Arrow Life Sentence Review
The CW‘s Arrow: Season 6, Episode 23: Life Sentence was a heartfelt, cinematic season finale that moved at warp speed. Team Arrow was in full effect again if only briefly. In the end, we lost the heart of the Arrow family to a bullet and a prison.Even with the stolen moments of reflection throughout, Life Sentence jumped off with action and proceeded with near breakneck speed to tell the story of Oliver Queen’s surrender.
To begin, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) is going to federal prison. He had his whole crew immunized from federal prosecution on the condition that he help apprehend Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) for the FBI. Thing is, he did not tell anyone, not even Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards). The entire episode, Oliver made amends and said his long farewell. This seemed slightly ironic since we kind of knew who would be leaving us in Life Sentence already.
Then, Oliver got his “I am Ironman” moment when Watson (Sydelle Noel) trotted him out like a trophy in front of the cameras after a piece of his family just died. “I am the Green Arrow.” So, there it is. Oliver confessed. He outted himself and his family, which he swore he would not do, in order to save his city.
As Oliver was listing the many ways in which people had sacrificed so much to protect his secret and his mission, I could not help but think “and what about what you have sacrificed?” He lost his family, his family business, his best friends, and his peace of mind. He has sacrificed his health countless times, and now he is sacrificing his freedom.
His proud confession was marred by a cloud of guilt that seemed unfair. Even with a team of heroes, as Dinah (Juliana Harkavy) pointed out, Oliver was not able to save the city from Diaz’s pervasive corruption. All of this is not all his fault! Yet, as their fearless leader, he quietly chose to wear the guilt along with a fresh set of bruises and prison blues.
Life Sentence left us with a huge cliffhanger. Diaz is in the wind. Meanwhile, Oliver ended up in prison the way that Diaz initially wanted. So, Oliver is exposed in a prison filled with criminals he helped put away. It was like putting a cop in gen pop. You do not do that. That is cruel and unusual. Oliver will likely have to fight to survive every day.
Diaz, on the other hand, is roaming freely in Star City’s underbelly thanks to Laurel (Katie Cassidy). With federal occupation of Star City, maybe the walls will close in on him and his three assassins quickly, but who besides Sara (Caity Lotz) has the skill to combat an ancient fighting force?
For that matter, will Diggle (David Ramsey) put on the hood? Will Sara and Laurel stick around to help Star City against Diaz? Will Felicity’s stubborn self stay in protective custody? Is Team Arrow going to soldier on? How is Oliver going to handle being locked in a cage while his family and city suffer?
In a lot of ways, Season 6 was an overcrowded, confused mess. This cliffhanger in Life Sentence was a reset. Unfortuantely, in that reset, we lost Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne), one of the best TV Dads ever. Oliver was so right. (Yeah I said it!). He went out in a way that made the most sense too: protecting his daughter. Even though this Laurel is nothing like his own, it was beautiful and surprising to see Laurel break her stony veneer in order to beg “Daddy, stay with me.”
Lance, Paul Blackthorne, you will be missed. You went through so much. Our hero has learned all he can from you. Farewell.
Hopefully, Season 7 will be used to refocus on the intimate, thematic soul of Arrow. For me, it was a show about a man who involuntarily, through great trauma, became good at punsihing evil people. Along the way he grappled with issues of fatherhood, brotherhood, amorality, hypocrisy, death and consequences. Then, magic was introduced and turned the world inside out.
This season, it felt like kharma rolled in, and Oliver himself wound up in the same place he sent nearly everyone who failed the city. Unfortunately, his fate was not just the work of corrupt city officials. His colleagues even helped throw him to the wolves. (Yeah Rene (Rick Gonzalez)! We may forgive but will not forget.)
This whole season Arrow seemed unrecognizeable. I think that was in part due to the fact that flashbacks are gone, and Oliver’s character is fully revealed. Also, we have come a long way with Oliver. He is no one’s son. Now, he has his own son, and he is a family man. We have even seen him imprisoned before, but never as the Green Arrow. We have come from “no one can know my secret” to everyone knowing his name. Finally, with both villain and hero painted into a corner, I am curious to see how Season 7 will appear.
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