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TV Review: ARROW: Season 2, Episode 3: Broken Dolls – The CW

Caity Lotz Arrow Broken Dolls

The CW‘s Arrow Broken Dolls TV Show Review. Arrow: Season 2, Episode 3: “Broken Dolls,” took something of a leap with the “Green Arrow” property. Several, in fact, starting with The Hood’s extrication from the trap he stepped into last episode. Enter the Black Canary (Caity Lotz)! Cutting short the pointless exchange between Laurel (Katie Cassidy) and The Hood (Stephen Amell), she incapacitated the S.W.A.T. team with a sonic device and got the Hood out via window. In the alley below, there was a brief pause, as The Hood demanded she identify herself, and she was gone.

First impression: I was alarmed. There may have been yelling at the screen but I’m more coherent now, so I’ll just say her artificial sonics seemed like a cop out.

This was the set up for the episode’s primary sub-plot. The Hood set Roy (Colton Haynes) on a mission to find out who she was. Even though she clearly wasn’t another copycat vigilante, she was still a vigilante and Oliver had resolved to bring her in. The notion of The Hood somehow cleaning up his image, by declaring war on vigilantism, struck me as a little ridiculous if done just to smooth things over with Laurel. Fortunately, the main plot somewhat settled the matter.

An old nemesis of Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne) had returned to serial murder. Known as The Dollmaker (Michael Eklund), for his method of killing, dressing and posing his female victims, he rattles Quentin enough to bring The Hood on-board. This team up placed Quentin at odds with daughter Laurel but after Dollmaker made things personal, the whole adversarial Laurel storyline seemed to be resolved.

While this chapter in Laurel’s development seemed forced and its resolution rushed, I was glad to see it being wrapped up. Laurel had just become the most annoying character; and with high strung types like Roy, Thea, and Felicity around, that says a lot. At one point, during their confrontation, Quentin called Laurel out on Tommy’s death making all the difference in her pursuit of The Hood. “What would you say if it did?” she asked; but I couldn’t tell you what his response was- I was yelling “get over it” at the screen.

No more of that, hopefully. Nothing like near-death experience to make people realize how stupid they could be.

There was a turn involving the prosecution of Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson). The prospect of a death sentence not only served to rally the family, but promised some juicy dirt to come from the Queen matriarch.

The flashbacks to the island had Slade (Manu Bennett) and Oliver leaving Shado (Celina Jade) to do forensic work on remains found last episode. Slade set into Oliver over getting too attached to Shado, but then the ship, from which their last assailants presumably disembarked, began bombarding Shado’s position. Both rushed back, but Oliver is knocked out by an artillery round and wakes up captive aboard the ship.

Caity Lotz Arrow Broken Dolls

Caity Lotz Arrow Broken Dolls

I expect a lot from Slade and Shado. The flashback arc had not been keeping pace with the current one; but Oliver’s imprisonment may provide some new answers, if not momentum.

Roy’s task led him to a seeming urchin called Sin (Bex Taylor-Klaus), who, in turn, led him to the Canary; but only after a high energy chase, that ended with Roy being knocked unconscious. His red arrow convinced Black Canary that he wasn’t sent by a hostile party, and he was released. Black Canary, her M.O. seemingly the aggressive defense of women, showed up for the take down of Dollmaker. The Hood subdued him but she killed him anyway and took her leave. Back at her hideout, she was met by an actual agent of that hostile party. An assassin from the League, issuing her a recall notice. After reassuring her about his intentions, she killed him; but not before we got the name behind the message. Ra’s al Ghul.

If Arrow had to contend with comparisons to Christopher Nolan‘s Batman trilogy before, “Broken Dolls” made it unavoidable. Fans of the source material would have likely noted references like “Nanda Parbat” and “The League of Assassins;” but formally bringing Ra’s al Ghul into the mix seems risky to me. On one hand, it raises both the stakes and the bar for the series; Ra’s al Ghul is one of two DC villains I actually admire (the other being Darkseid). On the other hand, it reinforced the perception of a dependency on Batman to move DCU projects; and the matter of doing Ra’s al Ghul justice. Nolan undersold Ra’s even more than he did Bane. With Arrow basically underselling everyone, I have to wonder how removed from the original he will be (assuming he shows up at all). His mere mention, however, creates a unifying thread to much of Arrow‘s plot and character structure. Nolan’s Bruce Wayne may be the only person ever linked to Ra’s that didn’t become a stone killer. Arrow‘s Black Canary makes more sense if linked to The League (and Ra’s, himself), as does The Hood but I may be getting ahead of myself.

While the Canary’s use of a sonic device was not without precedence – in the source material she had resorted to such a device during a period of powerlessness – the low-key tone of Arrow has thus far suggested a deliberate avoidance of the DCU’s super-powered components. It would be safe to assume, then, that Arrow‘s Canary has no natural sonic ability. That would be fine (consistent, at least) but what would this mean for the Flash? If the super power of Arrow‘s first superhuman character has been circumvented by technology, will Flash get the same treatment? Localized warp field, perhaps? Given that Arrow has been more about the evolution of its characters, there may yet be a super powered Canary, with the Flash marking a formal break from the “no powers” rule.

I am prepared to formally take issue with Canary’s look, for the show, since I still think she looks too much like Marvel’s Black Cat. The Canary in print sports a Playboy Bunny styled outfit (for deliberate effect) and no mask – relying on wigs and make-up for anonymity. I think it ironic, then, that she gets a mask for Arrow, while Oliver resorts to make-up. Her look works in context, however, so that’s that.

“Broken Dolls” made some pretty important contributions to Arrow‘s course, despite being at the periphery of the episode’s main plot. Even if these turns don’t lead to satisfactory outcomes, they have secured my continued interest.

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About the author

Sam Joseph

Sam is an Avid consumer/observer of Geek culture, and collector of Fanboy media from earliest memory. Armchair sociologist and futurist. Honest critic with satirical if not absurdist­­ wit with some experience in comics/ animation production.

  • bbussey

    Black Canary is not the first “de-powered” DC character to appear. The Royal Flush Gang, Count Vertigo, and Slade Wilson all were “humanized” for the show.

  • dissncuss

    I had always thought of the first two as being technology based (much like this incarnation of Black Canary), while Slade was just… gifted; a natural ability, akin to those touched upon in the film “Limitless.” Should access to more brain power be considered super powered, or did I just get the source character wrong?

  • bbussey

    Well, Derek Reston was an android in the comics (and was the Ace rather than the King), while that King was immortal. Vertigo’s equilibrium-disrupting ability is a power and not technology based. Deathstroke Terminator’s powers were technology/chemically-induced when he was transformed into a meta-human, but that process (currently) is beyond the laws of physics in the Arrow reality. That may change after the particle inducer transforms Barry Allen into the Flash.

  • dissncuss

    Ah. Well, thanks for clarifying.

  • bbussey

    Also gotta disagree with you on the “de-powering” of Black Canary and her dropping in to save the day. Having a sonic device to simulate the legendary Canary cry is a brilliant way of turning the character’s mutant super power into a plausible and believable alternative. And given the current state of Laurel’s mind, there was no way Oliver was going to talk his way out of that dilemma. I knew someone else had to intervene dramatically to get the drop on the SWAT battalion, but I never guessed it would be the Canary.

    The one loophole of convenience you didn’t notice about that scene is that Oliver was unaffected by the sonic scream. It stands to reason that Canary was wearing some form of eardrum protection, but it’s unlikely that Oliver was. Still, that was one helluva entrance by the lady in black.

    Good observations though. I’ll have to go back and read some of your assessments for Season 1.

  • dissncuss

    Sorry, my reviews begin at season 2. I had assumed that the sonic device was directional – a preset blind spot left for her and The Hood. My problem wasn’t so much with the device, as it was with the need for one. The deliberate de-powering of DC supers flies in the face of Flash’s inclusion, and vice versa.

  • bbussey

    The directional sonic attack sounds reasonable, except that Arrow was ringed by SWAT personnel and Canary didn’t move after activating the device, yet the police and glass panels behind her were affected. It’s a minor oversight to me, and doesn’t detract from the solution to getting out of the trap. It was the second consecutive great grand entrance for Canary, which more than compensated for the minor contradictions. It is a show based on a comic book hero, so I allow some latitude on certain things.

    The Flash launch is a direct result of the popularity of Arrow. Since the de-powering premise was part of the bible to establish the show, which resulted in a hit series, I’m not going to fret that they are going to build on that success by introducing super-powers to the franchise. Also, #2,20 will be the pilot episode for Flash as opposed to Flash joining the Arrow cast of characters. Infusing the Arrow-universe with as much realism as possible is part of the appeal. An occasional appearance by or crossover with the Scarlet Speedster doesn’t diminish the appeal for me, and I look forward to how they will integrate Flash into the reality-grounded Arrow world.

  • dissncuss

    I take no real position on the tone they set for either Arrow or Flash. My concern is the clear temptation WB would have to create a joint TV universe. That could be great, but could also create a continuity mess – or worse, recreate the Smallville glut.

  • bbussey

    Everything I’ve read seems to indicate that WB is giving the Arrow creators wide access to (and wide latitude with) the DC franchise, with the exception of the Big Two and their affiliated characters. Although, we are seeing a lot of Batman-affiliated characters pop up, so even those areas aren’t totally off-limits it seems. And since the Arrow creators have DC Comics origins, I’m inclined to give them the benefit of doubt until they show Smallville-like tendencies. But to date, the storytelling and pacing are light years above Smallville and show no signs of slowing down or digressing into kiddie-theatre.

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