Arrow 1.12 "Vertigo" REVIEW

TV REVIEW: Out for the Count...

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Episode 1.12
Writers: Wendy Mericle and Ben Sokolowski
Director: Wendey Stanzler

THE ONE WHERE: With Thea facing the threat of jail time for her drug use, Oliver takes the fight directly to the Count, the unhinged pusher infesting Starling City with Vertigo. Felicity, meanwhile, presents Oliver with the book of names, and warns him it may have cost Walter his life…

THE VERDICT: “The Count? That’s worse than the Hood!” Yeah, it may not be the smartest move to name your ominous new bad guy the Count, especially if you’d rather not invite irresistible thoughts of a certain mathematically-crazed bloodsucker from Sesame Street (come on, it’s impossible not to smirk when the crim in the opening scene declares “They call him the Count! That’s all I know!” – all it needed was the sound of cackling from the shadows and the cry of “One arrow! Two arrow! Three arrow!” in a broken mittel-European accent). That might have made for a more diverting episode than this distinctly middling effort, actually. As the Count, Fringe ’s usually reliable Seth Gabel is clearly aiming to channel Heath Ledger, but his ripe performance is just the wrong side of theatrical. There’s zero reality to this Poundland Joker so he never really convinces as a serious threat. The episode also misses a huge dramatic opportunity: it has Oliver injected with the supposedly terrifyingly powerful Vertigo but refuses to run with the idea. We should have seen the drug destabilise him, distorting everything from his perception of reality to his moral code, and we should have watched his struggle to keep his worldview together while hunting down the bad guy. Major missed opportunity. And is anyone else bothered by the way Oliver keeps handing high-risk items to an unwitting Felicity? Last week it was a stolen security protocol, this week it’s an illegal drug…

TRIVIA: The drug-pushing Count is a barely recognisable reworking of classic Green Arrow foe Count Vertigo, first seen in World’s Finest Comics 231 in July 1978. Last survivor of the royal family of Eastern European nation Vlatavia, he’s a bi-polar supervillain armed with the power of flight and the ability to induce a state of vertigo in his opponents. Maybe he should relaunch himself as Dizzy Rascal…

TRIVIA 2: I got it wrong last week: the drug Vertigo clearly isn't a nod to DC's Vertigo imprint. That'll teach me to mix up enthusiastic guesswork with cold hard fact.

DID YOU SPOT: Thea’s middle name, we’re told, is Dearden – a nod to Mia Dearden, the homeless girl who became the second sidekick named Speedy in the comic books. She also appeared in the season 9 Smallville episode “Disciple”.

Dig: “How are you feeling?”
Oliver: “I feel like I’m getting over the worst hangover of my life.”
Dig: “And coming from a guy who spent most of his twenties in a hangover that’s really saying something.”

Read all our Arrow reviews.

Arrow airs in the UK on Sky1

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Nick Setchfield
Editor-at-Large, SFX Magazine

Nick Setchfield is the Editor-at-Large for SFX Magazine, writing features, reviews, interviews, and more for the monthly issues. However, he is also a freelance journalist and author with Titan Books. His original novels are called The War in the Dark, and The Spider Dance. He's also written a book on James Bond called Mission Statements.