Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Arrow "Vertigo" Review

I've been waiting for a Willa Holland showcase episode all season. Early on in the season she was stuck playing the dull rebellious teenage girl; then, the writers forgot about that. Thea's arrest for driving while under the influence of vertigo reminded the audience Thea liked drugs and used them when pissed off at her family. Thea's drug trial wasn't the most inviting stories for a Willa Holland showcase, but I'd take it. I really like Willa Holland.

The Willa Holland showcase episode got me to remark, aloud, twice that the writers really aren't giving Ms. Holland a lot to work with. "Vertigo" isn't a Willa Holland showcase episode at all; it's the same stuff Thea does every episode, except this time she has more scenes, and Oliver puts on the hood for her sake. Oliver takes on a local crime drug lord by the name of The Count in "Vertigo." The Count got his name after six homeless men were found dead from a drug overdose. Two holes were in each neck of the dead homeless men, like a vampire's bite. Thus, the eccentric crime drug lord became The Count. The Count reminds me of Moriarty in BBC's Sherlock. I think the Arrow writers were enamored with that Moriarty, a totally off-the-wall, bizarre and crazed sociopath, and decided to create a similar character in The Count. Now, The Count could be a villain in the comics. I don't know. I read three issues of Green Arrow a decade ago.

Arrow handles the case-of-the-week differently in "Vertigo." Oliver doesn't disguise himself when he meets with The Count. To meet The Count, Oliver calls on his Russian contacts. Oliver's Russian story actually matters. I suppose the writers wouldn't drop in the "Oliver's the head of the Russian mob" back in October. Oliver meets up with the Russian in hopes they'll set up a meeting for him with The Count. Oliver needs to prove he's a man of his word, of man of their organization, so he kills someone. Diggle questions the character of his boss. Oliver's surprised Diggle wouldn't trust him. Oliver places two fingers under his victim's jaw and revives him; he arranges a new identity for the man the Russians think is dead. It's just another trick in Oliver's pocket.

"Vertigo" is an episode that's interested in showing what Oliver can do, what he learned and how he learned during his five years where the world thought him dead. Oliver's very good at disguising himself in plain sight, if that makes sense. No, Oliver excels at exceeding under pressure. The island scenes serve to show how Oliver learned what he did throughout the episode. The treachery of his mentor wasn't treachery. His mentor teaches him the fake-murder trick and rolls him over a cliff's edge into the river below. Oliver wakes with a map and a destination. The map is written in Cyrillic. So, Oliver hides in plain sight when he meets The Count. The plan sort of backfires when The Count injects two syringes of vertigo into his body, causing Oliver to briefly lose his mind and feel the after-effects while he's trying to kick ass as The Hood.

Diggle won't let Oliver complete what he started, because Oliver can't see straight. Oliver, in the line of the night that serves as a microcosm of Oliver's story in "Vertigo," suggests Diggle remember that he's got more tools to use than a bow-and-arrow. Indeed, Oliver kicks ass with his fists. The Count gets two syringes of vertigo injected into his system. The Count loses his mind. Laurel's father sees what happened to The Count from the drug overdose, which doesn't help to change his mind about the killer in The Hood. He also tries to nail Oliver for being at the scene of the drug bust on The Count. Oliver's reasons for being there are acceptable: he was helping Thea.

The different sides of Oliver were important to see. Felicity shows Oliver the book Walter found and gave her, which his mother had in the Queen household. Oliver's jaw tenses up, his eyes seem to tear, and he's genuinely bothered. Finally, the story's moving towards Discovery. Felicity theorizes Walter's possession of the book resulted in his disappearance and murder. Thea just finished tearfully apologizing to her mother for ever wishing her dead for thinking she cheated on her dad. The truth about Robert Queen hurts Thea, but it's an important truth. Berlanti's old series, Everwood, had an episode about Ephram thinking his father cheated on his mother. When Ephram learns that his mother cheated on his father, Ephram reels back and can't stand without grabbing onto something solid. Thea's not as stricken by the news, but it gives Ms. Holland the chance to cry and emote, which is, you know, better than her watching TV and making angry faces at Amell.

"Vertigo" succeeds because it moves the story along significantly while deepening Oliver as a hero and bonding the family together only for its inevitable tearing apart as the season rolls on. Once The Count is dispatched, it seems Oliver cannot be surprised. The dude has an answer for everything, but the gut-wrenching meeting with Felicity shows that he hasn't seen it all. Not by a long shot.

Other Thoughts:

-The opening chase scene was excellently shot by director Wendey Stenzler. The pan up to the Oliver as he jumped was slowed down slightly. The rain pouring down in the shot looked so damn cool. Visually, Arrow is a treat to watch each week.

-Thea's working with Laurel as part of her plea deal with the judge. Let's hope Thea is involved in actual plots now.

-Laurel used her father's guilt about her sister/his daughter to get him to help the Queens. The alcoholic aspect of Laurel's father hasn't been seen since the depressing ending to the last episode of 2012. Was Laurel maybe a bit out of line using her sister to get her father to do something he didn't want to do?

-Deathstroke kicked a dude's ass. That is all.

-I remembered the name of Tommy's father, both his villain name and actual name. I'm disappointed he wasn't in the episode, because I couldn't refer to him by name in the review. Now, I just need to remember Laurel's dad's name.

-Wendy Mericle and Ben Sokolowski wrote the episode. Wendey Stenzler directed the episode.

THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK


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Originally, I titled the blog Jacob's Foot after the giant foot that Jacob inhabited in LOST. That ended. It became TV With The Foot in 2010. I wrote about a lot of TV.