The revelation train picked up speed in Arrow’s seventh second season instalment with a real shocker, while The Count (Seth Gabel) was back with a new Vertigo driven plot and Moira was up against it in court.
It may have been the last scene in the episode but it seems the most logical place to start – Malcolm. Merlyn. He dropped one bombshell: he was alive. He then dropped another bombshell, he’s Thea’s father. Arrow seemed to stray into the realm of soap opera revelations in that regard! In one of our podcasts we were pondering what could happen to Moira on the outside world should she get a ‘not guilty’ verdict – where exactly would she go? What should we do? If anything this episode firmly answered that. She has two big secrets to keep one would assume. I can’t see her unveiling Malcolm is alive, most simply as it’ll like see the truth about Thea come out as well.
The pleasing thing is we know it will have a purpose, we know it will come to a head in episodes to come – Merlyn’s new role, Moira’s secrets. Arrow doesn’t simply do things for ‘shock factor’, of course they’re mighty good at shocking us, but this will play into what has already been a stupendous second season thus far.
In an interview Marc Guggenheim said there will be ‘two big bads’, clearly Brother Blood appears to be one and have we found the second in Malcolm? With the magnitude of the Thea revelation, it would seem unlikely his return will last just a few episodes. Also… is John Barrowman simply immortal? Captain Jack can’t die. Now it seems Malcolm Merlyn can’t die. Maybe he’ll end up leading the human race into the next century.
The comic book reference to be seen in Merlyn’s return is that of the Lazarus Pit which are said to bring people back from the brink of death. They’re used by Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassins. I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of them in this season.
Away from that revelation, how was this week’s story? Personally I felt it was an improvement on last week. The use of Vertigo was different compared to its previous two episodes. Comic book fans may have noticed The Count’s name changed to that of his comic book counterpart ‘Count Vertigo’. Seth Gabel’s deranged drug lord was seeking to get people hooked on his drug while luring the Arrow into a trap to end him once and for all. As per the last few episodes, the villain was very over the top and clearly inspired by the Joker. At times it didn’t quite work, other times it did. A nice touch was his grudge against the Arrow, he felt a tad more fleshed out than previous appearances but killing him off was something I’m fairly comfortable with. Sometimes villains have been killed off too early, Mr Blank (1×20) being a good example of that, sometimes they’ve had other places they could be taken – Vertigo will always offer the same threat. He’ll distribute his drugs and he’ll babble like a mad man. Plus it’d make the cops look a little incompetent if he ended up breaking out of prison again and flooding the city with his ‘high’ once more.
The killing of Count Vertigo brings me on to my next point of discussion. Oliver has stuck by a vow to honour Tommy’s memory with ‘no more killing’ throughout this season. But obviously he broke it this time out in some style, sending a trio of arrows into Vertigo’s chest causing his foe to promptly fall out of the window. Early in the episode Oliver had told Felicity he made the right decision not to put an arrow in Vertigo when he had the chance. One thing Stephen Amell is superb at (well, there are many things he’s superb at) is conveying various emotions just through facial expression. He can look as cold as he can fragile. After killing Vertigo, he looked deflated and a little in shock at what he had done. It really shows the way Oliver has progressed in the one and a bit seasons so far. Killing was simple to him in early episodes, he didn’t care. Take the Count’s last appearance in ‘1×19 Unfinished Business’, Oliver killed Dr Webb with ease, he walked away and it seemed to barely affect him. However after downing Vertigo, even after he’d put Felicity in danger, Oliver clearly seemed conflicted by his actions.
It’ll certainly be interesting to see what happens next. How affected will he be by his actions? He’s been doing his best to change from hooded vigilante to green clothed hero. There’s no doubt he made the right call in killing Vertigo, Felicity’s life was in danger. In Season 1 he even said it himself, “But not everyone deserves mercy.”
Also! (So hard to establish any order here, so many things happened, my brain is practically exploding!) Brother Blood’s serum seems to have worked, making Brother Cyrus stronger. (DC Comics fans may recognise the name Cyrus Gold, also known as Solomon Grundy – a zombie supervillain) It appears his master plan has taken a step forwards, while he’s seeking to take down the Arrow already – hiring the Count to do so. Perhaps his serum and the ‘something’ Ivo is looking for do similar things. No doubt it’s a case of wait and see but with that mask, he’s already seeming as if he could be quite a foe to Oliver.
Of course the other big plot point in the episode was Moira’s trial. Clearly it didn’t go quite so well. Thea was made to sweat as Donner made everyone see how long she took to forgive Moira, before he fainted and Laurel took charge. The writers are awfully cruel to Laurel so far this season. She was bewildered that Oliver could be okay with what she was having to do, it seems she’s still not all that okay. In fairness, she tried to help Moira by revealing to her Donner knew about her affair with Malcolm, but she was put in a position she wasn’t all that comfortable with. She’s clearly lost and surely something will swing for her soon.
The trial obviously made it seem as if Moira was in serious trouble, though she got the ‘not guilty’ and everyone on the screen and viewing was left scratching their heads at the outcome. Oliver had no idea how she’d been cleared. Then obviously it all came out at the end of the episode. It was a pleasing twist and must fit into the Arrow master-plan. For her to be found not guilty, it was clear something pretty big would have to happen and obviously we know it did. The fallout from the trial and what happens next will certainly make for interesting viewing.
The Island flashbacks returned to form, with plenty to sink our teeth into. Oliver was made to find the skeletons Ivo is seeking after watching the plane supposedly housing Slade and Shado get peppered with bullets. Though the disturbing doctor was outraged when he couldn’t find the Hosen he so desired. Ivo really is already becoming one of my favourite villains on the show, he’s got this real creepy presence and his aim to ‘save the human race’ stinks of a lust for power (plus he killed off the Captain which definitely establishes who is in charge). It was awesome for Slade and Shado to return. Slade can still fire a gun despite only having half a face (which oddly looks like Deathstroke’s mask in some respects…) but it appears he’s in big trouble. Oliver took Sara off with them as they escaped, Shado found the numbers on the Hosen which are coordinates to a submarine – “What’s on it, it’ll save the human race.” said Sara. I think we now know how the flashbacks are going to progress this season, whatever is on the sub seems likely to shape the plot.
A bit of digging into comic book origins has made me discover Deathstroke has almost superhuman abilities. Now, adding things together – Slade’s deteriorating state, whatever is on the sub capable of saving the human race and Oliver asking whether it could save Slade – perhaps his steps towards his comic book counterpart are nearing their start…
We now have a bit of a break until episode 8! But I think we’ll need that to get over this revelation packed instalment. Catch the promo for episode 8, ‘The Scientist’ below: