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Debi Watches Arrow (sydht!) 1.12: Vertigo 
1st-Feb-2013 06:53 pm

This is late this week because I’ve been having a less than optimal few days with a cold and a general feeling of ‘meh,’ so I didn’t write this yesterday, deciding to watch Gaksital and Parks and Rec instead.

But this isn’t a bad episode! It’s not an amazing episode either: I found it kind of boring for the drama it was supposed to bring to the series, and goodness did they ever ruin an opportunity for an interesting villain. However, it is actually cohesive to the extent that I realize I cannot keep to my organization by subplots anymore. Back to chronological recapping!


Bond Cold Open! As opposed to a Batman Cold Open, which is unrelated to the plot and just showcases the hero’s skills, in this case, the man being run to ground by Maninnahood  is a drug dealer – specifically a dealer of Vertigo, which if you remember from last week, is the drug Thea got high on last episode before driving herself into a ditch.

Ollie pins the guy to a girder by the man’s sleeve and proceeds to yell at him. Don’t be scared of your boss, he yells, he scared of ME! It’s like the worst of any of Nolan/Bale’s Batman scenes: “SWEAR TO MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” I don’t know if we’re supposed to be scared of Ollie when he does this, but like Bale, he comes off as laughably silly.  Drug dealer guy is scared, though. Scared enough to give him a moniker: “The Count.”

Note to Non-Comics ReadersCount Warner Vertigo is a long standing Green Arrow/Black Canary villain. An actual Count of the fictional Eastern European Country Vlatava, Vertigo has the ability to disrupt the balance and coordination of his opponents. He’s a pretty interesting villain, really, and I’m kind of sad that they played this card so early in the show.

In the ArrowCave, Ollie and Diggle exposit and we learn that Ollie’s been running after the Vertigo dealers for days, working it hard. Diggle, however, turns Ollie right back around and points him at his family. Thea’s hearing is today and she needs her brother.

At the hearing, Thea’s counsel explains that they’ve reached a plea arrangement: at the time of arrest Thea was still 2 days short of 18, and the prosecutors have agreed to probation. The judge, however, throws this out, to make a point: he makes a snide remark about the Queens sweeping Thea’s priors under the rug (AFAICT, this is entirely made up) and claims the DA is trying to avoid dealing the Vertigo problem. Therefore, he’s going to use Thea Queen as a “poster child” (his words) for Vertigo, and Make An Example of her by bringing her to trial.


[Laurel enters the courtroom in time to hear the judge's tirade, and Ollie notices. ]

But at Queen Manor, their attorney promises to do what he can, but that they should start preparing themselves for a bad outcome. It’s a stressful time for everyone, and Thea deals with stress the way she usually deals with stress! By throwing spiteful remarks at her mother about cheating on Walter and storming out. Moira rants mildly at Ollie about how the judge is just looking for someone to make an example of.

“Why does it have to be her?”

“Maybe it doesn’t.”

Ollie, demonstrating a very comics!Ollie grasp on secret identity, tells Moira he has to “go do something,” related to that.  On the way:

ISLAND FLASHBACK TIME: Ollie in a cage now, confronted Yao Fei, demanding to know why he’s now working for Fyers, and why he even bothered keeping Ollie safe if he was going to turn him over. He asks Yao Fei to get him out, and gets only “I can’t” in reply. END FLASHBACK

Ollie’s lead takes him to the vice squad (is vice squad the right phrase?) of the SCPD, where he asks after “Det. Hall,” and encounters an old girlfriend: Mckenna Hall.


Just when you thought this show had hit maximum eyecandy potential.

Mckenna and Ollie discuss their heavy partying background, and then Ollie cuts straight to his needing to know about Vertigo for Thea’s sake. Ollie suggests that maybe they could find the dealer, because I’m sure that never occurred to the vice squad. He namedrops “the Count” like he’s doing them a big favor, and Mckenna says they’ve  known about him for months, but hey, random ex-boyfriend who just turned up out of nowhere, have the entire police file on the Count.

No really, she just hands it over. I guess she thinks this is flirting? After Ollie leaves, Quentin appears as if from nowhere (where has he been these last few episodes?) and is grouchy.


Time to meet the Count! And in a minute of his appearance I’m glad they decided to use him as a Villain of the Week. In a wide-lapelled trenchcoat and a large crucifix around his neck, Seth Gabel’s Count is apparently modelled on a hybrid of Robert Pattinson in Twilight and Keifer Sutherland in Lost Boys and I’m already bored. He’s meeting with the dealer Maninnahood hung up in the Cold Open, and blah blah making an example blah blah injects him with Vertigo from two syringes in the neck.


I refuse to relate the biochemibabble he monologues while doing so. Who cares? ODing on Vertigo is really bad, mmkay? Count offers Dealer a gun with one bullet in it, Dealer shoots self rather than continue to live with the pain.

NNCR: Count Vertigo is not, in comics continuity, a vampire or even looks like a vampire.

Note for anyone else: Not all Eastern/Central European Counts are vampires.

Additional: I’m bloody sick of vampires.

You know what I’m not sick of? Laurel and Tommy domestic sceness. Even if they have to be ruined by Windows product placement (ugh), they are working out little kinks like morning person/evening person incompatibility (guess which is which) when they are interrupted by Ollie, wanting to talk to Laurel. She says that the hard line stance of the Judge’s is a platform for his reelection, and Ollie asks her to talk to Quentin to talk to the judge, for him. Again with the subpar Secret Identity milarky, Ollie says he’s working on something right now, but if that doesn’t come through, he needs Lance help.

Laurel tracks her father down. He’s particularly keen on any Queen having to face the full force of the law, but Laurel insists that Thea’s just a reckless kid and deserves a second chance. I have no idea why she goes this route, but she suddenly decides to compare Thea to Sara, and Quentin isn’t buying it. They discuss idealized memories of people, which is clearly more there to mirror Moira’s portrait of Robert than it is to advance Thea’s plot. Laurel does reveal a rather unhealthy way of looking at her friend’s sister, though: as all the potential that Sara had at that age. I’m sure this image of another person won’t go wrong.

“She doesn’t need prison,” says Laurel, “she needs help.”

Ollie is taking Diggle on a fieldtrip! To the Starling City HQ of the Bratva, remember how Ollie’s a captain in that criminal organization? Yeah.

Ollie tells them he wants to “get into pharmaceuticals.” Specifically Vertigo. So could they organize a meeting with the Count? Ollie offers the file that Mckenna randomly decided to give him, as a gift to get his attention.

(I don’t know who to react to that.)

In return, the Bratva man insists on one of my least favorite tropes of all time: Prove you are on our side by killing this guy!

(The only time this has been done well is when Deadshot, going undercover for the Suicide Squad, proves that he’s on their side by shooting an ‘undercover FBI agent!’ much to the annoyance of the government people listening to his wire. “We don’t have any agents in that organization.” “Lawton doesn’t know that!”)

Brtava man also namedrops Anatoli Knyazev as someone who “speaks very highly of” Ollie. Ollie explains that he saved his life.

NNCR: Anatoli Knyazev, aka. KGBeast was a cold-war era supervillain in the DCU, trained as a Soviet Assassin. After the collapse of the USSR, he became a mercenary for hire. His main point of interest is… being Russian.

Anyway, Ollie chokes the guy out as asked to, and the pulse check confirms his death. Diggle is clearly uncomfortable watching his best friend murder someone, but hey! Ollie previously told him to “go with it,” so it’s got to be okay, right?

ISLAND FLASHBACK: Yao Fei lets Ollie out of his cage and walks him over to where the other mercenaries are standing in a circle, watching Deathstroke beat the crap out of another prisoner, before killing him. When Fyers asks for anyone else to try, Yao Fei pushes Ollie into the ring. Fyers explains that the point of having mercenaries murder prisoners is to “strengthen unit cohesion,” therefore Yao Fei has to be the one to fight Ollie. Obviously. END FLASHBACK

Ollie and Diggle walk the body out to the parking lot, and Diggle is still mildly peeved that Ollie killed him. Dumping the body in the trunk of a car, Ollie hits a pressure point on the guy’s neck and BAM he’s awake.

Diggle: That’s a neat trick. You going to teach me that one day?

Ollie: No.

NNCR: This is a move that many people in comics could plausibly pull off, among them Dinah Lance and probably Batman. It’s not really a Green Arrow thing. Go with it.

Ollie knocks the poor sod out again and slams the trunk shut, telling Diggle to arrange a new identity for him and get him out of the city.

Diggle’s army training: Not so much about fighting, than on the forging new identities.

Laurel and Ollie have a sit down chat with Thea. Turns out Quentin went to chat with Judge Brackett and managed to talk him down  Thea tries the “nobody asked you” line on Laurel and Ollie points out that he did, which Thea’s not altogether happy with. The new arrangement is 500 hours community service and 2 years probation, with someone to act as in loco parentis. Laurel volunteers to be Thea’s Responsible Adult.

NNCR: Dinah Lance was instrumental in the rehabilitation of the first comics!Speedy. She looked after Roy throughout his first night cold turkey, and developed a strong parental bond with him that was much more than just dating his fake!dad.

Thea says no thank you, she chooses jail.

WTF, says Ollie, that’ll ruin your life. Turns out, Thea’s more interested in ruining Moira’s life! Hooray for idiotic, spiteful teenagers! WTF, says Ollie again. And because he can’t think of anything else to say, he says that Moira didn’t cheat on Robert, Robert cheated on Moira.  Also, Ollie gives the first hint of actually telling his family some stuff, and tells Thea that Robert admitted failing the family before his death. Obviously, Oliver is talking about being a Squiggle guy, and I still hope that the ‘betrayal’ Moira was talking about was opting out of the Squiggle. Drag Robert’s name through the mud for your own ends, people! GO!

When Thea storms out, it turns out that Moira was listening, and she gives an ‘how dare you’ before Diggle rescues him with news about the meeting with the Count!

Waiting for the meeting, Bratva guy decides to tell Ollie “Why they call him the Count.”

You’ll never guess.

Because in developing the drug he used to use two needles to stab people in the neck, leaving puncture marks on the bodies.


Count turns up and gives another boring monologue about all the people he killed in testing. Ollie and Diggle both deserve medals for not punching him in his annoying face. Or maybe they’re about to, because then the police arrive – Quentin and Mckenna among them. Everyone scarpers under gunfire, and Ollie chases Count Punchable down a stairwell. Count Punchable turns around just as Ollie’s catching up, and stabs him with twin needles right in the chest. That’ll do it, I guess.

Diggle pulls Ollie back to the Arrowcave, strips him of his shirt, and mixes Ollie’s magic drug cureall from the episode with Deadshot. Ollie tries to strangle Diggs first, but Diggs forces the drink down his throat.

ISLAND FLASHBACK: Yao Fei beats a little crap out of Ollie, then chokes him out in exactly the same way that we saw earlier in the episode. END FLASHBACK

When Ollie wakes up, Diggle’s handcuffed him to a table. Allegedly to stop him killing his friend some more, but I reckon it’s because Diggle is into that. Or maybe just because Ollie is doing some stupid shit this episode. He did manage to pull the syringes out of Ollie, Vertigo still intact within it, with the bright idea of analyzing it.

The next morning, Quentin and Mckenna turn up at Queen Manor to talk to Ollie. They had arrived at the Bratva/Count Punchable meeting on information from a Confidential Informant, and Mckenna recognized Oliver himself on the scene.

Well ooops.

Ollie’s story goes like this: he was looking into the Count to hopefully get a visual for the Police Sketch Artist, and paid “some guy with a Russian accent” a lot of money to arrange a meeting. Did he get to see him? No.

No idea why he says that. A sketch would be helpful!

Quentin scowls and storms out. Ollie stops him to thank him for Thea and he says he did it for Laurel, not the Queens.

Moira starts yelling at Ollie for being stupid, and Ollie suggests the “real reason [she's] upset” is because of the Thea-Robert thing.  It’s all very contrived and weird and no one seems to be under the right amount of stress for all the crap that’s happening to them right now.


Enter Thea, and Moira has the opportunity to explain herself and talk about preserving Thea’s memories of her father as this perfect ideal. Both ladies finally break down, hug and apologize. This is a touching scene on face value, but even more interesting if Moira’s now digging herself deeper into a mess of lies from the ‘he betrayed me’ line.

Ollie’s new plan is to analyze the liquid Vertigo to um… use the water to pinpoint Count Punchable’s lab? Don’t ask. Just watch as he gets a wave of dizziness from his OD and fall over.

ISLAND FLASHBACK Yao Fei, under Fyers’ watch, disposes of Ollie’s body by pushing him over a cliff into a river.  END FLASHBACK 

Despite Diggle’s protests that Ollie should be seeing a doctor about the drugs in his system, Ollie decides it’s a good idea to bring the Vertigo, needles and all, to Queen Consolidated and to Felicity Snoak. Because um, IT includes chemical analysis? WHY AM I STILL QUESTIONING THIS SHOW?

Lie to Felicity of the week: Ollie’s “friend” is starting a new energy drink but he won’t tell him the ingredients. Could Felicity please run spectral analysis to locate the factory? It’s still in syringes because, um, Ollie ran out of sports bottles.

Don’t knock it, though. Felicity emails Diggle the results that pinpoint the water source to East Glades and the Bay. where there’s an abandoned juvenile detention center that looks likely. Ollie walks off, but Diggle insists that he not go on account of being still under the influence and woozy. Ollie’s full of RIGHTEOUS JUSTICE  and determined to stop the Count, but Diggle holds up a tennis ball and tells Ollie to hit it or stay.

Ollie opts for secret option number 3: leaving without his bow. Because Maninnahood can still land punches and kick and swing over bannisters with perfect accuracy when everything is blurry and spinny. He just can’t shoot a bow, y’see? Also throwing knives. He can throw those when he’s too wibbly to shoot arrows.

I’m too bored even to make screencaps.

Blah blah fight. Blah blah corners Count Punchable (who is wearing a WEREWOLF T-SHIRT FFS), Count Punchable monologues, they fight more. The cops arrive: Mckenna’s CI has provided the address at the exactt same night Ollie found it.

(Mckenna’s CI: Diggs?)

Aaaand Ollie decides to shoot Count Punchable up with Vertigo. Slow, deliberate, with a one-liner. Yep, murderous vindictive Ollie is back. So much for that character development. Sigh.


In comes Quentin with a gun and a chance to yell at the Hood for being a killer and about how disappointed he (Quentin) is that his daughter thinks he (Hood) is a hero. Ollie throws Count Punchable at Quentin and flees the scene, avoiding Mckenna on his way out.

Ollie drops Thea off at Laurel’s office for her community service as a legal clerk? I guess that’s what’s going on here. Ollie thanks Laurel, and she says it’ll be nice to have her around. Mold her into the sister Laurel lost, that kind of thing. This can’t be healthy, right? Anyway, then Mckenna, who is clearly now around to be a temporary love interest, calls up Ollie to announce how Count Punchable is being charged with everything, and also it was great seeing him.

But it doesn’t look like Count Punchable is going to stand trial soon. Cut to Quentin at a hospital, talking to a doctor about how no one has ODed on this much Vertigo and live, and Count punchable being wheeled off, strapped to a gurney, almost literally frothing at the mouth.

I guess this means they’ve set him up to be a recurring villain, but blegh. What a waste of a good comics villain.


ISLAND FLASHBACK Ollie wakes up in the river, swims frantically to shore, and flashbacks within a flashback to Yao Fei hitting his nerve cluster to bring him back to life, and tucking a map into his clothes before rolling him off the cliff. If we’re supposed to be surprised Ollie wasn’t dead, then the writers are doing something wrong. Ollie finds the map and unfolds it, finding “Shengcun” written in pinyin by a circled section of the island. Ollie’s only mandarin word: “Survive.” END FLASHBACK

Felicity is actually going to be important to the plot! She arranges a meeting with Ollie at the Big Belly Burger and divulges the following things: She’s not an idiot, she knows he’s been lying to her, but she still trusts him. She pulls out Walter’s book and hands it over.

Does it mean anything to Ollie? No, he lies. She goes on to explain that Walter said it belonged to Moira, and Felicity was asked to look into it, then Walter vanished.

The contents of that book, Felicity thinks, got Walter killed.

Good grief. Now all we need is for Felicity to admit she’s known all along that Ollie is the Hood, and the character will be redeemed in my eyes.

Verdict: As a standalone episode, and a showcase for Count Vertigo, this is boring as all get out. But it does do a good job of bringing together plot strands and cashing in earlier plot chips: “Shencun,” Thea’s drug habit, Felicity’s involvement. Such a shame it does it so boringly. And a waste of a good villain.

This post can also be found at Thagomizer.net. Feel free to join in the conversation wherever you feel most comfortable.

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