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Arrow - The Slabside Redemption - Review

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Arrow “The Slabside Redemption” was written by the team of Jill Blankenship and Rebecca Bellotto and was directed by James Bamford. This was a pretty fast-paced, fight-and-stunt-filled episode, so it makes perfect sense for Bamford to direct. This was entirely Stephen Amell’s (Oliver) episode – and it was nice to see him again at the center of the action without a bunch of so-so supporting characters. Michael Jai White turns in a terrific performance as Turner, who is the “Redemption” of the title.

Frankly, I hated the entire Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) plot in this episode. I think even Acevedo was getting tired of the ridiculousness of the plot. Acevedo was just too over the top for me – it seemed like a real waste of a really terrific actor. Yes the yelling and threats were as intense as ever – and he does those well – but he’s capable of a much more nuanced part. No one notices the guards being killed at the front door? Having him come in to “visit” Oliver and no one notices? And then when Oliver goes nuts, Oliver gets tased and Diaz just walks away? Ugh.

I’m going to have to admit that I was a little slow to realize what had been niggling me about Stanley (Brendan Fletcher) – it’s the name. Did they really want us thinking of classic comedy duo Stan (Laurel) and Ollie (Oliver Hardy)???

It turns out that Stanley is actually a mentally unstable serial killer! Oliver realizes that Stanley really did kill Dunbar and framed Turner. I’d really like to know how Oliver is able to just wander down to the “hole” to visit Turner, but it does result in a terrific camera shot of Turner in his cell. Oliver apologizes to him and tells him that he’s going to reach out to ARGUS to help Turner because he’s innocent – but more importantly because Oliver thinks that based on Turner saving Lyla, he can be redeemed. This was a really terrific scene.

I loved how Oliver MacGyver’ed his way out of his cell, but then it just got ridiculously stupid. Fighting the guards and incapacitating a bunch of them means that they are all distracted chasing him – and therefore not watching out for Diaz, AND it takes a bunch of them out of fighting Diaz. I did like the super cool parkour moves of Oliver going up the stairs and then sliding under the gate.

So many great fights! Oliver and Turner fighting Brick (Vinnie Jones) and Sampson (Cody Runnels) was a good one – but Oliver just “getting over” the pepper spray like that – no way. I loved watching Turner just working his way down the cell block taking people out: Kick, punch, punch, kick – even if some of the kicks clearly just hit support beams. I particularly liked the nice touch of the one guy’s head going “squish” as Turner slammed him into one of the pillars.

Oliver, naturally, doesn’t clear the room, allowing Stanley to drug him. We then learn Stanley’s true nature. I did very much enjoy Oliver kicking Stanley out to escape – but did he just leave him there to escape? Would it have killed him to take a minute to make sure that Stanley was tied up?

I loved the scene in which Oliver finally makes it back to Turner – and Turner wants to know what took him so long. Oliver tells him it’s a long story, but the moral is that he’s compromised his ability to judge people. Turner is the one to point out that the old Green Arrow really wasn’t that great because he only saw things in black and white – and there’s a lot of grey out there. This new Oliver is better because he’s starting to see the grey – like Turner himself.

Lots of great stuff – moves-wise – in the final fight sequence. I loved Turner and Oliver using Brick as an elevator! Sampson gets taken out be fire – lots of fire stunts, falls – so much that was quite well done in this episode that has been lacking in some of the earlier episodes this season. I also really liked Turner handing Oliver the half-scissors as a weapon and telling him, “You’ll need this. No half measures.” LOL! But it's also great symbolism - that violence is only half the answer, that they are two sides of the same weapon, etc...

Oliver and Diaz fight – and Diaz is clearly winning. They end up in Oliver’s cell, and Diaz drops the bomb that Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) was going to shoot him. Oliver refuses to believe it. And this will no doubt be the tired old story arc for the second half of the season. Any bets that Oliver will leave the new “dark” Felicity by the end of the season – or at least they will be estranged by February sweeps.

I was annoyed by Oliver telling Stanley at the beginning of the episode that he no longer killed people – and then telling Diaz that he was going to end him. I thought, where’s the new-Oliver now? However, the fact that Diaz isn’t 100% dead at the end of the episode is really unsatisfying. We know that he’s going to be back – and of course Stanley escapes through the Morgue, setting him up as an on-going adversary too. I’m really hoping that Brick isn’t really dead because I love Vinnie Jones!

It’s a nice touch for Oliver to finish The Count of Monte Cristo on his last day – and then hand it over to Turner before he leaves. It’s also nice to see the guards acknowledge and thank Turner for his help during the Diaz riot.

One final really annoying part to this episode? We’re told at the beginning that Oliver will be going to a release facility – yes there are actual legal procedures that need to be followed – instead, they just open the gates and let him walk out to meet Felicity and Diggle (David Ramsey)? I did really like that it was just the three of them – but could we find some basis in reality? Also? Oliver was stabbed – there’s no hole or blood on his shirt from it. I know this is a comic-book reality, but c’mon…

Overall, I liked this episode quite a lot for the fights and the Turner plot. The Diaz plotline remains as unsatisfying as ever. I’m not looking forward to more Diaz – or more Stanley for that matter. How many crazy, evil villains do we really need? And why didn’t Oliver ever look into Stanley’s background? What did you think of the episode? What are you looking forward to coming up? Are you excited for the crossover event? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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