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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Arrow 2x7 - "State v. Queen"


All rise, all rise. Wait no, sit down. Why read this standing up? We're here to watch the trial and the verdict rendered in the case of State v. Moira Queen, wherein Moira Dearden Queen, mother of two and former CEO of Queen Consolidated, is charged with accessory to 503 counts of murder and of willingly aiding and abetting the late madman Malcolm Merlyn in the so-called Undertaking which caused the destruction of the Glades. District Attorney Adam Donner is feeling pretty confident going into the trial, holding a trump card close to the vest, even away from his assistant Laurel. The trial only takes a day or two and the only witness called for the prosecution on day one is Thea Queen, whom Donner manipulates into admitting what she really can't hide very well, that she was furious at her mother and it took her over five months to see her in prison and forgive her. (Are we not noting, your honor, that in those five months the witness Thea Queen, a renowned "party girl" who cavorts with a known felon - that didn't come up despite last week's brouhaha - now runs a successful nightclub despite being under legal drinking age?) Oh, it looked bad for Thea and for Moira there for a second, but luckily, like Tom Hanks collapsing in the courtroom in Philadelphia, D.A. Donner dropped like a bad habit.

No, Donner doesn't have AIDS. He has what many denizens of Starling City have suddenly become afflicted with, a terrible illness that was distributed via flu shots from mobile health trucks. Even Diggle is sick, as noted by both Oliver and by Felicity. And it's a good thing Felicity is a brilliant hacker and not a doctor because her bedside manner kind of sucks . ("You look disgusting." Later: "Try heroin.") The perpetrator of this rampant disease? Hello hello, our old friend Count Vertigo! (He was just the Count before, now he has fully adopted his DC Comics nom de crime.) For you see, as Moira Queen was making her televised confession, Vertigo, behaving even more like a Eurotrash Joker than ever, busted out of Iron Heights when its walls were cracked (in the shape of an arrowhead) during the Undertaking. Since then, he allied with a mysterious benefactor to enact this scheme to make Starling City sick. The only cure for the disease? Vertigo, and a lifetime addiction to it. It's a fiendish plot. With Oliver distracted by his mother on trial for her life, sick Diggle and healthy Felicity do the necessary detective work after Donner is abducted by Count Vertigo and made a public mockery of. Noting that he's bouncing his TV signal from a STAR Labs satellite and he could even be in Markovia (DC Comics shout outs), Felicity susses out the secret headquarters of the Count in Starling City and the Hood saves Donner, all the while being mocked by Count Vertigo for his new No Killing rule.

Back to the trial, Laurel finds herself as the new prosecutor and discovers just what Donner had on Moira. For her part, Moira refuses to testify but is urged to by her attorney Jean Loring, who, we see in this episode, is really not so great an attorney. I mean, she's no Barry Zuckerkorn, but it's pretty obvious Moira is going to lose this trial. Of course, she really has no defense. Laurel approaches Moira and pleads with her not to take the stand, lest Laurel be forced to do her job competently and use this secret new evidence. But as a stripper on The Office once said, and it's true, "secret secrets are no fun, secret secrets hurt someone." It's time Moira came clean to her children, which she really should have done with Human League's "Human" playing in the background for emphasis: Many years ago (how many? Oh, say 19 or 20 - this will be relevant in a bit) when Robert Queen was having his extramarital affairs, Moira did the same. With her best friend, Malcolm Merlyn. It was just a one time thing, she explains to shocked Thea, who point blank asked her about this in season one.

While the Queen family remains united despite this devastating revelation, on trial day two, Laurel goes on the offensive, doing a worthy job of smashing holes in Moira's insistence that Malcolm would have harmed her or her children as she feared. Though yes, Malcolm had Robert, his best friend, murdered, Malcolm did not kill Moira's second husband Walter Steele despite holding him in captivity for six months because Moira urged him not to. If someone wanted to put Laurel on the stand and was a competent interrogator himself, holes could easily be punched in the theory that a dangerous, psychotic like Malcolm Merlyn would not have harmed Moira, Oliver or Thea if he felt compelled to, but that's not how our justice system works. Laurel rests her case (without actually saying it.) Things look bad for Moira, you can tell by the looks Oliver and Laurel exchange.

As the jury deliberates one of the fastest trials of this scope and nature in history, Oliver approaches Laurel for his weekly session of asking her if she's okay. Laurel is going through one of her new weekly bouts of "I'm a terrible person not worthy of anyone, people run away from me, so run away from me." Oliver's not mad at her for doing her job, even if her job is to send his mother to the gas chamber. But Oliver does run away from her, and from a flabbergasted Thea, because something suddenly came up. That something is needing to save Felicity, who went out on the field to get a sample of this new version of Vertigo that doesn't respond to Oliver's season one antidote. She is captured by Count Vertigo and she talked. Count Vertigo is holding her hostage in Oliver's office at Queen Consolidated, "ipso facto, Arrow!" Wait, he called the Hood "Arrow." Later, Brother Blood, who is revealed as Count Vertigo's mysterious benefactor and seems to have used whatever he's doing with his experiments to create Solomon Grundy (it must be a Monday), also called the Hood "the Arrow." Did Quentin Lance send out an email blast or something? Or did the super villains of Starling City just independently decide to start calling their enemy the Arrow?

With the jig up, Oliver arrives to confront Count Vertigo and save Felicity in full Arrow gear but sans hood and guyliner. Face to face, as it were. Surely, if he's prancing around his own office de-hooded in his superhero gear, Oliver had the foresight to turn the security cameras off. Count Vertigo's brilliant Plan A is to shoot Oliver, but that doesn't work since Oliver does things like dodge and hide behind couches. The Count's better Plan B is to stick a few syringes of Vertigo in Felicity's neck unless the Arrow drops his bow. But when The Count makes his move, Oliver makes his - with extreme prejudice! One arrow! Two arrows! Three arrows! Right in the Count's chest! And crash and down goes Vertigo, taking a long death plunge onto a car many stories below! So long, Count Vertigo. "The Arrow Kills Again!" soon reads the Channel 52 headline, one of many crazy headlines from the past couple of days. (Another one is about the Central City particle accelerator being on schedule - in two weeks, December 4th.) So now the TV news also calls him the Arrow? Maybe Lance really did send an email blast. Back in the Arrow Cave later, Felicity is just fine and had Queen Consolidated Applied Sciences whip up a new, non-addictive antidote to the killer flu lickety-split. Ah, complicated comic book science that happens in minutes! Felicity is saddened it was her incompetence that forced Oliver to break his No Killing rule after a mere 8 episodes but Oliver sweetly assures her there was no choice to make. Oliver Queen will kill for Felicity Smoak any day of the week, especially Wednesdays. Aww. #Olicity

Roy comes up with a novel way to help Thea cope with the difficulty of the trial: he brings her boxing gloves and urges her to hit him. He didn't buy a heavy bag for her to pound, he wants her to pound on him. Roy explains, part of the reason for his nocturnal rumblings with dangerous men in dark alleys wasn't just to help the city, but because stuff would boil inside him and just needs a release. The kind of release that only comes from one's extremities. So Thea, who punches like a girl, does what he asks and starts whaling away on Roy's front. Well, it's a start. Soon, Thea is back at the courthouse and wondering where Oliver was when he split. Oliver has no explanation besides, "You'll see it on the news." But there's more news to make as the jury has reached a verdict: NOT GUILTY. On all charges, NOT GUILTY. In the case of State v. Queen, Queen wins! It's unbelievable. Literally. Even Oliver can't believe it. "She should have lost," he admits to Diggle and Felicity. Also, this kind of makes Laurel look really bad at her job for losing this case they shouldn't have lost.

Five years ago on Lian Yu, Anthony Ivo, Sara Lance, and his raggedy band of pirates lead their prisoner Oliver to the wreckage of the plane that was the base of Shado and Slade. Firebombing the plane didn't draw them out, so Ivo has Oliver lead them to the cave where the Japanese soldiers' corpses are. It must be just left of the Three Toed Statue, south of the Hatch. At the cave, Ivo is incensed when that thing he's looking for isn't there. What's he looking for? An arrowhead, of course. Everything's a freakin' arrow on this show! Slade, melted face painted half black like Frank Gorshin on Star Trek or Rowdy Roddy Piper, and Shado appear and rescue Oliver, who also decides to rescue Sara. After they escape amidst time bombs and explosives, we learn that Shado (wearing the green hood of Yao Fei, marking the first time Sara sees the green hood) is wearing the arrowhead around her neck. On it are coordinates: 30-30-175-12. As Hurley flees in terror through the jungle, Sara reveals they're coordinates to a World War II Japanese submarine which contains the super soldier serum. "Will it save him?" Oliver wonders aloud about melty Slade.

Finally, after many months in the clink, Moira Queen is a free woman. And almost immediately, she learns she is not free at all, as her mysterious driver she has never seen before and accepts a limousine ride from doesn't take her home to Stately Queen Manor, but to a parking lot she has never been to before. And then the driver is shot, and Arrow reveals one of its greatest reveals ever: Malcolm Merlyn is alive! How? "There are parts of the world where death is an illusion. I've been to one. I've learned to be very convincing." To have John Barrowman back on the show is one of the greatest things, and he hasn't missed a malevolent beat. Merlyn reveals that it was he who (probably hired Gene Hackman like in The Runaway Jury - and how awesome would that have been?) finessed the jury to render that frankly ridiculous and unlikely verdict. For Merlyn has connections within the D.A. offices and he learned something else not revealed in the trial: Moira has lied for almost 20 years about who the father of her daughter is! "Imagine my joy in learning Thea is my daughter!" Amazing twist, confirming a sneaking suspicion I've had since season one but never had any evidence for. Malcolm may have lost a son, but he's gained a daughter, whether Thea likes it or not! Daddy Dearest has come home!

And in two weeks: Flash! Ah-haaa!

As for the now-concluded case of State v. Queen, my lawyer's follow up to the trial and verdict:

Well, I think my legal analysis proved pretty darn accurate.  Beyond her press conference confession, the State had no evidence corroborating Moria Queen’s knowing and willful participation in The Undertaking.  As far as we know, the only witness the State called was Thea Queen.  Thea had no knowledge of Moria’s role in The Undertaking prior to the press conference.  She only testified about her own emotional reaction to the confession itself.  Her entire testimony was irrelevant and inadmissible.  If the only evidence against Moria was the tape of her confession and the testimony of Thea, then the judge should have dismissed the case when the State rested for lack of evidence.  On the other hand, once the defense was forced to put on a case, Laurel easily demonstrated that Moria’s duress defense was garbage.  Laurel didn’t even need the evidence of the affair with Malcolm Merlyn to do that, although that certainly was the last nail in the coffin of Moria’s defense.  

Neither Harvey Dent nor Matt Murdock could have done better.

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