ARROW Recap – “Broken Dolls”

     October 23, 2013


Tonight’s episode of Arrow covered a helluva lot of ground in one action-packed and fast-paced hour.  While “Broken Dolls” could have settled for just being a really creepy case of the week, the creative team rewarded fans by advancing storylines related to Moira Queen’s trial, Laurel Lance’s anti-vigilante vendetta, the mystery surrounding the Black Canary and even unexpectedly explosive events back on the island.  There was a lot to take in, so let’s get right to it.  Hit the jump for my recap and review, Abercrombie.

arrow-broken-dolls-stephen-amellWhen last we left our hero (Stephen Amell), he was caught in the cross-hairs of about a dozen police officers, thanks to the machinations of Laurel (Katie Cassidy).  Luckily, the (other) masked vigilante, Black Canary, came to Arrow’s aid and dispatched the would-be law-bringers with a sonic device (more on that later).  This episode started off like a shot and showed no signs of slowing down, but to make sure we cover all our bases, let’s start with the mini-plot on the island.

After discovering skeletal remains of World War II-era Japanese soldiers (one of which they dragged back to their camp), Slade (Manu Bennett) and Oliver climbed to higher ground in order to do some recon on their new enemies, leaving Shado (Celina Jade) behind.  After a back and forth about the costs and benefits of caring for other people, Slade and Oliver spot a freighter off the coast of the island.  As the ship starts firing missiles onto their campsite, the two run back in an attempt to save Shado, but get caught up in the firestorm.  Slade appears to be burning alive while Oliver is knocked unconscious, only to wake up, shell-shocked, in a prison aboard said freighter.

Meanwhile, in Starling City, Arrow enlists the help of his trustworthy companions, John Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), to help him track down the nefarious serial killer, Barton Mathis (Michael Eklund), aka the Dollmaker.  Diggle didn’t have much to do this time around other than make snide comments, but hey, someone’s got to bring the snark.  It’s usually Felicity, but she was busy gathering intel on Black Canary based on her M.O., tracking down secure toxicology reports hidden away by the police, narrowing the search down to one particular brand of skin cream (to which Diggle laid down some snark), and finally offering herself up as bait.  Felicity is just the tops.

arrow-emily-bett-rickards-paul-blackthorneOther unforeseen partnerships include a new-found buddy cop partnership between Arrow and disgraced officer Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne), who apprehended Mathis six years prior, but is now warned to stay away from the case.  The two form an interesting pair that’s kind of a “Bad Cop, Worse Cop” scenario, but one that only works for this particular case.  I can’t see Lance keeping up with Arrow as he hops across rooftops and Parkours his way through the Glades.  As the Dollmaker was a personal vendetta of Lance’s, it made sense for him to reach out to Arrow as a way of taking the creep down and attempting to skirt his own co-workers in the police department (an attempt which he was only marginally successful at).

Oh, and while the Dollmaker has a delightfully creepy way of dispatching his victims (ie coating and drowning them in a polymer that hardens to turn them into life-size dolls), he’s also more of a Batman villain than anything.  While he’s played well by Eklund in Arrow, his TV persona is nowhere near as creepy as his comics iteration, where he wears a mask partially made from the skin of his deceased father.  The Dollmaker is an interesting villain for another reason, that of seeing how Arrow’s writers are expanding the show’s mythology to include other characters from the DC universe.  While we have a few more episodes to wait until The Flash makes his appearance, another infamous name cropped up tonight that should have Bat-fans very excited.

After our hero saved the Lances from the clutches of the Dollmaker, effectively putting an end to any ill will between the Lance family and the Hood, Black Canary dealt the killing blow to the villain before Arrow could stop her.  As she returned to her clock tower hideout, we see a silhouette of Arrow step out of the shadows to meet her.  Surprise!  It’s not Arrow, but the Dark Archer (Owen Kwong).  Surprise #2!  He’s there to bring Black Canary back to “them”.  Who’s them, you ask?  Well, none other than the followers of one Ra’s Al Ghul! What?!

arrow-broken-dolls-emily-bett-rickards-michael-eklundThe appearance of the infamous Batman villain may not have come as a shock to everyone, especially since the title of the fifth episode of Arrow was revealed as “The Demon’s Head” a while back, and is now listed as “League of Assassins”.  Still pretty exciting stuff!  If The Flash and Ra’s Al Ghul can make their way into Arrow, who else might appear in future episodes?  Time will tell!

All in all, this was a fun episode that could have been a simple “case of the week” but decided instead to up the ante by threatening Moira Queen (Susanna Thompson) with a death sentence, getting Laurel to confess her guilt over Tommy’s death, and bringing in a whole new level of comicbook awesomeness with the League of Assassins.  While it also gave Roy (Colton Haynes) a chance to run around and show off his Parkour skills in his attempts to assist Arrow, poor Thea (Willa Holland) is left with naught to do but manage the club and bring her mother courtroom outfits.

Rating: A-

Quotes & Quivers:

Not only did we see more of Black Canary this week, but her own sidekick as well in Sin (Bex Taylor-Klaus).

Arrow to Black Canary: “Nice mask. Why’d you help me?” ~ Arrow’s best pick-up line.

There were a few nice scenes between Quentin and Laurel Lance, each trying to sort out their own feelings of guilt and throwing it back in the other’s face.  Glad to see a near-death experience at the hands of a serial killer put those particular grudges to rest.

Laurel: “Whatever guilt you’re feeling, you’re using it to justify a vendetta.” Quentin: “Well, maybe I’m not the only one.”

For the ladies: Diggle and Oliver wrasslin’ around shirtless, because: training.

Dollmaker: “Everyone loves a pretty doll.”

arrow-broken-dolls-bex-taylor-klaus-colton-haynesDiggle (On Felicity’s offer to go undercover): “It’s too dangerous.” Felicity: “More dangerous than going undercover in a mob casino or jumping out of a plane?

Felicity: “The next time I offer to be bait for a serial killer, please turn me down.”

Quentin Lance: “This city needs help, I just became less particular about where it comes from.”

Sin to Roy: “Step off, Abercrombie.”

Roy to Black Canary: “Not my face! I have a disapproving girlfriend.”

Thea (to Roy, via text): “Where are U? Laurel kidnapped! Need u!!!”

Dollmaker to Canary: “Let’s take a better look at this face of yours. You have such lovely skin.”

Dark Archer: “Ra’s Al Ghul has ordered your return.”