Wow, Seth Gabel really committed to that, didn’t he? I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone enjoying playing their part as much as he reveled in portraying The Count in tonight’s Arrow, “Vertigo.” We knew his villain was going to be one fans would be talking about for a long time, and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
The Count had a swagger to him, a swagger only accessible to those who truly did not care about the consequences of their actions. He’s called The Count because he tested Vertigo on the homeless, runaways, prostitutes, and the bodies were found by the police with puncture marks on their necks like a vampire. Even the way he describes his drug is chilling. “Wine is measured by its vintage. The years it takes to ferment. Vertigo is measured in lives,” The Count explained to Oliver. “56 people died to perfect the drug… and they didn’t die for nothing.”
Starling City’s drug kingpin was one scary dude. But not because he could hold his own in a fight, or had no moral qualms about killing. Hell, we just described Arrow. No, it was the fact that, when interrogating and torturing a henchman, he put his gun in the henchman’s hand, giving him the option to shoot himself or The Count. He was confident the henchman would shoot himself to put himself out of his Vertigo-induced misery, but still. The Count stared his death in the face, smiling, unflinching. He had no fear of his own death, and that’s a terrifying thought. When death isn’t a motivating factor there is no telling what that man could do. And the fact that Arrow left him alive in the end – though overdosed on more Vertigo than a doctor had ever seen, leaving him in a questionable physical and psychological state – means we certainly haven’t seen the last of The Count. But let’s back up, shall we?
Because of Thea’s arrest at the end of last week's episode, it turns out there’s nothing like a little trial to bring the Queen siblings closer. I loved how Thea and Oliver could bond over going in front of a judge for their partying ways. Because that is truly what billionaire heirs and heiresses do. They do crazy sh**, they get caught, they go to court, and some fancy lawyer gets them out of trouble. Well, too bad for Thea, since her judge wants to make an example out of her. Turns out Vertigo is becoming a huge problem for Starling City, and the judge thinks that making Thea the poster child for getting caught with Vertigo will help discourage others from buying and using it. This prompts Oliver to hunt down The Count, because if Oliver can get him to pay for his crimes, it will take the heat off Thea’s back.
Enter Oliver’s newest lady friend, McKenna Hall (aka The League’s Shiva! ‘Fess up, who else did the Shiva blast when they saw Janina Gavankar? I can’t be the only one). McKenna is a cop who used to party with Oliver, but traded in her wild ways for a gun and badge. She works in vice, but partners up with Det. Lance for the special case of finding and taking down The Count. When Oliver went fishing for information on The Count, is it just me or did McKenna look a little shady? I think she might be hiding something. Too soon to tell.
Back at casa de Laurel, Tommy still hasn’t adjusted to an adult schedule, aka waking up before noon. That makes for an awkward run in when Oliver stops by to speak with Laurel. I’m so glad they haven’t started getting back to normal yet, because the situation will never not be weird. Two best friends who love the same girl? Never ends well. Also, who else is getting sick of the Microsoft Surface ads on every CW show? Doesn’t anyone own an iPad? I know tons of people who own iPads, and zero people who own a Surface. Nice try. Anyways, Oliver checks his ego at the door and asks Laurel if her dad could help Thea by calling in a few favors and getting the judge to go easy on her. Surprisingly enough, Laurel is able to convince Det. Lance to do just that! While Thea acts all bratty and rejects the offer of probation and community service hours with Laurel at first, she comes around because she realizes it’s not JAIL. Smart one, that Thea. And saying you’d go to jail just to spite your mother? Come on, girl, I thought we were getting better!
Oliver decides the best way to find The Count is to use his old Bratva contacts. Oh yeah, remember that time we found out Oliver is a leader in the Russian mob? When are we going to see that island flashback? He set up a meet with The Count to buy Vertigo for his night club, but really he just wanted to tail The Count back to his warehouse so he could Hood him up. The police arrived, and in the fray The Count dosed up Oliver with enough Vertigo to cause insufferable pain. Diggle helped treat Oliver, but there were still some lingering effects, which made his archery skills suffer. But when Diggle challenged Oliver, saying he couldn’t go after The Count while still suffering from Vertigo, Oliver shut down any more comments with one look. “You should always remember one thing, Dig: I don’t need the bow.” And it’s the truth: using only hand-to-hand combat, Arrow got the job done and dosed The Count with the fruits of his own labor. I’ve got to sing Gabel’s praises some more: the veins popping out underneath his eyes were a nice touch. You could see just how much pain The Count was in. And just like that, The Count was locked up in a ward, in too much pain to be a threat… for now.
Backing up a bit, when Oliver was working his Bratva contacts, the mob made him kill a random member to see if he meant business. Though Oliver faked it, Diggle thought he really did kill a man to further his own investigation, and he judged Oliver hardcore. Diggle may think he’s seeing Oliver in a whole new light, but that’s who he’s always been from the beginning. Sure, he didn’t actually kill this guy, but I maybe kind of wish he did. Where’s the Arrow from the pilot that killed a guy just for seeing his face? This situation called for killing more than that one did. We have enough morally-straight heroes. The compelling aspect of Arrow is that he is not so heroic. He is a killer, just like Det. Lance said. Diggle knows Oliver isn’t innocent, and I thought he was getting a little high and mighty, and forgetting just who he’s partnered with.
Meanwhile, Thea was finally clued in to the truth (kind of) about their father, that he wasn’t such a saint. But the swift way Thea forgave Moira for everything was a little disappointing. We were so close to her and Oliver finding out Moira is evil! Don’t let her off the hook so soon!
Thanks to the return of our favorite intrepid IT girl, Felicity, Oliver is definitely not letting Moira off any hook. She approached him (after helping him with another task that led to this great exchange: Felicity: “If it’s a sports drink, why is it in a syringe?” Oliver: “I ran out of sports bottles.” Diggle: “Your bullsh** stories are getting worse.” Oliver: “Well aware.”) with Walter’s copy of The List, explaining she was helping Walter uncover the truth behind Moira before he vanished. Oliver is starting to realize his mother is not much of a saint, either. Finally!
[Photo Credit: The CW]
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