And we’re back with this year’s Diggle-centric episode, delving into the backstory with him and his brother Andy, and explaining that things were not always so rosy between the pair, even before Andy pretended to die and went off to join H.I.V.E.
The episode begins with Lyla and Diggle on a night out, Lyla mentioning that they should have taken the car so they can get home sooner to relieve the sitter, while Diggle argues they should enjoy their time away. (I cannot help but feel that a city like Star City, literally dying and overrun with criminals and super-villains, is not the ideal place to go for nightly strolls). Of course, that time is interrupted when an old ARGUS contact of Lyla’s appears, needing to give a cryptic warning to Amanda Waller. Before the man can continue, he is abducted by a strange militia, who Lyla and Diggle try to follow, but cannot keep up with as the group flees in their van. Wounded, Diggle heads back to the Arrowcave with Lyla to inform the rest of the Quiver Crew of what has happened.
Felicity meanwhile has finally returned to the very un-handicap friendly loft, where she needs Oliver to literally carry her up and down the stairs to get to the bedroom (seriously, they need to either move or install an elevator). While Oliver is thrilled to have her home and wants to get her back behind a keyboard and into action, Felicity is doubting herself. And when Oliver heads out to meet up with John and Lyla, Felicity’s doubts are manifested into a hallucination of her college-aged (and questionably attired) hacker self, who spends the episode berating her older doppelganger for forgetting who she is, and pretending that she wants to be this hero, mentioning that all this life has gotten her so far is a damaged spine.
The team convenes and debriefs the Diggles down in the Arrow Cave, concluding by sending Laurel and Thea out to scout for more information while Diggle and Lyla head back to ARGUS to speak to Waller. Laurel happens upon the body of the abducted ARGUS agent, noticing the man had been worked over for information, even missing an eye (they clearly took the eye to use against a security scanner, I saw that coming from the beginning). Lyla and Diggle are not exactly welcomed back to ARGUS with open arms, with Waller somewhat hostile to John, even while she tells Lyla that while she misses her services, this is ARGUS business and she can have no part in it. However, she does slip Lyla a flash drive, which the team opens back in the Arrow Cave as everyone comments on the absence of Felicity and how a lot of these tasks would be simpler with her around. The drive contains information on a former military unit turned criminal organization codenamed Shadowspire, which Diggle immediately recognizes from his army days.
In tonight’s flashbacks, we see the days of 2005 when the Diggle brothers were in Afghanistan, starting with a story of Andy and Diggle’s bravery as they set a mine in the ground to intercept an armored vehicle attacking their downed transport. Later, we see a man in uniform who sports the Shadowspire emblem on his arm approaching the brothers and offering them a cut of the drugs they were currently guarding, a proposition which Andy flatly refuses, making John well up with pride that his brother was finally straightening out. Unfortunately, that moment of relief is short-lived as he spots his brother later speaking with the officer, Joyner, though Andy denies it has anything to do with drugs, instead claiming he was teaching Joyner some card tricks. Diggle is still suspicious, but it is clear he genuinely wants to believe his brother.
Back in the present, Diggle tears into Andy for his connection to Shadowspire, demanding information that can help the team in the present, which Andy gives them in the form of advice that the Shadowspire team often likes to make their HQ in a free port. The team discovers a lead that might lead to 2 other missing ARGUS agents in the free port and the team heads out to try to save the missing men, but when they arrive at the facility, it has heavy security, and Oliver calls in Felicity as backup. Reluctantly she jumps onto her computers and shuts down the security, even while her younger hallucination berates her for giving in so easily to Oliver’s demands. The team enters the free port, finding both ARGUS agents dead. However, a hacker slip-up by Felicity leads to a security door slamming down between Oliver and Diggle, separating the pair and leaving Diggle at the mercy of about a half-dozen Shadowspire men, led by Joyner himself, who Diggle recognizes from his past. Fortunately, Oliver blasts through the door with one of his arrows and saves John, but Felicity is guilt-ridden over what happened, lashing out at Oliver when he comes home (though really she is yelling at her hallucination). Oliver retreats to the Arrow Cave for a training session with Laurel, who gives him some relationship advice (since she is the only other one who has been together with Oliver before), pointing out that not everything is his fault.
Diggle speaks to his brother once more, who says Shadowspire is all about misdirection, such as pretending to be a covert military unit while they are actually a crime organization. When the team learns of a supposed shipment of rail guns (capable of knocking down entire buildings) being targeted by Shadowspire, they jump into action to protect the shipment and take down Shadowspire for good. Meanwhile, John and Lyla take Andy to ARGUS for safekeeping, demanding to know what else Waller knows now that she feels comfortable talking to them about Shadowspire in the open (not entirely sure what changed for Waller between the two visits). Diggle locks his brother in the cells downstairs, but Andy warns him that rail guns are clearly not what Shadowspire is after, a fact that is confirmed by Oliver, Thea and Laurel finding no activity around the rail-gun shipment and returning empty-handed to the Arrow cave. Fortunately, Felicity has decided to join Oliver in HQ (apparently Curtis has volunteered to be her personal chauffeur while she cannot drive), and she tells him about her insecurities and her realization that this is who she is now, and she wants to help people and be a hero, basically banishing her demons and doubts as she remembered why she joined Team Arrow in the first place.
Which is good, because they are going to need her skills. While Diggle is talking to Andy, Shadowspire uses the eye of the first abducted ARGUS agent to bypass security and storm the facility, taking Waller and Lyla hostage in the main control room, demanding that Waller give them access to something called Rubicon in the lower levels (I have a feeling Rubicon will come into play later this season. Hell, I would not be surprised if Damien Darhk was the one that hired Shadowspire to steal Rubicon from ARGUS in the first place). Diggle tries to call the team from the prison level, but Shadowspire has blocked all communications. Fortunately, Diggle has learned a few tricks from Felicity, and he somehow manages to hotwire the closed circuit TV to send a distress signal back to the Arrow Cave. Oliver, Thea and Laurel head to ARGUS while Felicity mans the computer, armed with her new codename, “Overwatch” (apparently Oliver wanted to call her “Oracle” but the name was taken. Does this mean Batman and company DO exist in the Arrowverse?)
Andy demands to help Diggle save his wife, but Diggle is uncertain if he can trust his brother. Meanwhile, Joyner has learned that human life means very little to Amanda Waller, as she refuses to give up the access codes to Rubicon even as her people are executed around her. Lyla confirms that Waller would never give up the codes, and Joyner decides to kill Waller and focus on Lyla instead (who apparently still has access to top-secret codes even though she left ARGUS, I guess?). Shadowspire finds Andy down in the cell, and he quickly gives up Diggle’s location in the ventilation ducts.. When the Diggles are brought to the control room, Andy also reveals that Diggle is Lyla’s husband, and can be used for leverage. Being held at gunpoint, Diggle encourages Lyla to type in the codes, trusting that his team is on the way.
Fortunately, Team Arrow has arrived on the scene and is currently taking down Shadowspire guards on the way to the control room. Felicity is also on the move, blocking Lyla’s attempts to access Rubicon with her passwords. She sends Canary and Speedy down to the Rubicon room for insurance and tells Oliver to hurry to the control room. Fortunately, Lyla informs Joyner that her codes are not working, and as Joyner prepares to shoot Diggle, Andy jumps into action, attacking Joyner just as Oliver smashes into the room, using an arrow to free Diggle’s hands from his restraints. Oliver, Lyla, Diggle and Andy take down the Shadowspire agents in the control room, and order is restored to ARGUS, minus the death of their leader. Diggle thanks Andy for living up to their plan, which was apparently the “easiest” way to get them both into the control room, and they head home.
In the episode aftermath, Oliver and Felicity are at home in the bedroom, commenting on how much they have changed from their former selves, Felicity claiming that her hacker self would have dug into what Rubicon was and exposed it to the world, while Oliver’s former self would have shot and killed Joyner for all the trouble he caused. In a symbolic moment, Felicity shows Oliver a picture of herself in college, and then proceeds to burn said picture, stating that she is happy with who she is now. Oliver than reminds her of all the amazing things they have seen, including one of their friends being brought back from the dead, and proceeds to tell Felicity that though the doctors may say she will never walk again, Oliver will never stop looking for a way to repair her spine. At the Diggle household, John has finally allowed Andy to leave his prison full-time, inviting him to stay with him and Lyla and little Sara, who Andy meets for the first time at the end of the episode. They are both aware that Andy still has to figure out what to do about his own wife and son, but they agree that one step at a time is the best way to go.
We also find out how small the world of ‘Arrow’ really is, as we flash back to Afghanistan 2005 once more, where Joyner wants Andy to meet his boss, who was very impressed with Andy’s skills in helping them sell the drugs from under the military’s nose. The man is revealed to be Baron Reiter, who is as that moment making plans to find a strange island that can offer rewards far superior to money or drugs.
* Anyone else feel like they “killed” Waller due to commands from the execs over at Warner Bros, who have made it clear they do not want characters with upcoming cinematic versions appearing in the Arrowverse anymore? (i.e. why they killed Deadshot last season)
* Will Andy end up on Lian Yu? I.e. – does Oliver know Diggle’s brother? Could that cause some trouble for the Oliver and Diggle’s repaired relationship down the road?
* Not that it matters, but we can definitely cross Amanda Waller off the list of coffin folk.
* Anyone else worried that Andy might still slip back into HIVE control? He could really put Diggle in a tough spot if he were to take his wife and daughter hostage, but I really hope they don’t go that route, as it is very similar to what happened to Diggle’s family last season.
* So will Lyla have to step in as acting Head of ARGUS now that Waller is dead?
* Any chance Ray Palmer’s nano-technology could repair the damage to Felicity’s spine? Maybe in the process give her some super-strength or agility or something? You never know.
Pretty good episode, and I enjoyed the reveal at the end about Baron Reiter being linked to Andy Diggle, and the possibilities that come from that acquaintance. Definitely sad to see Waller die, as I thought she was still an interesting character, but clearly the execs have put their foot down about certain characters, and Waller had to go. Looking forward to seeing what next week has in store for the team!