Arrow recap: Back to Vertigo
Oliver takes on Vertigo (again!), while Tommy calls it quits
Arrow has certainly been on an uptick as of late, but between the return of the Count, a subplot about Deadshot, and cover-up at the club, tonight’s episode felt a bit disjointed. To make matters worse, the driving force behind all the drama was — once again — Starling City’s drug of choice, Vertigo, which, while dangerous, doesn’t exactly make for an intriguing villain.
Let’s dig in:
While Arrow usually opens with an assassination, tonight’s episode opens with a different kind of death: an accidental hit-and-run. The victim? A young girl who, after a night of partying at Oliver’s club, wanders straight into the middle of a busy road.
Det. Lance thinks Oliver and Tommy might know something about her death, so he storms into their club armed with questions. When they both appear clueless, Lance tells them he thinks Vertigo was involved, and warns the guys to make sure no one is dealing inside their establishment.
After Lance leaves, Oliver asks for intel on every one of the club’s employees, particularly the ones with checkered histories. Tommy points out that the list would have to include the both of them. He tells Oliver that he thought the vigilante had taken care of the Count — the man behind Starling City’s last Vertigo crisis — and Oliver says he did.
Well, sort of. Arrow goes to visit the Count, who is locked up in a mental asylum. The Count has clearly lost his marbles, but before Arrow can grill him (or, you know, ask about that lovely crayon drawing in his hands), Lance arrives. The Det. finds the Count repeatedly yelling, “You have failed this city,” (hey, the Count may be crazy but at least he has the good sense to mock Oliver’s terrible catchphrase), and decides he’s too cuckoo to be questioned.
Meanwhile, Diggle and Carly try to spend some time together only for Oliver to call and interrupt. Diggle heads to the hideaway and Oliver gives him the update on Vertigo. Apparently, the latest version is more addictive and more stable. In other words, completely destructive. What’s more perplexing — if not totally unrealistic — is that The Count was the only one who knew the formula for Vertigo. Before Oliver can piece anything together, though, Felicity rushes in and turns on the news. There’s been a new development: The Count has escaped.
NEXT: Diggle goes undercover as a drug addict (though Felicity did offer!)… At the asylum, a babbling physician tells Det. Lance that he was overpowered by the Count while checking in on him. The doc — who earlier in the episode had told Lance that the Count was totally harmless — doesn’t understand how he could have been fooled for this long. Someone is so about to lose his medical license!
Lance thinks the footage from the security cameras might be able to help them find the Count, but his partner tells him the cameras were dismantled due to budget cuts. Okay, I know Starling City is struggling, but it seems like prisons and asylums are the two places where security cameras are kind of a must. Am I right? Regardless, Lance’s partner (um, does anyone know his name?) has another lead. He tells Lance that he checked the phone of the girl who died in the hit-and-run. Turns out the last person she texted before her death was Tommy. Shady, shady.
The partner thinks Tommy is hiding something, but Lance — and this seemed totally out of character — is reluctant to pursue it. He doesn’t want to piss off Laurel by going after her boyfriend. His partner says he wants to subpoena the club’s accounts to see if he can trace anything to Tommy. (This guy is definitely smarter than all the other cops we’ve seen on the series so far). He tells Lance that he’ll leave him out of it, but Lance decides he wants to handle it. (Or, as I see it, steal his smart partner’s idea and take all the credit!)
Meanwhile, Diggle throws on some really questionable attire and goes undercover to purchase some Vertigo with cash that is embedded with a tracker. “The person of color has successfully purchased your drugs,” he tells Oliver and Felicity. Felicity’s response? “For the record, I offered.” Felicity going undercover as a druggie? Now THAT I would have liked to see. After Oliver leaves, Diggle asks Felicity for intel on Deadshot (you know, the assassin who killed his brother?). Apparently, the two have been working together to track him down as a side project of sorts.
Lance goes over to Laurel’s place to ask Tommy some more questions about the girl who died. He wants to know why Tommy lied about knowing her. Tommy is unfazed. He shows Lance the text from the girl, which reads “Can you hook me up?” and tells him he gets tons of messages like that every night from people who want help getting into the club. Lance seems to think she wanted a different kind of hookup. Then he asks Tommy about some money that’s missing from the club’s funds. Again, Tommy plays clueless. Of course, it’s not long before Lance completely loses his cool. Luckily, Laurel intervenes — but it’s too late: Tommy has already lost his appetite.
Back at the lair, Felicity has tracked the the Vertigo money trail. Oliver follows the lead, which takes him to a shady part of the Glades. He finds a dealer handing out Vertigo to some messed up local druggies. He starts shooting, but it’s too late — the dealer and his boss manage to get away.
Cut to the Starling Aquarium (yes, you read that right), where a girl taunts one of the druggies who just took Vertigo. “Congratulations, you’re officially the creepiest person I have ever met.” And you, annoying girl, are officially the stupidest person I have ever met (on Arrow at least). The druggie tells her he doesn’t feel so good, and she tells him to “get away from me, you creep.” This from the girl who initiated the conversation in the first place. Like I said, so stupid. A security officer intervenes, but as it turns out, he’s not so smart either. He asks the girl if she’s all right, with his back turned to the druggie — which of course gives the unstable addict the perfect opportunity to knock him out and grab his gun.
NEXT: Arrow takes a trip to the aquarium… Meanwhile, at the lair, Oliver brews some tea — well, at least according to Felicity. Turns out he learned a remedy during his time on the island that could counterbalance the effects of Vertigo. And he’s just realizing this? Anyway, he decides to use the solution on the Aquarium druggie, who he doesn’t want to hurt. He thinks the druggie should be spared because the city—and Oliver—failed him. Felicity tries to reassure Oliver by reminding him that the recent Vertigo outbreak is not his fault, but Oliver doesn’t find much comfort in her words. I know we’re in for a slow burn with these two, but does anyone else wish he’d stop yelling at her so much?
Felicity calls Diggle to give him the latest news, but he doesn’t pick up. He’s meeting with an old army buddy whose division has been trying to nab Deadshot. Diggle gives her some key intel that will help her find whoever is giving Deadshot his targets.
Apparently, Lance has been too busy looking into Oliver’s club’s expenses to realize that a crazy man is holding aquarium-goers hostage. He goes to see Tommy again, and accuses him of paying off a zoning commissioner to keep him from inspecting the nightclub. Lance wants to look around, but Tommy says he’ll only allow it if he has a search warrant.
Back at the aquarium, the druggie takes, well, more drugs. Before he can really hurt anyone though, Oliver shows up and shoots an arrow right through his hand. The druggie makes a run for it and dies before Oliver can administer his special potion. (Now, see, that’s something he should bottle up and sell).
After failing to rescue the aquarium hostage-taker, Ollie heads back to the club, only to run into Lance, who now has a search warrant. Lance tells Oliver that Tommy paid off the commissioner, before heading straight for the door that leads to the secret hideaway. Cue dramatic music and cutaways, as Oliver blocks the doorway and tells Lance he’s making a mistake. “No. You are. If you don’t let me in,” Lance lamely threatens. Anyway, Oliver lets him pass and warily watches as he heads downstairs. When Tommy turns on the lights though, the only thing they see are boxes full of liquor. Lance asks Tommy why he paid off the inspector if he had nothing to hide, and Tommy explains it was because of the club’s outdated ventilation system. Once again, Lance fails.
After everyone clears out, Tommy yells at Oliver for believing he was dealing Vertigo. I’ll admit, I thought that’s where this was going too, but when Lance mentioned the bribe I realized Tommy was simply trying to protect his best-friend. Oliver says he only suspected Tommy because of his checkered past, but this sets Tommy off even more. After all, he may have bribed someone, but Oliver kills people and he seems totally fine with it. After he storms off, Diggle shows up and asks, “What’s his problem?” Only for Oliver to angrily respond, “What’s yours?” He’s pissed at Diggle for not showing up to the hostage situation. Diggle admits that he was taking care of something related to Deadshot, and this annoys Oliver even more. Oliver says the Vertigo issue takes precedence over personal problems, but Diggle argues that he can’t move on until Deadshot is taken care off, and of all people he thought Oliver would understand that. Man, these guys have some serious drama.
NEXT: Oliver gets a dose of Vertigo… Oliver isn’t alone for long, though. Felicity shows up to help him with the Vertigo case. She points out that the aquarium druggie died — not from Vertigo — but from an allergic reaction to an anti-psychotic. Oliver realizes that the Count has been getting anti-psychotics from the mental institution, which means he’s probably still hiding out there.
He sneaks into the institution and finds the Count tied down to a chair with wires attached to him. Before he can take in the fact that the Count really isn’t behind the latest Vertigo influx, a male nurse (or, at least I think he’s a nurse) knocks him out from behind. Later, the doctor that told Lance the Count had overpowered him, shows up to the scene. Turns out he’s the real mastermind behind the whole scheme. To make matters worse, he removes Arrow’s hood and identifies him as Oliver.
The shady physician straps Oliver down and tells him he analyzed the Count’s kidney tissue to figure out how to produce Vertigo. (Okay, maybe it was a little more complicated than that but you get the point). After the two are done chit-chatting, the physician forces Oliver to take a whole lot of liquid Vertigo. Before he can cause more damage though, an explosion rips through the lab as Dig rushes in. While he fights with the male nurse (who is apparently freakishly strong?), Oliver injects himself with the special “tea” he brewed earlier in the episode. Within minutes, he’s back on his feet. Diggle meanwhile charges the nurse to death. After he’s done, he simply says “Clear.” Aw, Felicity would be so proud that he remembered.
Arrow manages to track down the physician who unmasked him in the tunnels. The man taunts him and says he doubts Arrow can aim straight given how much Vertigo he just ingested. A still woozy Arrow takes him up on the challenge and shoots straight through the heart. Afterward, he goes back to finish off the crazy Count but he can’t do it. He decides to let him live…again.
At the club, Oliver apologizes to Tommy, who is still very, very upset. So upset in fact that he decides to quit.
Laurel goes to see Lance, who feels a bit bad about the whole Tommy fiasco. He admits that he has a hard time letting things go. “I close cases. That’s what I do,” Lance says. Um, sure. Maybe we should start keeping track of Lance’s failures. There’s at least one per episode.
At the hideaway, Oliver and Diggle make nice. Oliver explains why he didn’t kill the Count, and then tells Diggle that not everyone deserves the same kind of mercy, like say, Deadshot. He pulls up an image of the contract killer and tells Diggle that it’s time to finish him off.
Meanwhile, Tommy decides to get a job…working for his dad. How long before he and Oliver become full-out foes?
As for this week’s flashback to the island: After an intense sparring session with Slade, Shado decides to teach Oliver how to fight. She starts by instructing him to repeatedly slap water inside of a bowl. Oliver thinks it’s silly but goes along with it anyway. Along the way, Shado tells Oliver that Fyers kidnapped her father to make him the fall guy for whatever master plan he’s working on. After more sessions of water slapping, Oliver starts to get frustrated. He wants to know how to fight, like really fight. Shado tells him to arch a bow and he does so perfectly. Apparently, water slapping is the key to ultimate fighting. By the way, are we shipping Shado and Oliver or Shado and Slade? Or is this a love triangle in the making? Oh, the possibilities! Regardless, their dynamic makes for great TV. In fact, I enjoyed tonight’s quick flashbacks much more than the rest of the episode.
How about you? Leave your thoughts below.