- For other uses of the term Vertigo, see Vertigo (disambiguation).
- "Took down three Vertigo pushers tonight, Diggle. Last one finally knew a name. The Count."
- "The Count? That's worse than The Hood."
- —Oliver Queen and John Diggle
Thea is in trouble with the police after she gets caught using a drug called "Vertigo". Oliver thinks the only way to keep her out of jail is to find the dealer, a man who goes by the name of "The Count". Oliver turns to McKenna Hall, an old flame and current Vice cop, for help. Meanwhile, Laurel steps in to defend Thea, and Felicity gives Oliver some disturbing news about Moira.
- Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen/The Hood
- Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance
- Colin Donnell as Tommy Merlyn
- David Ramsey as John Diggle
- Willa Holland as Thea Queen
- Susanna Thompson as Moira Queen
- Paul Blackthorne as Detective Quentin Lance
- Byron Mann as Yao Fei Gulong
- Janina Gavankar as Detective McKenna Hall
- Sebastian Dunn as Edward Fyers
- Serge Houde as Judge Brackett
- Eugene Lipinski as Alexi Leonov
- Eileen Pedde as a doctor
- Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak
- Seth Gabel as Cecil Adams/The Count
- Kurt Evans as Alex Salese
- Barry Nerling as Mechanic
- David Quinlan as Reporter
- Jeffrey Robinson as Deathstroke
- Patrick Sabongui as Street Dealer
- Monte Thompson as Thug
- Robert Wolfgang Weiss as Court Clerk
Outside the courthouse, Thea is bombarded by a huge media presence. Thea's attorney has worked out a plea arrangement with the prosecutor, but Judge Brackett denies the deal, wanting to make Thea the "poster child" for Starling City's Vertigo problem.
Back at the mansion, Thea's attorney gets to work on an appeal, but warns the family she may have to do jail time. Thea walks off, still accusing her mother of cheating on Walter. Moira is upset that Thea isn't taking the situation seriously and Oliver decides to prevent his sister from being used as an example.
Oliver drops by the police station and meets with a vice detective named McKenna Hall, whom he knew from their younger days. McKenna is aware of The Count and gives him a file, gently asking him to let the police handle the situation. Quentin notices Oliver snooping around and asks McKenna about it.
In order to make an example, The Count injects pure Vertigo directly into the bloodstream of the dealer from the beginning. The Count explains how the dose apparently creates agonizing pain for hours or days and eventually causes the person's heart to give out. The Count hands him a gun with one bullet, giving him the option to take revenge or end the misery. The man shoots himself. The Count finds it "interesting" that the vigilante is coming for him.
Laurel and Tommy discuss their radically opposite schedules getting in the way of spending more time together. Oliver shows up and asks Laurel about Judge Brackett. He wants her to see if her father can help.
That night, Laurel and Quentin talk about Thea. Quentin initially refuses to do anything, but Laurel protests that she sees potential in Thea and the young woman needs help, not prison. She points out the trouble Sara got into as a teenager, including an incident of shoplifting which Quentin made go away. Quentin eventually agrees to make a few calls.
Oliver meets with his Bratva connections to try and get connected with The Count. He says he's interested in the drug business. In exchange for the help they ask him to kill a man. Oliver obliges.
This leads to a flashback to the island. Yao brings Oliver to an organized fighting circle Edward is using for unit cohesion. Yao shoves him into the circle and it appears they are to fight.
Back in present-day Oliver puts the body of the man he seemingly had just killed into his trunk. He places his finger under the man's chin and he pops back to life. Oliver tells John that in order not to blow his Bratva connection his plan is to meet with The Count as himself, then follow him to his hideout.
Laurel and Oliver talk to Thea about her legal situation. Laurel explains Judge Brackett has agreed to 2 years of probation and 500 hours of community service for Thea under the former's supervision at CNRI. Thea refuses to take the deal and Oliver is furious. After Laurel leaves, Thea says essentially that she wants to go to jail to ruin their mother's life. Angered, Oliver reveals to Thea that their father cheated on their mother, not the other way around, and Robert even admitted before his death that he wasn't the man they thought he was. Thea is in disbelief. Moira overhears this and is upset with Oliver.
Oliver and John meet with The Count. John says he wants to have something to offer his night club customers. The Count tells him that 56 people died to perfect his product. Quentin and McKenna pull up with several vehicles to bust the meeting. The Count gets away, on his way injecting Oliver in the chest with the pure form of Vertigo. Oliver and John manage to get away.
John mixes up an antidote with Lian Yu herbs and gives it to Oliver.
During a flashback, Oliver recalls his fight with Yao Fei. Yao Fei beats him severely, then uses pressure point manipulation on Oliver to fake his death.
Oliver wakes up from his drugged state, with John telling him that The Count only got a half dose into him. Oliver realizes that The Count got away, but they have a sample of the drug which he injected into the former.
Quentin and McKenna pay Oliver a visit at the mansion. McKenna reveals she saw him fleeing the scene when they tried to apprehend The Count. Oliver lies that he tried to buy off The Count in a failed attempt to see his face. Quentin warns that if they spot Oliver at another deal, he'll be arrested. As they leave, Oliver assures McKenna he knows she's just doing her job and thanks Quentin for helping Thea. Quentin simply states he did Laurel a favor. Moira confronts Oliver over his recklessness and also scolds him for telling Thea of Robert's infidelity. Thea then arrives and asks why Moira kept this a secret from her, as she's old enough to know. Moira explains she wanted to preserve Thea's positive memory of her father. Thea tearfully apologizes for her accusations and makes amends with her mother. Oliver watches the reconciliation and heads upstairs, but suddenly collapses, still suffering from some side effects of the overdose.
During another island flashback, we see Yao dump Oliver into the river in full view of Fyers and his men.
In present-day, John and Oliver arrive at Queen Consolidated. John suggests Oliver go to the hospital but he declines. Oliver brings the Vertigo sample to Felicity Smoak, claiming it is an "energy drink" manufactured by his friend "Kevin" to cure hangovers. Oliver hopes she can analyze it and find out where in the city it was produced. When Felicity wonders why the "energy drink" is in a syringe, Oliver says, "I ran out of sports samples", much to her and Diggle's exasperation.
Felicity finds that the sample was manufactured in an abandoned juvenile detention center in The Glades. Against John's wishes, Oliver goes after The Count. Unable to use his bow because of the overdose, The Hood physically fights his way through The Count's men. As he makes his way to the drug manufacturing lab, the police arrive. The Hood fights with and eventually overpowers The Count by giving him an overdose of his own product. Just then Quentin arrives and orders the vigilante to release The Count, citing how the city has started to look up to The Hood as a hero. The Hood then shoves The Count away and flees the scene.
Thea accepts the plea deal and begins working with Laurel at CNRI. After Oliver drops her off, he thanks Laurel for her help. McKenna then calls Oliver, informing him that The Count has been arrested and his drug out of business.
Quentin and a psychiatrist observe The Count at a mental institution. Due to the triple dosage of Vertigo given to him by The Hood, the dealer's mind has been warped, possibly permanently.
In an island flashback, Oliver wakes up when submerged in the water and is able to swim to shore. In his pocket, he finds a map Yao Fei slipped inside detailing the location of a hideout.
In present-day, Felicity asks Oliver to meet her at Big Belly Burger. After asking if she can trust him, Felicity shows him a book identical to his father's. She reveals she got The List from Walter, who told her it belonged to Moira. Felicity thinks the list cost Walter his life.
Preparation ran from November 5 until November 14, 2012. Shooting ran from November 15 until November 26, 2012.
- Oliver and Alexi talk about Anatoly Knyazev. Anatoly will later become a major character in the flashback storylines of season 2 and season 5 and a recurring character in season 6.
- In the last flashback of the episode, when Oliver comes out of the river and is looking at the map, he says to himself, "Survive", but his lips don't match the dialogue.
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