Arrow: Broken Dolls, Review

Black Canary, the New 52 version of the Dollmaker, and that's only the tip of the iceberg for the most comprehensive superhero show on TV.

I’m gonna get this out of the way right up front. “Broken Dolls” isn’t the best episode of Arrow, or even the best episode so far this season. But it’s got something. I ain’t saying what it is (at least until the end of the review), but it’s got an intangible something that just got my blood flowing. I’m gonna give you all fair warning, since it goes against my usual policy, but there will be some clearly marked spoilers at the end of this piece.About midway through “Broken Dolls” it dawned on me that Arrow is barely even the same show it was last year. Oh, sure, most of the familiar faces are still here, and the show looks like it always did…but it’s all about the approach. I’ve noted from the premiere of season two that there was less emphasis on romance and relationships, fewer characters torturing themselves over things that were out of their control, and a general lack of unheroic navel-gazing. You know, all the stuff that Smallville hammered us with for a decade. Well, “Broken Dolls” didn’t have less emphasis on that stuff…there simply was none of it at all. It was nowhere to be found. Instead, literally from the opening minute of the show, it was the most full-blown hour of superhero TV we’ve seen since CBS canceled The Flash in 1991 (I’m still bitter about that).Wondering how Ollie got out of that little SWAT team cliffhanger from last week? You can thank Black Canary for that. And she most certainly isn’t Laurel Lance. And then we’re right into the action, as The Dollmaker is on the loose. He’s a skeevy serial killer who chooses his victims for their “beautiful skin” (ew), then kills them by filling them up with some kind of quick hardening plastic (seriously…ew), and then dresses them up like dolls for the cops to find (dude…seek professional help). Officer Lance helped put this guy away six years before, so he’s not too thrilled about seeing The Dollmaker doing his thing again. Who does he call for help? If you guessed the guy with the bow and arrow, you get a cookie!So, if The Dollmaker seems like a guy who’d be more at home in Gotham fighting the guy with the pointy ears than in Starling City, it’s because…he is! Barton Mathis is a fairly recent creation, having first appeared in 2011’s Detective Comics (volume 2) #3. The writer of that issue? Tony Daniel…not coincidentally the name of a skeevy lawyer who Green Arrow and Officer Lance have a moment with midway through the episode.It’s nice to see Green Arrow and Officer Lance making peace with each other, and there’s some fun chemistry here. I’m just not sure I totally buy that this cop who spent all of season 1 being a completely blinkered hardass would be quite so willing to switch directions. Also, maybe he isn’t the best guy to bring along on a stakeout when the target knows his face. There were a few eye-rolly moments this episode, all of which were neatly wiped away by the bits of fan-service I’m about to outline for you…DC Universe Watch: Hey! Officer Lance’s badge number is DC-52! Cute. And then they track the Dollmaker to…ummm…Apartment 52. OK. And then they turn on Channel 52. Look, guys, we get it, but unless you’re subliminally setting up the entire multiverse, let’s dial it down a little. More DC Universe Stuff: There’s very little Roy Harper in this episode, but we got to see Arrow and Black Canary come face to face and ALMOST kinda team up. Canary doesn’t have any superpowers, but they did giver her a technological solution to the ol’ “Canary Cry” which will do for now. Once Flash shows up in a few weeks, I suspect the “no powers” rule is going right out the window, so there’s hope for Canary yet! Oh, and we get to meet Sin (played by Bex Taylor-Klaus) for the first time. As in “Sin from the Birds of Prey comics.” While you guys all hold your breath waiting for a Justice League movie that maybe we’ll see by 2020, I’ll be here watching this show assemble the Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey, and maybe the Secret Six.Even MORE DC Universe Stuff: Just when I was starting to think they had gotten everything possible out of the island flashbacks, we get to see a certain name in an unexpected place. That was good fun. Oh, and now it’s time for the biggest DC Universe spoiler of them all (for now). Look away if you’re not ready…SPOILER:Ladies and gentlemen, Ra’s al Ghul exists in the DC TV Universe. I’m just gonna leave you with that and all of the implications and fan speculation that comes with it…Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments, please!Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for all news updates related to the world of geek. And Google+, if that’s your thing!