Arrow S06E23 “Life Sentence” REVIEW

Arrow S06E23 “Life Sentence” REVIEW

0 comments 📅18 May 2018, 16:34

Airing Thursdays at 8pm on Sky 1

Writers: Wendy Mericle & Marc Guggenheim
Director: James Bamford

Essential Plot Points:

  • Straight into it as Olly and the Team storm the only precinct in the city, backed by an FBI Armed Response team. They DEMOLISH the crooked cops and all of them have just one question;
  • Where’s Diaz?
  • The team regroup, with Oliver explaining that they have immunity from prosecution so masks off. Oliver checks in with Anatoly. Anatoly just has time to warn him Diaz isn’t feeling trusting when Diaz gets in the car. Diaz explains he’s recruited some new friends, the Longbow Hunters, and orders Anatoly to be ready.
  • At the precinct, OIliver gives Diggle his own cowl and suit. He apologizes for anything he’s done wrong and Diggle, because no one in this show deserves him, turns it down. Because when the city looks at it, he explains, it gives them hope and that hope would be diminished if there was more than one Green Arrow. They shake hands and…that’s when Anatoly turns himself in.
  • Anatoly gives them the address Diaz will be at and informs them of the Longbow Hunters. Oliver explains that they’re three assassins even the League was scared of. But the last one died in the 1950s…
  • Agent Watson is getting legal authority to operate in the city when she gets word that Diaz has been located. Quentin’s phone rings; it’s Diaz. With an ultimatum; kick the FBI out of the city, that night, or Laurel’s dead. Quentin hangs up and tells Watson to go get him.
  • At Diaz’s hideout, he confronts Laurel and notes that Laurel was free and clear but came back and moved on Diaz of her own free will, Perhaps she’s more frightened for Quentin than she’s oreoared to admit…
  • The team arrive, with Watson warning her men that Diaz may be down a police force but still has thugs and Quadrant muscle on his side.
  • The team head into the location, still not seeing any resistance.
  • And then the laser grid hits. The warehouse is rigged.
  • With half the team outside and half inside, Felicity frantically hacks the remote signal to try and turn the bombs off.

  • Rene takes a breath, pulls his phone and calls his kid. His voice is cracking as he does so and it’s clear he’s sure he’s never going to talk to her again.
  • Diaz calls Anatoly, curious as to how many he got. Diaz promises Anatoly he’s going to make it last for Anatoly. He pulls the trigger.
  • Felicity buys them seven seconds and, barely, everyone gets out in time. Rene is not fine. At all. Later at the Precinct, Oliver makes his peace with him, telling him how proud he is of the man Rene has become. They shake hands, and, suddenly, it’s looking like Olly might be saying goodbye…
  • Quentin and Watson tell them about the call with Diaz. Oliver tries to calm him down but Quentin is furious and storms out. As he does so, Diaz calls him and gives him a second chance. Come alone or Laurel is dead.

  • Oliver overhears it and talks to his surrogate dad. He’s calm and kind and focused. And he shakes Quentin’s hand. That’s three for three.
  • Quentin of course goes off book. And before the others can follow him he demands to be taken to Laurel. And is.
  • At the precinct, the team frantically try and put it together. Oliver realizes Quentin specifically told him about his pacemaker because Felicity can track them. Watson gives her access to their computers and they’re good to go.
  • Quentin is located at an old abandoned chemical plant on the edge of town. Oliver find Dinah, briefs her on what’s going on and…says thank you. Again , he apologizes. Again, they make their peace. Again, Oliver shakes her hand. And, again, Felicity sees it. And this time calls him on it.
  • She asks him what the Oliver Farewell Tour is for and assumes that the price was giving up being the Green Arrow. Oliver is about to tell her when Curtis rocks up to tell them everyone’s ready to go.
  • At the chemical plant, Diaz holds the Lances at gunpoint and gives Quentin 5 seconds to go in front of cameras and order the Feds out of the city or Laurel dies. The countdown finishes, Quentin takes the bullet and still refuses to make the call. Diaz is poised to shoot Laurel again when…there’s an explosion and the team storm in.
  • Dinah helps the Lances get clear while Oliver makes a run for Diaz.
  • The two men fight on the roof of the warehouse. It’s a rolling, brutal, close bout that finishes with Oliver stabbing Diaz,  returning the favor from a few episodes ago. He refuses to kill him, only for Laurel to appear and scream Diaz over the side of the building into the river. Oliver is MURDEROUSLY angry. Laurel just hopes the guy’s dead.

  • Diaz, of course, can’t be found. Watson is furious but Oliver points out that Felicity fitted him with a digital sniffer. He’s read the USB drive Diaz has. He can give Watson every corrupt official in the city. They can take Star City back.
  • The following day, Quentin is being prepped for surgery. Rene is chatting to him when Oliver comes in to take his turn. Oliver tells him about the drive and Quentin is both relieved and sad. Because Quentin, who is amazing, has worked out what Oliver has had to do. Oliver all but says, out loud, that Quentin is essentially his dad and OUR FEELINGS ARE EVERYWHERE AT THIS POINT.

  • And then Sara Lance rolls up. Because Laurel called her and the Lance sisters bond over their shared fear and grief and their deeply weird multiversal connections.
  • And then Agent Watson arrives Oliver apologizes for not explaining anything. And then lets himself be cuffed. The Team have immunity. Because Oliver doesn’t.
  • And then the other shoe drops. Quentin died on the table. Oliver, in tears, has a moment to apologize to Sara for the loss of her father. He asks his team, his family, to please take care of each other and is led away.

  • Later that day, Watson gives Oliver half an hour to talk to Felicity. She’s full speed ahead with an escape plan but Oliver shuts her down. Felicity is furious, refusing to believe this is the only option. In tears, she begs Oliver to reconsider. He explains that the only way he could protect everyone close to him was to remove himself from the equation. He asks her to bring William in and Oliver explains everything to his son as Felicity flat out comes apart.

  • Oliver is escorted out of the building, under armed guard. He’s interviewed and straight to camera confesses that he’s the Green Arrow. As he gives his final speech, we see the FBI arrest everyone on Diaz’s payroll. We see the Lance sisters say goodbye to their dad. We see Diaz, wounded, recovering. We see Team Newbie watching at home. We see Diggle, watching at Argus, the Green Arrow cowl on the desk next to him. Oliver calls on them to save our city and the call is taken up as he’s led away.
  • Then, we see Oliver, in prison greys, being escorted to his new life.


There’s a principle in martial arts, especially Aikido. It involves using your opponent’s own momentum, their own bad choices against themselves. That’s exactly what this episode of Arrow does to the season that preceded it.

Everything that didn’t work is made a strength here. The fragmentation of the team, the loss of the city, the parade of terrible choices that led to Diaz taking control and Star City falling out of the hands of the people best equipped to save it. The world Oliver and his family have built for themselves over the last six years collapses, in the end, not because of the villain who’s taken it over but because Oliver realizes the best way to save it, is to destroy it. Redirect the energy of those bad choices, make weaknesses strengths.

Publicly, once and for all, admit he’s Green Arrow.

The show has, in the past, promoted itself very successfully by emphasizing the finality of its season finales. This one genuinely feels final. Amell is so good here that he sells you on this being Oliver’s last few days as a free man. Green Arrow won’t be the same after this. In any way. And that’s for the best.

It’s not just Amell’s show either. Emily Bett Rickards is excellent here and the show’s massive reboot is going to give her a lot more to do next season than the regularly terrible plots she was handed this year. The others all impress too but Paul Blackthorne deserves special praise for his swansong as Quentin Lance. That final scene with Amell is heartbreaking and sweet and genuine in a way only these two guys could manage.

Arrow is going to be a very different show next season. Arrow needs to be a very different show next season and they know it. This is a wrenching, emotional finale that pulls no punches and sets the show up nicely for what’s next. A great end to an uneven season.


The Good:

  • That opening fight scene is glorious. Bamford shoots action so damn well.
  • Likewise the warehouse fight at the end of the episode.
  • Kirk Acevedo, in that opening scene, is just terrifying. He barely raises his voice above a whisper, doesn’t move and is immensely scary.
  • Amell is SO good this week! He’s calm and focused and kind in a way Oliver hasn’t been for most of the season. And when you work out why, it just makes it even more heartbreaking.
  • The Oliver Farewell Tour, the fact Felicity notices it and the fact she specifically calls it that.
  • The Black Canary/Black Siren tag team is EPIC.
  • Sara’s cameo is very well done and in an emotional episode is one of the most emotional beats.
  • Paul Blackthorne, we salute you, sir. Quentin Lance was one of the best elements of this show. He’ll be sorely missed.

The Bad:

  • It’s fussy but the moment Quentin is shot seems oddly cut. We wonder if there was something a little more there.
  • Also fussy but, Sara has an actual time machine. And she just turned up then?
  • It’s not bad as such but Laurel screaming Diaz into the water is a classic comic beat. Remember kids, if you don’t see the body, they’re not dead.

The Random:

  • That third sentry Olly drops pretty clearly in the opening attack gets shot in the HEART. Whatever happened to no killing?
  • James Bamford is a legendary stunt coordinator who has worked on everything from Elysium to Watchmen and Stargate Atlantis. He’s directed for Arrow and Supergirl.
  • Wendy Mericle has written for Vixen, Desperate Housewives, Eli Stone, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and more.
  • Marc Guggenheim has written for Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, Trollhunters, Daredevil, Eli Stone and many more. He’s also working on the just announced pilot episode of a TV show based on True Lies.

Best Lines:

  • ‘You gotta be a special kinda stupid to come back here alone.’
    ‘I’m NOT alone.’
  • ‘The FBI have graciously given me access to the keyhole satellites. Which are much easier to use when they aren’t being hacked…’
  • ‘I judged you. For far too long I judged you. And that was a mistake. I’m sorry. I think you’re a good man, Rene. I think you’re the kind of man this city deserves.’
    ‘I know it seems like I don’t give a crap about what anyone thinks, but this means a lot.’-OUR FEELINGS, YOU GUYS
  • ‘It’s been getting better since the first time you arrested me.’
  • ‘You think that fall’s GONNA KILL *HIM*?!’
    ‘A girl can hope.’
  • ‘Don’t call me Hoss at my funeral.’-OUR FEELINGS, QUENTIN
  • ‘I lost my city. I lost my team. There’s a penance for that.’
  • ‘Quentin, I hope I took the time to tell you you’re a really good father.’
    ‘So are you.’
    ‘I had a good example.’
    ‘Your father was a good man.’
    ‘I’m not talking about my dad.’-OH GOD OUR FEELINGS YOU GUYS ALL OF THEM
  • ‘I think William deserves at least one parent.’-*No sounds save ugly crying suffice here*

Read all of our Arrow reviews

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