This week, Arrow served up not just the Count but one… two… tree bad guys! Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah!
But yes, Seth Gabel’s Count Vertigo was the drawing card this week, as we see in flashback how the quite mad scientist escaped from Iron Heights during The Undertaking. Now, he is exposing random Starling City residents to a more aggressive form of his eponymous drug. Among the early victims: Diggle and ADA Adam Donner (who literally collapses in the midst of grilling Thea at Moira’s trial).
Donner’s incapacitation leaves the trial — namely, the questioning of Moira herself — in Laurel’s hands. As such, Laurel lays eyes on the “trump card” Donner was set to drop on the defendant: that Moira “man years ago” had a fling with co-conspirator Malcolm Merlyn. When Laurel does Oliver’s mom a solid and slips her a heads up, Moira, rather than refuse to put herself on the stand, comes clean to her kids about the indiscretion, which happened “many years ago” during one of Robert’s carousing periods.
Now if I’m one of her kids, I’d seek some clarification: How “many years ago,” exactly…? But apparently neither Thea nor Oliver have ever watched a soap opera. Moving on….
The Vertigo story ultimately was a place-holder, more a means for forcing Oliver to at one point execute his first kill since turning a new leaf, in the name of saving Felicity’s life. (She later apologies for putting him in that position, to make that choice, to which he defers as he takes her hand: “There was no choice.” So many feels, as the kids say.)
Rather, the true headlines of this episode were thus: The Count’s return (re-Count?) was backed by Sebastian Blood aka Brother Blood, whose strength serum is seemingly starting to have its desired effect on his lab rats; and Moira’s acquittal of all (yes, all) charges was not the result of Laurel’s lousy second-chair lawyering but because the jury had been subject to “a little persuasion”… by Malcolm Merlyn.
“There are parts of the world where death is an illusion. I’ve been to one,” John Barrowman’s baddie explained when Moira found herself all :-O during this largely unexpected reunion. “I learned to be very convincing.”
Malcolm roars a bit at how Moira lied on the stand so easily about what they had back in the day (those “many years ago”), and then reveals that thanks to a “surreptitious genetics test,” he uncovered a certain truth.
“Imagine my joy to learn that Thea is my daughter,” he shared. To which most of us, I reckon, were like, “Well, it’s just Thea,” but still — a significantly shocking return by the Dark Archer, here pairing his bow with a nice suit.
Elsewhere in the episode: In flashback, Ivo forces Oliver to search the island for his friends when the hosen (arrowhead totem) is found missing from the grave site. When Shado and Slade show up to save the day, they rescue Oliver, who drags along Sara. The hosen bears coordinates for the location of the Japanese sub inside which something that could “save humanity” — starting with, Oliver hopes, ailing Slade, who’s sporting a rather cool “Deathstroke mask” because of his recent scarring.