In “Vertigo”, Oliver and Diggle hunt down a murderous drug dealer named The Count (Seth Gabel) while Thea faces a prison sentence for her reckless drug abuse and car crash.
Continue reading for Arrow Season 1 Episode 12 “Vertigo” review.
Over the course of the season, Oliver has been battling white-collar criminals and DC Comic book villains adapted to fit into a realistic, modern day Starling City. Some adaptations such as Garfield Lynns (Firefly) missed the mark, but this episode’s villain, Count Vertigo, is the most compelling yet.
Because there are no superpowers on Arrow, the producers cleverly altered the comic book origins and abilities of The Count. Instead of the power to distort a person’s balance, the TV show’s version developed a potent drug called Vertigo to induce these effects. Rather than being an actual Count, he earned his nickname by leaving puncture marks on his victim’s neck like a vampire which is a neat explanation.
Fringe fans recognize actor Seth Gabel as both the button down “Clark Kent-esque” Agent Lee and as the charming Captain Lee from the alternate universe. On Arrow, Seth Gabel’s portrayal of The Count is thoroughly entertaining and a refreshing change of pace from other villains previously featured on the show.
One of the potential dangers of playing a character so deranged is that it can come across as obvious acting; however, Gabel’s performance didn’t take the viewer out of the moment. Rather it added excitement, especially in The Count’s introductory scene where after injecting Vertigo into a man, he handed over a loaded gun and risked his life with maniacal glee.
Creating a memorable nemesis for Oliver is just a part of what made this a great episode. “Vertigo” had an uncanny way of anticipating each of my expectations as the episode played out. Firstly, I wanted Oliver to be injected with Vertigo. It sounds cruel, but otherwise it would have been like Batman encountering the Scarecrow for the first time without enduring the hallucinogenic fear gas.
After Oliver awakened, I thought his recovery was a little too fast until, as hoped, he became disoriented. This adverse effect restricted Oliver from taking his bow into his final assault. Because The Count would be safe from deadly arrows, it ensured Seth Gabel’s return in future episodes.
Injecting The Count with a potentially lethal dose of Vertigo displayed Oliver’s desire for retribution and that his moral code is still a work-in-progress. As pointed out by Detective Lance, the Hood is not a hero, at least not in the traditional sense. Although killing in cold blood might not be Oliver’s opening moving of choice, it will be interesting if Oliver will begin to reconsider his final death-blow.
Oliver has been racking up a high body count which made it conceivable he could kill a defenseless man in the Bratva hideout in order to help his sister and find The Count. It was a great reveal that he had only incapacitated the man; reviving him, only to knock him out was comical.
This trick nicely mirrored how Yao Fei faked Oliver’s death in the flashbacks. I’m glad Yao Fei was just pretending to be working for Edward Fyers as it would have undone everything he did when Oliver first arrived on the island.
As intriguing as the flashbacks were this episode, the scenes with Felicity Smoak were also a highlight. Felicity is adorable whether she’s rambling about tasered cats or fumbling over how she’s noticed Oliver’s body. As Oliver’s explanations become even more unbelievable, it just adds to the humor, especially with Diggle smirking over his shoulder.
Hopefully in future episodes Felicity can be used for more than just comic relief or as a plot device. She definitely deserves to be a fully fleshed out character and a part of Oliver’s inner crime-fighting circle. With Oliver learning there is a second book belonging to Moira, he will likely question his mother and get to the bottom of Walter’s disappearance.
The introduction of Detective McKenna Hall (True Blood’s Janina Gavankar) adds some interesting possibilities to the show. Could she be a possible romantic interest for Oliver? Who’s the cop informant (Oliver??) that gave her the intel which led the police to bust the drug deal and final showdown?
Each of the story threads were cohesive and well plotted including how Thea was willing to go to jail just to spite her mom. Having Laurel explain to her Dad about how it is to be a teenager and lose a father gives some needed sympathy to Thea as she can come across as too passive aggressive. Detective Lance pulled a favor for Laurel but I’m still anticipating how the bugged phone will play out.
“Vertigo” is the high point of the series so far. If Arrow continues with engaging villains, the second half of the season is going to be a blast.
What did you like or didn’t like about this episode? What did you think of the Count?
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