If we’ve learned anything from “Arrow” over the last few weeks, it’s that when villains are allowed to keep breathing, they have a tendency to, y’know, remain villainous.
In “Unfinished Business,” Oliver is plagued by an old foe when the vertigo drug resurfaces — once again, hitting a little too close to home when Tommy and Verdant get dragged into Det. Lance’s investigation.
We’d be remiss not to mention that Seth Gabel was born for the role of The Count. Taking a well-earned cue from Heath Ledger’s Joker, Gabel infuses The Count with plenty of crazy — and just enough insight to make you want to lean a little closer. When a patron of Oliver and Tommy’s club is killed due to a hit of super-vertigo, both the Arrow and Det. Lance pay the Count a visit in his mental institution, but he appears to have completely snapped. At first glance, he’s barely capable of sitting upright, and certainly not of reformulating his drug to be more potent, more addictive, and more lethal.
Tommy gets dragged into the mess when Det. Lance discovers a text from the dead girl sent to Tommy’s phone, asking for a hook up. Tommy explains that she just wanted to get on the list for the club, not to procure drugs, but Lance’s interest is piqued, which is never good. He discovers that there’s $10,000 unaccounted for in the Verdant books, and suspects Tommy of procuring the drug for revelers to keep them coming back to his club. Even Oliver becomes suspicious of Tommy when Lance bursts in with a search warrant.
In reality, Tommy had used the money to pay off an inspector so that he wouldn’t take a particularly close look at the club — a gesture he made for Oliver, so his secret Arrow lair wouldn’t be exposed. He’s beyond miffed that Oliver didn’t trust him, or see the reliable adult he’s become in the years since he and Oliver were Starling City’s most celebrated bad-boys together. Ultimately, Tommy quits his position at Verdant, and turns to his father, the dastardly Malcolm Merlyn, for a new gig.
The line has officially been drawn between the two old friends, suggesting that Tommy might be closer to becoming Oliver’s nemesis than we originally thought. Certainly, Tommy growing closer to his father can’t be a good thing. You know, since his father is the baddest of the bad guys. Don’t you hate when that happens?
As his friendship was falling apart at the seams, Oliver trawled the underbelly of the city for Count Vertigo, suspecting that the drug dealer, who had escaped the mental institution, had been faking his mental deterioration all along.
But not so much. Turned out, the opportunist shrink who had been “treating” the Count had framed him. After running tests on the Count’s liver, the doctor was able to figure out the recipe for vertigo, and naturally, he added a few toxic ingredients to speed up the lining of his pockets. Oliver is caught off guard, and the psych discovers his identity… before pouring a lethal dose of vertigo into Oliver’s belly. Fortunately, the show is called “Arrow,” so Oliver manages to get free… even if he is feeling pretty tipsy.
Mocking him, the doctor laughs that Oliver probably wouldn’t be able to aim a single arrow in his state. He’s right — Oliver can’t aim a single arrow, but he can aim three, and one of them hits its target. Take note, aspiring super-villains: If you’re face-to-face with the good guy in the climactic, pivotal moment of a potentially deadly stand-off, just be quiet. Your taunting will only give the hero ideas.
Once the doc is good and dead, Oliver injects himself with a homemade vertigo antidote. (Is there anything those island herbs can’t do? Those companies that are always spam-emailing us about enlarging certain male anatomy might want to look into Yao-Fei’s stash.) At that point, it’s just the Arrow and the Count — but when Oliver raises his weapon to the Count’s head, the Count goes on a nonsensical rant that proves he’s not firing on all cylinders. Or any cylinders. Oliver decides to let him live.
The Count probably could’ve benefited from being put out of his misery, but we’re glad Oliver sent him back to his padded cell. The chances of Seth Gabel returning to “Arrow” are 100% better if his character is, you know… alive.
Of course, the episode wasn’t all about chasing down the baddies! There’s plenty more to talk about:
1. Laurel and her father are really seeing eye-to-eye. Considering Det. Lance spent most of the episode investigating Laurel’s boyfriend for something he didn’t do (and a few things he did do), we thought they’d have one of their famous dysfunctional family blow-outs by the end of the hour. Instead, they shared a drink (minus the booze!) and really seemed to appreciate each other. Given the tumult caused by Dinah’s return to Starling City, it’s nice to see something stable in Laurel’s life. Let’s just hope it stays that way.
2. Diggle gets proactive. While Oliver tied up loose ends with the Count, Diggle was haunted by the fact that Floyd Lawton — Deadshot — is still at large. Diggle’s blossoming relationship with Carly and her son only serves as a painful reminder that his brother is dead. For the first time, Diggle prioritizes his own agenda over Oliver’s, ignoring phone calls as he meets with an old army friend who is helping him track Alberto Garcia, one of Lawton’s lackeys. As the episode drew to a close, Oliver agreed with Diggle that Lawton didn’t deserve the sort of mercy they showed the ailing Count. Deadshot is about to find himself on the wrong side of some crosshairs.
3. Meanwhile, on the island… It should be noted that the Shado/Slade/Oliver team is the best ever and they should have a sitcom spin-off where they just snark at each other and quote Confucius and occasionally engage in hand-to-hand combat training sessions, preferably without shirts. In this episode, Shado gave Oliver some very wax-on-wax-off lessons in strength and patience, and we saw him draw a bow for the first time. It was impressive, but like we said, would have been better achieved without shirts.
4. Tommy’s dark side is really something to behold. We’ll admit it: when the series first started, we had our doubts about whether Tommy could evolve into a nemesis worthy of the term. We were obviously really wrong about that! Colin Donnell has left Tommy’s anger on to simmer and simmer over the past few weeks, and he’s become almost unrecognizable as the blissfully unaware guy we met in the pilot. There’s no doubt in our mind that with the right nudging from his father, Tommy could be a true threat to the various lives Oliver is currently balancing.
5. Felicity Factor: Not enough! We would like more Felicity, please and thank you. In this episode we basically just learned that she’s not one for mind-altering substances, but she does have a nut allergy. Add peanuts to the List, Oliver.