“The old Green Arrow, he wasn’t the best; he saw the work in black and white. But now you, you know there’s gray out there, too. Maybe that makes you a better hero.”
Six hours: that’s all the time Oliver has to wait until he’s free from prison. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? Of course, with Ricardo Diaz around, nothing’s ever that simple. Speaking of Diaz, in a plot that strains the credulity of even the fantastical CW’s shows like Arrow, the big-bad villain, hopped up on his mirakuru-like serum is able to take over the prison in the hopes of taking down Oliver once and for all.
It’s a fight for the ages in one of the most ambitious Arrow episodes ever made. From start to finish, it all plays out like one big fight scene and while it’s not up to par with the prison scraps we’ve seen in Seasons Two and Three of Daredevil, it’s about as close to it as a network television show can realistically get. And while there’s not a lot of plot to the episode, it’s a ton of fun and the perfect end to Oliver’s prison saga.
While the brawl-for-all events of “Slabside Redemption” primarily revolve around action scenes, there are a few good moments of character development sprinkled in. Though Oliver has his own realization to the fact that prison may have changed him for the better, it’s Michael Jai White’s Ben Turner (aka Bronze Tiger) that steals this particular spot. One will never mistake him for a white hat but, remembering his short stint with the suicide squad episode years ago in which he saved Lyla’s life, we finally get the payoff of Turner becoming more of an anti-hero, firmly ensconced in that field of gray as he points out to Oliver during one of their breaks in the action. With his deep baritone and martial arts prowess, White’s Turner is just too good a character to let go by the wayside and his pseudo turn is a promise that we’ll see him somewhere down the road. And that’s far more than we can say about Brick and Sampson.
The two prison heavies, even with plans of their own, take advantage of the Diaz-inspired chaos to get paybacks on Oliver. Were it not for Turner’s interference, they may have done just that. Unfortunately for the pair, it seems as if their stories have come to an end. Not only was Sampson stabbed a handful of times but we also see him plummet off a balcony, shrouded in flames. Brick’s ‘death’ is a bit more subdued, literally stabbed in the back by the meek Stanley Dover. If one wants to get technical, we didn’t actually see them pronounced dead, based on their final moments, the two have most likely been written out of the Arrow narrative.
Which only leaves a single missing thread: Stanley Dover. Though one of his comic book alter ego is the occultist known as the Star City Slayer, we don’t quite know what the writers have planned for Arrow’s number one fan. Make no mistake, he’ll return and considering his unassuming nature, will be overlooked as Team Arrow faces whatever heavy hitters are in store for the remaining two-thirds of the season, including the now-imprisoned Diaz.
Season Seven of Arrow got off to a rocky start but, the last few weeks have shown that there’s life still left in this show. “Slabside Redemption”, while far from perfect, offered the best large-action fight sequences the show has had and was the perfect ending to close the chapter on Oliver’s time in prison while also setting up some potentially strong payoffs as we ride the wave through the remainder of the year.
Arrow – “Slabside Redemption”