Arrow’s “The Slabside Redemption” may be the closest thing the superhero series will have to bottle episode. The episode fully plays out in the prison, and this week could very well be the last time we ever set foot in that place. In many ways this week’s episode feels like an ending but more so like a new beginning for our hero.
After Laurel has arranged for a deal with the FBI for Oliver’s release in return for Ricardo Diaz, the former Green Arrow’s life should have been much, much easier. Instead, things have to get worse before they get better.
Stanley asks Oliver for legal help with his case, believing he won’t survive prison without Oliver’s protection, but after learning that Stanley was the one responsible for a guards murder he tells him he deserves to pay for his actions. Oliver then turns to Ben Turner to apologise, as he wrongfully paid for the guard’s death, and promises to clear his name.
Diaz arrives at Slabside, but less so a prisoner. Easily he takes a guard under his wing by offering him copious amounts of money, and freely makes his way inside the prison. Once inside he meets with Oliver in visitation. Diaz threatens payback – he will kill Oliver today before getting his hands on his family.
Oliver retaliates, and after building his own explosive with deodorant and a lighter he escapes his cell. He fights his way through a number of guards to call for help and Slabside is thrown into chaos. When Oliver is attacked by Brick and Sampson, Ben Turner appears to fight alongside him. The two come to an understanding.
Diaz uses the lockdown to not only kill a large number of guards, but also to address the inmates and start a riot. The prisoners start torturing the remaining guards while Oliver and Turner continue looking for a way to contact the outside. They learn that the Longbow Hunters jammed the signal as a going-away present – there is no getting in or out of the prison.
Oliver and Turner join the riot and save the guards from being killed by angry prisoners. They are able to evacuate a handful of men, before splitting up. Oliver is surprised by Stanley who hits him with a sedative before tying him up. He feels abandoned by Oliver, and thinks that he has become the bad guy in his own story. Stanley admits to having killed people before, but claims he had no choice. Oliver recognizes the crazy rambles for what they are. Despite the sedative, he knocks Stanley out and leaves him behind.
Oliver and Turner reunite before they come face-to-face with Diaz. Diaz promises that he will make Oliver suffer before he dies. He promises to do so by taking as many innocent lives with him as he can. A battle ensues with Oliver and Turner fighting against Diaz, Brick, Sampson and the rioting prisoners. Eventually Diaz place his ace in the hole and starts a fire by overloading the electric system.
Oliver asks Turner to evacuate the prison while he himself goes after Diaz. The two men battle it out with Oliver taking more hits than he can take. Finally, as Diaz is ready to kill him back in his original cell he rips up an image of Oliver’s family and promises to finish the job. This gives Oliver the final push to overpower Diaz and take him out.
As we’ve learned the only way out of this prison is through the morgue. We see Stanley come across Brick, who believes himself already escaped. Stanley surprises the other man and fatally stabs him, ensuring he would not leave this place at all. Stanley himself escapes, but we sure won’t have seen the last of him.
After normalcy has returned to Slabside, Oliver gets ready for his release. He leaves his copy of The Count of Monte Cristo to Turner, who has now returned from solitary. At the gate, a beaten Oliver meets with Diggle and Felicity. The latter embraces him, and he is finally home.
The reign of Ricardo Diaz has ended – or so one can hope. After working our way through this rather mediocre villain, it feels good to see his story come to a close. While it has not been confirmed that he died in his final battle with Oliver, we hope he will rot in prison either way.
With the (literal or figurative) death of Ricardo Diaz, a new villain is born. Stanley who started this season as Oliver’s friend and over-enthusiastic sidekick has shown his true colors, and is out for Oliver’s blood. He is a cold-hearted killer ready to dispose of everything and everyone in his way. Will we get to learn more about his back story, as well as why he has shown such an interest in Oliver from the beginning?
Oliver Queen has finally come home, but his months in prison have had quite the impact on our hero. How will he go back to living with his wife and his friends? Will he bring William back to live with him? Let’s hope the family gets a moment just for themselves before the darkness once again envelops their home.
But with Ricardo Diaz gone and off the streets, what’s left to save in Star City?
Turner: No offense, but the old Green Arrow, he wasn’t the best. He saw the world in black and white but now you, you know there’s grey out there too. Maybe that makes you a better hero.
Catch Arrow Monday’s 8/7c on The CW.