Arrow: State V Queen

"They said you were dead!"

Yet another departure from the norm. This time we got a courtroom drama, combined with an episode of Lost. As snarky as that sounds, I actually liked this one.

I think the Count outlived his welcome. Although I liked some of his cheesy one-liners and manic over-the-top Joker vibe, it was time for him to go. Maybe the Arrow PTB could've put him back in prison, but I'm not really sure that would've been as effective story-wise. Having Oliver breaking his word not to kill in order to save Felicity felt right. Perhaps having him kill again was inevitable, because it would've been a touch unbelievable if he pulled off the no kill hero on his first try.

At least his actions also gave us our first real Felicity/Oliver moment. There have been a few good ones before, but this was first time that Oliver looked close to falling into her arms, too. Sure, they have a ways to go before a romance would make sense for Oliver, but that first spark was a good one. It's a lot better than the forced thing with Isobel, or even the tepid emotions with Laurel. I also loved that Felicity understood why he did it, and didn't scold him at all. It turned out to be just a lovely character moment.

We also got the three big reveals; Alderman Blood finally has a success with his serum, and he was also the one who pulled the Count's strings. Moira and Malcolm had an affair that resulted in Thea. And last but certainly not least, Malcolm Merlyn is freaking alive! I totally didn't see that coming. I had heard that John Barrowman was coming back in some form, but I'd assumed (like the rest of the internet) that it would be in some kind of flashback. I'm pretty much blown away by this one, and Moira's reaction was perfect, mirroring my own jaw drop.

As for the courtroom stuff, I think it worked to a degree but I never really felt the drama. I had a pretty good feeling that Moira wasn't going to be sentenced to death, but I didn't see her acquittal coming. It felt wrong, and it was good that Oliver addressed that. So when Malcolm showed up and explained that he was behind her miraculous save, it made sense-ish. Okay, it didn't make sense that he would still have that kind of power. I'm just glad Barrowman is back, so I'm gonna roll with it. I hope he has a very different role in the story this time around though, because we got him as the main villain once already. Twice might be too repetitive.

I did like some of the Laurel moments, especially the scene with Moria in Iron Heights. It's clear she wants to be hated by Oliver, which fits into her downward spiral arc. I'm just a little fuzzy on her motivations, though. I think we need an episode focused around her so that we can start to understand her better, because right now she's my least favorite character. That's really not a good thing for one of the main characters. In other words, hit bottom already, Laurel!

Island Flashback:

Again not too much movement on the Island, but what we got was jam-packed. The group is reunited and Sara is along for the ride. We got even more confirmation that Doctor Ivo is a bastard, killing the captain of the ship rather casually. Plus we learned what they were searching for, coordinates to a submarine that supposedly has something that'll save the entire human race. Could it be connected to Alderman Blood's serum?

I got some pretty heavy Lost vibes in this one, mostly because our group was being led around through dense jungle by gun wielding men covered in sweat and grungy clothes ala 'The Others'. The whole chase also felt a bit familiar too, but with superhero characters we got some cool action beats, like Shado dropping the bomb that she defused earlier in episode to take out her pursuers. I think I'm officially more interested in the flashback story than what is happening in the present, if only by a bit.

Bits:

I know it's mud, but Slade's face looks pretty freaky.

Just like Sara mentioned a couple of episodes ago, the first time Sara met Shado she was wearing the hood.

The quake was six months ago.

The Count let out the Doll Maker, the serial killer from the episode "Broken Dolls".

The Count escaped the prison through an arrow-shaped hole in the wall.

Yet another mention of the particle accelerator. S.T.A.R. Labs and their wacky particle accelerator is definitely going to be activated on time.

The Count interrogating Adam Donner (Laurel's boss) was almost lifted straight out of The Dark Knight. His plan was like comic book 101, a dastardly scheme by an evil villain with some sort of exotic drug illness thing forcing people to make morally questionable choices. I think the Joker has tried this a few times. The Count even died like the Joker did in the 1989 Batman movie.

My immediate thought when Oliver killed the Count was, what will Quentin think? I bet he won't be happy. But then again, this one had it coming.

I wonder if Malcolm was referring to the Lazarus Pit when he said that death was only an illusion. Or was he just saying that he faked it really well? Does this mean resurrection is now possible in the Arrow verse? Will Malcolm bring back Tommy? Will we get some of our dead villains back, like the Doll Maker and The Count?

Quotes:

Count Vertigo: "Too violent, too sloppy, too stupid, too ambitious… you. I love your work. Big future."
Nice use of retro irony here, since neither the Count nor the Doll Maker had very long to live.

Oliver: "I heard you passed out."
Dig: "I told Felicity not to call you."
Felicity: "Before that you said 'gah' and 'thud' so I didn't take it very seriously."

The Count: "I am Count Vertigo and I approve this high."
So cheesy. I love it.

A bit uneven, but a pretty good episode. I think the ending saved it from a lower rating, though.

3 out of 4 Villains that just won't die.
---
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related. He reviews Arrow, The Originals and Farscape and cool new movies that strike his fancy.

12 comments:

AmandaK said...

So happy to see Barrowman back in this:) I'm still miffed that he didn't get to be in the 50th Aniv ep of DW. it would've been fantastic :)

tricksterson said...

My problem with Oliver's killing in season 1 wasn't that he killed, it was that most of the people he killed were just, at best henchmen and sometimes might have just been guards doing their job who didn't know what their bosses were up to while often letting the bosses live.

This kill was totally justified.

MischievousNinja said...

"Quiet please, I'm threatening."

Not slowing down on introducing comic book villains. This show is getting better by the week.

TJ said...

Yay! Barrowman is back!. But as I follow the 10 Billie rules of television, I was zero surprised. This was textbook rule #10. "If you don't see the body, don't believe anyone is dead". And we never got to see what happened to the body last season, so there you go...
The affair with Moira and the Thea situation also felt like yesterdays news, but hey, I'm not complaining. This has easily become my fave show now. I think Arrow just gets better and better.

I don't know anything about the DC Comics universe, but apparently a lot of people do, and if you check around the net about this ep, it seems there are three conclusions.

- Lazarus Pits
- Slade upgrade
- Solomon Grundy

I have no idea what any of that means, but it doesn't matter. I think the great thing about this show is that it works both for Comics fans and for those who are not.

Freeman said...

If there was ever a character I disliked more than Laurel, it was the Count. Good Lord he was terrible. It was like he was trying to do a pastiche of Heath Ledger and Mark Hamill's respective Jokers, and it wasn't working. He seemed to get a better handle on what he was doing but it still wasn't working. At least his reappearance allowed for one of the coolest scenes in the show. Ollie unloading all those arrows into his chest was straight baller. And the scenes between Ollie and Felicity got my heart all aflutter.

Poor Moira can't get a break. Just when she thought she was out, they pulled her right back in. Malcolm's reappearance really seems like he got a bit o' the Lazarus Pits. Though I really am curious what he's bringing to the table for R'as that they would waste a Pit on him. I wonder what this revelation about Thea's parentage means for her future. Will her learning this break her and turn her towards villainy? Will they ever touch on how grody it now is that her and Tommy both would regularly check each other out?

Solomon Grundy, born on a Monday! Solomon Grundy is another Batman villain, but his twist is that he's basically a zombie. I wonder how they're gonna play it on this show. The dude who finally survived Blood's injections' name was Cyrus, which was Grundy's original name.

I love that Slade's mudface ointment thing basically makes him look like he's wearing the Deathstroke mask. And it seems likely that Slade is gonna get injected with that Miraclo joint and it gonna turn into the superhuman assassin we know today. And since people are coming back to life, I suppose it is possible Vertigo could make another appearance down the line.

And okay guys, is no one else concerned about Katie Cassidy here? She looks really unwell.


Austin said...

Freeman, I too noticed how thin Katie Cassidy is looking. Not good.

Billie Doux said...

I agree. Katie Cassidy looked almost emaciated. I hope she's okay.

I was also very happy about the return of John Barrowman. And the Thea/Roy punching scene was so oddly sweet. I want more of both of them.

ChrisB said...

Interesting. I spent the episode thinking Cassidy looked pretty bad as well. Shame.

The whole end of the episode, while a twist I certainly did not see coming, felt a bit overdone to me. Too much going on all at once. It felt as though the writers had three great ideas (Moria's trial result/Malcolm is alive/Thea) and couldn't agree among them which to use. They used them all with the result that none of them got the attention it deserved.

As always, the Felicity story was my favorite. Love her vibe with Oliver.

Josie Kafka said...

I agree that Laurel looks unwell. But I thought the same thing about Thea last season (for me, a week ago), so I'm hopeful there's someone on set who can give her a stern talking to about how it is, in fact, possible to be too thin for both health and beauty reasons.

I felt sad about the Count. On the one hand, his name was silly--I kept picturing the Count from Sesame Street. One! Two! Three new addicts! Mwa-ha-ha! On the other hand, I really like Seth Gabel and wish we'd gotten to spend more time with him.

On the third hand, I don't wish that we spent more time on any of the other one-off villains, so that might be a case of being careful what I wish for: fangirliness can lead to unwise "dreamcasting."

Speaking of fangirliness, dreamcastiness, and me in general: even though I am the author of Billie's Tenth Law of TV (it is called Josie's law for that reason, not because I once pretended to be dead), I had no expectation of every seeing John Barrowman again, and I was delighted when he reappeared.

But on the fifth hand, I'm surprised Moira is alive. I expected the show to take a sort of moral cop-out: a not-guilty verdict, then death. That would have fit with TV's tendency to emphasize punishment outside of the law for sins. I'll be interested to see if she comes around, especially since I think she could have done a bit more to try to stop the destruction of the Glades.

Although I'm now out of hands, I have one more thing to agree with you on, JD: I, too, got some crazy Lost Season Four vibes. Keamy would be a fun guest-star on this show, wouldn't he?

kikishua said...

I do love Felicity, but I'm starting to wish she would be a little less squealy in dangerous situations. Quippy and defiant, please.

Marianna said...

At the reveal of Thea being Merlyn's daughter, all I could think was "Wow, Tommy was being more accurate than he realized when he said that Thea was like a baby sister to him" and "Thank goodness Tommy and Thea never got together because eww."

Lamounier said...

I liked the Count. The actor did a good job with the role and I dug the music score that played on his scenes. RIP The Count. Oliver shouldn’t feel guilty, though, he was forced to do it, there was no other way.

Malcolm is alive? WHAT? That was *totally* unexpected. Although the moment Moira mentioned she had a one-time thing with Malcolm, I thought they were going to make Thea his daughter. I’m not sure how I feel about this revelation, it’s too soapy and Thea already has a complicated family as it is. And I don’t want Moira to become Malcolm’s puppet again. Come on, we had that last season, no need to repeat it.

I agree with ChrisB that there were too many important developments happening all at once. Maybe they could’ve left us wondering how Moira got away for one episode or two before revealing Malcolm was alive.