Arrow: Broken Dolls

Lance: "You said you're trying another way? Maybe I am, too."

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
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related. He reviews Arrow, The Originals and Farscape and cool new movies that strike his fancy.


garyb said...

The watch tower scene flashed me back to the 2002 short lived tv series Birds of Prey, which more or less featured Black Canary (Dinah Lance) along with Huntress (Helena Kyle) and Oracle (Barbara Gordon)

Arrow is very close to having all of the BoP players. Perhaps another back door pilot/spin off is in the offing?

Last time I looked the box set of BoP is $9.99 at Walmart.

Patrick said...

Very exciting episode, with a lot of cool moments for me. Some highlights, in no particular order:

* Quentin calling Laurel out for her misdirected anger at "the Arrow"(interesting that Quentin's the one giving him the new name). I'm glad they're tackling this issue in a timely fashion. I don't need her to be completely pro-Arrow next week or anything, I'm willing to watch her try and figure out where she stands now, but that rut she was in was annoying.

* Black Canary, or whoever she is. If her targets have been men who victimize women, why did she rescue Oliver at the beginning? It might have to do with the speculation about who she really is, speculation which is definitely going to be fueled by the preview for the next episode.

* Ra's Al-Ghul! They actually dropped his name! I loved the reveal that Malcom's outfit from last year was actually a League Of Shadows uniform. It actually makes a lot of sense. Though I hate that they're using the pronunciation of the name from the Nolan movies, I think it sounded cooler in the 90's animated show, when it was pronouned like "Raish" not "Roz". Dunno which is linguistically correct, but the Nolan way just sounds weird to me. :)

* That look on Oliver's face when Quentin expressed his amazement at Felicity's computer skills. Is it just me, or is that the same smile Felicity has when she watches Oliver on the salmon ladder? :)

* That DA doesn't have to campaign for the dick of the year award, he's already won it. By any reasonable standards, the threats to her family she was living under and her very public renunciation of The Undertaking & attempt to warn people in time would be enough mitigation to avoid even being charged with the death penalty. Of course, even if this was real life and not tv, the sheer scope of the crime and the number of lives lost might be too much to overcome with mitigating factors.

TJ said...

I love this show! And it makes me wonder why, but I think it's because every week it delivers new exciting things, and the base story moves slowly on.

It also makes me think of another CW show, Smallville, that I invested ten years (TEN YEARS! 10!) into. It made a lot of promises it couldn't keep. The show was always hinting at something "big" to happen, but it never delivered. And, it had some of the most annoying characters ever, like Lame Lang, who I know some of you guys couldn't stand. (You know who you are:), Kristin Kreuk isn't that bad actually in Beauty And The Beast). The show also had a gazillion of uninteresting villains-of-the-week we had to put up with for ten years (TEN YEARS! 10!). Smallville was a typical CW show, and I was glad when it ended, because I was FREE, and I didn't have to wait for the non-deliverance anymore.

Arrow is nothing like that. This week is a perfect example, even the vill-o-the-week, the doll-maker, who we never got to know, was woven into the story perfectly. That, and the fact that the flashbacks is always awesome too. Since Lost, flashbacks have been the new thing, and it always get tiresome after a while (ie OUAT, and even PoI). The flashbacks here are still intriguing, maybe because one of the main characters is lifting them (Slade).

I didn't think CW had the guts to put on a show this good. CW tends to be a little teenage-cheesy (latest example - The Tomorrow People), but Arrow really is something else. And the quest/recurring stars has so far been awesome. Who doesn't love John Barrowman (who I am sure will be back!), and in this season premiere, who turns up - Summer Glau! I had some problems though at first with Moira (Borg-queen-vibes) and Quentin (Dresden-files-wizard-vibes), and I was SO angry with Colton Haynes for quitting Teen Wolf. But all that is gone now. I'm lovin' every second of this show.

I hope that this show goes on for a hundred years (HUNDRED YEARS! 100!), and I can't remember I was this invested in a show since Buffy/ I said...I'm lovin' it!

TJ said...

BTW, if you guys haven't seen the underrated awesome show "The Dresden Files" with Paul Blackthorne, I highly recommend it. It was on for one season only in 2007 - 12 episodes.

Billie Doux said...

Hey, TJ -- I enjoyed The Dresden Files. It was a lot of fun and was canceled too soon.

Nick said...

In the same vein, if you liked the Dresden Files tv series, you might want to try the book series which is was based off.

It's different from the tv show, but miles better (IMHO).

Freeman said...

Pat, I'm with you on the Ra's al Ghul pronunciation. It broke my heart to hear him say it that way. And they can't make it like he was pronouncing it wrong because he was obviously a minion in the know.

It bothered me how physically resilient the Doll Maker was, but he was overall a very good villain. Much better than the Hoods. If the Count did escape, I hope they retool the character a bit. He was way too cartoony in the previous season.

I'm glad Laurel got called out on her stupidity in this episode, and she even had a revelation as well. But Katie Cassidy was very odd and wooden in some scenes. Meh, maybe my brain just nitpicks every time she's on screen.

The way some of those dudes in the cages looked, I wouldn't be surprised if Ollie is forced to participate in some kinda underground fight club. That would be friggin' awesome.

I totally missed the Amazo sign on the boat. Nice catch. If they put Amazo in this show I don't know what I'd think. Amazo's kinda one of my least favorite supervillains just by way of being way too overpowered. But since metahumans ain't exactly running around willy nilly he'd probably end up being some kinda Terminator-like android instead.

Patrick said...

Billie, TJ: I'm with Nick. As much as I did enjoy the Dresden Files TV show, the book series is MUCH better, it's my all-time favorite book series(yes, even more than Lord Of The Rings at this point). The last three books all had multiple OMGWTFBBQ!!1! moments(and the last one was chock full of them). Book 15(15!!!) is due out soon, and they're driving me nuts waiting for the release date to be announced. :)

ChrisB said...

Wow, but the comic book stuff is dense. I appreciate how you keep it all straight and tie it into the show for me. It's a credit to this show that someone as ignorant of the canon as I can still love and invest in the characters and the story.

I like where this episode took the characters, especially Lance who seems to have come into his own instead of just being a villain. I like how he forced Laurel to tell him the truth and I like the way he is interacting with Arrow.

My weekly Felicity love note. When she gets all badass I just smile, but when she got scared after taking it all on, I just loved her all the more. I knew that she wasn't in any real danger, but I loved the juxtaposition of those two scenes.

rebecca_s921 said...

I was curious about the actress playing Black Canary and did a search on IMDB ... And found spoilers. So if you mind spoilers don't do that. Though this knowledge did build my anticipation for future episodes.

Marianna said...

Felicity acting as bait reminded me of Willow in Doppelgangland and made me smile.

BUFFY: First sign of trouble, you give the signal. We come in hard and fast.
XANDER: What is the signal?
WILLOW: Me screaming.