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ComicsAlliance Recaps ‘Arrow’ Episode 1.12: Vertigo

The CW’s new superhero series Arrow re-imagines Green Arrow for a TV audience as a tough, often ruthless vigilante bent on setting things right in his home of Starling City by punishing the wicked. ComicsAlliance’s Matt Wilson will be following along all season to see how he fares.

This week, Thea faces some legal woes, Ollie reaches out to his Russian mob contacts to investigate a hot new drug, and Proto-Arrow reveals his true intentions!We know from the start that this episode ain’t messin’ around, because we forgo the usual previouslies and get straight to Arrow chasing a hirsute fellow in a mighty fine leather jacket through a rainy…factory(?). This show sure does have some weird ideas about industry. They eventually go outside, where it’s not raining at all, and Arrow can pin the guy to some machinery with a well-placed shot.

Arrow demands to know where the guy gets his vertigo, the drug introduced last episode and which Thea got arrested for using before going for a joyride. (It also inspired two Hitchcock jokes from me, which I think is my quota.) After some coercion, the guy gives up the supplier’s name: The Count. Arrow disappears, leaving the arrow in the guy’s fine jacket. One! One arrow! Ha-ha-ha!

At the Arrowcave, Dig observes that the name “The Count” is worse than “The Hood,” and don’t I know it. Ollie’s raring to go back out there and take down The Count, but Dig tells him to cool it, because Thea’s drug hearing is coming up soon. Ollie agrees, and is at Casa Queen the next morning doling out court-appearance advice as Thea gets ready. Then Ollie calls her Speedy, sad piano music plays and they miss their dad.

But sad-yet-comforting piano music can never last, and soon enough the Queen Crew is in what I think is the third courtroom set we’ve seen on the show so far (each one has been different, because I guess Starling City hired a real visionary to design its courthouse), listening to a judge make an example out of Thea. He rejects her plea deal and says she shouldn’t be tried as a juvenile. The case will go to trial, he insists. Activist judges, am I right?

The Queens go home and Moira chews out the family attorney, who says he’ll appeal, but it probably won’t help. Thea chooses this opportunity to pick a fight with her mom about that still-lingering accusation that she cheated on Steele. She had to take her mind off things somehow. Ollie tells Moira “I have to go do something” so stiltedly that he might as well just go ahead and say he’s Arrow before a flashback hits.

Young Ollie, still in a cage on Flashback Island, asks Proto-Arrow all the questions I had last week regarding why PA’s big heel turn makes no f**king sense. Proto-Arrow says he can’t help Ollie, but gives him some water, which Ollie smacks away because he is four years old.

Present-Day Ollie (who would be nine, if my math is right) arrives at police HQ to meet with a cop who is actually not Sgt. Lance for once. This is McKenna Hall (Janina Gavankar), a vice cop and one of Ollie’s old party pals.

She’s likable. How novel. Anyway, Ollie asks about vertigo and The Count, hoping that nabbing the distributor might take some heat off Thea. I’m not sure that’s going to do much to persuade this judge who obviously doesn’t want to go easy on privileged kids who think they can get away with anything and are clearly guilty of crimes, but it’s worth a try. Hall hands over all the cops have on The Count. It isn’t much. Maybe one? Two? Three? Three pages, ha-ha-ha? She warns Ollie to leave the policing to the police, he leaves, and Sgt. Lance sticks his nose immediately into things because of course he does.

Meanwhile, in a kitchen lit by an abstract sculpture which is also a light, we get our first look at The Count, who’s talking to the leather-jacket guy from the cold open in a villain voice so over-the-top it would make Jim Carrey Riddler blush. (Also, they really should just have been named Count Vertigo; if you’re going to be silly, go whole hog). I actually have multiple jokes about how this guy looks, so I might as well just list them off:

  1. He looks like Edward Cullen had a lovechild with that vampire Michael Sheen plays and hid it in a peacoat.
  2. It appears a young Jeff Winger needed to free another dean.
  3. So this is how Peter Vincent from Fright Night got his start. (Though the guy looks kind of like Anton Yelchin.)

That’s probably enough.

After jacket-guy tells The Count “the hood guy” is coming after him, The Count injects jacket-guy with a concentrated dose of vertigo, which he explains causes someone to feel immense pain. He doesn’t explain why anyone would want to take a drug that did that, though, or why it would be even slightly popular. The Count gives jacket-guy a gun with one bullet and says he can shoot himself or get his revenge. The guy shoots himself.

Elsewhere, at Laurel’s Apartment of Soothing Music Available Now on iTunes and the Incredible Convenience of Microsoft’s Surface Tablet, Ollie drops by to ask a favor. He wants Laurel to talk to her dad about asking the judge to go easy on Thea. Laurel says she’ll see what she can do, and just like that, she’s asking her cranky dad to help Thea out.

Sgt. Lance initially refuses, but Laurel brings up her sister Sarah’s hard-partying lifestyle. “Don’t go there,” Sgt. Lance says, having just attended a taping of The Ricki Lake Show. Then Laurel brings out the Arrow big guns: the “she isn’t the person you remember her being” argument. Sgt. Lance stands there and pouts his lips for like an hour and eventually says he’ll make some calls.

Dig and Ollie arrive at the garage which is also the Starling City headquarters for the Russian mob, a place we haven’t seen since Deadshot was alive. Bald Russian Mob Guy Alexi Leonov notes Ollie’s lengthy absence, given that Ollie’s supposed to be a Bratva captain. Ollie says he was mulling his options and decided to get into drugs, specifically vertigo.

Leonov says it’s pretty hard to get a hold of The Count. Ollie says he can give him what the police have on him. Leonov says he’ll set up a meeting if Ollie does something for him. Even though Anatoli Knyazev (that’s KGBeast, y’all) speaks highly of Ollie for saving his life, Leonov wants him to kill a traitor. Dig gets antsy, but Ollie tells him to shut up while he puts the guy in a sleeper hold.

The traitor falls to the ground, seemingly dead. That seems to satisfy Leonov, who just lets Ollie take the body out to his car, because who cares what happens to it, right? Ollie puts the traitor in the trunk and wakes him up before knocking him out again and telling Dig to get him out of town. Ollie explains that at the meeting with the Count, they’ll buy a bunch of vertigo and follow The Count back to his hideout. Nothing could go wrong there!

Laurel meets with Ollie and Thea at Casa Queen to explain that Sgt. Lance was able to get the judge to back off and offer probation and community service. The court has also appointed Laurel to be responsible for Thea completing her service. (Isn’t that what a probation officer does? What is with this city’s legal system?) Thea says no thanks. “I already have a mother,” she says, right before she pivots to saying she hates her mom and wants to make her feel bad, so she’ll just go to jail. She’s confused.

Ollie points this out and quickly gives up the piece of information Moira swore him to secrecy on: Robert cheated on Moira, not the other way around. Ollie adds that Robert admitted he was a failure when he died. Thea doesn’t take hearing that her dead father was a bad person all that well. Moira, who is standing right there in the room — she’s not even in a doorway or anything — says Ollie giving up his dad’s secret was pretty crummy.

A few hours later, Ollie, Dig and Leonov stand around waiting for The Count. Leonov explains the drug distributor got that name not by knowing his numbers really well, but by testing vertigo on the homeless and leaving puncture wounds in their necks. And they didn’t call him “Drugula?” You’re terrible at naming people, Starling City media.

The Count arrives and says thanks for the file, but he’s not too scared of the SCPD. Ollie says he wants to buy some vertigo to give the customers at his new club something to get their blood running (and also make them feel excruciating pain). The Count says 56 people died to make the stuff, so that makes it good, I guess. Then the cops show up and Mr. “I’m Not Scared of the SCPD” takes off running.

There’s a brief shootout in which Sgt. Lance proves he doesn’t understand the notion of cover. In the chaos, Ollie takes off after The Count, who injects Ollie with a syringe of vertigo. “No witnesses!” the fleeing Count rasps like so much Cobra Commander. Officer Hall, whose informant tipped the cops off, runs down The Count’s gang like a boss and Dig drags Ollie away.

Dig whips up some of Ollie’s Secret Island Poison Remedy and gives it to him. Ollie screams and triggers a flashback. Proto-Arrow has summoned Ollie to a bareknuckle boxing ring where Deathstroke is wailing on a guy. Eventually Deathstroke kills the dude and Proto-Arrow pushes Ollie into the ring. Fyers says he should fight Proto-Arrow, and they go at it. Well, PA does. He wails on Ollie for a while and then puts him in that sleeper hold Ollie did before.

I feel like this is backwards. We know full well this hold only makes people look dead. Shouldn’t this scene have come before the one where it’s shown to be mostly harmless? It kind of saps this whole thing of any suspense, even though it’s pretty clear Ollie isn’t going to die, anyway.

Now-Ollie wakes up in the Arrowcave feeling like he has the worst hangover of his life. Dig suggests analyzing the vertigo leftover in the syringe The Count left in Ollie’s chest and tells Ollie to take it easy after that overdose of a severe-pain drug. But Ollie’s got to go check on Thea, so he comes home to find Sgt. Lance and Officer Hall, but they’re not there to see her. Officer Hall says she spotted Ollie at the drug exchange the night before, even though she was busy shooting at SUVs while Ollie was getting punched with syringes.

Ollie says he was investigating The Count to try to get a look at him, but then lies and says he didn’t. And so, even though Ollie attempted to buy a huge amount of a highly dangerous narcotic, more than enough to distribute, Lance and Hall let him off with a warning. Starling City, your legal apparatus is a mystery to me.

Moira gets on Ollie’s case about the whole trying-to-buy-drugs-and-hanging-out-with-Russian-mobsters thing, but Ollie turns it around and says the real reason she’s mad is because he told Thea about Robert. Yeah. That’s the real reason. Moira says Thea wasn’t old enough to hear it yet, and, as if by magic, Thea appears to say she is. Does everyone in this house spend all their time just around corners?

Moira and Thea apologize and hug it out.

Ollie leaves that touching scene to begin to tell Dig some crazy plan about tracing the water in the vertigo back to a source. But before he can get it all out, the drug kicks back in and he goes down. Which means it’s flashback time again.

A mercenary puts Young Ollie’s body on a cliff overlooking a creek. Just as he’s about to push Ollie in, Proto-Arrow volunteers to do it. Fyers tells PA to do it, like it matters who does this s**t. PA gingerly kneels down and rolls Ollie over into the water below. I guess he did really die back on the island. What do you know!

Dig and Current-Ollie exit an elevator at Queen Consolidated to find Smoak, who kills time with some fidgety and somewhat obnoxious dialogue about cats. Ollie comes up with an awful excuse about a friend and an energy drink to ask Smoak to analyze the vertigo from the syringes. I get that Smoak is a computer whiz, but when did she get a fully equipped crime lab with centrifuges and what have you so that she can analyze drugs? Where was she trained to do this? This seems pretty well outside the purview of the IT department.

Even so, she’s got an answer for them by night time: The water came from an area near an old, abandoned juvenile detention center. Ollie tries to go deal with things, but Dig says he can’t because he’s still under the effects of the vertigo. Dig holds up a tennis ball and dares Ollie to shoot it. Ollie tries, but can’t aim.


It’s lucky for Dig, too. At least hold the ball away from your head, man. Jeez.

Then Ollie says “I don’t need the bow” and leaves anyway. What a jerk.

At The Count’s hideout, Arrow (without arrows) engages in some stumbly fighting in a stairwell before eventually finding The Count in a badly lit lab. All the criminals on this show just hate adequate lighting, I’ll tell you. Concurrently, Sgt. Lance and Officer Hall arrive on a tip from a magic CI. Just who is this informant, anyway? The Count himself? Dig, maybe?

Arrow slams some dudes through some glass tables and gets into a fistfight with The Count, who is revealed to be wearing a shirt with a kitty on it. I’m starting to think this is on purpose. Arrow does some turnabout-is-fair-play s**t, injecting The Count with his own drug. “Enjoy the fruits of your labor,” he non-cleverly says when the cops run in. Sgt. Lance speechifies that Arrow’s a killer, not a hero (kind of with you there, sergeant) until Arrow throws The Count at him and bails.

Later, Ollie and Thea report to CNRI for Thea’s community service. There’s banter, in the blandest sense. Hall calls Ollie to tell him she got The Count on a bunch of charges. At the hospital, Sgt. Lance and a doctor talk over The Count’s condition. The doc’s never seen anyone take this much vertigo and live. He does look pretty bad, but he’s alive by the end of the episode. So this guy is the one bad guy you don’t kill off, show?

In one last flashback, Ollie comes to in the water and crawls his way to the bank. He finds a piece of map in his pocket; this one labeled with notes from Proto-Arrow. It was a fake heel turn!

There sure is an Omega on that map, but I dare not think what this show would do to Darkseid. Probably make him a disgraced city councilman or something. (There’s also a Sigma; they can use that guy. It’s fine.)

Smoak comes to meet Present-Ollie at Big Belly Burger, and after one hundred hours of negotiation about trust, she hands over the Book of Names Steele found in a clock at Casa Queen. Ollie lies that he’s never seen it before (right after he promised she could trust him). “I think this list might have cost Walter his life,” Smoak says.

Well, that’s a good reason to hand it over to someone else then, isn’t it? Spread the wealth!

Final Thoughts

The Count was goofy as hell, vertigo doesn’t make a ton of sense as a drug, and the show kind of suffocated what should have been a couple suspenseful moments, but overall this episode is one of the better ones of the season so far. It was by far the best since the show came back after the holidays.

I think that’s because it kept moving. It didn’t pause a lot for soapy melodrama — even the Moira/Thea reconciliation came pretty quickly — and there was a good bit of action, a lot of it pretty well done. It makes me want to believe that the producers/writers are starting to figure out what their strengths are, but that may just be wishful thinking. It did seem pretty clear that The Count’s silliness, which veered into campiness, almost had to be intentional.

I also like the character of Officer Hall a whole bunch. I hope she comes back, even though her last chat with Ollie made her seem kind of like a one-off.

And if nothing else: We now know the Arrow universe has a KGBeast. It may ruin him. It almost certainly will try. But we can hope.

Previous Episodes

1.1: Pilot

1.2: Honor Thy Father

1.3: Lone Gunmen

1.4: An Innocent Man

1.5: Damaged

1.6: Legacies

1.7: Muse of Fire

1.8: Vendetta

1.9: Year’s End

1.10: Burned

1.11: Trust But Verify

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