A.W.O.L. review – Brothers in arms

A.W.O.L. sees Diggle take centre stage, while Felicity deals with some inner demons as she seeks to fight back after her spinal injury. So, was it any good?

It’s an episode with good parts but all the same, it was fairly predictable in how it progressed too. The central plot saw the Diggles – John and Andy – finally take steps to getting back on better terms, while we were given flashbacks to their past in Afghanistan, which linked closely to the present day conflicts. In the past, Diggle has taken a focus when in truth it probably hasn’t felt the right moment – Corto Maltese being a glaring example – though there’s only so many times we can have John venture down to his caged brother and get angry at him, so this definitely felt the right moment to delve deeper into that relationship.

The bad guys in the shape of Shadowspire felt a little like ground we’ve covered before, an army figure from Diggle’s past returns as a villain in the future. Well, no, we’ve done exactly that before – Season 1, episode 11, Trust But Verify. Although there was an element of predictability about that storyline, the brotherly stuff between John and Andy was the meat for me and rose above it. The only thing that sparked my interest from the villains this week was this ‘Rubicon’ – I don’t have any theories whatsoever on what that is, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it crops up again before the season is done…

The brothers’ storyline reached a nice ending with a surprisingly mundane end to the episode, in which Andy met his niece. Ordinarily, we get an ending which sets up the following episode but it was a change of pace which worked and suited the episode. It ties up Andy’s return quite nicely, he’s out of his cage, he’s built bridges with his brother and there’s greater flexibility should he come back into things as the season progresses.

Amanda Waller also bit the bullet this week, quite literally. She was killed. The cynic in me says this was nothing to do with story reasons, it was to do with the fact there’s a Suicide Squad film soon and the powers that be have adopted a strange strategy where they’ve decided that viewers are incapable of understanding separate entities of different characters, therefore the only logical cause of action is to kill the TV version off. Yet, here we are, she’s gone and that’s that. I’m not too fussed in truth, though Felicity’s comment as Lyla and Oliver were toasting her memory wasn’t needed – this awkward commenting thing was amusing at times in the past, but there’s no need to almost turn the character into a parody of herself. Sometimes, just keep her quiet.

Speaking of which, Felicity had the other storyline this episode, as she struggled with the aftermath to the attack and the extent of her injuries. She hallucinated her past Goth hacker self and although I could see what they were trying to do, I didn’t really engage with it. It was a bit silly. Like I said, the reasoning for it I can understand, the execution however just fell a little short. It also reached a conclusion that was more than predictable with Felicity coming to peace with things and is the first sign that my fears regarding this storyline will come true. If you’re going to do this to Felicity, you’ve got to make this a meaty storyline and not tie it up in a nice little bow as quickly as possible. There’s material there to give her some good stuff, rather than unnecessary relationship drama, so use it. Use it well.

All in all, A.W.O.L. was a solid episode with some good moments but by no means spectacular. The villain storyline was a little predictable, while Felicity’s hallucinations didn’t quite work well enough for me. John’s troubles with his brother were well handled, while the Diggle centric flashbacks were welcome as they got us off the island and also gave us some decent backstory.

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