Arrow episode 12 review: Vertigo

A new villain, and a new designer drug is on the scene in this week's Arrow. Here's Caroline's review...

This review contains spoilers.

1.12 Vertigo

With this week’s Arrow following directly on from last week’s Thea B-plot, there’s hardly room to catch a breath before Ollie jumps head-first into the case. He feels guilty for uprooting his sister’s life to the point that she routinely drives under the influence of trendy drugs, and sets about eliminating the source before she goes on trial. Is it unjust that a judge wants to punish the poster-child for Vertigo more harshly than he may otherwise have done? The Queens certainly think so, and we’re encouraged to form the same opinion. 

The man behind their troubles is The Count, inspired by the comic-book nasty Count Vertigo. It may be the closest Arrow ever gets to a Joker-esque baddie, and the final revelation that The Count isn’t dead, just much crazier, makes me think that we haven’t seen the last of him. That’s a relief, to be honest, since the rate in which this show kills off its villains is starting to alarm me. In the past eleven episodes, a number of brilliant bad guys have popped up, but all of them are taken out of action within the hour. Maybe it’s time for a proper multi-episode arc? 

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Before we get there, though, Oliver poses as a potential drug dealer in order to get a meeting with The Count. It’s not the first time he’s gone undercover as himself, of course, but surely he’s playing with fire when the police are all over the case already. He’s not just putting his secret identity in danger, but Diggle’s too, and I’m surprised no one has made the connection. I suppose Oliver’s plan to eliminate himself from the suspect list early on was even smarter than we thought. The plan goes awry, of course, and Ollie ends up dosed with the drug himself. 

Arrow has actually changed The Count’s weapon of choice from an ear-piece that induces the vertigo effect to a trendy street drug, which fits in with the show’s tone quite nicely. The direct threat to Ollie hasn’t changed, since the dangerous levels of the drug injected into his system throw off his Hood skills for the rest of the episode, and it’s nice for the superhero story and the family story to interconnect to this extent. My only major problem with this episode is how little we learnt about The Count. He made enough of an impression to make me want him back, but we never really heard about his past or his motivations for concocting the drug in the first place. 

In the flashbacks, nicely bridged by Oliver’s vertigo attacks, we learn that Yao Fei isn’t the cad we all thought he was last week. Yes, he’s working for the enemy now, but by staging a fake brawl and then doing some sort of death pinch on him, Oliver manages to escape. Only one other person on the island now knows he alive, so this gives him an advantage in surviving for another five years. I guess there’s a lot more to come from Yao Fei, since Oliver is still worlds away from the guy that came back in the pilot, but it’s nice not to know exactly what’s going to happen. 

I’d like to take a moment now to plead for more Felicity on the show. Like this show’s version of Chloe Sullivan, it shouldn’t have taken the writers this long to make her one of the stars. From what I’ve been reading around the series so far, she is incredibly popular, and it makes sense within the show to have her join Oliver and Diggle on their mission. She does something more than provide exposition this week, handing over the book Walter gave her before he disappeared. It’s clear that Oliver didn’t expect this at all, and at least he now has some doubts about his mother’s involvement. 

Read Caroline’s review of the previous episode, Trust But Verify, here.

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