Arrow Episode 1.19 Review — Drugs, Hugs and the Great Divide
There are a few things you can count on from Arrow. Excellent action scenes, seeing Oliver in leather at least once in the episode and for Tommy Merlyn to have impeccable hair (a trait he obviously inherits from his father). And, though I sometimes ramble in these reviews and occasionally lower myself to embarrassing displays of fangirling, there is one thing you can usually count on from me … totally random references to things that have absolutely nothing to do with Arrow. Be forewarned, reader. I’ve got a couple of those coming up. Hey, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Tonight’s episode broke down into two main sections – the Oliver story and the Tommy story. The two merged at times, and I have to say I appreciated the mystery element of this episode. Perhaps it’s because I’ve spent the better part of the past week playing old school Nancy Drew games (I warned you!), but I’m totally in clue-snoopy-detective mode. Therefore, I greatly appreciated all the twists and turns and whodunit this episode provided.
So, with no further ado …
Oliver Takes On Old Demons
The episode opens with a girl leaving Verdant, Tommy and Oliver’s club, and playing in traffic. Of course, she’s high on Vertigo. Remember that? Cute little pill pushed by my favorite villain of the season? Oliver suits up and pays the Count a visit in the loony bin, but gets nothing out of him. Neither does Detective Lance, except repeated screams of, “You have failed this city!” Gee, wonder who he picked that one up from? The Count is still cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.
Oliver summons Diggle from bonding with his dead brother’s baby mama and fills him in on the resurgence of Vertigo. But, it’s Felicity who makes their night go from bad to worse. She comes to the Lair bearing news – the Count has escaped!
After a guy gets high and holds up an aquarium, Oliver goes on a rescue mission. No, he’s not trying to save the fishes, he’s trying to save the druggie. After all, it’s not his fault he’s an addict, it’s the city’s. I’m not sure I agree with that logic, but Oliver fails. The guy drops dead. And, after a little iPad-sleuthing from Felicity, they learn both the fish guy and the girl from the opening died of an OD on antipsychotics. Now they know that, not only is the new and improved Vertigo laced with psychiatric drugs, but the Count never escaped. He’s got accomplices on the inside.
The culprit? It was Shorty and those bank robbers all along! No, wait … it was the Count’s doctor and an orderly from the asylum. The Doc managed to reverse engineer the chemical makeup of Vertigo like he was Starr Manning with a jar of Pickle Lila. They knock Oliver out and learn his secret, but neither of them survives the encounter. Despite being forced to ingest green goop, Oliver bests the Doc while Diggle does his best impression of Sydney Prescott’s epic takedown of Ghost Face in Scream 4 when he takes out the orderly with a pair of electroshock paddles. Oliver cannot, however, bring himself to kill the Count, who’s pretty much drooling on himself at this point.
While I adored the mystery aspect of this episode, I was missing my scenery-chewing Count from earlier. What I loved about him was how over the top he was. Tonight, I just felt sad for him. And, considering I was so looking forward to the character’s return, I have to say that took me out of the episode a bit. But, I can forgive it since this episode wasn’t riddled with, “I’m an island! An island!” from Oliver. If we could just skip over the island stuff from now on, I think I would enjoy the show a lot more. Less then, more now, please!
At the end of the episode, Oliver reaffirms his friendship with Diggle by focusing on helping him find and take down DeadShot. But, he’s got a bigger problem looming…
Mr. Merlyn, If You’re Nasty
If last week left you with the impression everything was all sunshine and rainbows between Oliver and Tommy again, this episode set you straight. Det. Lance (aka Tommy’s girlfriend’s dad), shows up to question Tommy and Oliver about the dead girl. They maintain that their club is a drug-free zone, but Lance soon learns the dead girl texted Tommy just before LARPing Frogger. He doesn’t want to get involved, you know, because he’s on thin ice with Laurel as is, but his partner delivers more damning info – there’s ten thousand bucks unaccounted for in Verdant’s books.
Of course, he thinks Tommy’s using the money to buy and sell Vertigo. This isn’t the case, but the truth isn’t much better. That money went to pay off a zoning commissioner to skip the inspection of the club. Lance shows up with a search warrant, wanting to know what’s in that sublevel of the club. We all know that it’s the Lair, but don’t worry – Tommy cleaned up before Lance brought his warrant. He, once again, saved Oliver’s vigilante bacon. And, thus, we reach the true conflict of Tommy’s story…
He is disgusted with Oliver. There are many issues between the two – not the least of which is Oliver actually thinking Tommy was the one pushing drugs – but, the most major is that Oliver is unwilling to see that his partner has changed. As much as the island has turned Oliver into a hardened killer, Tommy is no longer the playboy with loose morals he once was. That’s part of the reason he cannot keep covering for Oliver. He hates what his buddy has become and promptly quits.
Though Tommy cites his self-respect as his reason for turning his back on Verdant and the vigilante, turning to Malcolm might not be the best move. Of course, Tommy doesn’t know that his father is the Dark Archer, but I’m going to wager a bet that the job he’s seeking is going to be less water coolers and staplers and more shady, back-alley dealings.
I’m glad we’re getting movement on the Tommy/Oliver/Malcolm front. There were folks on the forums who voiced their concern that Oliver’s dealings would be swept under the rug by Tommy and I’m glad this isn’t the case. Thinking as a somewhat rational member of society, I can’t say that I would be excited to learn my bestie is a hooded killing machine, so it’s nice that he didn’t follow the Diggle/Felicity route of being perturbed for five minutes before joining in the reindeer games.
But, as a Tommy fan, I know this isn’t going to end well. Either he’s going to go to the dark side and get arrowed, or he’s going to wind up taking a number and getting in line behind Felicity and Diggle and Laurel as the vigilante’s bootlickers. I’m enjoying the safe defection while it lasts.
I didn’t realize that Moira and Thea were missing from this episode until about forty-five minutes in. Malcolm, however, was sorely lacking. One scene? Granted there was huggage, but, still. I would have gladly traded that scene of Diggle and whats-her-face for a scene of Malcolm doing deliciously evil Malcolm things. On the Laurel front, I really appreciated how supportive she was of Tommy this episode. When she was brought into the story, my initial response was, “Oh, great, here we go. She’s going to assume the worst.” Glad to be proven wrong.
On a whole, it wasn’t the best episode, but it was far, far from the worst. And, I’ve come to find that average by Arrow standards is still better than most stuff on television (I’m looking at you, Splash).