by J.D. Balthazar
Letting go, accepting change, and seeing past your own preconceptions were the themes of the hour. From Slade pushing at Oliver to break off his relationship with Shado, to Lance realizing that he had to take the law into his own hands to save lives, a lot of dynamics were messed with, and it was exciting.
Oliver doesn't play well with others, unless he trusts them. Our core group (Oliver, Diggle, Felicity) are as solid as ever. They work like a well oiled machine at this point, tracking down information and backing each other up. I had no real fear for Felicity when she volunteered as bait. Not because she's a series regular and it's unlikely the show runners would kill off a fan favorite this early in the second season, but rather that I knew Oliver wouldn't let her get hurt. Diggle would watch her back, and even Lance would do everything in his power to help. That's friendship and loyalty. Somehow, during Oliver's crusade last season, he stumbled upon real allies and friends he can rely on.
That's pretty impressive for a guy who has the emotive range of a toaster. No offense to Stephen Amell, he manages to convey quite a bit in the limited range his character has. That's not a failing, either, not writing-wise. It's the character. That's kind of what has become the most important aspect of the series, and that's what makes Laurel's actions and subsequent breakdown work. I'm so not a fan of the direction they went with her, but it makes sense on a character level. She had some pretty major demons to work through, and she wasn't even starting to face them. I'm glad they didn't draw this out though, if she had been on the Arrow witch hunt for too much longer, her character would never regain any likability.
I'm not sure the same can be said for the D.A. who is campaigning for the annual Detective Lance dick of the year award. Him pushing for the death penalty makes sense, and if I lived in that city I might feel exactly the same way, but it comes across as petty and harsh. I know that's because I've grown to like Moira and I don't want to see her put to death. )Not that I expect she'll get that far, I can't imagine Oliver sitting idly by and letting that happen.) Still, it's a plot line that reminds us of consequences. The lack of any kind of reset (again except for injuries), is something I'm very pleased with.
The show isn't holding back. Which brings me to how visceral, brutal, and gruesome this episode was. The Doll Maker was positively icky, creepy, and utterly effective. I could totally see Quentin throwing himself into that case after Sara's death. There are some interesting parallels to Comic canon here, because James Gordon had some history with the Doll Maker (more info in Comic Book Bits). I wasn't sure who would end up being the victim at the end, I thought it might be Thea because she fits his profile. However, it kind of had to be Laurel. It was the push needed for her to work out her issues. That's probably why there was so much visible brutality, so that we'd actually buy that Laurel was in danger.
It's nice that the Canary was there to kill the Doll Maker, so that the newly principled Oliver didn't have to do it. Normally I'd be upset that a bad guy was offed, but in this case I'm glad he's gone because I don't want a repeat of this creepshow. Unfortunately, Oliver now has to solve the Canary issue. Okay, we don't have a name for her yet, but she looks like Black Canary and doing Black Canary things. Although I wonder what side she's on. She's killed a few people, and has a connection to Ra's al Ghul. She's obviously hiding from something or someone, and her past looks to be pretty dark. Suffice it to say, I'm more than curious to find out more.
Roy had some fun scenes, too. Before, he was all over the place. Now that he's on Team Arrow he's focused, and clearly a good choice for information on activities in the Glades. He tracked down the Canary in an afternoon, and that's like Felicity-level awesome. Plus he had a pretty nice chase scene to boot. Unfortunately, Thea's story wasn't really worth mentioning. All she really had were reaction scenes and a token appearance to visit Moira.
Despite not having much screen time, the Island Flashback this week was a pretty heavy one. Not only did we get some movement on the interpersonal stuff, everyone got blowed up. It looked like Slade's hands were on fire. We don't know what happened to Shado, and oh yeah Oliver was captured and put into a cell on that huge boat that's been circling Lian Yu. Obvious parallel with Moira facing death or life in prison, and Oliver waking up in a cage.
So, Shado was pre-med. That strikes me as a bit convenient, like it was just an excuse to keep her separated from Slade and Oliver.
Comic Book Bits:
There have been three iterations of the Doll Maker in comics. The first was an enemy of Plastic Man named Marcel Mannequin. The second was a villain in Supergirl's rogue's gallery named Anton Schott. The most recent incarnation, Barton Mathis, is a Gothamite who started off as a sort of ally of the Joker. He also had a past with James Gordon, who shot and killed his father when he was a child. His father was a pretty vile man who made his son watch him kill and cannibalize people during 'hunting trips'. Having him escape Iron Heights might also be a nod to the Joker and his revolving door cell at Arkham Asylum.
So Malcolm really was a member of the League of Shadows or whatever evil organization Ra's al Ghul is the head of in this universe. I am a bit stunned that they just invoked Ra's al Ghul. I didn't think they were ever actually going to use him. I love that the Black Arrow's outfit is a League of Shadows uniform.
The big boat circling Lian Yu had a name on the back: Amazo.
So Quentin has renamed the Hood "Arrow". That seems fitting. I like the relationship that is building between Quentin and Arrow. It's so obviously like early days Batman and Gordon. Lance even called Arrow to a rooftop like he had a Bat-signal.
Kickass opener with Canary's electronic sonic scream. It's not natural, but still awesome.
The D.A. reminds me a little of Harvey Dent, but I doubt they are going to go in that direction. If he becomes a villain, it'll probably be something other than acid disfiguring half his face that causes it.
The TV reporter should have mentioned that Laurel was an assistant D.A. Instead she was just mentioned as "Officer Lance and his daughter".
Canary's hideout in the clock tower was like Roy had wandered onto the Smallville Watchtower set.
Moira has more secrets? Like what?
I wonder if the Count got away too?
Oliver's flashback wig is a little bit better than last season. It's still horrible, but not quite as bad.
Oliver: "Tranq dart. He'll be out for 36 minutes."
Lance: "Yeah, I remember."
Lance: "I'm sorry. I guess he just gets enthusiastic sometimes."
Diggle: "Police scanners have been blowing up for the last hour. Laurel called in half the force for that silent alarm."
Felicity: "Yeah, because going after actual bad guys is so last year."
And that's what Oliver was doing last year.
Oliver: "She's targeting criminals."
Felicity: "Misogynist criminals."
Another solid episode, even if it was a bit heavy and dark.
3 out of 4 Prison Cells