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Arrow 1x12: Vertigo

Lian Yu
Off island there’s basically just one plot, so let’s talk about the island first. I think first time through this was about where the island story started losing me. It had never been anywhere near my favorite element of the series, but abut here you start to see how little can be done with it. It’s either Oliver on his own; Oliver with a buddy learning something; or Oliver dealing with the island bad guys that we know he has to beat since he survives. Main character shields are a firm feature of the flashbacks and none of it’s that interesting to me. It may not have been quite at this point, but at some point I started really hoping that the flashbacks were only a season 1 conceit or at least very scaled back once we reached the expected status quo for the island.

I’d be sort of curious at what point the writers decided the “Deathstroke” we had been seeing wasn’t the ultimate Slade-Deathstroke. It has to have been by now since Slade will be introduced next episode.

The rest of the episode is a lot of plot strands all around the joined Thea and Vertigo plots. It’s never been a favorite episode of mine, but it’s okay. The Count is a little too crazed to start with even before he gets dosed at the end. Thea’s attitude swings wildly and none of it makes 100% sense. There seems to be a lot of misused legal speak going on (why are they looking at an appeal before the trial?) that even though I know very little about the law throws me off.

I would like to point at that, per this deal, Thea is going to be on probation until mid season 3. I’ll go so far as to believe that she did a lot of volunteer work after the Undertaking so that wasn’t hanging over her head, but the probation element that should still be there when she runs off with Malcolm is going to bug me. Aside from that, her attitude all episode swings really wildly, though maybe if I watched closer I’d think it was more a stages of grief progression that just feels wild since it’ all jammed into one episode.

Oliver is pretty good with Thea through it, and his lack of understanding of her choices tells me it’s not supposed to make a lot of sense. But what’s more revealed is the Lance family attitude towards Thea. Thea is for a long time our best view of who Sara was before the Gambit, for now our only view of who Sara was at all. She’s reckless and impulsive and probably not the brightest and...young. She was her daddy’s little girl, and that’s the way Quentin remembers her; not thinking about things like the fact that Sara got on that boat with Laurel’s boyfriend.

I have always liked the Laurel-Thea relationship, though it gets largely ignored for a while after s1. I just wish at this point it didn’t involve so much Oliver, especially with it often framing Laurel and Oliver as a divorced couple coming together for Thea’s sake.

As for the Bratva scenes, I do love name checking Anatoli. But mainly I have some issues with Diggle in that corner of the plot. I sort of feel like he might have been a little more upset thinking Oliver just killed that guy; I know he knows Oliver’s a killer, but I would have thought Digg would be a little more into the idea that killing in the name of the mission is one thing but gang murder isn’t the same thing. Then I wonder why Oliver assumes Digg can set the guy up with a new identity with little more than Oliver’s say so; Felicity maybe once she’s got her full hacker hat going, but how would Digg do it?

Also Diggle, don’t shout for Oliver by name in the idle of a shootout with the cops, I love you John but that’s dumb. Though you do seem to think that Oliver spent most of his 20s hung over when he isn’t actually out of his 20s yet and was only 22 when the Gambit went down. This just isn’t the best Digg this episode.

Here is where Felicity’s character course to becoming part of Team Arrow really clicks for someone slow like me. Up until now she’s been tech support – almost exclusively involving computers or internet research – for Oliver, and sounding board/research aide for Walter but this is something different. Here she becomes the go to person for any sciencey thing Oliver needs done even if it’s well outside her stated area of expertise. And it’s here that they straight up acknowledge Oliver’s terrible lies, which started off bad and have gotten worse at covering things, which kind of hints that he’s been intending to eventually bring her into the team, maybe not always but for a while.

Felicity’s first arc really ends in that last scene. It’s where she stops being the last piece left of Walter’s attempt at a story by attaching it to the main storyline. It’s where she admits she knows Oliver’s terrible cover stories are just that (she asks if she can trust him, he says yes, then promptly lies about having seen the book before). The place for her to go from here was the actually join the team (which in a lot of ways only really becomes a team once she joins), and we’re not far from that at all.


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