As the title suggests, this week’s episode sees the trial of Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson) finally come to a head. At one point threatened with the death penalty earlier in the season, what will be the verdict for the Queen matriarch? If that wasn’t enough for Ollie (Stephen Amell) to worry about, we also get to see the reappearance of The Count (Seth Gabel) in Starling City.
Kicking off State vs Queen, we’re taken back six months to Moira’s confession and the reveal of the undertaking that was about to wreak havoc with city. Casually enjoying some alone time in his cell at Iron Heights, we’re shown The Count. As the city is crumbling to its knees, one of the after-effect is that the peddler of the Vertigo drug manages to escape out into the wild. Before you know it, in the present day, The Count has managed to implement a plan that is infecting certain individuals across Starling City, including Diggle (David Ramsey). Torn between his commitments as a son and his commitments as Arrow, Oliver finds himself having to hold everything together.
When The Count (who is several times referred to by his traditional DC moniker of Count Vertigo) hams it up, it certainly brings a glitzy, over-the-top quality to Arrow. A personal highlight of mine from the first season, I was more than happy to see the character return for one more outing. For all those that see Green Arrow as Batman-lite, then Count Vertigo is most definitely his Joker. Sure, there are certain scenes here that are eerily reminiscent of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, but it’s just great to have that sense of tomfoolery added to an often serious show. There are also several moments here when Arrow really feels like you are watching a comic book come to life, for better or worse. The cheesy dialogue and pauses between Arrow and The Count as they do battle are just as you would expect to see in a weekly comic book. Some may find it hard to take seriously, but I think it adds to the charm of the show. After all, you have to have suspended certain aspects of disbelief if you are to give a show like Arrow a fair crack of the whip. Still, I can see why The Count may be a bit much for some people, particularly those of a Nolan-verse persuasion.
Whilst Arrow has Count Vertigo to deal with, Oliver has to see his on-off friend-with-benefits, Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy), doing her best to prosecute Moira Queen. There’s further reference, if just a brief one, to a certain particle accelerator (you know what that means by now, right?), and we also get to see further into the plan of Sebastian ‘Brother’ Blood (Kevin Alejandro)… and could we have just seen a familiar long-time DC face in the form of Solomon Grundy?
That’s all in the present day, but State vs Queen delivers plenty in flashbacks. Firstly, in a throwaway part of The Count’s escape from Iron Heights, there’s a cameo by the Doll Maker, which ties into the earlier Broken Dolls episode of this season. Whilst that was a nice nod for the audience, it’s the island flashbacks where we get to see some meaty developments. With Dr Ivo (Dylan Neal) on the hunt for a bunch of corpses hidden on Oliver’s lost wilderness, we’re brought up to speed with Slade Wilson (Manu Bennet) and Shado (Celina Jade). Again, Slade is looking considerably worse for wear and is even resembling the Deathstroke character without even donning the mask yet. Could Slade’s full turn to the dark side (feel free to say that in your best Emperor Palpatine voice) be tied into what Ivo is looking for and to what Brother Blood has developed in the present day? Again, Arrow throws further questions at us.
If this wasn’t enough, the ending of State vs Queen, from the moment Oliver sets out to rescue Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) from the arms of Count Vertigo right through to the final credits, will have you gasping throughout. Be warned and be prepared: there be some mighty big revelations ahead. Of course, you’ve come to expect that from Arrow by now, though.
Once you’ve managed to take State vs Queen on board, next week brings us the debut of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), aka The Flash. Added to that, the rest of the season promises the Suicide Squad, Nyssa al Ghul, Oliver finally donning a mask as part of his Arrow get-up, the return of Canary, a possible appearance from Huntress, Slade’s descent into Deathstroke, and a shit-ton more… it’s just a shame that the show takes its mid-season break in two weeks’ time.