I review Arrow S2x03 “Broken Dolls”. Spoilers within.
Wow, what an episode. Three weeks in and Arrow is showing no signs of dropping its high-quality form that begun in the latter stages of Season 1, with another terrific episode on display here in the form of Broken Dolls, which pits Oliver Queen against a villain Barton Mathis – played here by Michael Eklund, who’s a serial killer nicknamed the Dollmaker. He’s been jailed before by Quentin Lance, but now he’s back – having escaped prison during the earthquake that levelled the Glades in the finale.
If you’ll remember from last week’s episode, we ended on a cliffhanger, with Ollie being surrounded by the cops after breaking into Laurel’s apartment once again. He’s rescued by a masked woman who we encountered at the end of Season 1, a new masked vigilante who comics fans will recognise as the Black Canary, who plays a pretty interesting role in this episode that has to juggle multiple story threads – such as Team Arrow searching for the Canary, who’s just as ruthless as Oliver was pre-Tommy’s death, and now Ollie also has to deal with the Dollmaker. This week’s episode as a result, is as action packed as the last, making use of a vast number of cast members in order to keep the scenes fresh and interesting.
The main focus on this episode is the improvement in the relationship between Ollie and Quentin Lance – who has, like Laurel, done a complete character switch following the finale and now is working with Starling City’s vigilante, who he has now nicknamed “Arrow” – proving that the Ollie that we know here is getting closer and closer to becoming the Green Arrow that we are familiar with from the comics. The dynamic between Quentin and Arrow in this episode is one of the highlights for me as I loved how the writers pulled off their partnership. Whilst there is an obvious comparison to the relationship between Batman and James Gordon here, it’s clear that the Quentin and “Arrow” team-up is different, even if Arrow does meet Quentin on the roof of the SPD building at one point during the episode. (How long before they decide to put up an Arrow symbol?) There were other scenes that worked really well, and we almost immediately get to see Roy Harper put into use as his new role as Ollie’s informant – in an entertaining chase scene as he tries to locate the Black Canary whilst Arrow deals with the Dollmaker.
The flashback sequences also reached a major turning point in this episode, as we see Ollie, Slade and Shado dealing with the newcomers to the Island very well indeed as things play out – especially given the cliffhanger that we’ve seen as a result of what happens here. Slade also goes through hell in this episode when we witness the burning of his face – could this be the start of his descent into becoming the Deathstroke that us comics fans are used to? (Despite the fact that I would love to see his character return to the present day at some point on the side of Team Arrow, I don’t think it’s going to happen given the character’s reputation as a villain in the comics. Then again, the Blackhawks have been twisted sides before and Slade has helped Ollie thus so far – so maybe there is still hope? There’s still some questions to be answered here.
Speaking of questions, the scene between Moira Queen and her lawyer also deserves a mention – what secrets does Moria still hold that she fears will come to light? And, to top it all off, a little more is revealed about Black Canary, in a nice little nod towards the League of Assassins and Ra’s Al Ghul that literally caused my jaw to drop. I knew that the League would play a role in the series due to an episode title having the name The League of Assassins, but… to have Black Canary seemingly a member of them (or, more likely, given the way that she dispatches an Assassin, an ex-member)? It’s an interesting twist on the character from the comics that teases the possibility of Ra’s Al Ghul himself making an appearance at some point – although after Liam Neeson’s portrayal of him in the Dark Knight Trilogy, It’ll be interesting to see how they adapt him to the small screen and why the League are targeting Starling City instead of Gotham. How great would it be if he was Season 2’s big bad as well, in the style of Malcolm Merlyn? And speaking of Malcolm, was he a member of the League of Assassins as well? I can’t wait to find out more.
I enjoyed pretty much everything about Broken Dolls as it unfolded and it’s clear to see that the show is continuously improving as it goes on. Even Laurel, the worst character on the show so far improved to a certain extent, finally acknowledges the role that she had in Tommy’s death in an emotional sequence that could possibly see the character improving – but we’ll see. Remember, we’ve still only had 3 episodes out of 22, and there’s plenty more that the show can still surprise us with.