Arrow: Season 1 Episode 19 – ‘Unfinished Business’ Review

One of the most polarizing villains on Arrow makes his reappearance this week. After episode 12’s Vertigo, many fans voiced their objection to Seth Gabel’s take on the psychotic drug dealer The Count. In anticipation to Unfinished Business I was curious if the producers would re-envision The Count to appease dissenting fans or embrace what some have described as a Walmart version of Heath Ledger’s Joker.

Continue reading Arrow Season 1 Episode 19 titled Unfinished Business recap.

The twist and turns of the episode played with my expectations on which version of The Count would emerge. At first, seeing The Count in the mental hospital as a man who has lost touch with reality, uttering bizarre phrases made sense since Oliver pumped him with a near lethal dose of Vertigo in episode 12. But after his reported escape, it appeared he faked his insanity, indicating the writer’s plan to dial back The Count’s craziness.

In the end though, the return of The Count that the previews teased was a clever bait and switch. Aside from the overt framing of the male orderly (aka henchman) in the foreground as The Hood sneaked past the mental institute’s windows in the background, the story did a good job at not tipping their hand at the surprise reveal that The Count’s doctor is the manufacturer of the new Vertigo.

The doctor’s scheme to profit from Vertigo acted as a catalyst for much more interesting  developments with our primary characters. Oliver, who is short-tempered and brisk with his friends this episode, had the opportunity to finish off The Count but instead spared the mad man’s life.

In the context of a crime-fighting television drama, I’ve never had an issue with Oliver killing dangerous criminals or in self-defense. But it’s another matter if Oliver kills in cold blood those that do not pose a danger to him. Oliver’s moral code is an ever changing work-in-progress; could his decision to spare The Count move him one step closer to adopting a no-kill policy in the future even if villains will inevitably come back to haunt him?

Likewise, Oliver’s childhood friend Tommy also stands on the precipice of a sea change, as the final scene embracing his Dad (aka Dark Archer) may foreshadow. However, at this point Tommy has not demonstrated much in the way of turning to the dark side. If anything, quitting the night club is Tommy’s reaction to what Oliver has become, for what he is turning into for protecting the identity of the hood (a criminal for bribing the building inspector) and Ollie’s unspoken accusation of dealing Vertigo. Tommy is for the most part a morally grounded character and valued friend for disguising the Arrow Cave from Det. Lance. He still has a ways to go before turning into a villain, if that’s the direction he’s headed.

Unfinished Business greatly benefited from cohesive storytelling where each story thread did not feel extraneous unlike the Lance family drama of previous episodes. Diggle’s personal vendetta to track down Deadshot naturally integrated with the main story line and having him aid Oliver at the very end made me realize, other than as a sounding board, how under used he has been of late. The scenes featuring Shado had more substance than recent flashbacks. At first, I thought the water slapping would somehow come in handy in the present day but it was very cool to see how it helped Oliver learn to use the bow, a memorable step to becoming the Archer aka Green Arrow.

Overall, Unfinished Business is pretty fun and entertaining which makes make me excited for the final run of Season 1 episodes. What did you like or didn’t like about this episode? What did you think of Tommy’s development and where are the island flashbacks headed? 

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Posted on April 4, 2013, in Arrow, Comics, Television and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. I, too, just can’t see Tommy donning the villain’s garb anytime soon. He’s really come through for Oliver, as you mentioned. Covering the hiding place (still want to know how he got all that stuff moved without anybody seeing the Arrow supplies, though), lying to the cops, etc. And he’s (understandably) horrified that Oliver is a killer of criminals, so I can’t see how he’d be okay with his father killing innocents. I mean, maybe if he doesn’t learn what his father is, that could become a burning hatred of Oliver that leads to him trying to kill Oliver, but I’d find it very OOC for him to be willing to kill innocents anytime soon. And he mostly has liked Oliver better than his father for most of his life, so if they tell him conflicting stories, I’d think he’d ultimately side with Oliver. He doesn’t really *trust* Oliver right now, but since he has seen his father killing assassins, he knows his father also has the capability to kill criminals. While Tommy as Harry Osbourne is probably the most likely route, I’m still hoping that Malcolm is Merlyn and Tommy is just his son (especially since I just recently realized that Thomas Merlyn in the comic was introduced *after* Tommy was introduced to the show and isn’t a villain (yet) – I’d been thinking he was introduced the year before the show started).

    I really enjoyed the Lance family storyline. As a whole, I like their family dynamic and storylines, even if I did feel the resolution to the Sara-storyline was clunky (unless it later turns out to have been a false ending). He’s doing his job, and he’s not targeting Tommy without any evidence and he tried to be good about it when he came to the apartment. But, he also got played by Tommy, of all people. We need to see him do some successful apprehending of someone soon so that he seems like a good/competent cop.

    The orderly was telegraphed, but I didn’t suspect the Doctor until he said the Count got the drop on him. Still wasn’t sure the Count wasn’t part of the party until the other ingredient was revealed.

    I liked seeing Diggle having his own life – I liked the reminder to the audience that not everything revolves around Oliver. I do hope Carly’s reaction when he left does not lead us down the road of “the hero can’t have a love interest/life” since we’re already there with Oliver. I like the idea that Diggle is more emotionally healthy and can balance things out.

    I’ve never been into the island storyline, and still am not. And I liked seeing Yao Fei more than Slade. So it did nothing for me, but that’s typical, and not really a reflection on the quality of the subplot.

    • Very nicely said. You’re right, curious as to why no one saw the supplies in the basement moved; maybe Diggle was busy tracking Deadshot and Felicity at the Queen offices? Tommy should have told Oliver what he was up to as strained as their friendship is, but the story was much more suspenseful they way it played out.

      Since Tommy will be working for his father, he might come across info about the Undertaking and the Dark Archer’s secret room that was almost revealed to him in a previous episode. Will he become tainted after whatever “job” Malcolm has planned for him? I’m not familiar with the comic book’s Thomas Merlyn but I’d be okay if TV Tommy doesn’t go the villain route. Because Tommy is against killing and rightly so, I can’t see him donning the dark hood without some serious trauma. I like actor John Barrowman so I don’t want him to die this season; something that will need to happen if Tommy likely goes the Harry Osborne direction like you said.

      I like the Lance family and actors. I only wish they got more screen time to develop the dynamic between them and leave me anticipating the return of Dinah Lance. I haven’t ruled out the possibility that Sara might be alive, though I can’t see the show revisiting that story line any time soon. The writers and Det. Lance are self-aware when he says “I don’t mean to play the role of the disapproving father”, that’s a characteristic I actually like in him. That’s a great point about Det. Lance’s competency, I never saw it in that way. Perhaps his first step is to find out the mole in his department?

      I took the Doctor’s explanation at face value because I thought this was going to be a Count Vertigo episode. It’s good writing when I can’t foresee the twist. I didn’t suspect the Doctor, clever that you had the hunch.

      I was pleasantly surprised to see a scene with Diggle and his nephew. It could be that the show introduced the nephew for a reason … or just added motivation to avenge the boy’s father? That’s another great observation about reminding the audience that not everything revolves around Oliver. It’s a lesson Oliver learns when he decides to help Diggle hunt Deadshot. In my view, Diggle represents the humanity that Oliver needs to prevent from falling into the dark side.

      One of my favorite episodes so far is the island flashback “Odyssey”. Sometimes when flashbacks are too brief I find they are not as fulfilling as it could be even when they are some significant developments such as the discovery of the missile launcher. I like what Manu Bennett brings to his character and the chemistry he has with Oliver and now Shado. Yao Fei is great too and we haven’t seen the last of him.

      Looking at the next several episode titles, I’m excited for what’s going to happen next. You brought up a lot of great points and perspective I never thought of. Nice discussing Arrow with you!

  2. “Oliver’s moral code is an ever changing work-in-progress; could his decision to spare The Count move him one step closer to adopting a no-kill policy in the future even if villains will inevitably come back to haunt him?”
    It will be a long road but maybe Felicity will rub off on him?

    “He still has a ways to go before turning into a villain, if that’s the direction he’s headed.”
    Green Arrow kills Dark Archer. Tommy discovers Dark Archer was his father. Tommy seeks vengeance. Viola! Villainous turn complete. Now as to what season?

    “The scenes featuring Shado had more substance than recent flashbacks. At first, I thought the water slapping would somehow come in handy in the present day but it was very cool to see how it helped Oliver learn to use the bow, a memorable step to becoming the Archer aka Green Arrow.”
    I was really wondering where they were going with this and was pleasantly surprised at the conclusion. I wonder if it is only a matter of time before Shado is promoted to series regular as well now that she’s part of the Island group?

    Overall, I was slightly disappointed by the sparse amount of screen time for the Count but hope to see him back next season. Fav scene = the way Oliver overcame his inability to aim by shooting three arrows at once to kill the doctor. Also nice to see some action from Diggle!

    The wait for the next episode is too long…

    • Sorry, but that does not work as a villainous turn for Tommy to me (at this point). He’s very upset by Oliver killing of criminals, so I don’t see why his father’s death would make him turn into an innocent-killing villain. Kill Oliver, maybe, but not decide to kill lots of innocent people. Heck, for years he’s liked Oliver better than his father, anyway. And if he discovers his father was the Dark Archer, then he knows his father was killing people, too. Was the hostage situation publicly attributed to the Dark Archer? I remember there being news people there, I think? If he knows his father was killing actual innocent people (and not just the criminals Oliver kills), then Oliver’s not even a hypocrite for killing Malcolm, and he might realize that his father had already tried to kill Oliver first.

    • Yeah, the three arrow shot was cool. Was Oliver thinking .. I’m hoping at least one of these hit the mark? haha.

      With all the heavy hitters (Slade, Shado, Yao) on the island, I wonder if Fyers will call in for back up? If so, what super villain will even the odds? I hope we get one more episode long island flashback this season and give Shado a chance to steal the show.

      I like what John Barrowman brings to the show, I hope they keep him around next season. Oliver only had one fight with the Dark Archer so far, I wouldn’t mind more of that before he dies. The show goes at such a fast pace, I can’t really guess when its gonna happen.

      Now that Felicity is a regular, I hope they give her own arc. Influencing Oliver for the better can be one of them. Yeah, after 3 episodes its back to another hiatus. But it’ll be worth the wait :)

  3. My friend brought round a bowl of water and I just at him he had truly lost his mind haha xD

    This was actually because I told him I got archery lessons for my birthday, I laughed so damn hard! haha xD

  4. Finally caught up on this one. I looked at your earlier review and you are a fan of The Count right? I enjoyed him because I thought he was a different style of villain for the show. I get the Joker comparisons, but thought he was interesting. I was actually looking forward to him coming back in some fashion this week… more so than he did I mean. I loved Seth Gabel as Red Lincoln on Fringe too. so I hope we see him acting in some more stuff soon.

    Pretty good episode overall. Didn’t blow me away, but this show is always a lot of fun.

    • Yeah I like the Count because’s he’s fun and different from the other villains on the show. I still look forward to his “real” full fledged return. I’m not sure how they’ll bring him back from complete insanity (assuming that happens). Seth Gabel showed he could pull off two distinct characters on Fringe, though Red Lincoln was by far much cooler by design. Each episode of Arrow is usually fun. It doesn’t feel epic like GOT but worth watching. Thanks for commenting. :)

  1. Pingback: Arrow episode 19 review: Unfinished Business | Musings of a Mild Mannered Man

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