If it seemed a bit rushed for Andy to simply give away the lead to Damien Darkh’s base last week on Arrow, this episode seems like a sprint to the finish for Andy’s story. Choosing to give him a redemption arc and be free at the end of this one episode is a bold decision, but one that pays off in a very fraternally focused episode that gives an emotional payoff to their every interaction so far this season.
Putting the Diggle family in the spotlight, it seemed inevitable to go back to A.R.G.U.S. and Amanda Waller, as well as connecting the dots between Andy’s transition from military to H.I.V.E.: Shadowspire. Though there are larger plans in place for Shadowspire considering their connection to Baron Reiter and Lian Yu, their actual presence in this installment harkened back and seemed awfully familiar to the Blackhawk protections group in Arrow’s first season. A squad of ex-military who hide in plain sight and profit off of crimes. Switching the flashback scenes to Afghanistan shed more light on the Diggle siblings camaraderie, as well as offering some ambiguity to Andy’s motivations. He made for an effective liar back then; who’s to say much has changed?
Having such an ensemble cast, Arrow can afford to put Oliver Queen for the bench when it comes to the big character moments. When it wasn’t the Diggle brothers onscreen, Felicity was adjusting to her new fate of living wheelchair-bound, and some hefty medication. While the idea of Feliicity struggling with her identity, and whether she was even capable of the one thing she viewed as giving her value was nice, it seemed awfully stereotypical for her to have a visual and psychological battle with her past self. Especially when it was used to create a rift between her and Oliver, with her screaming for the hallucination to shut up. Whoops.
The oh-so-obvious bait and switch by Shadowspire to compromise A.R.G.U.S. set the dilemmas of the week on highlight, with the Green Arrow and backup having no way to help without Felicity’s help, and Diggle not being able to save his wife without trusting Andy. Of course we didn’t believe that Andy was truly double-crossing his brother, but the tension was undeniable considering that Amanda Waller was shot in the head just moments prior. They killed Amanda Waller! She’s dead! Maybe. That was one of those moments where I glanced away for one second and bam, she just falls to the ground like unceremoniously like a wet mop. Either that was some exceptional diversion and she had some sort of decoy, or they literally just killed Amanda Waller. Given how DC has made this show handle their other properties, the Suicide Squad and A.R.G.U.S. in particular, it doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch to assume that they killed of Waller due to her appearance in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie. They did the same with this universe’s incarnation of Deadshot last year, which is a damn shame to be sure. Being rid of a DC mainstay might prove to have an interesting opportunity, as now there is a power vacuum at the top of A.R.G.U.S. Just as Agent Coulson became Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. following Nick Fury’s death, perhaps Lyla might return, with a promotion?
All of this led to a climactic fight in the A.R.G.U.S. central command room, with Andy taking on his former compatriot and criminal boss for redemption, and Felicity out cyber-hacking Lyla to save the Evil Program McGuffin from getting into Shadowspire’s hands. With her new codename of Overwatch (because Oracle was “taken” apparently. I guess even though he and Batman never work together they have chit-chats about what codenames are or aren’t on the table I guess) she seemed more determined than ever to prove what she can do for the team. Just as Andy tried to move on from his past and try to meet the family again, Felicity burned evidence of her past self in cleansing fire.
Where the show goes from here seems to be at a standstill of sorts, though interestingly enough the flashback sequences are the most tantalizing at this moment. The opium from Afghanistan was farmed from Lian Yu, and Baron Reiter had Andy enlisted originally to go there? Is there a chance that Oliver interacted with Andy but didn’t recognize him on the island? Food for thought, especially considering whatever is being teased there is starting to matter in the present day. Whether or not Shadowspire is working as a part of H.I.V.E. or not, more players on the board means it’s hard to know who the true adversary is at the moment, with Damien Darkh seeming weaker than he has all season.