Arrow: Vertigo

Dig: "Your BS stories are getting worse."
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 clich├ęd 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.

Bits:

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?

Quotes:

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?"
Oliver: "No."

She's back!

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.

7 comments:

Nadim said...

J.D you READ my mind!
Everywhere I look online, people are saying it's a bad and cheesy episode. I on the other hand thought it was just the right upswing in quality that I'd been waiting for. From Thea joining Laurel to Felicity and Ollie, it finally feels like things are coming together and I couldn't be happier!
Wonderful review JD! Now I'm off to write mine, thankfully knowing I'm not the only one who really enjoyed this one! I have a feeling the second half of the season is finally going to fulfill the potential you and I know it has!

Billie Doux said...

I can't imagine why anyone would refer to this episode as bad and cheesy because I agree it was the best one so far. And that's three of us! They'd better bring Seth Gabel back. He totally creeped me out.

ChrisB said...

I would love to see Felicity become part of the inner circle. She is smart, insightful and trustworthy. Plus, her comments are the laugh out loud moments in any episode.

I'm not sure why people would object to this episode. I thought it was beautifully done and, for the first time, I didn't wait impatiently for the island flashbacks to be over. I felt as in a very big step in the right direction.

CrazyCris said...

I've been looking forward to this one for a while, Seth Gabel was deliciously over the top as the Count, I hope they bring him back soon! And yeah, looks like a combination of the Joker/Scarecrow... he's going to be even weirder!

I like the idea of Thea and Laurel working together! Which one of them will figure out the Arrow's secret first? Although my money's on Felicity... bringing that notebook to Oliver's attention was a risky move for her, but one that will bring more in the Arrow's sphere.

I don't think Laurel and Tommy are living together JD. There was that big "drawer discussion" a couple of episodes ago and it was made quite clear that Laurel wasn't even ready to give him a drawer, let alone move in! I'm guessing he just sleeps over a lot...

Also yes, the flashbacks are getting more interesting!

PlatinumRosebud said...

Nice review, J.D.

Laurel-
This is one lady you don't wanna mess
with.
She does her "influencing" thing with
subtlety.

Thea-
Ollie should really watch out for her.
This is one smart and clever girl.
Writers of this series should not
make her play dumb; it's not in her
personality.

Moira-
This lady is one lethal one.
Merlyn shouldn't underestimate her.
Her children are her priority and
she won't think twice in doing what
is necessary for them.
Now that Ollie has concrete knowledge of her involvement with
"The Book", it would be interesting
how she'll get out of that situation if and when Ollie confronts her about it.

Felicity-
Like I said before, scenes with this lady are few and short, but
both significant and funny.
Ollie should stop feeding her with
"BS stories" like Digs said and
better start including her in the
inner circle.

Where the heck is Kelly Hu (Lady Deathstrike).
It's time for her to kick Ollie's
behind! Hahaha.

Well, that's it for the ladies. :)

JimGfromWI said...

I was really looking forward to this one since I heard Seth Gabel was in it. And my wife was looking forward to it even more - she's more of an Arrow fan than I am - something that I would guess would make the suits at the CW happy. I did think Seth played Vertigo a bit over the top - but after reading the review, I agree that they were going for a crazy, Joker-like psychopath, and it made more sense, or at least what they were trying to do with the character, I guess. I really liked this episode - I think the show continues to improve, and I hope it enjoys a long, successful run.

Patrick said...

I definitely agree with the prevailing opinion, this was one of their stronger episodes. They've been pretty inconsistent with Thea as a character so far, and her rejecting a plea deal just to spite her mother was a pretty dumb move on the writers' part. But I like where Thea wound up when the episode ended, hopefully this will lead to a more consistent arc for her. Willa Holland is a talented actress, she deserves it. And I REALLY like JD's idea that she intercepts a call from the Hood. Awk-ward! One other thing. In the courtroom scene, they listed her full name as Thea Dearden Queen. Mia Dearden was the name of the girl who became the 2nd "Speedy" in the comics. :)

Of course, the real highlight for me was Felicity. She's such a fun character, and Emily Rickards plays her so well. The writers are showing that they have a brain with these scenes, and also that they've watched shows like Smallville and don't want to make the same mistakes. Just like in episode 5 or so, when Ollie gets arrested for being the Hood, and we see that he knew it was going to happen eventually & had a plan, we've seen that Felicity knows Ollie's stories about the things he wants her to research are pure b.s. and more importantly, OLLIE knows his stories are weak. The days where Clark Kent could conveniently step away right before Superman appears are over, writers can't make characters that dumb anymore. Even better was the scene at the end when Felicity approached Ollie with the book Walter gave her. Like many I'm sure, I thought she was coming to confront him about all the lame stories he's been feeding her. How cool was it that SHE came clean to HIM about what she's been working on for Walter? Seriously, if that wasn't the setup for Ollie & Dig bringing her into the Scooby Gang, I'm going to be very disappointed. She's clearly proven she's both capable AND trustworthy. How awesome would it be to have action scenes with both Ollie & Dig in the field & Felicity running oversight from their base?