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Welcome back, Arrow Squad! It feels good to be back in the swing of things as we continue to dig our hands into this fourth season of Arrow. Your hosting trio is here this week talking about Season 4 Episode 11 “A.W.O.L.” which originally aired on January 27, 2016.
Happy Birthday to our very own Podcast Overlord! It is such an honor to celebrate this episode of Arrow Squad by honoring Kevin’s life. We are so thankful to have Kevin every week, not just to discuss a great TV series, but also to share life with him.
I might be able to attribute my fondness for this episode to being in an unnaturally good mood this week, but I don’t entirely think it is based on my mood. Several components to this episode fit together very well and made some connections between ongoing story arcs that we’ve been lacking. Or, at least, lacking interest in. In my blog post last week, I drew reference to Baron Reiter being the boss of Shadowspire, but what I wasn’t certain of was why they would be relevant in this week’s episode. Rather than just being a bad-guy-of-the-week variety, Shadowspire was heavily intertwined with Argus and Andy Diggle, bringing Oliver’s time on the island full circle…yet again.
Once again, the episode title this week feels to me to be more poetic than meaningful. Officially, the term AWOL (absent without official leave) is used to describe a military personnel who is absent from their post without having been given permission to be as such. In most branches of the US military, a person who has been AWOL for more than thirty days will often be qualified as a deserter (there are certain criteria that go into what qualifies as a deserter, but it’s at least worth noting).
We use the term very loosely in our culture to describe people who aren’t where they are expected to be, and haven’t been for a while. “He’s gone AWOL!” And because of it becoming more of a colloquialism in our culture, I believe the title of the episode is mainly talking about Felicity….even if it could be applied more abstractly to someone of the characters that are literally military personnel.
Felicity is a very important member of Team Arrow, and I love the emotional battle she went through in this episode to realize that for herself. It isn’t something that another person could tell her, she had to understand her own role and accept that role before it could become real to her. While most of us don’t actually see our past self while we struggle with self-pity and self-doubt, we battle the demons of regret and insecurity that arise when our primary mode of living has been altered. And with as dramatic of a change as Felicity has undergone, coupled with the drugs, it’s no wonder she saw her goth counterpart!
For a time, Felicity, I suppose, could have been considered to be absent without leave, but try telling any member of Team Arrow that Felicity should be classified as a deserter and you will likely have several weapons pointed at your head. Sometimes military personnel go AWOL because the system does not allow them to accomplish a task by way of protocol; leave isn’t granted, for example, and a man’s wife is about to give birth to their child. Leave isn’t granted and a loved one is on their death bed. Sometimes protocol isn’t followed because we’re human and life happens, and life doesn’t have a a protocol. So, no, Felicity is not a deserter (plus, it’s only been, what, 2 weeks??). She’s just taking a little time away from the action before jumping back in.
Who else really qualifies as AWOL?
While my good mood certainly made this week’s viewing experience a pleasure, I have to say it puts a wee bit of a damper on my perception when I think about the flash forwards we’ve gotten. About the death. And not just the person who is in the grave, but also what has become of Oliver and Felicity. Regardless of what happens to their relationship, because I do want it to unfold organically, everything right now is tainted with the awareness that this happiness they’re sharing will not last.
I’m not so naive to think that it could, should, or will, last…I get that this is a TV drama and a story dealing with complex situations, but it is incredibly hard to enjoy the present happiness when I’m being manipulated by allusions to what happens in the future.
However, due to a pretty big death in this episode, and a series of events surrounding it, I can’t help but wonder if we have another clue as to who is in the grave. Amanda Waller’s character was killed (probably owing to the fact that Viola Davis will be taking up the role in Suicide Squad — please join me in shaking our fists at The Man). Requiescat in pace, Amanda Waller. If that’s even possible for her.
Through this episode we learn that Andy Diggle was involved with Shadowspire back in his Army days; Shadowspire is an organization headed by Baron Reiter; Baron Reiter was farming opiates on Purgatory while Oliver was on the island; and Shadowspire is still active. With Amanda Waller’s death, what will become of Argus? Will Lyla, Waller’s most trusted agent, take over?
More than ever before, I see the various strings of this season coming together (possibly) to connect the island events with the current day. Putting Andy in the mix, bringing Shadowspire in and possibly reinserting Lyla back into Argus, could we be seeing potential doom for our beloved Johnny Diggle? It pains me to think about it!
Season 4 Episode 12 “Unchained”
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