The CW’s Arrow continues to stunt cast the best and brightest of geek icons as Seth Gabel joins the cast playing the villainous Count,
Starlight Starling City’s most dangerous drug pusher.
Let’s bitch it out…After Thea’s (Willa Holland) Lindsay Lohan/Amanda Bynes impersonation last week, Oliver (Stephen Amell) is in dire straits to get his baby sis off the hook. Things initially look grim as the judge takes a hard stance on the privileged brat and decides to make an example of her (literally – he says it aloud to the entire courtroom in the kind of reckless display reserved for nighttime soaps). This means that Oliver is fighting the Vertigo battle on two fronts: the political side (using his connections with Katie Cassidy’s Laurel to convince her dad to call in some favours to get a more lenient sentence) and on the REVENGE! side as The Hood tracks the drug back to its origins.
Said origins are The Count and guest actor Seth Gabel, doing his best “Heath Ledger as The Joker” impression. It’s a fun, campy performance (I am particularly fond of Gabel’s vocal inflections – they’re very hissable and high-pitched), but ultimately the writers don’t give him much to work with. Who is The Count? What’s his background? Aside from the origins of his name, we learn virtually nothing about him – just that he’s looking to make a profit by capitalizing on the insatiable demand for mind-altering substances in Starling City and he’s fond of using shirtless employees and abandoned orphanages to craft his product. The obvious conclusion to be drawn from the end of the episode (once The Count has been captured by the police and giving enough Vertigo by The Hood to go batsh*t crazy) is that he will be back. Like all good super-villains in the making, a trip to the loony bin is like the first trip to rehab: it never takes.
In many ways this episode feels rushed. The conclusion to Thea’s predicament comes together with the greatest of ease: one moment Susanna Thompson’s Moira is wringing her hands that her baby is headed for the slammer and the next Thea’s working off her 500 hours of community service at Laurel’s firm. It’s the narrative equivalent of a fairy godmother doing a quickie magic spell – voila! Problem solved! The same surface-level storytelling approach also applies to Oliver’s former acquaintance (flame?) McKenna Hall played by True Blood‘s Janina Gavankar, but she’s given nothing to do aside from drive the police van and make cutesy phone calls. TVLine indicates that she’s recurring, so we’ll learn more about her in the future, but there’s nothing in ‘Vertigo’ to make me excited for her return.
Even a brief appearance by Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) feels arbitrary and undeveloped as she shows up solely to deliver a few chuckle worthy lines and point Oliver in the direction of the Vertigo production facility. There are simply too many narrative shortcuts being taken and everything feels crammed in and rushed. Considering the star quality of Gabel and the suggestion that Vertigo is a major problem, this is a story that could have easily benefited from being a two-parter.
- Oliver once again calls on his ties to the Russian mob (first seen in 1×03 ‘Lone Gunmen’) and demonstrates a unique ability to make someone appear to be dead. This is a trick that his island mentor, Yao Fei (Byron Mann) taught him. In other news: these flashbacks have become really boring
- A promising development occurs at the end of the episode when Felicity gives Oliver Walter’s (an unseen Colin Salmon) copy of the book of names and confirms that it is Moira’s. The question now becomes: what will Oliver do with this information? Expect this to have major implications throughout the remainder of the first season (and hopefully more screentime for Thompson and John Barrowman)
- It’s becoming increasingly clear that the writers don’t know what to do with Paul Blackthorne’s Detective Lance. Here he tags along on the Vertigo sting in a fairly obvious attempt by the writers to keep him involved, but he’s really just kicking around. Thus far the character is far too one dimensional (sample dialogue might as well be “Grr argh – get The Hood”), but even his pursuit/investigation into the hooded vigilante isn’t paying off. Either do something meaningful with the character or cut him loose
- The same could be said of Colin Donnell’s Tommy. Obviously there’s big stuff coming (fans of the Green Arrow comics know what to expect) but for now he mostly just appears in dull domestic scenes with Laurel. He’s so far on the fringe that even the character seems to know he’s peripheral!
- Diggle (after Ollie lies to Felicity): “Your BS stories are getting worse.”
We’re now past the halfway point of the first season. How are you enjoying the show on the whole? Do you wish that the villains would stick around a little longer, or is the “one-and-done” format working for you? Do you think Detective Lance and Tommy are boring? Sound off below
Arrow airs Wednesdays at 8pm EST on The CW