ARROW pulls off an action-packed prison break with “The Slabside Redemption.” For some reason, ARROW decided episode 7 was the perfect time for the final Oliver-Diaz showdown. This episode does a lot of things well, especially for the season as a whole. Oliver is front and center, Stanley gets some depth, and we’re finally leaving the prison behind. But ARROW does falter a little with the stakes of the episode.
Let’s start with the positives. Without a doubt, “The Slabside Redemption” delivers some incredible action. ARROW spends the entire episode focused on Oliver, as he finally deals with prison and Diaz in one fell swoop. Oliver leaves Stanley behind, and instead partners up with the far more powerful Ben Turner, a.k.a. Bronze Tiger. The duo, along with the prison guards, take on Diaz and the entirety of Slabside Prison. It’s nonstop action, and it makes the episode work incredibly well.
The episode features some great performances. Brendan Fletcher finally gets good material, and the character of Stanley finally does something cool. Michael Jai White is a bonafide action star, and he really flexes his skills this episode. Of course, Stephen Amell and Kirk Acevedo do great work bouncing off each other as enemies. ARROW is not hard-pressed for talent, and “The Slabside Redemption” lets them shine.
The problem comes with killing Diaz. This final conflict is fantastic, but why now? And what’s next for the season? Now the primary antagonist of this season – as carried over from season six – is dead. So what will the rest of this season tackle? The creepy, but undeniably physically weak Stanley? The flash-forwards that don’t have any clear link to the present? There’s nothing clear to look forward to with the rest of the season. As I’ve said multiple times, Diaz causes the same problems for ARROW that The Governor caused for season four of THE WALKING DEAD. Now that Diaz is dead, what momentum does this season of ARROW have moving forward?
This episode has great focus, but it loses power when you look forward. If this were a midseason finale, and set up more for the season – like if we’ll ever see this New Arrow’s face – that would be something. But this episode feels like the climactic note season six should’ve ended on. With Diaz finally gone, it seems like ARROW never really knew what to do with him. But at the very least, “The Slabside Redemption” sends him off with an exciting final battle.