“The old Green Arrow, he wasn’t the best. He saw the world in black and white. But you, you know there’s grey out there too. Maybe that makes you a better hero.”
After last week left us with the knowledge that Oliver was on his way out of Slabside following an FBI trade for Diaz, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this week would be an easy ride for the former vigilante. But Oliver’s last day in prison is anything but.
With Team Arrow having brought him to justice last week, it seems that Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) will finally be put behind bars in Slabside – and while he does indeed end up in the prison, it’s most definitely on his terms, as this is the villain’s final shot at Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and the cops have delivered it to him.
Things are already bad for Oliver before Diaz gets there, however, as last week’s detective work has left him doubting his instincts. After breaking Stanley (Brendan Fletcher) from the hole, when he found evidence to prove Turner (Michael Jai White) killed one of the guards, Oliver was horrified to discover that it was his number one fan Stanley behind the murder all along. Honestly, it was the kind of twist we needed from Stanley’s character, because before that, the Green Arrow fanboy thing was getting pretty boring. Unfortunately for Oliver, his former friend may be more unstable than he realises, and the dismissal of Stanley’s innocence might lead to more trouble later in the series. Or at least we can hope.
The knowledge that it is his last day at Slabside seems to lift a weight from Oliver’s shoulders – one that comes crashing back down when he receives a visit from Diaz, who along with threatening to kill him before the day is out, also promises that his wife and child will be next on the list. In hindsight, visiting Oliver first probably wasn’t Diaz’s best move, as it alerts him to the incoming danger, and gives him a chance to prepare. When the guards won’t listen to him and refuse to believe that Diaz could even get into the “Level 4” maximum security prison, Oliver takes matters into his own hands and proves to the guards (and the audience) that he basically had the means to escape his cell the entire time and never used them. And the moment he breaks out, all hell breaks loose.
Diaz, now within Sladbside’s walls, begins his plan of complete anarchy – which isn’t that hard to do when you’re dealing with a bunch of angry criminals. This aspect of his plan, at least, is pretty solid – turn the prisoners on the guards, there’s more of them than those watching them, and Oliver isn’t going to let innocent people get hurt because of him. The best part of Diaz’s character has always been his ability to come up with a watertight plan, and this episode is the absolutely epitome of this; he knows exactly where to his Oliver, and what the former vigilante’s movements will be, to the point where we’re left wondering which man will triumph.
Knowing he is outmanned, Oliver must look to an old foe for aid, pulling Turner from his isolation with the promise of helping to secure his release – after all, Turner saved the director of ARGUS’ life once, so surely strings can be pulled. Nevertheless, it quickly becomes Turner and Oliver vs. the entire of Slabside, and it is impressive. The action sequences and fight choreography in this episode are incredible, and possibly some of the best in the series’ history. With so many different people, and so many different levels to the set, “The Slabside Redemption” really sets the standards high for future episodes, and reminds us that Oliver is still a force to be reckoned with, after so many weeks of him being relatively inactive.
This episode is a real return to form for the action of Arrow, and the ramifications of this will surely make for interesting episodes in the weeks to come – and with Oliver finally freed from prison, what’s next for the former vigilante?