‘Arrow’ 6×21 Review: The Judgement of Oliver Queen

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What defines a hero?

Are they defined by the mistakes they’ve made or the good they’re able to accomplish? This should be a rhetorical question because the answer is obviously the latter. Heroes are heroes because they do the things that normal people wouldn’t dare. They put their lives on the line every day for the good of a people that they don’t even know. Sure, they make mistakes. It’s human nature. It’s life But at its cores, heroes are defined by the good they’re able to accomplish and the desire to want to do that good.

For the life of me I cannot figure out what forces people to hate on Oliver Queen. Whether it’s worthless characters like Rene, Curtis, and Dinah or fans of other DCTV shows, there always seems to be this stigma surrounding Oliver and this desire to hate on him and question his heroism.

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I’d understand if his character was worthy of that constant vitriol. But all Oliver Queen has done is prove why he’s the heart of the DCTV universe. No, he’s not the most rah-rah hero or the the brightest or the one that everyone loves to love to protect, but Oliver is a true testament to what it means to be a hero.

In “Docket No. 11-19-41-73,” Arrow put Oliver Queen on trial for his flaws acknowledging the bad rather than the good. And obviously, that’s how the legal system works. But I couldn’t help but notice a trend over this season — and seasons past — where Oliver has been victimized as some sort of antagonist in this DCTV universe. Where other characters across the DCTV board question his heroism because his methods are different than than traditional ones.




Honestly, this was the best episode of Arrow in quite some time just because this episode actually focused on its hero, Oliver Queen, and not a boring, spineless villain or a team of so-called “heroes” that liked to throw the man, that gave them the very chance to be heroes, under the bus.

Aside from the obvious and infuriating aspects of Star City’s legal system, Diaz and the Newbies — making Oliver, Felicity, and Diggle “thank” them to some degree — “Docket No. 11-19-41-73” was the kind of Arrow episode that I crave consistently. An episode that starts with the characters and the story is built around them. An episode where heart is the central focus and not the action sequences. An episode where I’m reminded that there just might be some hope for season 7 (especially with Beth Schwartz taking over) if this can be executed right.

This episode brilliantly focused on the emotional aspects of Oliver Queen when it came to the Green Arrow. It focused on the man under the hood rather than the hood itself. This episode brought back familiar feelings that I felt with The Flash‘s own trial episode back in January. While it wasn’t the flashiest (pun intended) of episodes, it was an emotionally-charged hour that made me feel, made me care, and impressed me to the degree that most of this season hasn’t. I love when we get to explore the man under the costume letting the characters guide the show instead of letting the plot drive the show.

Given that we’re now one episode away from the season finale, this hour will hold plenty of implications moving forward. Oliver getting acquitted of charges, thanks in double to Human Target. Perhaps Felicity putting herself in the line of fire. And Black Siren standing up to Diaz and setting into motion Diaz’s next plan: Kill Oliver and everyone he loves. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

OLIVER QUEEN, THE IMPERFECT HERO

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The next person that wants to tell me that Oliver Queen isn’t a hero, I’ll fight them. Over the course of the past six years, he’s proven exactly why. Ever since Arrow expanded the DCTV universe with products such as Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow, I’ve had to listen to fans go on about how Oliver is the worst hero. Why? Because he isn’t a bubbly, innocent younger version of himself? Because he doesn’t have superpowers? Because of the darkness he’s had to fight for six years?

Is Oliver perfect? Hell no. And that’s what makes his hero’s journey compelling and satisfying (though it’s not without its head scratching moments.) Oliver is a man that has earned every bit of his hero status (which is more than the Newbies could ever say.) He’s had to endure five years of hell (which we’ve been hearing about for six years, but it’s the truth.) He’s had to open himself up again after that, which is no easy task. He’s had to endure additional years of hell since he returned to Starling City. He’s loved and lost and loved again and lost again. He’s had to experience immense hardship before getting to experience some semblance of happiness, before that was yanked away again.

Oliver has done some terrible things in his life. But who on this show hasn’t? Who in this life haven’t? I’m sick and tired of Arrow and the DCTV universe treating Oliver like he’s the only hero that’s ever f**ked up before. I’m tired of them holding his mistakes against him in a universe that preaches forgiveness and optimism. I’m tired of these characters acting as if Oliver isn’t more than twice the man and twice the hero than he was even three years ago.

Even focusing just on this season, where Rene turned Oliver into the FBI and Oliver understood because Rene was protecting his daughter. Oliver forgave him. Where a couple months later Rene tried to kill Oliver while trying to say that he’s a piece of shit that cares about nothing and nobody. Oliver forgave him. Even when Oliver, again, understood when Rene testified that Oliver was the Green Arrow to protect his daughter. Oliver forgave him. After all of the shit Oliver has put up with by these Newbies among others, Oliver has found it in his heart to forgive them because that’s the man that he’s become.

Life is all about the journey, not the destination. In six seasons, Oliver Queen has transformed from killer to hero in a way where his journey is never complete but always evolving. There’s always room for Oliver to get better as a man and a hero. Even going back now and watching season 1 episodes and seeing the difference in demeanor and purpose is shocking to say the least. It makes you appreciate the characters’ journeys.

When it comes down to it, there’s nothing that Oliver wouldn’t sacrifice for the ones he loves. It’s been his selfless demeanor that has gotten him into more trouble than it should’ve in the past. But Oliver will always put his loved ones first and himself second. We saw that in this episode as he was more concerned about what would happen to Felicity and William if he were to go away to prison than about himself. That’s just who Oliver Queen is. He may have his flaws — plenty of flaws — but he more than makes up for those flaws in his strengths.

“Docket No. 11-19-41-73” was an episode that put Oliver Queen on trial for being the Green Arrow. He was put on trial for the wrongs he’s done as Green Arrow. But what about all the good that the Green Arrow has done? Why is it that The Flash and Supergirl get celebratory parades in their honor while Green Arrow gets a anti-vigilante law?

Honestly, it’s just the nature of Arrow and of Oliver Queen. Oliver isn’t someone that needs approval or justification from anyone. He doesn’t care what people have to say about him. Well, the people that don’t know him. Oliver’s only focus in protecting Star City and the people that inhabit it. He’s selfless every time he goes out into the field fighting for those that some would just as quickly turn him over to the police than say “thank you.” And he still does it. But he doesn’t do it for the “thank yous.” Oliver does it because it’s the right thing to do.

Can we also stop acting like Oliver Queen hasn’t inspired every person he’s worked with in some degree? To the point where Roy Harper went to prison for him. Where Diggle, Felicity, Thea, Quentin, and hell, even Curtis, Rene, and Dinah have all shown their gratitude for what he’s done for them and the hero that he is. And despite how Arrow seemed to have forgotten that for a majority of this season, you can’t turn that appreciation off. Even when you have the Newbies acting like walking jackasses most of the time.

Heroes inspire. Oliver Queen inspires. He inspires as a husband. He inspires as a father. He inspires as a brother. He inspires as a friend. He inspired as a CEO. He inspired as the mayor. He inspires as a hero.

And even if Arrow had managed — or will manage — to try and take that away from him, they can’t.

THE HEART AND SOUL THAT IS OLICITY

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“We fight for each other, Oliver. We protect each other. We’re going to save each other.”

If you needed a quote to sum up Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak, this episode just delivered it to you. And it was delivered in an emotionally raw moment from Felicity to Oliver. A moment that reminds me of why I love Olicity.

If there’s one thing that this show has done consistently (mostly) right this season, it’s been Olicity. While there’s been a whole bunch of other shit gone wrong, characters gone OOC, and just plot, plot, plot everywhere, Olicity have remained (pretty much) the constant this season.

Olicity works because of the friendship they cultivated dating back to season 1. It was when Felicity first realized she was in love with Oliver, as she said in this episode. That friendship and that trusting foundation paved the way for their romantic journey, which has had its share of ups and downs. It hasn’t been perfect, but even these writers cannot ruin the greatness that is Olicity.

For the past six years, I’ve had the pleasure of watching these two beautiful, imperfect humans evolve into the heroes that they are today. And I’ve had the pleasure of watching them evolve together. Oliver and Felicity have been a huge part of my love for this show and the many friends I’ve made in this fandom. When a fictional couple has that much power, it’s not something that you can ever really forget.

As Oliver fought for his freedom in this episode, we saw the legitimate fear of a future torn apart register with Oliver and Felicity respectively. For so long, Felicity has preached being able to be the Green Arrow and be Oliver Queen. And Oliver has tried to rally around that. So seeing how the Green Arrow nearly cost Felicity her future with Oliver was difficult to watch on both sides. It was the kind of raw emotion that only Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards could bring to this episode. Their chemistry continues to remain the best thing to happen to this show.

Oliver and Felicity are the perfect complements to each other. Felicity the light, Oliver the dark. They have a deep love that has outlasted terrible writing, plot choices, and all the hardships thrown their way. They continue to be the heart of Arrow as they remind us about the power of love in a world overcome with darkness. They give us hope. They inspire us.

This episode also highlighted just how much Oliver wants to get back to Ivy Town someday. He wants to eventually hang up the hood and just live his life with his wife and son. When you’ve gone through the hell Oliver’s gone through, usually that’s a dream that remains a dream. But he got a taste of it before, and you bet your ass he’s going to want another, permanent go at it.

HOW HAS BLACK SIREN NOT KILLED DIAZ YET?

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If there’s one thing — aside from the Newbies and the horrific Big Bad we’ve had to endure this season — that’s bothered me, it’s been how the producers have handled Black Siren this season. Coming into this year I was actually looking forward to seeing Katie Cassidy villain-it-up and seeing her character evolve in whatever direction felt natural. But these producers have used her to justify the story they want to tell.

Learning that it was Diaz and not Cayden James that was the Big Bad this season was probably the most infuriating thing that’s happened to this show since the worthless sack known as Susan Williams last season. There was nothing terrifying about him in the slightest. He didn’t possess what it took to be the kind of Big Bad that can actually go toe-to-toe with the Green Arrow. Why the hell do you think he needs an army? He’s not capable of doing it himself.

Anyway, you cannot tell me that Black Siren wasn’t fully capable of taking out Diaz the moment she knew he was no good. No good, as in completely psychotic and needed to be put out of his misery. Instead, this show had her legitimately afraid of this spineless punk. When producers or writers start compromising characters for the sake of plot — or another worthless character’s propping up — that’s when I start having a huge problem. That’s when you start coming across as not giving a damn. That’s when your fans start to recognize that you’ve stopped giving a damn. (Which is why I’m hopeful for season 7 when Beth Schwartz takes over showrunner duties.)

Honestly, this was the first time this season where I felt like I knew who Black Siren was. After this show finally realized it was ridiculous that this metahuman should be afraid of this punk, we got to see Black Siren come to life. When Diaz backed her into a corner to vilify Oliver Queen, she bit back helping him go free. When Diaz called her “pretty stupid” for showing up after the fact, she swept him off his feet. Literally. And began destroying everyone. That is, until this show managed to find a loophole — a stupid, last-second loophole that this show has always done — and had Diaz get the jump on her

It’s just ridiculous to me that Diaz has lasted this long. From Team Arrow to Black Siren, how has this asshole not been killed yet? He’s like a fucking weasel that just seems to slide right out of precarious situations. Sorry, my apologies to the weasel. I didn’t mean to insult you with the comparison.

But there’s also the issue with this redemption arc. I knew heading into this season that Arrow would look to redeem Black Siren. And I wasn’t necessarily against as much as I was skeptical that they could actually pull it off. Pulling off that kind of redemption — ala Oliver Queen from season 1 to season 2 — takes a lot of thought and understanding when it comes to the character. And aside from Oliver and Felicity this season, I haven’t really felt like this show understands its characters as well as they should.

I’ve had an issue with how they’ve made Black Siren out to be this poor, innocent girl in the clutches of Diaz, when in fact she’s guilty of horrific crimes that she has to pay for in some way. Not that it necessarily has to be physical or judicial, but she needs to pay the consequences within herself at the very least. Genuinely.

With Black Siren choosing to go against Diaz, she’s chosen her side. And her side is Black Siren. She’s doing this for herself. She’s doing this for Quentin. She’s doing this to be free of this punk that doesn’t have the credentials to be an Arrow Big Bad. So maybe this isn’t so much about her immediate redemption as it is about her rediscovery. She seems to have lost her way since she arrived from Earth-2. Perhaps the first step to her redemption and taking charge of her life.

OTHER THOUGHTS

  • How is it that Oliver Queen is on trial for his “crimes” as Green Arrow but Laurel Lance has yet to be tried for her “crimes” as Black Canary?
  • “Oliver is a jerk, my position hasn’t changed.” Well, Rene, you’re a good for nothing asshole douchebag and my position hasn’t changed.
  • HEY RENE FINALLY ADMITTED THIS IS HIS FAULT.
  • THAT CHANGES NOTHING.
  • What so now because the Newbs decide they don’t want to see Oliver go to jail we’re supposed to like them again? Nice try.
  • “Oliver Queen is a hero…” You’re right about that. A little louder for those in the back.
  • Seriously, how is anyone supposed to be scared of Diaz?
  • Seriously, how has Black Siren not killed this f***er yet?
  • “I’m not screwing Oliver over again.” Why don’t I believe that?
  • CALLED IT.
  • Felicity would do anything to protect Oliver, just as Oliver would do anything to protect her. I love my OTP.
  • “I’ve been in love with Oliver Queen for six years. Trust me it felt anything but rushed.” I AM DEAD.
  • While you have Dinah and Rene bumbling and stumbling on the witness stand, my girl Felicity slayed it without even breaking a sweat. A true Queen.
  • The moment the Green Arrow drops from the ceiling.
  • Would’ve been better had the promo not spoiled it.
  • Seeing that it’s Tommy under the hood…DEAD DEAD DEAD
  • Again, would’ve been better had everyone not spoiled it.
  • OLIVER’S FACE AS HE STARES AT HUMAN TARGET AS TOMMY. MY HEART HURTS.
  • “WE FIGHT FOR EACH OTHER. WE PROTECT EACH OTHER. WE WILL SAVE EACH OTHER.” Olicity in a nutshell.
  • “I CAN HANDLE LOSING MY FREEDOM. I CANNOT HANDLE LOSING YOU AND WILLIAM.” I’m typing beyond the grave at this point.
  • “TOMMY MERLYN IS THE GREEN ARROW.” BLACK SIREN JUST DID THAT. I’m actually shocked. And proud?
  • “The first step to standing up to him is standing up to him.” I’m proud?
  • Oliver embracing Felicity and William after his acquittal…I FELT THAT.
  • This acquittal is so going to come back and bite Oliver in the ass.
  • Why else would the finale be titled “Life Sentence?”
  • HUMAN TARGET SAVED OLIVER’S ASS TWICE.
  • WHY DOES OTA ALWAYS HAVE TO SAY THANK YOU? Those other f***ers don’t deserve it.
  • Well, that’s long overdue. An apology. But Rene is still an asshole. Sorry, you ruined him, Curtis, and Dinah for me forever.
  • So that Human Target reveal was actually a really awesome surprise.
  • Seriously, Black Siren could’ve and should’ve killed Diaz long ago.
  • Oh, how original, Diaz is going after Oliver and the ones he loves. How many times have we played this game, folks?
  • Well, when you’re hiding your tiny, spineless self behind an army I guess that gives you the illusion of power.
  • Only two episodes left until we’re freed of season 6! Season 7, we’re ready!

Arrow airs Thursdays at 9/8c on The CW.




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