyner that threatening Waller is pretty much pointless since she would sooner let everyone in A.R.G.U.S. die than give him Rubicon’s access codes. With that in mind, Joyner instead decides to kill Waller and give the ultimatum to Lyla. Diggle watches all of this and reluctantly decides to trust Andy.
Diggle and Andy decide to distract Joyner by having Andy pretend to betray Diggle to Shadowspire while Diggle sneaks around the base for a bit. This gives them enough time to stall while Team Arrow finally shows up to provide backup and to allow Felicity to disable Lyla’s access to Rubicon. The plan of course works and the bad guys are defeated and Diggle and Andy appear to be one step closer in restoring their brotherly bond.
Back at Arrow HQ, Oliver and Lyla have a brief toast for Waller, though Felicity reminds them that she almost blew up Starling City back in season 2, so clearly Team Arrow isn’t going to be missing her all that much (my guess is that Lyla will be getting Waller’s old job soon). Diggle, in the meantime, decides to let Andy out of his cell to enjoy some dinner with him and Lyla and to also introduce him to baby Sara.
Felicity has naturally been having some trouble adjusting to her new wheelchair-bound life. Oliver does everything he can to help but she’s still not sure when or even if she’ll be ready to resume her Team Arrow duties. This becomes especially evident when she begins hallucinating thanks to her pain medication and is now being berated by her former goth persona. Goth Felicity’s dialogue mostly amounts to her basically saying “What happened man? You used to be cool.” like a stoner that gets shocked when their buddy decides to get a real job.
This of course leads Felicity to start losing her confidence in her abilities especially when a small oversight almost gets Diggle killed during a mission (even though it’s made abundantly clear that without her the mission would’ve ended before it even started). She of course gets over her issues by the end of the episode and Oliver officially code names her Overwatch. I can understand the writers not wanting to name her Oracle since that the show is already getting enough criticism for ripping off Batman but honestly I thought Felicity’s joke suggestion of Hot Wheels was better.
This week’s flashback takes a break from Oliver’s antics and instead takes us to 2005 Afghanistan during Diggle and Andy’s time in the military. They’re both on a mission to intercept a Taliban shipment of opium and despite a couple of close calls, the mission is a success.
They are assigned to guard the opium shipment when they are both propositioned by Joyner to help him deal some of the confiscated drugs. Andy makes a point of telling Joyner point blank that they’re not interested but it’s clearly just for show for Diggle’s benefit as he’s seen being a little too chummy with Joyner afterwards.
Joyner gives Andy his cut and introduces him to the man in charge, who in a mildly surprising twist turns out to be Reiter. Reiter then informs Andy that he traded the drugs for a map to Lian Yu. What significance this holds, if any, to Oliver’s flashback remains to be seen.
‘A.W.O.L.’ is an alright episode for the most part and serves as another good episode for Diggle but as usual I have a couple of gripes.
I’m going to start by addressing the sudden death of Amanda Waller. While I admit, I certainly didn’t see it coming, it was a rather lame exit for such an important character. For starters the way she dies is worthy of a Darwin Award. Despite Waller constantly talking a big game about national security, in this episode she was really bad at it. To me, it was obvious from the get go that Chang’s eyeball would be used to access A.R.G.U.S. and it was an incredibly stupid move on Waller’s part not to delete Chang’s security clearances the minute his body was found. Sure, she’s never been the most heroic of characters but she’s never been this ridiculously stupid. Her death as a whole also felt like something of an afterthought, since as I said before none of the characters even pretend to care.
I also have to say, I’m not really sure what the point was of having Felicity argue with her goth self. Even Felicity points out that her hallucination she isn’t saying anything of actual importance. This is far from the first time Felicity has considered quitting so at this point, it’s just feeling repetitive.
Tune in next week as Team Arrow faces a adversary named The Calculator and Roy makes a return to Star City in ‘Unchained.’