We may as well jump right in to this one, because there’s quite a bit to talk about. Unfortunately, none of it is good. Fair warning, there are spoilers peppered throughout this review, so if you haven’t watched “State v. Queen” yet, you may want to come back later.
Just a quick recap: Moira Queen is on trial for her involvement in the quake that killed 503 residents of Starling City. As the title suggests, “State v. Queen” deals with her trial, which has been building up all season. In a flashback at the top of the episode, we witness Count Vertigo’s quake-assisted escape from prison. Now, he’s selectively poisoning folks (including Diggle) with a new version of Vertigo which skips the high and goes straight for the flu-like withdrawal symptoms. Oliver has to deal with the pressures of his mother facing the death penalty and the Count’s current rampage, all while his partner is laid up with Vertigo sickness.
Any hope “State v. Queen” had went right out the window when they not only pursued the ridiculous idea that Laurel could somehow still be working on this trial despite her intimate connection to the defendant but they decided to double down on it. That’s right, when the prosecutor falls ill thanks to the Count’s scheme, Laurel has to step up and finish the trial. Why? Because, in the words of Starling City’s brilliant D.A. “the jury knows you.” No wonder Starling City needs masked vigilantes! Even better was Laurel’s visit to Moira Queen in prison, which Laurel freely admitted should get her disbarred. And by “better” I mean “not actually better.”
Also unintentionally funny was Laurel’s sudden face-to-face with Oliver in the moments after she delivered her closing arguments in what was certainly the speediest trial for what amounts to a war crime in history. Stephen Amell has, from Arrow‘s first episode, imbued post-Island Ollie with an almost zen-like serenity, but unless you’re the Dalai Lama, you’re not making nice to your ex-girlfriend who just tried to give your mother the death penalty before you guys have even left the courthouse. Did Katie Cassidy run over someone’s cat between season one and season two or something? Laurel has been either absent or insufferable all season long.
The Count is back, and once again, he’s intended for those who found Jim Carrey’s performance as The Riddler in Batman Forever too nuanced. The Count’s scheme to get the city addicted to Vertigo (via flu vaccinations! Who wrote this episode? Jenny McCarthy?) so that they have to come to him to buy more of the drug seemed rather ill-advised. Considering that the Count has never exactly been portrayed as the sharpest knife in the drawer, are we really supposed to believe that he went from recognizing Oliver Queen’s name to remembering that Queen might have been the guy that got him set up for the Arrow…to figuring out Ollie’s secret identity? Especially when that encounter eventually ended with The Count getting dosed heavily and driven insane? And then Ollie shows up without his mask? Get out of here. No, seriously. Go.
Also, I realize that this was a kind of “weaponized” version of the drug, but even when The Count was a straight-up drug kingpin, did Vertigo EVER seem like there was anything appealing about it? It made folks play in traffic and/or it gave them withdrawal symptoms. Drugs are bad, kids!
I suppose it wasn’t all bad. You know who was an absolute bright spot? Felicity. Emily Rickards had two well-placed moments of utter competency that not only reinforced why Felicity deserves to be on this team but lightened the mood considerably. The moment that Felicity and Oliver shared after he takes out the Count was genuine and the look they exchanged said more than all of the “feelings over-explaining” they tried to do in last week’s (otherwise terrific) episode, “Keep Your Enemies Closer.” I also got a kick out of Doctor Ivo’s Vader-esque system for field promotions on the island.
There are a number of factors at work here, but all of them add up to this being not only the worst episode of the season, but probably the single worst episode of Arrow‘s entire run. Not even the dramatic return of John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn made much of a difference, and the idea that he influenced the outcome (Not guilty on 503 counts!) and the utterly eye-rolly soap opera revelation he brought with him could move the needle. We knew his return was inevitable, but the timing could have been a little smarter. Essentially, we’ve hit the reset button on Moira Queen’s entire story, and she’s right back to where she was in season one…still being manipulated by Malcolm Merlyn.
Brutal, guys. Just brutal. A tremendous step backwards for a show that has done a fine job of not only reinventing itself this season, but turning in quality episode after quality episode. On the bright side, we probably won’t be seeing Count Vertigo again. Arrow has built up so much good will though, that I’m not at all worried about the show’s future. “State v. Queen” is a major misstep, but there’s still plenty of time to get back on track. And we do have that mid-season finale two-parter with Barry Allen coming up to look forward to!
DC Universe Watch: Brother Blood is back! We’re getting closer and closer to finding what I can only assume is the show’s equivalent of “Miraclo” on the island…which will hopefully heal Slade’s all-too symmetrical burns. When Merlyn returns, we can only think “Lazarus Pit!” although he makes a reference to “places in the world where death is only an illusion” which sure sounds like Nanda Parbat to me! Other than that, they kept the DCU easter eggs to a minimum in this one. Which is fine…nothing short of the revelation that this whole episode took place on Earth-3 would have saved it.
UPDATED! Sharp-eared commentor “Foxhound” just pointed out that Moira Queen’s defense attorney has been Jean Loring! I can’t believe I’ve gone this entire season without putting that together. Well, hopefully things go a little better for this Jean Loring than her comic book counterpart…