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Arrow – S6E23 – Life Sentence

Previously on Arrow, “The Ties That Bind”

“Life Sentence” was a mediocre end to a mediocre season, with some strong performances let down by weak plotting and inconsistent characterization. It was also the last episode with Quentin Lance, who was killed after six seasons on the show by jumping in front of a bullet aimed at the somewhat redeemed, vaguely villainous doppelganger of his dead daughter (not to be confused with his twice-resurrected time traveling former-assassin daughter). Yeah, it’s that kind of show.

Images: The CW

The Good

The performances this week were excellent across the board. Stephen Amell is at his best when he is allowed to be gentle rather than loud and aggressive, and he did an excellent job portraying an Oliver who was quietly sad, but resigned to his inevitable imprisonment.

Sara wasn’t given as much to do as I would have liked, but Caity Lotz did a lot with the time she was given. The range of emotions that flashed across her face at seeing Not-Laurel told a whole story in and of itself, and cemented their interaction as one of my favorite scenes of the season. In a show that can at times be as subtle as a hammer, this scene trusted the audience to gain an understanding of Sara and Not-Laurel’s feelings without overdoing the exposition, and both actresses really rose to the occasion.

Paul Blackthorne has long been one of the best performers on the show, and, as much as his story probably should have come to a close a season or two back, it will be sad to see him go. The scene of Oliver and Quentin in the hospital room was a truly touching showcase of two men who have been through so much together, and who have changed and grown so much over the last six years and reached a place of mutual understanding and love that would have seemed impossible back in season one.

The Bad

Oliver neglecting to inform everyone that he gave himself up to the FBI in exchange for their assistance seemed to be a decision based more on surprising the audience than an authentic move of the character. In particular, the idea that Oliver wouldn’t have told his son (or the woman who will potentially be left to raise him!) seems to ignore all of the development that Oliver has made as a father and a husband. Oliver will never be a perfect man, and many of his motivations and moral beliefs seem to flip and change at the drop of a hat (does anyone know how he feels about killing anymore?), but this went back on many of the lessons that Oliver had seemed to be learning the last few seasons about the importance of honesty and letting people in. Also, who the hell gets custody of William?

It’s a small peeve, but Oliver really needs to learn that apologies sound a lot less sincere when you temper additions of fault with ‘if I hurt you’ statements. It also seemed odd that he made amends with Dinah and Rene, but not with Curtis.

As much as it was great to get Sara back for Quentin’s death, it seemed wrong for Thea not to be there. Quentin and Thea have spent a few seasons being sidelined together, and in that time developed a strong paternal bond that was probably the closest relationship that Quentin had with anyone on the show, Not-Laurel included. Her absence by his deathbed was very noticeable.

Kirk Acevedo does about as good a job as anyone could with the character, but Diaz’s story really has run its course at this point, so the choice to have him escape to return another day is truly baffling.

Quotes of the Week

“We also have costume parties in Russia, it’s always great fun.” – Anatoly 

“If this thing goes the wrong way and I don’t make it, don’t call me Hoss at my funeral!”  – Quentin

Oliver: “How’s he doing?”
Rene: “Kinda macabre actually.”

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About Alison Millward (103 Articles)
Alison is a big nerd living in Melbourne, Australia. She is a lover of all things television, particularly anything in the "hot young people in depressing sci-fi situations" genre. When not watching tv, Alison enjoys long walks on the beach, corrupting young minds, and actively avoiding thinking about her future.
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