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‘Arrow’ Season 2 Recap, Episode 7: ‘State V. Queen’ [SPOILERS]

The CW’s 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 to see how he fares.

This week, the show briefly (and I do mean briefly) takes a turn into Law & Order territory, an old villain returns, and another old villain returns!

After the previouslies, we get… a much longer previously, reminding us of Moira’s press-conference confession that she was involved in a conspiracy with Malcolm Merlyn (who I call Boe because I’m a weirdo) to destroy The Glades last season.

It is not a good sign. This episode does everything in its power to wrangle Arrow back to its season-one self, after considerable progress.

Be glad I didn’t follow up on my initial threat for this one:

At Iron Heights prison, which, let me reiterate, is supposed to be near Keystone City, quite a long distance away from Starling, some guards are watching the press conference on Starling’s (former) Only News Channel. They grab a bunch of guns and leave upon hearing about the coming earthquake. Where are they going to go that’s safer than a prison miles and miles away from the city the earthquake is hitting, I wonder?

Meanwhile, The Count (actually, the show has finally caved and started calling him Count Vertigo), whose brain was basically scrambled eggs the last time we saw him, is doing just fine reading a book in his cell. The earthquake hits and his cell door swings open. He grabs a dead guard’s keys and lets the Dollmaker out because he loves his work, he says. I’d hate to overhear those dudes’ prison lunchroom conversations.

Count Vertigo walks out of the prison through a big hole in the wall, through which he can see the destruction of the Glades.

 

I’m still trying to figure out the geography of this. Keystone is just across a lake from Starling, I guess? It’s confusing as heck, much like Count Vertigo’s miracle recovery.

Flash-forward to the present, where Ollie is arriving at the courthouse for the first day of his mother’s trial. Laurel and the guy I thought was the DA but is apparently just another assistant DA stand on the steps and recap the case so far, like lawyers do. Turns out not-the-DA has some huge trump card to use against Moira. I bet it’s something really substantial and not some tabloid junk about an affair. I just bet.

Flashback Island. Ivo, the pirates, Ollie and Sara are gathered around the old Lost plane to find and kill Shado and Slade. They shoot it up good and set some explosives when they don’t find them there. But Slade and Shado… are there? From the looks of it, they hid under some blankets or something. A lot of pros here on Flashback Island. Shado disarms the detonator just in time and the two of them head off to save Ollie.

At the courthouse, Dig and Ollie have a conversation establishing that Dig got a flu shot. That’s right, in case you were wondering, Dig GOT A FLU SHOT but for some reason HE DOESN’T FEEL GOOD and the show really hopes you know all this.

Inside the courtroom, the prosecution AND the defense once again show footage of Moira’s press conference. This episode really does not trust the audience’s short-term memory. They lay out their arguments. Basically not-the-DA says Moira’s a murderer and that’s that, Moira’s attorney says she was coerced. She’s not even denying Moira committed the crime. It isn’t an argument of Moira being guilty or not, it’s about the degree of guilt. This is the argument you’d expect before sentencing, not during the actual judgment portion. But you know, when your trial for killing 500 people is two days long, I guess you have to speed things up.

Queen Consolidated. Dig is feeling mighty weird from that FLU SHOT he got. He passes out right in front of Smoak.

Count Vertigo meets up with a doctor in an abandoned warehouse somewhere and quotes Beatles lyrics at him. Count Vertigo is the least-threatening Joker clone ever created. The doctor, who looks kind of like a poor man’s Bob Balaban, has made the Count a new batch of vertigo. The doc tries to extort some money out of him, so the Count injects him with some… other vertigo? I don’t know, man.

Arrowcave. Dig’s going into convulsions when Ollie shows up, having left his mother’s trial, to find out what’s going on. Smoak says she got a blood test done and Dig’s got Vertigo in his system. Man, I wonder how that could have happened. If only he had gotten some kind of injection recently. It’s just so hard to piece together!

Smoak has also figured out that Count Vertigo has escaped from Iron Heights, which he was sent to “after he recovered from his overdose.” Oh, so that’s how he got over what seemed to be lifelong brain damage! He got better!

In court (Ollie apparently teleported back there), not-the-DA has Thea on the witness stand and is giving it to her good about not visiting her mother in jail for five months, and how that means Moira must be culpable for those deaths. He’s leading the witness like crazy, but the judge allows it because this whole trial is a s**tshow. Who cares.

Anyway, not-the-DA gets woozy and passes out because he’s been dosed with vertigo, too.

Flashback Island. Ollie takes Ivo to the cave where he, Shado and Slade found those World War II skeletons. Ivo’s looking for the hosen the group found in there (the one Ollie gave Thea in the present). Ollie doesn’t say. The captain tosses Ollie out of the cave and starts threatening to shoot off Ollie’s hand if he doesn’t say where Shado and Slade are. But he doesn’t have to, because Flashback Team Arrow is there theatening the pirates with weapons.

Shado’s in a green hood and Slade has a Deathstroke mask for a face.

It’s his actual face now!

Courthouse again. Not-the-DA is being taken away in an ambulance driven by a disguised Count Vertigo, who you’d think someone at the hub for all legal activity in the city would recognize. Moira’s attorney is insisting she testify because Moira’s testimony was so damaging, apparently. Ollie talks Moira into taking the stand.

Arrowcave. Count Vertigo has taken over the feeds from the local news stations so he can do exactly what The Joker did in The Dark Knight, with a handheld camera and everything, except it’s not-the-DA instead of a Batman impostor, and instead of trying to suss out Batman by killing a dude, he’s trying to sell some vertigo by temporarily curing the shakes with it.

Alderman Blood and the real DA (who I now remember is actually Kate Spencer) are in her office, looking over Laurel’s shoulder as she pages through not-the-DA’s notes about the Moira case. Laurel comes across not-the-DA’s smoking gun, and boy, it really seems to be something big! Got to be some incontrovertible evidence there!

It’s so serious that Laurel risks her career to go visit Moira in prison and tell her not to testify. She shows her the killer evidence and begs her not to make her use it.

At Verdant, Roy straps a couple boxing gloves onto Thea and tells her to hit him. She does as some piano music piano musics. This is some weird fetish thing, isn’t it?

After a brief shoutout to Markovia (whatup, Geo-Force), Team Arrow still hasn’t figured out the vertigo dosings had to do with those flu shots. Come on, guys. Smoak has discovered where Count Vertigo is, though, via a reflection in not-the-DA’s eye. It’s an old, abandoned government building.

Inside that very building, Count Vertigo is boiling up new batches of the drug, which for some reason has gone from being bright green to looking entirely like urine.

Arrow shows up to free not-the-DA. There’s a brief little standoff. Arrow shoots a propane tank and starts a fire that enables him to escape with the hostage. Count Vertigo says something about Arrow being on the “no-killing wagon” and boy do I wish he had stayed mostly brain dead.

The next morning, Thea and Ollie are meeting with their mom. “You shed you didn’t want to teshtify! But you have to! Because of me!” Thea says for the benefit of everyone tuning in halfway into the show. Ollie asks what Laurel has that’s such a game-changer.

And, yeah, Moira had an affair with Boe a long time ago. That’s all it is. What that has to do with guilt in a conspiracy/murder trial is way beyond me. It’s circumstantial evidence at best, but I guess this is just how f**ked up the Starling legal system is. Also: How did Laurel have some kind of official-looking document proving it? Did they have to file for an affair license?

Laurel’s cross-examination of Moira is full-on crazy. Her point is basically this: Boe kidnapped Walter Steele, but he didn’t kill him because Moira asked him not to. Ergo, Moira had a special relationship with Boe, but apparently not one special enough for him not to kidnap and imprison her husband against her wishes.

Everyone, including Laurel, reacts to this by acting like Laurel has all but pulled the lever to the electric chair. Out in the lobby, Laurel hilariously walks around the rotunda (which is full of American flags and patriotic paintings to prove they’re not in Canada, no sir) to avoid Ollie, but he just catches right up to her and says he knows what she did had to be hard. She falls on a sword and stumbles out.

Flashback Island. A standoff ends up with Flashback Team Arrow reassembled with Sara in tow. The captain gets blown up when Shado arms the detonator she disabled and throws it on the ground. It’s an exploding detonator.

Arrowcave. Dig and Smoak are trying to find out the connection between the vertigo dosings. Somehow, Smoak has a record of everyone that has symptoms (that’s a clear violation of HIPAA, by the way). And hey, guess what, it has something to do with those GODDAMN FLU SHOTS. They track the route to a truck, and because Dig’s in no shape for it, Smoak goes. Of course, Count Vertigo is right there to meet her, because he can be wherever he needs to be at any time. Must be one of the side effects of that overdose he recovered from.

At the courthouse, Moira’s lawyer comes out to the rotunda to tell Moira and Ollie that the jury may have a verdict. Wait, what? What about closing arguments? Why were there only two witnesses, and only for the defense? What about the families of those 508 people who died? What kind of trial is this?

Ollie gets a phone call from Count Vertigo. He’s clearly a much better detective than Team Arrow is, because he connected the dots from Smoak’s ID badge to Ollie being Arrow. (He even says “Arrow,” which I thought was just Officer Lance’s little nickname for him at this point.) What’s even more impressive is he couldn’t string a sentence together last time we saw him!

Ollie rushes off to Queen Consolidated HQ to save Smoak, and when he gets there, he doesn’t even bother putting up his hood.

Uh…yeah, Count Vertigo has you figured out, but QC has security cameras, doesn’t it? Or like, people who work there, even at night? What are you even doing, Ollie. You didn’t even put your eye makeup on!

Arrow finds the Count creepily stroking Smoak’s hair. The Count reveals his whole vertigo scheme isn’t just for making money (though it actually seemed pretty effective in that regard). There’s a Higher Power behind him who wanted to draw Arrow out. Arrow’s out and unmasked, so I don’t know why some big trap isn’t springing yet.

Instead, the Count just takes a few shots at Arrow with a handgun, then threatens Smoak with a double dose of vertigo. When it’s clear he’s going to dose her no matter what, Arrow pumps three arrows into the Count. The Count falls back and out a window.

Welp, the whole no-killing thing was fun while it lasted, wasn’t it?

Ollie returns to the courthouse and tells Thea she’ll see what happened at QC “on the news.” I mean, I don’t guess that’s inaccurate.

The family attorney comes out to say the jury’s reached a verdict: Not guilty.

Again, this wasn’t even about guilt. It was about degree of guilt. She confessed to being part of the conspiracy. She is guilty. Then again, the prosecution’s case was pretty much completely based on a soap-opera affair twist, so they definitely deserved to lose. Everyone deserved to lose.

Arrowcave. Ollie doesn’t understand the verdict either. Queen Consolidated has developed a magic cure for vertigo. Smoak and Ollie have a piano-music discussion about how he had to kill Count Vertigo. “There was no choice to make,” he says, willing it to be true, I guess.

Flashback Island. Shado has the hosen. It has coordinates on it for the old Japanese sub Ivo has been looking for. Sara explains this while appearing to stifle a laugh. Either that’s great acting on Caity Lotz’s part (she’s clearly still loyal to Ivo and Ollie ought to know it), or they got really giggly on the set that day.

Elsewhere, Ivo kills the f**k-up pirate captain and appoints a new guy.

In the present, Sebastian Blood helpfully tells us he’s the Higher Power behind the Count’s return. His police-officer goon tells him there’s a been a development, so he puts on his Scarecrow mask and walks into a room full of guys crying blood. One of them says he feels “stronger,” and Brother Blood says, “Good.”

Moira leaves the courthouse in a media circus. The one reporter we always see from Channel 52 is asking her questions like, “How does it feel to get away with murder?” and “Did you kill your first husband?” I guess the writers wanted to assure us that they hate journalism as much as they do accurate portrayals of legal proceedings.

Moira meets a driver outside. He drives her to a parking lot somewhere and immediately gets shot with an arrow for his trouble. You know what that means. Boe isn’t dead!

“There are parts of the world where death is an illusion. I’ve been to one,” he says, cementing that he is 100 percent Norman Osborn.

He also reveals that he did some jury tampering to make sure Moira got acquitted. Oh, and also Thea is his daughter.

Final thoughts

I supposed the writers thought that, because they had left a bunch of dumb pseudo-drama, soap-opera twist garbage and Arrow killing people out of the season up to now, they had to cram it all into one episode, and this was it.

UGH.

 

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