Writers: Marc Guggenheim & Drew Z Greenberg
Director: Bethany Rooney
THE ONE WHERE: As Moira Queen stands trial the Count doses Starling City with Vertigo, leading Oliver to reconsider his stance on killing…
THE VERDICT: For all Arrow ’s quantum improvement since its faltering first episodes there’s one character guaranteed to reduce it to a fire sale version of Batman. And here he is again – Count Vertigo, played by Seth Gabel with the broadest of strokes. All cartoon leer and florid line delivery it feels like a crude channeling of Mark Hamill’s Joker that never quite achieves lift-off, leaving us with caricature instead of genuine insanity and threat. Have they really killed him off? I do hope so.
The Count’s death is one of the more troubling parts of this episode. Is it meant to be a momentary stumble on Oliver’s path to ethical enlightenment? Or is he now strictly a non-killing hero who, y’know, kills when “There was no choice to make”? It feels like a confused character beat, a backwards step in a show that’s been so keen to reposition Oliver as a true hero to replace the murderous vigilante of season one.
And did Oliver really have no choice but to reveal his true identity to the Count? Was there really not a cleverer alternative than to flat-out confirm a supervillain’s piece of guesswork in a phonecall? Madness. As a superhero that’s the very last thing you surrender to the enemy. Oliver, Batman wants words.
Elsewhere the trial arc reaches its conclusion. Courtroom drama makes great television, supposedly, but I’ve never been convinced – it just feels rigid and stagey, all best suits and frowns, and this is no exception, with a triumphant Not Guilty result that even the show’s characters are unconvinced by.
DID YOU SPOT?: Deputy Mayor Levitz is named for veteran DC Comics writer, editor and former President Paul Levitz.
DID YOU SPOT? 2: Another reference to the country of Markovia, home of Geo-Force and Terra in the DCU and previously linked to the creation of the earthquake machine that devastated the Glades.
DID YOU SPOT? 3: Brother Blood refers to one of his test subjects as Cyrus. Could this be Cyrus Gold, alias zombiefied DC foe Solomon Grundy, originally nemesis to the Golden Age Green Lantern? Or – potentially more terrifyingly - Billy Ray Cyrus?
HMM: So how did Malcolm Merlyn return from seeming death? Could his miraculous resurrection be linked to Ra’s al Ghul’s fabled Lazarus Pit? If so, did John Barrowman also use its uncanny power to resurrect his career sometime in the noughties?
Felicity: “I have this thing about needles – all pointy things, really. Which is ironic, considering who we work with…”
Arrow is broadcast in the UK on Sky 1 HD