This post contains spoilers for Arrow.
Check out last week's review here.
If you need something to illustrate the fact that television can bring the stunts just as hard as film, “The Slabside Redemption” is all you’ll ever need. Directed by Arrow’s stunt coordinator James “Bam-Bam” Bamford, the episode showcases the athletic and technical prowess of the teams behind the show. Is the reason Oliver Queen was set to be released from prison flimsy? Big yup. But respect to the writers for keeping their title character behind bars for seven episodes.
Oliver’s time in Slabside isn’t just important because the guy has some serious shit that he should atone for. As pointed out by Turner, Oliver’s stint in the prison has helped him see in shades of grey. That’s obviously incredible from a character perspective, but what I’m getting at is the story of Oliver Queen going to prison actually meant something to the narrative of the show. We haven’t always seen that from Arrow, and it’s exciting to think about where that’s going to take us going forward.
Ricardo Diaz swore that he would break Oliver, and he certainly gave that promise his all. His final act is storming the prison the day his nemesis is set to be released, forcing Oliver to break out of his cell to protect the guards and the prison itself. Diaz ups the stakes by rescuing some of the prisoners (and eventually setting them all free), but he didn’t bank on Oliver having an ally on the inside.
No, we’re not talking about crazy Stanley. Shout-out to whoever caught the nods to the Seattle Slasher from the Longbow Hunters books, because after tonight I’m pretty certain you’re right. Obviously, his stabby nature isn’t going to inspire him to help the Green Arrow for any altruistic purposes. Instead, it’s Turner who comes to Oliver’s rescue when he’s being jumped by Brick and Sampson. RIP to both of those fools. They were quality thugs and will legitimately be missed on the show.
Surprisingly, they didn’t also choose to off Turner. Does that make “The Slabside Redemption” even more of an on the nose title? Yes. Does that somehow make it even better? Also yes. We’ve seen Turner do good in the past, knowing that it wouldn’t change his situation, but something seems different this time. Perhaps it’s just that we’re seeing a little bit more of his story than we did back in the Suicide Squad episode but, all the same, here’s hoping he gets busy livin’ here real soon.
Before Oliver whoops his ass, Diaz leaves him with one parting gift: he mentions that Felicity was going to kill him. We’re undoubtedly going to see some drama unfold over that, which likely inspires an eye roll from most of you. But, hear me out. In the past, Felicity’s emotions have been handled pretty terribly by the show, but we’ve seen some serious progress to female character writing in this season. Fingers crossed that they continue that with Felicity’s little dance with darkness.
When the day is won, the fires extinguished, and the inmates returned to their cells, Oliver Queen leaves Slabside Maximum Security prison as quietly as he entered it. Appropriately, it’s Dig and Felicity waiting for him at the gate rather than the whole team. When they see him, their faces aren’t relieved. All of the members of OTA look at each other as if they’ve just survived a war, driving home just how taxing everything’s been since Diaz tried to take over the city, the loss of Quentin Lance, and Oliver’s subsequent imprisonment. This somber moment aside, don’t think for a moment that we didn’t notice that you just removed John Diggle from the scene for the slow pan out, cinematography team. Yeah, it made your closing shot more symmetrical, but at what cost?!
Season seven has, thus far, been the most impressive since Arrow’s incredible season two. We’re getting damn close to crossover territory, which is thrilling, but it’s just as exciting to check out where we’ll be going next week with Oliver finally on the outside and back with his bruised and battered family. Shout out in the comments if you have thoughts on this week’s episode!