Arrow 2-07: “State v. Queen”

With the notable exception of the cool reveal at the very end, the island scenes were more interesting than either of the main plotlines this week, so let’s start there: Oliver, still in the clutches of Dr. Ivo, leads his captors (Ivo, Sara, the freighter captain, and various unnamed henchmen) to the downed plane where Shado and Slade have been staying. At Ivo’s command, the henchmen riddle it with bullets and toss a bomb inside, then wander off. While hiding inside the plane, Shado deactivates the bomb. Because Arrow is a disgracefully sloppy show, neither Ivo nor any of his henchmen will bother to wonder why the plane never explodes.

Ivo forces Oliver to take him to the cave with the skeletons of the Japanese soldiers, then grows furious when he finds the arrowhead is missing. As Ivo prepares to torture Oliver into giving him the arrowhead, Shado and Slade show up, armed to the teeth, and rescue Oliver. Oliver drags an unwilling Sara along on their escape, while Shado manages to take out some of the henchmen by tossing their own reactivated bomb at them. This is a good episode for Shado, by the way. She’s tough and competent, and she doesn’t get captured and used as bait by the bad guys, so… progress! Keep it up, Arrow.

Slade’s face isn’t looking quite as handsome these days, though he is looking more and more like his eventual alter ego, so I suppose his injuries were unavoidable.

Present-day: Count Vertigo (Seth Gabel) escaped from the prison during the earthquake in the Glades and is once again terrorizing Starling City with his dangerous namesake drug and his hyper-gimmicky brand of villainy. I’m not thrilled at revisiting this particular over-tapped well; Gabel was great on Fringe, but after multiple appearances on Arrow, he still hasn’t worked out that “based on a comic book” shouldn’t equal “cartoonish”. His Count is an insufferable twit, and the ghastly quasi-English accent he dons for the role makes matters worse. The Count sets about poisoning random people with a souped-up, antidote-resistant version of his drug. Digg becomes mysteriously infected with Vertigo and falls deeply ill, though his sickness is largely ignored by Oliver, whose attention is mostly focused on Moira’s trial for mass murder.

At the trial, Thea is called to the witness stand, where the assistant district attorney points out that she didn’t visit her mother in prison during Moira’s first five months of incarceration: “You blamed your mother for what she’d done. So why shouldn’t the jury?” Everyone acts like a fatal hole has just been poked in Moira’s case, though it’s hard to follow the logic here. Does Moira’s lawyer really think the jury would’ve been totally okay with Moira aiding and abetting Malcolm in the murders of 503 people just as long as they figured her teen daughter was also totally okay with it?

I love Thea for many reasons, not the least of which is that, while she’s super-pretty, her hair always looks wrecked. Her inability to use a hairbrush, even for as formal an occasion as her mom’s capital murder trial, is somehow very endearing and very plausibly teenager-ish.

The courtroom scenes are pretty terrible—half-assed, far-fetched, and incomprehensible—but they perk up when the assistant district attorney collapses from the affects of Vertigo and is whisked away from the courthouse in an ambulance driven by the Count. The Count commandeers all television broadcasts throughout Starling City (très Joker), in which he terrorizes the ADA while revealing his dastardly plan to get everyone in Starling City addicted to his drug.

With the ADA out of the picture (he’ll be out of the picture for the rest of the episode, by the way. I guess we’re supposed to assume he eventually gets rescued? Or that the Count releases him after shooting him up with more Vertigo on live television? Or that he dies?), Laurel reluctantly takes over as the lead prosecutor. Dude, she’s a longtime friend of the Queen family, she dated the defendant’s son, she dated the son of the man with whom the defendant stands accused of conspiring to commit mass murder, her father—on two separate occasions, mind you—arrested both the defendant’s son and the defendant’s daughter, her sister apparently died during a secret romantic tryst with the defendant’s son… there’s no way she should be allowed anywhere near this case. Laurel goes through the case files and discovers a bombshell: Moira and Malcolm used to be lovers. She visits Moira in prison to warn her against taking the stand—if she does, Laurel will be forced to use this information against her. Laurel: “I know I could be disbarred for speaking to you.” Well, sure, absolutely, as well you should, but Laurel, my friend, everyone in your office—you, the district attorney, the assistant district attorney—should also be disbarred for not recusing you from this case due to the multiple conflicts of interest, so at this stage it’s all pretty relative. 

Moira disregards Laurel’s advice and takes the stand, the information about her affair comes out, and everyone is suitably scandalized. And Laurel, the glamorous sad sack, feels terrible about it.

There’s not much Roy in this episode—he hovers around in the background at the trial, and there’s a weird scene at Verdant where he gives Thea a pair of boxing gloves and orders her to punch him repeatedly in the chest while he makes no attempt to defend himself. Then again, it’s been strongly suggested that Roy enjoys getting hit by women, so maybe the scene wasn’t so weird after all. Roy also crops up in the third Bose-sponsored minisode of “Blood Rush” that aired during a commercial break, in which he breaks into the police laboratory (which bears a bizarre resemblance to a Pret A Manger) at Felicity’s behest to destroy Oliver’s blood sample. So help me, these minisodes have been the liveliest and freshest part of the show in recent weeks. I feel like rushing out and buying a set of Bose headphones in gratitude.

They store the blood samples next to the turkey-pesto baguettes.
Since Oliver is wrapped up with the trial, and since Digg is still dying politely in a corner somewhere, Felicity decides to track down the Count herself. Figuring that he’s infecting people through flu shots, she prowls around a mobile shot dispensary at night, where she’s discovered and nabbed by the Count.

While Thea and Oliver wait for the verdict, Oliver gets a call from the Count, who is holding Felicity captive at Queen Enterprises. Oliver charges over to confront him. The Count gropes and fondles an obviously terrified Felicity while she sobs and trembles. Yeah, I’m getting a little sick of seeing frightened women—Felicity here, Laurel and the unnamed female murder victim at the hands of Barton Mathis a few episodes back, Sara at the hands of Dr. Ivo’s goons—sobbing while getting terrorized and threatened in a sexualized manner by men. Knock it off, Arrow.

Oliver makes an understandable exception to his new no-murdering policy and riddles the Count with a bunch of arrows, then rushes back to the courthouse to hear the verdict. Despite the trial not going in her favor (and, perhaps more to the point, despite actually being guilty as all hell of the charges against her), Moira is found not guilty of both conspiracy and first-degree murder.

Somewhere in the city, Alderman Blood conducts diabolical medical experiments. It’s not entirely clear what he’s doing, but it seems like he’s trying to create a new breed of superhumans.

(This seems as good a time as any to point this out: Over the past several episodes, Arrow has featured snippets of news broadcasts about a brand-new particle accelerator which is about to become operational at S.T.A.R. Labs in Central City. This is all part of the buildup to next episode’s introduction to Barry Allen, aka the Flash. According to the news reports, people are hotly protesting the building of the accelerator, for some damn fool reason. Ah… Arrow, you know particle accelerators are pretty uncontroversial, right? I mean, sure, there was some hoopla a few years back when people became baselessly hysterical that the Large Hadron Collider might form world-destroying black holes, but apart from spawning some awesome memes, nothing came of that. There’s always been a malodorous whiff of “isn’t science dangerous and scary?” wafting around Arrow—just look at Alderman Blood and Dr. Ivo, to say nothing of this episode’s unfortunate flu-shots-are-dangerous message—so I feel justified in assuming this plotline will not be handled with intelligence and sober reason, and that the particle accelerator will, in addition to giving Barry his way-cool powers, end up stone-cold killing people left and right.)

After the verdict is read, Moira is bustled into a car and whisked away to a remote location, where she’s confronted by… Malcolm Merlyn! Less dead than advertised! Welcome back. Malcolm informs Moira that he bought off the jury to get her acquitted. He also reveals that—drum roll please—Thea is his daughter. This is definitely a cool development, as long as everyone tries very hard not to think about Thea putting the moves on her half-brother Tommy last season.

Sort of a dull, lazy episode, except for the great reveal at the end, which went a long way toward redeeming it. It all balances out, sort of.

(Oh, and PS: Diggle doesn’t die from the drug. He gets better on his own. I like Digg, so I hate treating his plotline like an afterthought, but hell, that’s exactly what this episode did, so I’m just following its example.)


DKoren said…
Okay, got this one watched in one sitting, and... what the heck is with that trial. In what universe would Laurel be allowed near that case, for so many reasons?? The whole trial was ridiculous (and wow, short, I thought it'd drag on at least a couple eps, though rather glad it didn't, as I am not a fan of courtroom drama).

This ep was filled with a lot of stupidity, from the lack of exploding plane, to Oliver not just shooting the Count, to him nattering on about the hoison (sp?) in front of Sara, who fricking set him up last episode just to get this exact thing... dude, Oliver, you have a short memory. And let's read the coordinates off outloud, while we're at it.

But! The ending reveal was indeed quite cool, and did nearly make up for the rest of the mushpot. If the show can have moments of brilliance, why can't it be more consistent about it?

Also, Felicity's still moping. Stop that already. And yeah, what's up with the ignoring Digg while he nearly dies thing? Not very pleased with that.
Morgan Richter said…
Oh, that trial. I remember back in the mid-eighties watching an episode of some soap opera at a friend's house, and they were showing some trial where a character was on the witness stand and somehow the prosecution badgered him into confessing, under oath, that he was still in love with another character, and I remember thinking it was probably the stupidest thing I'd ever seen on television. Moira's trial came damn close to being as stupid as a trial depicted in a thirty-year-old episode of a daytime soap opera.

Crap episode, great ending. Let's find some middle ground, shall we, Arrow?

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