This week's Arrow showers us with priceless jewels. Each moment sparkles, all of them in different ways, building into an astonishing tapestry (and I'm mixing my metaphors deliberately) of drugged out hallucinations, towering tantrums, and a villain that outshines even Barrowman. That's tough to do.
You know that scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where he opens the door to the chocolate room and sings, "Come with me, and you'll be, in a wooooorld of pure imagination!" That was what this episode was. It was a collection of different sweets, each of which I want to gorge myself on. From Ollie popping a dude back to life and then punching him out again, to Thea and Moira reenacting a Euripides play, to a few characters actually being smart about things. Truly, this was a delightful outing in the Arrowverse.
Ollie starts the episode by chasing down a drug dealer with a very tough leather jacket, and getting him to name the source of the Vertigo drug. The guy selling it is called "The Count." Ollie leaves the dude hanging by his sleeve, and as the guy is hanging there shouting, you can actually hear Batman filing legal papers for copyright infringement.
He was probably kept from filing them because the court building is swamped by reporters covering Thea's intoxicated driving hearing. She has a plea agreement, but the judge throws it out and orders her to face trial. Afterwards, Moira promises Thea that she'll find a way to help her. Thea turns on her with a brattiness heat level that resembles a mighty sequoia being set on fire and rolled down a hill, yelling "Like you promised Walter you'd be faithful to him?" I know that Moira is technically the stealth villain of this piece, but the fact that she doesn't reach down Thea's throat and rip out her wisdom teeth and scream, "I made you and I can unmake you piece by piece," qualifies her for sainthood.
Ollie heads to the police station and meets a woman who is apparently an old friend and a detective, but has the face, hair, and name of a love interest. Mckenna Hall is working vice, but she knows about The Count. Ollie asks if she can, perhaps, hurry up her little major drug bust so that his sister won't be a poster child for harsher drug sentencing. Mckenna says she can't, and hands over the entire folder that they have on The Count. To a civilian. And the brother of a girl being prosecuted for doing the drug that The Count is selling. She then asks Ollie if he needs a wire tap or maybe would like to borrow her gun. Perhaps he'd enjoy taking one of the cop cars out for a spin, or maybe a police horse. If he wants, he can grab a helicopter. Anything is available to a guy she kind of knew five years ago.
But I can't be annoyed at that, because the most wonderful character of the episode comes in. I once heard that Sean Connery got the role of James Bond because Ian Fleming thought he moved like a panther. Seth Gabel is dressed to look like a brunet Billy Idol, but he moves like The Leprechaun. Everything about his performance says demented elf. It is a treasure and a delight. The Count meets up with the dealer Ollie questioned. He shoots the guy full of "Vertigo in its purest form" through a double syringe, explaining that it stimulates the parts of the brain that feel pain. The agony lasts for days until the heart gives out. The Count then gives the dealer a gun and says that he can either shoot The Count and have his revenge, or shoot himself and end the pain. The man shoots himself. I have to say, I'm usually a wimp about scenes like this, but the incredible performance makes me clap my hands together like a five-year-old. I want nothing more than The Count to go into a dance routine. Maybe to "Ice Ice Baby." He could pull it off.
Ollie's next Thea Rehabilitation Stop is Laurel's house, where he asks Laurel to intercede with her Dad, who will then intercede with the judge. Laurel does, convincing her dad with a talk about how Sarah also had destructive impulses, and that's what makes her want to help Thea. When Quentin balks, saying Sarah wasn't like that, Laurel tells him that they have to admit that Sarah was as responsible as Ollie was for her death. Now, normally I would think that it was extraordinary pointless and cruel to make a father admit that his daughter was partially at fault for her own death, but since Quentin seems to be the only cop in town, and the Queens are always dealing with him, he does need to get over his bias. Plus it sets up a nice little point about Laurel sees Thea as a surrogate sister.
When Laurel and Ollie break the good news that they got her jail time down to five hundred hours of community service to Thea, she shrugs it aside for act two of Mourning Becomes Electra. She basically spits on her hand and rubs it in Laurel's hair when rejecting the offer, and then reveals — to Ollie — her big plan. Pointing to the sky, like a Fury crossed with a disco dancer, she shouts, that she's doing it all to ruin Moira's life because, "I hate her and she betrayed dad!" Yes, Thea will ruin her own life so she can vicariously ruin Moira's. Thea, honey, this is why you don't come up with revenge plans at 18. Try again at 25 or something. At last Ollie has had enough and says that, no, actually, their dad was the one who cheated on Moira. Thea doesn't believe him, and storms out. She leaves just in time to show that Moira has come in, and is spitting mad at Ollie for telling.
Deciding that the Russian mob is saner and more cooperative than his family, Ollie, with Digg, heads out to talk with them. Ollie pretends that he's looking to get into the drug business and wants to start with Vertigo. The mob guy is happy to help, but first wants Ollie to kill a man. Ollie, I swear, looks relieved that finally he has been presented with a problem that doesn't involve awkward emotional talks about who his parents Did It with, and chokes the guy to death. He then says he'll give The Count all the information the police have on him as a "present."
Flashback to the island! Ollie has been captured by the bad guys, and has found out that the Archer is working for them. He looks out of his cage at the Archer and says, "Why are you doing this to me? I thought we were friends!" Flashback-Ollie's dude-bro-ness is so pure, you guys. It's like he wants to cry in this scene, but knows that according to Dude Rules you can only do that if you fall during a kegstand. Instead, he's dragged to a circle of guards. One of the guards is fighting Deathstroke, and makes it about as far as anyone would expect to when fighting Deathstroke. Fyers explains that he sets up gladiatorial fights among his men to boost unit cohesion. Which makes sense, because I know that I would bond with my co-workers if I knew that I could be selected to battle them to the death at any time. (Just as a question, who do you think would win in a fight to the death between io9 writers? Before you rule me out, remember that I've got more mass on me than many of the staff here, and I've got a good reach. Very long arms, with tough knuckles. Leave your decisions in the comments. That I will be monitoring. Just so we're clear.) Fyers says that, since Ollie came to the camp under the guise of a "recruit," he will fight the Archer. Somehow I think that that special strangle hold will come in — and it does.
Outside the Russian lair, Ollie is carrying the body to his car. When Digg questions him about the killing, he nonchalantly dumps the guy in the trunk, does a little toggling motion at the guy's neck that brings him back to life — technically making Ollie the messiah — and then punches him unconscious. Love it. Love. It.
Ollie meets up with The Count. The Russian guy says that he's called The Count because he used to test the drugs on subjects by stabbing them in the neck with a double syringe. Police would find bodies with two puncture wounds on the neck. Sadly, this is the one time when the police force are on top of things. They come rolling up, and everyone runs. The Count stabs Ollie in the chest with the syringes and says, "No witnesses." Again, this doesn't sound like much, but the way he says it makes him look like a cross between an evil Mickey Mouse and a marshmallow that someone briefly took a match to. It's priceless.
Digg gets the needle out before it delivers the full dose and drags Ollie to the hideout. For a pain-filled drug overdose, it looks pretty tame. I would say that the only remarkable thing that happened was Ollie woke up handcuffed to the table in the hideout, but Ollie flashes back to The Archer, Deathstroke, and Fyers, dumping his "body" over the side of a cliff into a river. Say what you like about the methods of developing it, if Vertigo can help you remember stuff you technically weren't conscious for, that's a hell of a drug.
The next day, a very hungover and barely functioning Ollie staggers back to the Queen's Mansion to find the cops. It seems that Mckenna saw him, and being an actual smart and honorable person, immediately told her boss. Aside from making me like her, this does nothing though, since Ollie says he was just making an amateurish stab at finding The Count. As the cops leave, Thea comes in, ready to "forgive" Moira for doing nothing wrong. Moira says that she hopes one day Thea is "lucky enough to have a daughter." There are two ways to read that sentiment, and if Thea had thought about it, she might have had doubts before going in for the hug. Instead she falls for the implied compliment, and sobs in Moira's arms.
Ollie, meanwhile, realizes that he's still getting drug flashbacks, and staggers to Felicity to ask if she can do a "spectrographic analysis" on the water left in the drug syringes to find its origin source. I love this moment because up until now, the show at least tried to make Felicity's subject of expertise stay in the area of computers. At this point Ollie is basically saying, "You're a nerd. Nerd this for me, Nerd. Nerd it up good." And she does! She manages to cross over from computer hacking to biophysics and environmental chemical analysis, giving Ollie the location of The Count's lair.
Ollie's fight at The Count's is yet another source of joy, in that The Hood, still tripping, kicks ass swiftly and decisively whenever a thug approaches him, but at several points seems to be losing a battle to a set of stairs. The fact that The Count jumps up on a table to get away from him is, therefore, the most intelligent thing a bad guy can do. Alas, Ollie stabs him with a filled double-syringe of Vertigo and dispatches him. The last we see of The Count, he's working his charisma on the straps of a gurney in a mental hospital. Don't try to escape the straps that way, Count! It will only make them want to hold you tighter!
The episode wraps up with Thea going to work volunteering at Laurel's legal practice. Mckenna calls to remind Ollie that she's going to be his love interest for the next few episodes. Ollie muses about how the Archer, when throwing him over the cliff into the waterfall, gave him back his map and toggled his throat so he came back to life during the fall. It looks like we're fading out — but then!
Felicity interrupts his musings to show him the book that Walter gave her, and reveal that Walter suspected Moira of malfeasance just before he disappeared. Ollie looks devastated. That's right. Just when Thea was done being Electra, you became Orestes! And you thought being Hamlet was bad! Good luck, sucker!