SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for "The Slabside Redemption," the latest episode of Arrow.
Oliver Queen is officially a free man. In "The Slabside Redemption," the latest episode of Arrow, the former Star City mayor fought tooth and nail to stay alive in the Supermax prison -- and it's a good thing he did, because his survival ensured his release from prison.
In essence, "The Slabside Redemption" was one long prison fight sequence. The arrival of Ricardo "The Dragon" Diaz completely upended the whole prison system. Shortly after he bought off the man guarding him, Diaz paid Oliver a visit just to tell him he failed and Felicity and William would soon die. Oliver lost it at this, screaming at the guards to get Diaz, but he went disbelieved and was brought back to his cell.
His message delivered, Diaz sprung into action. He gave himself a tour of the prison, taking down the guards along the way. In the prison yard, he convinced the inmates to rise up and turned them loose inside. Everything went to hell from there; Oliver struggled for his own survival, even as he attempted to rescue as many guards as he possibly could.
Of course, Oliver was triumphant in the end. He and Diaz finally went toe-to-toe and, despite Diaz's enhanced strength and durability, Oliver managed to beat him unconscious. As the episode wound down, Oliver left Diaz bloody and battered in his former cell and hobbled away.
While Oliver was busy fighting for his life in prison, the courts made a final verdict about his incarceration. Between his harsh treatment at Slabside and ability to testify against Diaz, the courts decided to release Oliver from prison. Laurel gave Diaz over in exchange for Oliver's freedom. As such, the episode ended with Oliver emerging from Slabside and walking straight into Felicity's embrace, while John "Dig" Diggle nodded his approval.
"I know they wanted Oliver back in the world, and he is and in a new and exciting way," Oliver actor Stephen Amell revealed during a recent set visit. "Concurrently, it felt like we were treating my experience at Slabside like I spent a night in county jail. In actuality, even for Oliver, it was a pretty horrific experience. So I did want a change in him. I wanted a change in him in the way that he interacts with people, with the public, and even so far as his wardrobe."
"In the first episode that I’m out, we had him going to a gala, and I was in sort of like the same suit that I would wear as the mayor. I didn’t like that. So we pushed that in a different direction, and part of the fun of this year is I’ve pitched a bunch of stuff, and not the opening scene of episode 8, but the first time that you see Oliver, we came up with a really interesting way I think of showing what prison life did to him without really bashing people over the head with it," he teased.
Airing Mondays at 8 pm ET/PT on The CW, Arrow stars Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, David Ramsey as John Diggle, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak, Rick Gonzalez as Wild Dog, Echo Kellum as Mr. Terrific, Juliana Harkavy as Black Canary, Colton Haynes as Arsenal, Kirk Acevedo as Diaz, and Katie Cassidy as Black Siren.