Oliver: "I'm well aware."
It was a dark and stormy night... I mean literally, the episode started with a dark and stormy chase scene. It prepared me for another super clichéd hour of mediocre action, since it's been like that for a couple of episodes now. I was totally surprised when this one turned out to be my favorite of the season, so far.
There were three plot points that I genuinely loved about this episode, and one that could've been done better. I like Thea, I really do. I've said it multiple times, but her actions in this episode were contrived and completely out of character. I get being angry and frustrated, but to refuse a deal based on the idea that it would punish her mother was absolutely silly. Moira deserves whatever she has coming to her and more, but Thea had no moral leg to stand on.
With that gripe out of the way, I think the forward development of Thea's character is important. Putting her with Laurel is a really good idea. Of course anything to get Thea out of the mansion and into something resembling the greater plot is a good thing. How much do you wanna bet Thea intercepts a call from the Hood in a future episode?
That was the first plot element that I liked. The second had to do with Felicity. I loved the fact that they directly addressed Oliver's increasingly lame excuses to get information out of her (did he really think she would buy the "it's an energy drink in a syringe" excuse?) and I'm glad Dig called him out on it. Also, it was way past time that Oliver finally learned that Moira isn't on the up and up. Maybe he'll bring Felicity into the fold next, because she's obviously trustworthy.
However, the stand out plot element for me was the Count, a Joker-esque villain based on the DC Comic's character Count Vertigo. This version of the character has been completely re-imagined. He's been made quite a bit younger, his original weapon of choice changed to a Scarecrow-like drug called Vertigo, and his personality has been altered to fit the manic insanity of a character like the Joker. The original character used a device that would emit a sonic frequency that would mess with the inner ear, effectively rendering Green Arrow's aim useless. I think I like the updated version a bit more.
Seth Gabel really chewed up the scenery here, but it fit. For the first time he felt like a real comic book villain, over the top, slightly cheesy, but with just the right touch of deadly menace. And speaking of dangerous, the Island scenes finally came together in a big way. Using that fake death pressure point thing (a la Xena: Warrior Princess) that Oliver used to fake that dealer's death to reveal that his Island mentor is just pretending to play along with the bad guys was a nice touch. The island flashbacks also finally showed us how totally brutal and awesome Deathstroke is. I'm now actively looking forward to the flashback story, and I never thought that would happen.
The correlation between Sarah and Thea was a nice one. It was just the right hook for Laurel to convince her father to help.
I loved True Blood's Janina Gavankar (McKenna Hall), and I hope she comes back as a potential love interest for Oliver. Of course I may be biased, since I like her character on True Blood.
I honestly didn't expect to return to Oliver's mob buddies, so that was a nice bit of continuity.
I'm really glad they didn't kill the Count, although I wonder how much more insane he can possibly get after that dose of pure Vertigo into his blood stream. I guess they really are going in a Scarecrow/Joker direction with this character. They've needed to start building up Arrow's gallery of bad guys for a while now, and this is a promising start.
So Tommy and Laurel are living together?
Tommy: "I'm learning you're not a morning snuggler."
Laurel: "And I'm learning that you don't like to wake up in any hour that ends in an AM."
Dig: "Whoa, that's a neat trick, you gonna teach me that one day?"
Felicity: "You look like something the cat dragged in. Not that there are cats in this building. Well, a cat did get in and a guard tazed it. It smelled like fur and static in here for like a week."
Felicity: "If it's an energy drink, why is it in a syringe?"
Oliver: "I ran out of sports bottles."
And when the term 'flimsy excuse' was redefined, we stood in awe and watched.
Let's hope this is the upswing I've been waiting for since the series started, and it goes uphill from here. I'd like this to be the start of that potential we keep seeing glimpses of.
3 out of 4 Double syringes of Vertigo.