NOTE: Full spoilers for this episode of, “Arrow” are present in this review
Arrow may not have made the most of its Level Two storyline in the end, but the Level Two fallout did at least lead into a particularly strong new turn for Oliver’s lengthy prison stay at Slabside. “Due Process” beautifully helped to compensate for the show’s stumbles last week, being an outstanding episode overall, as the intrigue at Slabside yet still continues to grow thicker, while the hunt for Diaz takes an especially unexpected turn. The flash-forwards make a return this week as well, nicely tying into just how far off the deep end Felicity is about to go in her quest for justice!
As much as Felicity continued to stand out in this episode however, it was Laurel that actually felt like the real MVP this week. Laurel is still struggling with her criminal past and reputation, and despite agreeing to help Oliver get out of prison through proper legal channels, Oliver nonetheless rejects her help. Laurel does at least manage to make a successful plea in court to have Slabside’s prisoner abuse allegations investigated, but she also fails to get Oliver’s conviction overturned. This initially spurs her to plan an angry, violent attack on the presiding judge, but Dinah talks her down, telling Laurel to take her own courtroom advice about the nobility behind the more difficult heroic path. Not only was this court appeal a great way to have Dinah finally fully come around to the idea that Laurel has changed for the better, after Dinah sits in on it and sees Laurel in action as the D.A., but it later allowed Laurel to pull Felicity back from the brink as well, after she’s about to make her own irredeemable decision in the so-called name of real justice.
The limits of the justice system thus continued to be a big focus this week, being exemplified beautifully through both Laurel and Felicity alike. Even though Laurel felt like the biggest star of this episode overall, Felicity still stood out in her own right, as she sits in on an A.R.G.U.S. operation that sees Diggle’s outfit enlist the aid of Anatoli, who has just barely survived a major attack by Diaz. Apparently, Diaz massacred the entire Bratva off-screen, which was the one point of this episode that felt ridiculous and unrealistic, particularly since it transparently served as an excuse to provide an apparent wrap-up to Anatoli’s long-running story arc, which has been ongoing since Arrow’s second season! We even get to see Anatoli finally pull out his long-awaited, “KGBeast” alias from DC Comics lore when Diggle and Felicity oversee Anatoli grabbing intel about Diaz’s next plan (disappointingly, “KGBeast” is a mere nickname from Anatoli’s KGB days in the case of the Arrowverse), a plan that nearly leads to Anatoli being killed, after Felicity tries to stop Diggle from intervening when a snag occurs upon Anatoli trying to grab the weapon data.
Felicity’s growing darkness and obsession with catching Diaz at any cost clashed very nicely with Diggle this week, particularly after Diggle had to come to terms with his own wife operating covertly around the overseers at A.R.G.U.S. just a few episodes ago. Anatoli even comments on Felicity’s growing ruthlessness, ruthlessness that even Diggle is given pause at, when Felicity would rather sacrifice Anatoli’s life than lose her latest lead on Diaz. The fact that the show didn’t take sides here worked all the better as well, keeping the clashing ideals of justice appropriately grey and interpretive, with it being left up to the viewers to truly decide when it comes to who is right. Diggle’s intervention does save Anatoli, but Felicity’s insistence on not compromising the Diaz intel eventually leads to Team Arrow coming together to save Star City as well, after Diaz and the Longbow Hunters rig bombs at a natural gas plant. We get a really standout action scene here too, one where the Longbow Hunters nonetheless get away again, but at the cost of abandoning Diaz to be captured.
Yes, you didn’t misread that! Team Arrow actually successfully apprehends Diaz after foiling his Star City destruction plan! Sure, the Longbow Hunters remain at large, but the apprehension of Diaz was well-played and appropriately surprising, especially when Felicity almost gives in to the desire to simply murder Diaz in the interrogation room and be done with it. This is partially stopped for pragmatic reasons as much as moral reasons however, when Laurel comes in to announce that she’s made a deal with the FBI to trade Diaz for Oliver, likely securing Oliver’s imminent release from Slabside. As much as Felicity appears to stand down though, I have a feeling that she’s not going to simply abandon her more aggressive and ruthless side, even after Diaz is captured. We’re really starting to see her father’s influence come out, now that Felicity’s back is against the wall, and perhaps it’s Felicity that will soon be struggling with her inner darkness, now that Oliver has seemingly resolved his own for the most part. Hell, the flash-forwards only strengthen this speculation, since, while they’re very straightforward and don’t move forward much this week, they do indicate that Felicity has adopted her father’s villain mantle, “The Calculator” in the future, and that she has apparently become a proud criminal in her post-Smoak Technologies career. The fact that she ultimately led William and co. to a plan to destroy all of Star City is especially hair-raising too, even if it’s possible that there’s more to this turn than meets the eye.
Speaking of Oliver, actually, he once again got some standout story material over at Slabside, namely when a guard turns up murdered in the shower area, and Stanley is blamed for the killing. After Stanley is thrown in solitary indefinitely, Oliver starts probing Brick to see if his crew had anything to do with it, especially since the dead guard was one of the former corrupt overseers of Brick’s now-shuttered prison fight ring. Brick, Bronze Tiger and Sampson all deny involvement in the guard’s killing, but when Oliver investigates around the showers, he finds one of Bronze Tiger’s blades, covered in blood. This seems to indicate that Bronze Tiger is the killer, and Oliver gets Bronze Tiger thrown into solitary in place of Stanley, with all appearing to have been resolved as the episode winds down… Until Stanley slips up by indicating that he knew the blade was Bronze Tiger’s, when he couldn’t have possibly learned this, on account of being in solitary. Perhaps Stanley may not be as on-the-level as initially thought. Considering that Stanley is a serial killer called the ‘Star City Slayer’ in DC Comics lore as well, I have a feeling that Oliver’s new friend definitely won’t turn out to be as helpless as he appears!
Even when Arrow appears to be faltering again, Season Seven always appears to rebound the following week. The same pattern holds true for, “Due Process”, a very well-written and engaging episode that continued to play with the season’s themes of legality and justice, while also providing some simple, but effective flash-forwards that foreshadow a blatantly villainous turn for Felicity in the future. Is it really as simple as Felicity becoming the next Calculator though? Considering that the show has firmly run out of ways to exploit Oliver’s inner turmoil, perhaps it’s only appropriate that this kind of focus instead shifts over to his wife, especially considering that Felicity’s father is already a proven villain, or at least he was. Maybe Felicity will go to the dark side, but maybe, like Noah, she could also be redeemed, even if the worst happens. Whatever the case, the idea of heroes and villains continues to grow muddy in Star City, and this continues to leave Arrow going strong on a morally grey note, even while still not being able to rely on most of its vigilante element. With Laurel turning over a new leaf, and Oliver’s prison buddy possibly being a bad apple after all, I’m thinking that the show isn’t in danger of becoming boring again anytime soon, even with Diaz now finally being behind bars himself!
- Laurel enacting serious change for Oliver and Slabside
- Felicity continuing to sink ever deeper into darkness
- Oliver potentially playing into Stanley's crooked hands
- How the hell did Diaz kill the entire Bratva?