Arrow – Unfinished Business Review: Arrow is Down for the Count
is definitely starting off spring break right, with a little dose of partying and a big dose of Vertigo. We see a young woman dancing in The Verdant, and as the lights begin to swerve, it’s obvious she popped that purple and green pill. Before we know it, she’s raving on a busy street, and eventually she makes full impact with incoming traffic. We could blame Y.O.L.O., but Lance would rather swing by the boys' club and blame them (in his own way, of course). The fact is that our hero only notices one thing: another civilian dead, and therefore another failure.
Either way Vertigo is the drug responsible for this untimely death, which automatically leads Detective Lance and Oliver to suspect The Count (since Vertigo was his creation). According to Ollie, he’s the only one who knows how it’s made. The only problem is that he’s locked away, and he's completely lost his mind because of the overdose Queen fed him. They both decide to confront him; to them, it's only logical that he’s found some way to manufacture the pills from behind the bars of Starling City’s asylum. Despite the loss of his sanity, the Count has an incredible level of intelligence, a trait is always a deadly threat. Before Lance arrives, “The Hood” makes his appearance, violently questioning The Count about the reappearance of his drug and who is behind it. Count lifts a crayon drawing of his death while laughing and screeching, "You’re never too far from my thoughts.” Seth Gabel truly captures the Count’s character here; as Oliver exits and Lance enters, he screams over and over the last words he was given before his imprisonment “YOU HAVE FAILED THIS CITY.” You’d think by now the detective would be used to walking into awkward moments, but he leaves instantly, telling the doctor, “You could have just said he was nuts.” And he is, but that’s why we love him.
Just as we think The Count is too crazy for action, a new bulletin darts across the Arrow Cave screen: The Count has escaped. According to his doctor, The Count was babbling until he suddenly became coherent and overwhelmed the doctor, who then had no choice but to allow him to escape. Here’s my issue with this theory: we’re told that the budget has been cut, which is why there are no cameras anywhere, but every mental intuition has excessive security. You know the buff guys in the cartoons who pin the crazies down and give them a shot the size of their forearm? Well, it’s not that graphic in this case, but close. Once again the writers at Arrow are giving us deliberate loopholes, and it’s starting to make me question how dumb they think their audience is. There could have at least given us an alternative explanation. After this encounter, the detective is pretty dead-set on the idea that Tommy was behind some back-alley deals in The Verdant that night. Ever since Daddy Dearest cut him off, he hasn’t been able to live the life he once did, so maybe he turned to a drug deal with The Count. We find out a little while later that he’s got a few black marks on his record; for instance, he used to be a drug dealer. Not to mention, there’s about $10k missing from the club's bank account. Personally, I’m no math whiz, but I’m pretty sure that’s enough to buy Vertigo by the truckload. But Lance is concerned about snooping around since he knows that Tommy is Laurel’s boyfriend. Let’s not forget that he hasn't been on the best of terms with her since he bugged her phone.
So Digg goes through his own transformation of being “hooded up." He poses as a street thug in order to buy some Vertigo with bugged bills. He hopes that they can track the money to its source (The Count, or so they think). Ollie leaves the room, and we’re given some backstory on our one-eyed hitman Floyd Lawton, also known as Deadshot, who's responsible for killing Digg’s brother. According to Felicity, a man named Alberto Garcia is booking Deadshot's hits. Meanwhile, Tommy and Laurel are on a date when they are awkwardly interrupted by Lance, who wants to know about the young woman who was tripping on way more than her own feet on the bridge. A few hours before her death she had texted Tommy asking him to “hook her up." He answers questions about that and about the lost $10k with a convincing lie: he doesn't know her, and there must've been a book-keeping error. It doesn’t look good for our best bro. Naturally women will text a club owner to get inside, or to avoid the cover charge, but when you're connected to these women a few hours before they overdose, it looks pretty shady. Personally, I think giving Tommy the benefit of the doubt when it comes to having talked to her is pretty easy, but book-keeping errors that large are usally noticeable. If you’d like to weigh in, I’d say the scales aren’t in his favor, but we’ll learn why later. So don’t start selling him out just yet.
After a quick flashback to Oliver on the isle undergoing some sort of training that involves smacking water from a bucket like a toddler, we’re back to the present day. Seems like the plot will eventually turn towards some Karate Kid-style skills from Shado, but as usual we’ll have to wait to find out. Returning to the action, we find that the money Felicity bugged has stopped. As Queen immediately follows the trail to find two cars parked alongside the classic sight of hobos around a fire, two unfamiliar men step out offering pills like Skittles. As one scruffy, grimy gentlemen presses a stack of cash into his hand, Arrow takes it upon himself to shoot the drugs, knocking them onto the pavement. But there’s one guy in the backseat calling the shots, and he never steps into the light. With his second arrow he shoots directly into the other car’s gas tank, and the car explodes. The main car gets away.
So much for the ideals of last week’s episode, "Salvation," in which second chances were emphasized. The quick turn in Vertigo sales makes Oliver blame himself immediately for a junkie going on a rampage in an aquarium. The druggie is holding hostages and has already shot a guard. The reappearance of Vertigo hits a place close to home for Ollie, whose sister has also been victimized by the drug. In the Arrow Cave there is still a collection of herbs that Arrow acquired from the Starling island, which are useful for combatting the effects of drugs and toxins. As he leaves to go revive the gunman he says to Felicity, “He didn’t fail his city, the city failed him.” Unfornately Digg is too busy meeting up with an old Army friend to tag along, but who can blame him for pursuing Deadshot?
Green Arrow manages to scare the gunman away from his hostages by shooting the bad guy in the hand. Then as he chases him down, he yells “I don’t want to hurt you.” You've gotta admit that’s pretty funny. Anyway, when he finally gets the jump on him, the perp dies from an overdose. Oliver is clearly upset; once again he's failed to saved another life from this drug. Clearly, something has got to be done.
Back at the club, Tommy and Lance are still exchanging pleasantries over death and threats. We discover a new detail, that the $10k was used to hire a contractor who would purposely overlook certain amenities in the club in order to allow a legal opening. In other words, something is being hidden, and Tommy paid top dollar to keep it that way. But what? Is he really involved? Like I said, I'm not willing to sell out my boy just yet, but Lance sure is. He’s demanding to see the what’s behind the entrance to our favorite crime-fighting lair, but his demands reveal only some chairs and crates. So what’s Tommy’s motive? Protecting Oliver’s secret, his defense? The vent system is old. Well played, brother. Well played.
After researching the DNA left in the victim’s body at the aquarium, we find out that it wasn’t Vertigo’s ingredients that killed him. It was Chlorpromazine, an anti-psychotic drug. Moreover, our bridge sweetheart had the same chemicals in her system. The Count couldn’t get his hands on that by himself, so he finds an incapacitated prisoner, and then is knocked out by who else but his doctor. Oliver awakes strapped to a chair and the doc explains that the new Vertigo was created from a biopsy of The Count’s kidneys (gross), and that he changed the formula in order to resell it and make some money. Now that the Arrow is on his trail, he decides to pour a batch of a serum version of Vertigo down his throat forcefully. The pain is immense as he sets off his exploding arrow, and the doctor takes off running. Luckily, Digg arrives just in-time to stab him in the chest with his own remedial arrow in order to counteract the toxins. As the (un-named) Doctor runs down a corridor he recalls the effects of his drug.
After last week’s promising episode we’re back to plot failures crashing harder than that pink dress-wearing broad did against that Pontiac. Don’t get me wrong. I’m always a fan of explosions, but facts are facts, and the sad part is I’m not even sure where to begin. At least everything (in Arrow’s own way) actually tied together the plot elements in this episode, but like I said, there’re too many loopholes to overlook. In the drug trade it is absolutely impossible to have only one person who knows the contents of a given drug. The formula is bound to leak out. If the drug is popular, there will be those who purchase it simply to investigate it’s ingredients. Also I didn’t buy the whole Tommy-as-a-drug-dealer angle. The fact is that rich playboys don’t become pushers, they buy from them. Even with the understandable desire to return to his previous lifestyle, it’s hard to imagine the underworld taking a pretty boy like that seriously. It’s just common street smarts.
Here’s another plot device I don’t comprehend: Daddy Detective’s logic. He has no issue putting his daughter’s life on the line to catch a vigilante, but is worried about researching the possibility that her boy is the new contact for Vertigo? How does that even make sense? Why would the cave be under the club? And this one really had me thinking: why would Tommy invest in hiding the Arrow Cave before he knew that Oliver was Arrow? It’s a huge loophole in the storyline. How could he have possibly known if he only found out last week, and the contractor inspected the premises approximately a month prior? Overall, it’s getting difficult to not question how far the story will last with these huge issues.