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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Arrow 1x19 - "Unfinished Business"

Hello, hello. I used up all my U2 jokes the last time there was an episode about Vertigo. However, some senses numbing hallucinogens might have been useful in tolerating Oliver's lock-jawed self-righteousness this week. A girl high on Vertigo clubbing at Verdant who got run over by a car is the flashpoint for Detective Lance launching a full on police investigation into Oliver Queen's club. Even Lance spends the episode doubting whether his true motives are uncovering what ties, if any, Verdant has to the return of Vertigo to the streets of Starling City or whether he's just looking for a reason to doubt and maybe arrest Tommy because he just doesn't like that guy dating his daughter.

Upon learning that everyone's least favorite green and purple party drug is once more available to anyone looking for a little pick me up, Oliver naturally goes right to the old source. He busts into Starling Arkham Asylum and confronts the Count, whom he left stark-raving looney after he injected the Count with pure Vertigo. Oliver wishes he just killed him, then none of this would be happening. After all, he kills everyone else, and people like Felicity and Tommy shake their heads at him, but hey, they're dead. Did showing mercy to the Count kill that girl and who knows who else? The Hood learned nothing useful from interrogating Count Cuckoo Bananas, but then later that night, the news reports the Count somehow escaped the asylum. Oliver gets a real bee in his bonnet about finding the Count for the whole episode, and he gets on the wrong side of his two male best bros.

Diggle has other business on his mind. He can't relax with his nephew or his dead brother's ex-wife who's now his girl until Floyd "Deadshot" Lawton is dead. Diggle goes off grid and ignores Oliver's calls for back up while he meets up with an old army buddy, Lila, who is now under the employ of A.R.G.U.S. A.R.G.U.S. is the current New 52 DC Universe's version of Marvel's SHIELD run by Wonder Woman's ex-beau Steve Trevor and Amanda Waller, and I believe it's the first of the post-reboot concepts Arrow has incorporated. A.R.G.U.S. didn't know who Deadshot was but Diggle provides Lila with all of his intel in exchange for helping track Lawton down. Not answering his calls or texts or Tweets or Vines or Touts or whatever got Diggle in hot water with Oliver, who's really into yelling at all his helpers about how "the city is on fire!" or some sort of melodrama because he thinks he caused it.

Meanwhile, the guy really taking the heat for Oliver is Tommy. With McKenna Hall off in Coast City, Roger Cross has returned as Detective Lance's partner/cop to talk to for necessary purposes of exposition, and they dig into Verdant's finances to find that $10,000 is missing from their books. Tommy, and Oliver for that matter, have drug raps from their wild party boy pasts, and even though both claim to be fine, upstanding citizens now, Lance suspects their dealin' to keep their club hoppin'. At the risk of alienating Laurel again, Lance outright accuses Tommy of shady dealings (Tommy did bribe a city official to not conduct a thorough inspection of Verdant) and gets extra suspicious when Tommy refuses to allow him to search Verdant without a warrant. Lance comes back with a warrant and goes right for the level beneath the club. Oliver has no choice but to let the cops in (the code to the secret door to the Arrow Cave is 141. The significance, if any, escapes me) and they enter the sub-level to find... storage. Crates of booze, extra chairs, and a whole lot of nothing suspicious looking.

It wasn't made explicitly clear but when Lance threatened to return with the warrant, somehow Tommy alone went down to the Arrow Cave, disconnected all the computer stuff and hid all of the Hood's arrows and weaponry... somewhere. Felicity didn't help him do it because she had no idea what happened. Tommy and Oliver have an argument about Oliver's trust issues and Oliver never thanked Tommy for going the extra mile to protect his secret as the Vigilante. Nor did he ask, "Where did you put all my stuff?" Tommy and Oliver have a final row about everything and Tommy quits the club. As a ex-billionaire playboy who only has a couple of months as general manager of a nightclub on his resume, he went to the only place where he could rely on nepotism to give him steady employment: his father Malcolm Merlyn. Malcolm welcomes his prodigal son with open arms and it's heartwarming. Oh, if only Malcolm knows what Tommy knows. And he probably will eventually.

Oliver's still hunting the Count, however, and autopsy reports from the dead girl and a homeless guy jumped up on Vertigo whom Oliver stopped and seemingly killed from shooting up the Starling City Aquarium determined that there's an extra compound in this new version of Vertigo. A psychotic. What if the Count never escaped? What if the Count was actually still in the asylum. The Hood investigates to find the Count crazy and drooling, tried up to a chair Clockwork Orange-style. Then the Hood takes a floggin' to the noggin from a fire extinguisher and he's knocked out. The real guy distributing the new Vertigo is the doctor, who peels back the hood of the Hood to learn the Hood is Oliver Queen. (He didn't even need to say "Check his wallet" like Bob the Goon in Batman 1989.) Rather than shoot him or anything, Evil Doctor and his Igor strap Oliver to a table and plan to make him drink all the Vertigo he can drink. "No one will question Oliver Queen dying of a drug overdose! Bwah-ha-ha-ha!"

Thank Diggle that Diggle arrived to save day. He busts up Igor and ends his beatdown with a dry, cool quip while a hallucinating Oliver stumbles after the Evil Doctor in the tunnels and responds to his taunt that he couldn't even shoot an arrow straight by shooting three arrows at the Evil Doctor. One connected and the Doctor made like a tree and fell to the ground, dead. See, it's a good thing Oliver's not Batman. Killing solved the problem of the Evil Doctor knowing who he was, and he didn't have to engineer a circumstance like the doctor falling to his death like Harvey Two-Face in Batman Forever. Killing solves everything. Back in the lab, there's still the matter of Count Cuckoo Bananas. Oliver draws an arrow right in the Count's forehead - seriously, this is an easy shot. But he can't do it. Oliver has learned a lesson about killing. What that is exactly, I'm not sure because killing the bad guy just solved a big problem like 30 seconds ago. But the Count is in no position to threaten anyone. He's a vegetable. Ergo, he lives. Diggle is okay with this because, really, no one wants to watch a man get arrowed in the forehead from 3 inches away.

Finally, Oliver pledges to help Diggle go after Deadshot. This is the "unfinished business" that needs finishing next.

Five years ago on the Island, Slade and Oliver have taken Shado in to their little Anti-Fyers Squad. Oliver feels like the odd weakling out watching Slade and Shado train and they make fun of him for being too weak to draw a bow. With the help of some parables from Lao Tsu, Shado starts training Oliver in the Miyagi style by giving him a bowl of water to slap a thousand times. (Because there's no fence to paint or floor to sand.) We also learn that Yao Fei was a Chinese general framed and condemned to the Island and Fyers kidnapped Shado and brought her here as leverage against her father. Finally, Oliver learns the lesson that slapping the water gave him the strength to draw the bow of an arrow without taking out his eye. Shado just might make an archer out of Oliver Queen yet. And if she teaches Oliver to fight, isn't that technically Shado boxing?