There was a ton of hype surrounding Arrow’s seventh episode, which people deemed a work of art. But the only thing I deemed a work of art was Oliver and Felicity’s brief reunion that reawakened the dormant fangirl within!
“Slabside Redemption” was a solid episode, but I wouldn’t go as far to say as it was the best. The season premiere still takes that for me. But as far as emotional stakes and badass fight sequences go, this was a very good episode. It was entertaining and thrilling throughout, and that reunion at the end just added icing on the cake.
I’m excited for a number of reasons: 1) Olicity are reunited; 2) The prison storyline is over; 3) No more Diaz. I think. I hope. He’d better be.
Let’s break this episode down, including Olicity’s long-awaited reunion that has me a crying mess, how prison might make Oliver a more well-rounded hero, the possibility of redemption for Turner, and the joke that is Diaz.
Wait and Hope (aka MY BABIES ARE REUNITED)
All Oliver and Felicity have ever needed are a look. A look that speaks even more than the wonderful words that have come out of their mouths. A look that brings a sense of comfort even in the worst of circumstances. A look that literally takes your breath away.
It’s been six episodes since Oliver and Felicity last saw each other. It’s been eight episodes since they’ve last touched. While this reunion was brief, it was the most meaningful thing that happened in this entire episode.
Oliver and Felicity, while in different places this season, have been guided by the same goal: Protect their family. Oliver has been fighting to do so behind bars — clinging to “wait and hope” as a means to find his way back to the most important people in his life: Felicity and William. Felicity has been doing so in the outside world going to depths she’d never explored before in an effort to bring Diaz, the man that destroyed everything, to justice. While the experience opened up new facets of their characters — new layers we’ll be sure to explore — it was all driven by their love for one another and their family.
Even when they spend six episodes apart they’re still on parallel journeys.
As far as subtly goes, Arrow was not being subtle at all with that shot of the quote “wait and hope.” Not only have we as an audience been waiting and hoping for this reunion that seemed to drag on forever, but Oliver and Felicity were in a tough situation knowing that a reunion might not come for a long time. If ever. It’s easy being a fan of a show where you know the hero will be getting out at some point, but these characters had to cling to that small glimmer of hope and weren’t sure how long they’d have to wait to be in each other’s arms again.
While this prison storyline has been intriguing (but drawn out in terms of this reunion), it’ll definitely provide some opportunities for further character exploration with both Oliver and Felicity. How does Oliver use what he learned in prison as Green Arrow? How does Felicity handle the lengths to which she went to seek out Diaz? How will this affect their relationship?
This is what we’ve been waiting for. To get Oliver and Felicity as a married couple and to see them handle their issues. Together. It’ll be a way for these characters to grow and understand what each has gone through in their separation. It’ll make their relationship all the stronger.
Has Prison Made Oliver A Better Hero?
A guess “better” is a poor choice of word. More “well-rounded”? More “understanding” maybe? Fact of the matter is, Oliver’s six-plus months in prison has changed him. And not necessarily for the worse.
As Turner told Oliver, the old Green Arrow saw the world in black and white. Now he sees the grey. “Maybe that makes him a better hero.”
It’s all about perspective. Anything. Everything. Being a hero, especially. Especially when you’re fighting the “bad guys.” Oliver’s experience in Slabside has opened his eyes to a whole new world. A world where there are the really bad guys, the bad guys, the guys that did bad that are capable of redemption, and even the innocent. You can’t judge someone based on one situation alone. Shoot first, think later. Oliver’s been there, done that. Perhaps now Oliver can bring some of that new perspective when he puts on the suit again.
But it’s more than that. When faced with plenty of opportunities to take the easy way out and escape, Oliver remained in prison. Now that is a real hero. Subjecting himself to abuse. To danger. To keeping himself away from his family.
In his final day at Slabside, Oliver Queen showed (again) what makes him a true hero. He keeps fighting. Not just fighting. Fighting for what he believes in. Fighting for what’s right. Fighting to bring those corrupt to justice. Fighting alongside those he deems noble.
Teaming up with Turner, saving those guards, choosing not to kill Diaz (dude, what gives? I would’ve been okay with that one!), Oliver remained true to himself in a place that’s known to strip people of their souls and what makes them people. Oliver never lost who he was. Sure, at times he had to do whatever it took (to stop the cruelty on Level Two, to stop Diaz), but Oliver never sacrificed who he was to do it.
Even in prison — where he’s being physically and mentally tortured and manipulated — Oliver was the hero. And I’m not surprised. Not one bit.
Redemption for Turner
Arrow, let’s have a talk. How about in exchange for Turner getting a series regular focus on this show, we do away with the Newbs that have absolutely nothing to add to this show? Because in just one episode, I see the potential with Turner. Not only is this a criminal that is capable of redemption, this is a criminal that wants redemption. And we saw that. We felt that. And I want that for him.
While all superhero shows carry a theme of redemption, perhaps no show praises that theme more than Arrow. That’s what happens when your title hero is put through literal hell, made the villain, and then goes through his own redemption story. It’s a given that redemption is the sell here.
The important thing about redemption is that you have to want to be redeemed. You have to want to do better than you have in the past. You have want to do whatever it takes to get there. And from just one episode — and Suicide Squad past — I know that Turner is capable of it.
It wasn’t a surprise when Oliver stopped his pursuit of Diaz to save innocents — be it guards or prisoners. But it was a surprise when Turner, who Oliver unintentionally framed, not only came to his defense but continued to fight by Oliver’s side.
Of all the villains in Slabside (that wasn’t Oliver) Turner was the one that you could peg for being a decent (but not perfect) human being. Yes, he’s made mistakes. Yes, he’s a criminal. But he’s also shown that he’s capable of good and saving people. He saved Lyla, something that went a long way in defining him on this show. And in this episode, Turner saved guards and prisoners.
While Turner remained imprisoned (cries), there’s so much potential with what this how could do with him. Even if I have to wait until next season, get rid of the Newbs and bring Turner into the mix. Please and thank you.
Diaz Is A Joke, Stanley Rises
Let this be the last time I have to talk about this joke of a lizard. Let this be the last time this show makes us believe that this character is anything but incompetent and laughable. But GOD, maybe this episode would’ve been more impactful had it been with a competent villain.
Diaz is a laughing stock. He’s not intimidating. He’s ridiculous. He mumbles. He hides behind henchmen. He hides behind a gun. This show actually had to hold Oliver back from kicking his ass so this show wouldn’t look incompetent for having a villain that is trash walk on this show for this long.
Everything about Diaz is unrealistic. How he seems to just walk in anywhere and take shit over. How people are actually afraid of him. How he fights. How people listen to him. Speaking of, that final fight between Oliver and Diaz was laughable until the end when it got realistic. Just when Arrow seemed to understand Oliver can kick seven guys’ asses simultaneously, these same people dumbed us and Oliver down by making it seem like he can’t take on Diaz. Like. Come. On. Man. How dumb do you think we are?
The most realistic part about the fight was how when Diaz invoked Felicity’s name that it was like a shot of adrenaline and Oliver finally woke up and kicked homeboy’s ass.
You want to know the sad thing? Stanley, Oliver’s crazy swim fan, was more terrifying than Diaz has ever been. Starting off in a calm psychotic way and escalating to full-on, screaming psycho. He was deliberate with his words and actions. You know that phrase “it’s the quiet ones?” Yeah, Stanley is the walking poster boy for that. And we’re not done with him just yet, as he escaped right after killing Brick because “you were mean to me.” Give me Stanley over Diaz any day.
Arrow airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW.