Arrow, ‘Docket No. 11-19-41-73’: A Toothless Courtroom Diversion Can’t Save This Season

Arrow, Season 6, Episode 21, “Docket No. 11-19-41-73”

As someone who, like Curtis, has seen every episode of Law & Order, I too appreciate a good courtroom drama, however a TV court case needs something at stake to be effective. Are we really expected to think that Ollie was going to be thrown into prison for the final two episodes of this season? That would be a ballsy choice at this point, but it’s hard to think the show would have Ollie cooling his heels in prison, while the final events of the season unfold. Without stakes, all that’s left is a lot of sizzle provided by a bunch of Perry Mason meets comic books plot twists. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest episode of Arrow:

What’s the scoop: So, you are telling me that a group of people who, an episode or two ago literally wouldn’t cross the street to help Oliver Queen if he were on fire, are now willing to commit perjury for him without a second thought? Here we are, with Diggle, Dinah and Rene all ready to take the stand to lie and say Oliver isn’t the Green Arrow. Is it too much to make Oliver worry about how his ex-teammates might testify as a consequence of their falling out? Also, why didn’t Oliver’s defense team try to get the lead prosecutor disqualified on the grounds that she’s the leader of HYDRA?

Meanwhile in B-plot land:  Diaz and Laurel have been the show’s secondary story mainstay for much of the second half of the season, and we’re too late to change course now. Diaz is trying to manipulate the proceedings as best as he can. At the moment the case even hints at going Oliver’s way, Diaz pulls a Godfather II, and brings Rene’s daughter into the gallery while he testifies, which forces Rene to roll on Oliver again. When the defense’s surprise witness complicates matters, he arranges for Black Siren to testify as a rebuttal witness, but thanks to a pep talk from dear old not-dad, she too doubles down on her perjury (she was testifying as a returned from the grave Laurel Lance) and gives an answer that enrages Diaz. In the stinger, Laurel tries to scramble Diaz’s brains like she did to Vigilante, but Diaz has a pocket power nullifier and merely takes Siren hostage.

Sex and the Olicity: With Oliver on trial, there wasn’t much time for makeouts, but at least Ollie and Felicity shared a little bit of screen time together as they discussed the way the case was going. Also, big ups to William’s nanny for figuring out the truth.

What about the action:  With most the action of the legal maneuvering kind, there’s not a ton to report here. The open was thrilling with Diggle parachuting to some backwater outpost, to rescue a shadowy figure. That figure ends up being Christopher Chase, aka the Human Target, aka Arrow‘s Amazing Plot Device. Chase has saved Ollie’s bacon a time or two before, and steps into the fray this time. First he tries to cast reasonable doubt in the prosecution’s case by crashing through the courtroom’s skylight in full Arrow gear, wearing Tommy Merlyn’s face. Somehow all the perjury in the world isn’t enough to sway the jury, so Rene cooks up the idea for Chase to impersonate the judge. That plan works, as the “judge” unexpectedly sets aside the guilty verdict on a technicality.

What’s next: Diaz is done playing with his food, and he’s now ready to use all the force under his control to kill everyone who has even met Oliver Queen.

Last impressions:  As I had mentioned previously, The Flash did a similar trial of Barry Allen earlier this season (with an emphasis on earlier). Lack of knowledge about evidence and legal procedure notwithstanding, the trail and its aftermath worked there, because there was time for Barry to go to jail and a few episodes later, be exonerated. There was actual doubt about if he would be found guilty or innocent. At the beginning of Arrow’s trial, I had no doubts Oliver would walk out of the courtroom a free man, one way or the other. Without that danger looming over Oliver’s head and the rest of cast’s change of heart about Ollie’s relative jerkiness, the bulk of this episode felt like an exercise in seeing how many courtroom twists they could jam into one episode (Perjury!, Taking the fifth!, Witness intimidation!, Surprise witness!, Key prosecution witness recanting on the stand!, Corrupt judge!, Corrupt judge not corrupt!). All we’re left with is Ollie mending fences with New Team Arrow (specifically Rene), and Diaz’s unchecked rage. Since “kill em all” appears to be Diaz’s default setting, why did he try this tack in the first place? We would have a better idea if our villain were well-rendered; instead, we’re just waiting out the final episodes, hoping the characters we care most about manage to survive.

Craig Wack

For a weekly discussion of comic book TV shows please join Craig Wack and Tatiana Torres for the Agents of GEEK podcast updated every Friday and now on iTunes

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