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Arrow 2.07 "State v Queen" Review: Old Friends

    Arrow 2.07, “State v Queen,” was written by Marc Guggenheim and Drew Z Greenberg and directed by Bethany Rooney. While this is the first episode for Bethany she has a long history with credits including Hart of Dixie, Scandal, 90210, and Private Practice just to scratch the surface. This episode featured the return of both Count Vertigo (Seth Gabel) and Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman).

    In the flashbacks to the Island, Dr Ivo (Dylan Neal) takes Oliver (Stephen Amell) back to the plane. He then proceeds to shoot it full of bullets and attempts to blow it up. Luckily, Shado (Celina Jade) is able to find the device and de-arm it, later re-arming it to use against the Ivo’s men. We see that Slade (Manu Bennett) is still gravely wounded but he refuses to let Shado go after Oliver on her own. Ivo forces Oliver to take him to the cave with the corpses and is incensed when he can’t find the Hozen with the bodies. Oliver is about to have his hand blown off when Shado and Slade show up and Oliver manages to escape with them and Sara (Caity Lotz). It turns out that Shado picked up the Hozen and has it around her neck. The Buddhist markings on it reminded her of her father, but there are coordinates on the other side of it that Sara tells them lead to a 70 year old submarine that has something on it that will save the human race. Oliver only wonders if it can save Slade who is obviously in great pain. Half his face is clearly ruined.

    We last saw the Hozen in episode two of this season when Thea gave it to Roy. Recall that it represents the reconnecting of friends or the meeting of true friends. It also symbolizes the destruction of the passions and how both love and passion can be barriers to concentration. Once again these themes resonate somewhat in this episode. In the past, Oliver is reunited with Shado and Slade. Passion may be destructive in this relationship if tension is caused by Slade’s growing affection for Shado or Oliver’s past connection to Sara. In any case, the feelings connecting the four are likely to provide a distraction at the very least.

    In the present, we see the revelation that Thea (Willa Holland) is actually Malcolm’s daughter. Moira (Susanna Thompson) is reunited with Malcolm, and we see that her momentary passion lead to a spiraling web of lies. It’s possible to see Oliver’s growing affection for Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) as the cause for his loss of concentration on his new vow not to kill those he fights. Oliver tells Moira that it was secrets and lies that put her behind bars and that the truth needs to come out, which is incredibly ironic coming from him.

    Of course, the main plot in the episode centers around the return of Count Vertigo and Moira’s trial. The two storylines begin with a flashback to six months ago when Moira confessed to her role in The Glades plot and the quake resulted in the Count escaping from prison. There’s a beautiful shot of him jumping through a hole in the wall that is shaped like an arrow – a nice symbol for the fact that Oliver’s sparing him allowed him to escape and cause more mayhem.

    I have to admit that as someone who knows something about the legal system, I found the trial storyline quite disappointing. Thea would have been much better prepared for being cross examined for one thing. Moira would never have been allowed to take the stand, particularly if the trial were going badly, and the prosecutor would never have visited the defendant in jail without her lawyer present. In fact, Laurel (Katie Cassidy) would never have been allowed on the case in the first place given her history with the family. I could go on... but I won’t because I know it is a television show after all. It seemed particularly contrived to have Adam (Dylan Bruce) not only end up dosed with Vertigo but the one the Count has to kidnap and make a public example of.The drama did produce numerous wonderful performances, however. Katie Cassidy does a wonderful job appealing to Moira, but then doing her job as a tough prosecutor. Oliver understands having to wear two hats probably better than anyone, so I loved the scene where he goes to her after the cross examination to make sure that she’s ok. I also liked that Laurel’s reaction to the verdict was complicated. She’s clearly disappointed to have lost a big case that really should have been a slam dunk, even while she didn’t really want to be the one to convict Moira.

    Willa Holland also has a number of great scenes. She is terrific in being hard on herself after she clearly hurts Moira’s case – through no real fault of her own, of course. I loved the scene in which Roy (Colton Haynes) goes to her in the bar and forces her to let him help her. It was also a nice bit of backstory for Roy – that he has this pent up rage that he needs to release. Even though he has a rough background he is still sensitive to Willa and able to help her through.

    It’s always fun to watch the team try to get to the bottom of a case. I loved Felicity continuing to wonder what it would take to impress Diggle (David Ramsey) and Oliver. However, it did seem a bit stupid of such a smart woman to go out to investigate the flu trucks all by herself. Amell is wonderful in the scene in which Oliver must choose between shooting the Count or risking Felicity. He tells her it wasn’t even a choice, but he is clearly shaken by having broken his vow not to kill. He is still reeling from the decision when he gets back in time for Moira’s verdict to be read. Oliver is immediately suspicious when Moira is acquitted.

    We soon learn that Malcolm has manipulated the jury to get Moira off. Moira is stunned to learn that Malcolm is still alive. He tells her that death is merely an illusion in some parts of the world, and he’s very good at it. Malcolm tells her he returned because she needed his help with her trial. He is angry that she lied to him about Thea, however, and he knows she’s his daughter. He also tells Moira that he had help in the DA’s office to make sure she was acquitted.

    There were a number of balls put in play in this episode. One of them was this indication that Malcolm has someone working in the DA’s office. I thought it curious that Blood (Kevin Alejandro) was in the DA’s office when they were working on the Queen case. Blood is using a variation of Vertigo to power his super-soldiers. The Count mentions having someone who hates Oliver even more than he does himself. This “man of means” set the Count up in his new endeavor. Blood’s plan was to have the Count kill the Arrow, but instead he worries this will be the start of the vigilante starting to kill again. I have to wonder if the money behind Blood is actually coming from Malcolm – though Malcolm has not shown himself to work well with others in the past. If not Malcolm, I have to wonder where Blood’s money is coming from.

    There is also mention of a particle accelerator creating news. Next week sees the introduction of Barry Allen (the Flash), and I have to wonder if this particle accelerator will tie in somehow. In the comics, Allen receives his super powers after an accident in his lab at home – a lightening bolt shatters a box of chemicals all over him. I can’t wait to see what kind of dynamic this may bring to the show. I wonder if the reappearance of the Hozen here is also a clue that Arrow and Flash will be a connection of true friends
    I have to admit that this wasn’t my favorite episode of the series. It was my favorite appearance by the Count, however, and I’m very glad to have Malcolm back as an adversary. What did you think of the episode? Do you think Oliver choosing Felicity over his vow not to kill strengthened their budding relationship or halted it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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