TV REVIEW: ARROW Season 2, Episode 3 Broken Dolls

arrow-tvreview-logosmallThe third episode of Arrow’s second season aired tonight. The season had a great opening with two really strong episodes last week on Sky 1. This week sees the introduction of more characters from the DC comic universe. How do they translate? Arrow Season 2, Broken Dolls is reviewed, after this break.

Synopsis (From TV.com): Officer Lance asks the Arrow for help in stopping a serial killer who goes after women, and Felicity volunteers to help. However, when their trap fails, the killer captures Laurel. Meanwhile, DA Adam Donner seeks the death penalty for Moira, and Oliver recruits Roy to help him find the Canary.

Arrow continues its trend of twisting characters from the DC Comics range of heroes and villains this week and it’s a trend that I’m enjoying. Like Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, Arrow attempts to portrey the comic creations in a more “realistic” manner. Admittedly this happens in a world that is still clearly not our own, but one that almost could be. This episode takes no less than three existing characters and updates them for a modern television audience: The criminal, Dollmaker; The heroine Black Canary and Sin – introduced a few years ago in Gail Simone’s Birds of Prey run.

The main plot-line this week could almost slot into any crime drama. Thanks to the events of season one, a serial killer with a penchant for beautiful women has escaped and is up to his old tricks. The Dollmaker is far more sinister here than in the comic world. This Dollmaker kidnaps young women and suffocates them with a liquid polymer that hardens within them. Preserving them forever. Horribly, this does seem the kind of twisted logic that a real world serial killer could employ which frankly increases the creepiness of the whole activity.

While investigating, Team Arrow are also on the hunt for Starling City’s new female vigilante as well. As get out of impossible situations (see last week’s end note) goes, I thought this main introduction of the Canary was nicely played out. Especially giving her a “Sonic … Thing” rather than imbuing the character with any kind of superpower. Back to that “more realistic world” thing again. Naturally, Oliver turns to his new Glades based informant to track down this woman to determine her motivation and methodology.

One thing I really like (and I mentioned this in a preview post on the website) is the Canary’s costume. The biker boots, leather trousers, bustier and jacket look robust yet flexible enough to work in a combat situation. Oh and she has a mask. A proper domino mask – not like Oliver and his weird eye-makeup that doesn’t actually conceal anything! Seriously. Give the guy a mask already!

Diggle calls Oliver out on the very thing I bemoaned last episode – his insistence on re-visiting Laurel after her blatant telling of him not to. To my mind there wasn’t quite enough of either Diggle or Felicity this week but the focus on Officer (formerly Detective) Lance was a pleasant change. In fact, his character is really growing on me. The direct link of the serial killer back to the supposed death of Oliver and his other daughter, Sarah may be a bit of a cliché but it is one that worked for me. As with the comic book characters, the writers seem to have a way of making cliché work in this show without it being overly cheesey … “You have failed this city” aside.

Once again, I was underwhelmed with Laurel. The woman just fails for me. I am however beginning to think that part of this comes from my own pre-conceptions of the characters and world of the DC comic characters. I’ve praised the creative team for their re-workings and this one just doesn’t do it for me. When things came to a head, I almost felt myself waning Oliver to be just one minute late. Just one…

Let’s hope the Canary fills the hole I feel missing moving forward.

I’ve not mentioned Sin, but mainly because I haven’t seen enough of her to make a call. She appears to be a literal sidekick for the Canary. She’s clearly trained to some extent … but that’s it. The parkour scene where she leads Roy back to the Canary’s base of operations was a well shot. The base itself. Once again a nice reference back to the comics.

The Island: This week, things move along with the new threat for Oliver, Slade and Shado. One thing I’d like to discuss is that the inclusion of Slade and Shado is a great touch. If the island flashbacks focussed exclusively on Oliver then there would be no real sense of danger: We know the man survives to return to Starling City. The final sequence on the island actually had me concerned. I love how the three have a weird dynamic – particularly the growing but still troubled bond between the two men. Which makes me intrigued as to what’s next after the penultimate sequence … I’m also wondering if a turning point for Slade has been reached and whether he’ll make an appearance in present day Starling City.

In conclusion, this was another fine episode. While it wasn’t quite on a par with the previous two for me it was still worthy of the two viewings I always give a show when reviewing it. Massive applause for the final Canary scene. Absolutely marvellous stuff which both is courteous of the source material without being a slave to it.

Rating: 3.5 /5
Reviewer: Wedgedoc

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