Arrow – Season 4 Episode 11
Arrow takes a break from Oliver’s conflict with Damien Darhk to focus on the Diggle family and progress the lingering issues that John has with his brother.
It’s becoming an annual tradition to have an episode where Diggle takes centre stage and it’s always welcomed. He is a very engaging character who consistently props up the show so giving him some opportunity to stand in the limelight can only be a good thing as far as I am concerned. Diggle has had to deal with a lot this season ever since his brother Andy came back into his life. He had made peace with the fact that his brother was dead and had also come to terms with the fact that he wasn’t the man Diggle thought he was. This episode seems designed to really work through those issues in a very profound way.
The whole thing really comes down to trust. Diggle has been unable to trust his brother because of all he has done and this has basically resulted in Andy sitting in a cage for the past while and refusing to give information when asked for it. Some steps were taken last week when Diggle chose to treat him like a human being and that seems to have begun the healing process. Right from the beginning there’s a real sense of change in their relationship as the conversation feels a lot more natural and Diggle is bearing less of a grudge. Maybe whatever brainwashing Darhk puts on the Ghosts is starting to wear off and as a result Andy can start to reclaim his humanity in some way.
Andy’s involvement in the overall plot of the episode is important as his former connection to a group named Shadowspire becomes instrumental. Flashbacks reveal that Andy was involved with them back in his military days when he served with his brother. It’s all a little convenient but I’m just glad to have the flashbacks mean something for a change. There has been so much meandering with the Oliver flashbacks that it’s good to see some purpose.
Diggle is once again confronted with his brother’s hidden past. He’s a very simple guy who upholds his principles above all else so the oath he took to the military is very important to him and to be aware of someone close to him breaking that oath is tough to handle. There’s a definite element of rose tinted spectacles to Diggle’s past as is directly addressed here when Andy points out that he only saw what he wanted to see and ignored the rest. Andy has a very different viewpoint as he saw the world as broken and wanted to ensure that he had enough to survive it where Diggle is an idealist who genuinely felt like he could fix a broken world. Both points of view are valid but also naive in their own way. Diggle clearly needs to be a bit more realistic in the way that he thinks as he only seems to remember Andy the way he wants to remember him and is largely ignorant of the rest. When push comes to shove he does deal with the truth but it seems to take a while to get there. The same could be said about his outlook on his role with Team Arrow. Considering that things in Star City are worse than ever it could be suggested that they’re not really making a difference and it’s about time someone addressed that. I think Diggle is ideally placed to have that discussion with Oliver and I really want to see it.
Eugene Byrd has several opportunities to come out of his shell as Andy and proves that Diggle can trust him in some way. His performance was less stoic and robotic than it has been and there are shades of humanity starting to come through. As I said above he is starting to reclaim his humanity. There’s a long way to go before he’s on Team Arrow or anything like that but the first step has been taken. Diggle trusting him enough to free him from the cage and let him live in his home really shows that. It’s mentioned that Andy isn’t ready to see his wife and child yet but it will come in time.
Shadowspire as an organisation are fairly underdeveloped but they work well enough for the purposes of this episode. The headlines are that they are opposed to A.R.G.U.S, don’t seem to be affiliated with Damien Darhk and that Andy used to be involved with them. That’s enough for now but if they are going to be a recurring threat as has been suggested then subsequent appearances will need to offer more. There’s the suggestion of more depth with the reveal of Baron Reiter and showing how he came to be on the island but it’s still early days on that. It’s also refreshing to have an episode where the antagonist isn’t connected to Damien Darhk.
I wonder if this episode was designed to close the book on A.R.G.U.S. as the death of Amanda Waller seems to be a definitive step towards doing that. Cynically I feel that her death was motivated by the fact that the character is in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie and the producers were told they can’t use her any more. The same thing happened with Deadshot last season so I wouldn’t be surprised if the people making the movies are cleaning house on what the TV shows can do. I hope this won’t mean cancellation for The Flash when that movie rolls around.
The way Amanda Waller’s death was handled seems to back up the whole “orders from on high” theory. It’s quite unceremonious and is almost immediately forgotten about which does a disservice to a character that has been around for a long time on this show. She has broadly functioned as more of a plot device than a character but I still think that she deserved a better exit than that.
Felicity is the other focal point of the episode as she has to deal with the fact that she may never walk again. It’s a massive change for her to deal with and the episode doesn’t make light of that. Her emotional state is a fragile one as she feels sorry for herself and is reluctant to accept Oliver’s offer of help. I like that she tries to put a brave face on it at first but that slowly crumbles as the episode progresses.
I could take or leave her being haunted by a hallucination of her old Goth persona. It came across as more irritating than anything else and didn’t really give any more insight into her emotional state. It would have been much more effective if Felicity’s isolation had been the thing driving her mad. Having her sit in absolute silence would have been far more effective and could have resulted in her talking to herself and driving herself stir crazy. The hallucination was supposed to represent that but it’s a device that we have seen used so often in shows like this that if feels pretty tired to me. Emily Bett Rickards does a really good job playing two versions of Felicity and the sense of loss and isolation that she feels comes across well in her performance. Seeing how she slowly unravels works really well.
There was a resolution to that situation when she decided to accept who she is and put her past behind her. It’s a solid show of strength and speaks to how resilient a character Felicity is that she can accept her disability and move on without regretting the choices that led her to it but it felt like it happened too quickly for me. Things move fast in these shows but spending a couple of episodes letting this new reality sink in before starting to come to terms with it is fine and consistent with how human beings react to things.
Oliver’s role in this episode is a support one for both Diggle and Felicity with more emphasis on Felicity. He does what he can to try and reassure her and make her feel better about her situation. I can see why Felicity would get frustrated with him because the attempts were insufferable. All he really offered was unconditional support and empty platitudes without really sensing how deeply this had affected her. In some ways it came across as really insensitive as he seemed like he was unwilling to let Felicity deal with it on her own and come to him for help when she was ready.
As usual, Oliver takes to blaming himself and references Barry’s trip through time during the crossover episode as the possible cause. Felicity’s current condition could be a result of the timestream fighting back to compensate for the changes that were made after Barry’s journey. It’s interesting that The Flash also dealt with the consequences of time travel this week as well as it being an ongoing theme in Legends of Tomorrow. Are all 3 shows building to some kind of massive disruption in the timeline?
His conversation with Laurel where he reveals the root of his concern was really strange to watch. It was clear that Katie Cassidy had no idea how to play that reaction as it’s not a normal conversation and was awkwardly framed as a quick chat so Laurel looking on dumbfounded was probably the only possible reaction since the existence of time travel had only just been revealed to her. This conversation does start out well as Laurel is able to offer a unique perspective since she and Oliver used to be a couple so her insight into him will be different to anyone else. It’s the first time in a while that Laurel’s role feels natural.
I like that Oliver directly addressed that they live in a strange world where almost anything is possible. He doesn’t want to be naive about the fact that Felicity’s condition might be permanent but at the same time he is hopeful that there is some kind of magical solution to the problem. This kind of universe means that paralysis doesn’t need to be permanent unless the writers want it to and I am fully confident that Felicity in a wheelchair will be the status quo for a while and resolved by the end of the season.
Felicity finally has a codename after asking for it for the longest time. Oliver names her “Overwatch” and I don’t really like it but maybe it’ll grow on me. The naming wasn’t the profound moment it should have been as it was largely muffled by Oliver’s voice changer so I didn’t even hear it at first. The reference to Oracle already being taken was a nice touch and will no doubt spark many conversations about the existence of Batman in this universe. We already know that Bruce Wayne’s company exists thanks to a future newspaper seen in The Flash so maybe one day Batman will appear.
An excellent episode that capably juggles a Diggle focused story with the narrative of Felicity dealing with her new reality of living life in a wheelchair.
Diggle’s relationship with Andy comes down to trust in this episode. He has been unable to trust Andy because of all he has done and this has resulted in Andy sitting in a cage for the past while as he refuses to give information. Diggle started to treat him like a human being last week and this started the healing process. There’s a real sense of change in their relationship as the conversation feels more natural and Diggle is bearing less of a grudge.
Andy’s involvement in the overall plot is important as his involvement with the organisation Shadowspire becomes instrumental. Flashbacks reveal that Andy was involved with them back when he served with Diggle which feels a little convenient but at least the flashbacks are meaningful for a change.
Diggle is once again confronted with his brother’s past. He’s a simple guy who upholds his principles and takes the oath he took to the military very seriously. Being aware of someone close to him breaking that oath is tough for him to handle. There’s an element of rose tinted spectacles to Diggle’s past as he clearly only remembers Andy the way he wants to and only saw what he wanted to see while ignoring the rest. Andy viewed the world as broken and looked out for himself where Diggle looked to fix it. Both points of view are naive in their own way but also valid. When push comes to shove Diggle does deal with the truth but it takes a while to get to that point.
Eugene Byrd has several opportunities to come out of his shell as Andy and proves that he can be trusted in some way. His performance was less robotic than it has been and there are shades of humanity starting to come through. It’s a long way away from him joining Team Arrow or even seeing his wife and child but it’s a definitive first step.
Shadowspire are fairly underdeveloped but they work well enough for the purposes of the episode. If they’re going to be a recurring threat then subsequent appearances will need to offer more. It is refreshing to have an antagonist not connected to Damien Darhk.
Amanda Waller’s death suggests that this episode was designed to close the book on A.R.G.U.S. Cynically I feel that her death was motivated by the fact that her character is in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie so the producers were told to get rid of her to prevent two versions of the same character running around. Hopefully The Flash won’t be cancelled when the film is due to come out. The way her death was handled does a disservice to her character as it happens so suddenly and is almost immediately forgotten about.
Felicity is the other focal point of the episode as she deals with her new reality while being haunted by a hallucination of her old Goth persona. Her emotional state is a fragile one and Emily Bett Rickards handles that well but I think it could have been better achieved by showing her isolation without a hallucination.
There is a definitive resolution when she decided to accept her new reality and move on. It’s a solid show of strength but I feel that it happens a little too quickly. Spending a couple of episodes letting this new reality sink in would have been fine.
Oliver’s role in the episode is a support one. He does what he can to reassure her but comes across as insensitive by not picking up the signals that she isn’t ready to ask for his help. It all comes across as empty platitudes without sensing how she really feels.
He takes to blaming himself but also thinks that Barry’s trip through time might be the cause as it has mentioned that the timestream will try to compensate for changes. It’s interesting that The Flash from this week deals with the consequences of time travel and it will be an ongoing theme in Legends of Tomorrow.
The conversation with Laurel where he reveals the root of his concern was strange to watch. Laurel only just finds out about time travel as Oliver casually mentions it so how else was Katie Cassidy supposed to play it other than looking dumbfounded? The conversation does start well as it takes Laurel’s unique perspective as someone who used to be Oliver’s girlfriend and lets her offer insight that wouldn’t be available anywhere else.
Oliver directly addresses that they live in a strange world where anything is possible. Felicity doesn’t need to remain paralysed unless the writers really want her to. I suspect that this will be the norm for a while before a magical solution is eventually found.
Felicity finally has a codename. She is known as “Overwatch” because “Oracle” was already taken. I don’t really like it but maybe it will grow on me but the casual reference to Batman was a nice touch and will hopefully lead to the character appearing at some point.