‘Arrow’ Season 1, Episode 19 Review – Don’t Count Out the Count

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Stephen Amell and Seth Gabel in Arrow Unfinished Business Arrow Season 1, Episode 19 Review – Dont Count Out the Count

The position Tommy Merlyn has been in since learning of Oliver’s extracurricular activities as the Hood, and rekindling his relationship with his father Malcolm – despite remaining unaware the Dark Archer’s true identity – has not necessarily been a main topic of conversation in Arrow, but it’s certainly been a presence that’s felt whenever Oliver and Tommy pretend their relationship hasn’t been irrevocably altered.

But, as is said multiple times during the episode, “People can change.” That’s a popular device for writers – especially those in television – to use when a character is on the verge of some making a shift in his or her importance to the plot. Of course, in ‘Unfinished Business,’ it also applies to Oliver’s time on the island and his strength-training under the guidance of Yao Fei’s daughter, Shado, but, more importantly, it has to do with Tommy literally returning to his father’s embrace and all the potential issues that can arise from such a reunion.

Throughout the episode, several references are made to the kind of trust-fund brat Tommy was – the kind that had regular run-ins with the law, and participated in the kind of illicit dealings that put drugs in the hands of Starling City’s ever-partying youth. All of this comes up due to a young woman who was last seen at Ollie’s club, Verdant, being killed shortly after leaving and the police finding traces of Vertigo in her system.

Stephen Amell and Celina Jade in Arrow Unfinished Business Arrow Season 1, Episode 19 Review – Dont Count Out the Count

Naturally, everyone’s attention turns to the brain-fried lunatic that created Vertigo in the first place, but he’s been rambling and drooling in Starling City’s mental hospital for several months now. After a brief visit with the Count, Oliver (and later, Det. Lance) are both convinced it can’t be him since he’s so far off the rails that even the Joker would tell him to tone it down a little bit.

But the reemergence of Vertigo and the mystery of its continued existence without the knowledge of the Count takes a back seat to the far more interesting and surprisingly well-drawn drama that erupts when Det. Lance has no choice but to follow the evidence, even when it leads directly to Tommy Merlyn.

There are some loaded dramatic elements that actually manage to have some decent heft here, as Lance’s need to investigate his daughter’s boyfriend threatens to destroy the tenuous accord between him and Laurel, while having the police snooping around Verdant, looking for traces of Vertigo puts Oliver, Diggle and Felicity directly in harm’s way. And, of course, standing uncomfortably somewhere in between is Tommy Merlyn, who decides running a legitimate business so his friend can have a cover to go out and kill bad people isn’t exactly what he signed up for.

And it’s too bad, because at one point in the episode, Oliver finds himself in a potentially disastrous position that no amount of island super-herb or Felicity data wrangling is going to fix. Detective Lance has a legitimate search warrant and knowledge of a sub-level to Verdant that Tommy paid a city inspector $10k to overlook. Naturally, Lance figures that mysterious level is where Tommy (and probably Oliver) are cooking up batches of Vertigo, but once he gains entrance to the Arrow Lair, Lance is greeted with a rather boring collection of spare chairs and boxes of expensive-looking liquor – even Oliver is slightly taken aback.

Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen in Arrow Unfinished Business Arrow Season 1, Episode 19 Review – Dont Count Out the Count

In the end, Oliver may have dodged a bullet in terms of the law, but he’s inadvertently caused a far more dangerous problem that’s directly related to his exploits as the Hood and the upcoming Undertaking. But most importantly, Oliver discovers something about who the Hood is after beating himself up for not killing the Count when he first had the chance.

After a near-fatal run-in with the true criminal – the Count’s physician and an overgrown orderly with rage issues – Oliver is faced with a choice of whether or not to take the life of a truly helpless man, or if the Count’s current circumstances seem like punishment enough. Of course, this conclusion is only reached after Oliver and Diggle kill the drug-dealing physician and his orderly, but the pass Oliver gives the Count speaks more to the Hood’s understanding of when lethal force is necessary and when he can stay his hand.

Oliver learns that despite the high-stakes game he’s playing, sometimes a little mercy can go a long way in differentiating the good guys from the bad (even though he promises to help Diggle hunt down Deadshot). And with Tommy aligning himself with his father, this option to show mercy may soon be put to the test.

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Arrow returns Wednesday, April 24 with ‘Home Invasion’ @8pm on The CW. Check out a preview below:

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  1. Honestly what a great episode.
    The island flashbacks continue to intrigue me. I wonder where we’ll end up with te island plot as the season gets closer to finishing.
    Also watched the series trailer earlier today before te episode and I wonder if that’s slades deathstroke mask or if it is the other guys. I’d like slade to meet up with present day Oliver eventually.

    Great development for Oliver and diggle a relationship. Felicity is just such a great character. And awesome forshadowing/development for tommy!

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  2. I enjoyed the episode. Now I’m just waiting for Oliver to take out Tommy’s dad and have Tommy become the dark archer.

  3. So far all my favorite episodes have been the one’s where the story was mainly centered around the island (i.e very few of the present-day stories were that great to me).

    This episode’s present-day story however, was fantastic! It’s not the best Arrow ep out there, but imo it’s definitely best one where the main focus is in the present day.

    I can’t believe the season’s almost over though. Only 5 episodes left I think :(

    • It’s good they’re starting to string together a larger present day story arc with Deadshot and Diggle’s ties to him.

  4. oh hell ya, will the real Dark Archer please stand up, Tommy going back to his dad should lead to some very interesting story-telling, and I can’t wait to see what happens. another great episode, loving the character development with the island playing in the background, Manu Bennett owns this role he’s epic, I’m loving the Shado development as well. should be a very intriguing end of the season.

    I really do hope they pull the trigger on Tommy becoming the Dark Archer it would make for an amazing second season arc. another question it seems by the promo that Red Arrow will be born soon, what will they do with Thea? will she find out two and become Speedy? if so that seems to be a crap load of characters with Robin Hood syndrome.

    • I think Thea’s “boyfriend” from the Glades is going to become speedy.

      • You think that Roy Harper is going to become his comic book alter ego? Preposterous!

  5. Loved this ep. The island flashbacks are so damn cool cant wait to see how Oly first started using a bow and arrow. Wonder if their gonna make Tommy the bad guy pretty soon. And comon CW another 3 weeks? what the hell are u thinking? the show just came back from a month break and 3 eps another 3 week break ahhhhh this is so dam annoying!! Their doing the same thing with supernatural too

  6. I’m diggin this series but man I cannot stand this Count Vertigo dude. I am not familiar with this actor but his Joker, Heath Ledger impression is really wearing thin on me. It wasn’t as bad this episode as it was the last one he was in but man, just terrible. Him and Firefly are my only big complaints. Luckily Firefly won’t be coming back.

    • Dude, I think you might be judging the guy unfairly, the count seems closer to scarecrow from batman begins than the joker if you are set on comparing him to a batman movie villain rather than letting him just be The Count.
      Although you may be in luck anyway as can’t see him being used again till season 2, seemed like his brain is kinda fried at the moment and not sure if he is a key part of the undertaking, also diggle has his vendetta with deadshot to finish (which will take an episode or 2) not many more episodes left in this season after all that is sorted
      Another good episode following last weeks looking forward to see how the season ends.
      Gotta agree with vladiator about the number of breaks that a lot of shows are taking, it’s starting to grind my gears, feels like 2 or 3 weeks off then a couple of episodes then another break, sort it out cw, they have a lil gem with this show, but are risking losing some of their viewers with all these little breaks

      • Yeah, well Ledger’s Tom Waits impression as the Joker has been wearing thin on me for a while.

  7. I thought this was a review, not a synopsis.

  8. OK, someone explain to me how hitting water makes you better at using a bow and arrow? ;)

    • Well you see the bow itself has a certain weighted poundage that directly correlates to the overall strength in potential energy that can be directed onto the arrow when drawing back and aiming. The potential energy is thus turned to kinetic energy when the arrow is released. The greater the poundage, the greater the potential energy stored in the arrow, the farther the arrow can go when shot.

      The weighted poundage is not felt by carrying the bow itself but rather when drawing back the string. This all depends on the type and length of the limbs of the bow, for example, among other technical details. Now in the episode a comment was made when Oliver tried pulling back the string about the bow snapping. This indeed is a caution to be noted when handling a bow without an arrow. Since the potential energy would have no where to go and thus take its toll on the limbs of the bow. It can also strain the archer’s fingers and thus one can find many archer’s wearing finger tips on their shooting hand.

      In the episode, if I recollect correctly, Shado explains a tale to Oliver in which the slapping of the water for an extended period of time allowed the student to gain the strength to break a table or something. This strength is the one that allowed Oliver to pull back the string of the bow much more easily then he could before due to the weighted poundage of the bow.

      Now Oliver did not have this problem when he first tried shooting with Yao Fei’s bow and arrow in an earlier episode so I am assuming the new bow has a higher poundage than the other before it or the reason that Oliver failing to shoot properly -aside from lack of training of course- is contributed due to the poundage preventing Ollie from grasping and pulling back the string properly. Or its just a continuity hiccup ;)

      I do not know if you were serious in your question but I hope this helped or proved insightful in any way.

      • Thanks for your archery explanation. I found it helpful.

  9. Fantastic ep.and great story. Tommy is no doubt on his way to becoming the Dark Archer. That should be a very interesting story arc to watch. This show has gotten better each week from the word go. A three week break sucks, and kind of dulls the momentum the show has built, but the show is a smash hit for the CW so they probably want to stretch out the first season as long as possible. This show has a tremendous future ahead of it. Slade Wilson and the island flashbacks are very good. He has to catch up with Oliver in the present day though. That would be great.

  10. @JLAvenger88 : “Dude, I think you might be judging the guy unfairly, the count seems closer to scarecrow from batman begins than the joker if you are set on comparing him to a batman movie villain rather than letting him just be The Count.”

    Well to be fair the showrunners stated in an interview that they told him (the count actor) to go all “Heath Ledger’s Dark Knight Joker” w/ it.

    I find this guy’s “count” way over the top (over the moon even lol), and it is an insult to Heath Ledger’s performance to say that’s what he’s going for, but the show said it not us…

    It was a good episode, but the scenes w/ the count are particularily “Cringe-worthy”. I, for one, cannot stand his voice, and he doesn’t scare me, though I thought his first kill in the show (debut ep.) was pretty inventive/cool.

    • Oh God… Ledger’s (overrated) Joker was his impression of Tom Waits.

    • I agree that his first kill on the show was probably his best bit
      I did not realise that the showrunners told the guy to draw from joker specifically (that comparison never entered my mind, even in his first episode)
      I have felt that the character had much more in common with scarecrow, given that the show uses the drug as a way to manifest his power (since no super powers, so far), seemed the focus was on his drug dealing
      However the actor has also said in interviews that while they did suggest to use the joker as inspiration, he didn’t want to copy Heath ledgers performance to closely, as it could essentially make his character feel a bit redundant
      To be honest the character doesn’t have the depth of joker yet, probably due to the fact he has only had one and a half episodes so far, thought that tommy was the focus of this episode and the count didn’t have that much to do

  11. I thought the episode was great. The dramatic elements were not pushed to the soap opera level that it would have normally have reached and thus the episode fared better than most. I also enjoyed that they did try to put in every single side character in the episode. They kept those who were directly involved to the storyline and no more. The reversal of the Count no being behind the recent Vertigo outbreak was great but the episode’s villain was weak and one- dimensional…

    Tommy was the real star of this episode. One really sees how Tommy became a great guy over the years while Oliver too has changed but in context has questionable moral- which was also examined. Tommy’s eventful decision of the path he chooses to follow will be interesting to watch. But given Tommy’s character I cannot really see why he would become a villain. What is interesting is how good of a character Tommy is in comparison to Oliver who is also good but whose methods are complex and not always shining clear. I mean the whole point of Tommy’s departure is that he did not agree with who Ollie has become and being used as the front for Ollie’s crimes. So having Tommy becoming the Dark Archer or some variant villain against Ollie’s Arrow does not really seem in character, at least not any time soon.

    Honestly I would like Tommy to stay as a friend so Barrowman can stay on the show. I think some characterization of Ollie should really be addressed, I mean I understand that he would not kill when there is no need for it but I wonder if the eventual goal is to make Ollie adopt a no killing rule or something. He started of the show killing henchmen while combat but letting the main baddie live to pay for his crimes but it is becoming complicated since then- ironic as Ollie is not a distant killing machine as he was in the beginning.

    Laurel really needs to start doing something more substantial on the show. Hell at least before we saw her working in her law firm. Maybe she can resume her fight training under Ted Grant to just change her story a bit. I mean that sub plot of meeting her mother and looking for her sister went nowhere seemingly.

    Deadshot returns after hiatus….Damn first Young Justice and now Arrow…

  12. Did anyone noticed the hinting to Argus with Diggle’s scene with ‘Lyla’ (is it Lyla Michaels)? –> http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/A.R.G.U.S.
    I just read 12 books of Justice League New 52, so the name is fresh to my ear…

  13. What if… Arrow ends up telling the story of Tommy’s ‘island’ adventures? Helena said that for people like her and Ollie, they have to go through that life-changing experience. This show could very well detail his path to villainy like Smallville did for Lex, setting up Tommy as a major villain further down the line.

    Perhaps have Tommy go to Nanda Parbat if the writers run out of ideas for flashbacks and we can see his ascent to badassery. I wouldn’t mind him spending a season abroad and coming back to rule his now-deceased (well, I expect Ollie to finish Dark Archer) father’s empire and associate himself with dodgy characters like Helena’s father. An all-smiles, utterly charming public meeting between Ollie, now-evil Tommy and Helena where they’re all secretly waiting to finish each other off would be sweet.

    Also, Shado is Not Ping from Sleeping Dogs! Awesome!

  14. His comment on archery didn’t help at all? wtf were you talking about? lol. he asked how slapping water helps draw a bow back? not to explain the mechanics behind archery. Drawing a bow requires back strength, and to a lesser degree bicep and forearm strength. Unless you made the assumption and figured everyone else did as well, that slapping water repeatedly with your palm drastically increases muscle in those key areas… your post was profoundly pointless. I rofled and then found myself annoyed by ignorance to the point of actually posting a comment on a site I have never even been to before. (found it googling the silliness that was CW or whoever writes the show correlating water slapping and archery LOL) was hoping to try to understand the rationale =P

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