Arrow Season 2 Episode 3 (TV Show Review)

Once you have established yourself as a fan favourite and have proven your worth, so to speak, the only way to go is up, unless you massively screw it all up. Its happened to several shows over the years. The big crucible point for a TV show these days is to bring in a high number of viewers every week, to maintain that interest on a high level. Too many shows these days get cut in the early stages of their very first season because the executives don’t have much faith in the property beyond the dollar point. Thankfully, that’s not something that CW’s Arrow is going to be doing any time soon.

The first season was received with great acclaim, despite some fair criticisms from various places and the second season has been doing things bigger and better right from the start and we are only two episodes in. Or we were, until this Wednesday, when the third episode of the season was aired, proving that in Green Arrow & Co. CW has a really hit franchise on its hands and that the people working behind the show are people who know what they are doing and what they want to do. Because damn, Broken Dolls was the best episode of the entire show, to date.

Arrow Logo 0001There are a hell of a lot of things to like about this show. This episode marked an evolution of several of the characters not seen outside of some of middle-order episodes of season 1, or the finale itself. There was also a lot of really good action, on the same order of awesomeness as Arrow vs Bronze Tiger last week. The pacing was significantly better, and the island flashbacks flowed seamlessly in between the main storyline. Plus, the entire subplot involving Moira Queen being on trial for her complicity in the destruction of the Glades was not ignored, but instead got thrown a severe curve-ball that really upped the tension everywhere.

In the season 2 premier we saw a vigilante who could/couldn’t be Black Canary make an appearance. She was then absent for last week’s episode, but returned in full force for this one. And we learn just what her goals are. Or at least we get a snippet of them, which was a great way to introduce some serious gender politics in the show without being overbearing or lazy. One thing is for sure as far as this character is concerned, she’s not the goodie that Ollie is trying to be in his dual identity and her characterization hearkens back to last season’s appearance by the Huntress. Huntress and Arrow enjoyed quite a professional relationship together and by introducing (the supposedly) Black Canary, the show is looking to repeat that dynamic, but in a much broader sense, and something that advances the overall idea for this season: Starling, City of Heroes.

Of course, given the character’s lethal methods of dealing with criminals, it remains to be seen whether she is going to be a true hero or not. The final moment between her and an agent of the organization that she previously represented casts her status as a hero further in doubt. And it raises the question of just who she is.

Given that the show has for the most part stayed away from depicting any superpowers, the technological canary cry we get to see here made for a good thematic fit. It was something unexpected, but interesting nonetheless since we already know of two women in the Lance family who are candidates for being Black Canary further down the line and who could actually gain that superpower. And we have Barry Allen as Flash debuting later this season, so the time is ripe for the show to experiment with that approach and see how responsive audiences are with that angle. Given further that CW’s Smallville, one of its top-hit properties and which ran for a full 10 seasons was full-on superhero show, I think they will find a receptive audience.

The show’s villain this time around is a somewhat minor Gotham villain known as the Dollmaker. I’m not familiar with him, but a little basic digging tells me that he starred in the relaunch of Detectice Comics in 2011, penned by Tony S. Daniel. As it turns out, in the episode Barton Mathis (the Dollmaker) was previously arrested by Quentin Lance six years ago and he was legally represented by a lawyer with the name of Tony Daniel (this is only one of the many, many references to DC lore in this episode, and many of them have to do with the New 52). Dollmaker lacked a distinct personality but he was one hell of a creepy criminal, one with a distinct penchant for killing women. As he is referred to in the episode by Felicity, he’s a misogynist criminal. For an Ollie who is trying to not kill people this time around while being the Hood/Arrow/Vigilante, the Dollmaker presents some serious challenges, especially halfway through the episode. His arc ends rather abruptly, but I think he made a decent villain of the week. And he helped advance the subplot involving Black Canary, so that’s something too.

The thing is, there are a lot of narratives being woven through the season now.

In the last two episodes we saw that Laurel has turned from someone who believed in the Hood to someone who hates him and wants to bring him in, with lethal force if necessary. She has essentially changed places with her father, Officer Lance, who used to be a vocal opponent of the Vigilante last season but now is slowly coming around. And he’s the first to refer to the Hood/Vigilante as the Arrow! Bonus points, Officer Lance! There are two distinct emotionally-packed scenes with the character here, one in which he shares a heart-to-heart with Laurel with her obsession over the Hood, and the second in which he shares with Ollie how he felt after his daughter Sara’s death and how that led him to an obsession with the Barton Mathis case all those years ago. Its really nice to see the character come around and start to grow from his rather one-note presentation last season. Paul Blackthorne is a great actor and it seems that finally he is in control of his performance and is comfortable with his character. There’s a charged quality to his scenes and that’s just as well. The show needs every bit it can get to be even more stunning with each episode.

Then there’s the fact that Roy is finally working for the Hood, albeit in a limited capacity. Given the fact that he’s had a minor run-in with Black Canary before, and because Ollie needs all the info he can get on her, Roy gets the job of tracking her down and in the process we meet another new character, Cindy/Sin who is in some way associated with Black Canary. Cindy, portrayed by Bex Taylor-Klaus, gets some of the best dialogue in the show, even though it is quite limited. There’s a lot of coolness about the character, and it turns out that she is Black Canary’s adopted daughter in the comics at some point. So I look forward to how she grows up to be a bigger character here.

Arrow Cast 0001

I could go on and on about all the other things, but the thing is that I really enjoyed this show on all levels. Even what little we see of the island this time. But if there’s one thing that made this episode really… meta, it was all the references to the larger DC universe. Metamorpho Chemicals, a news channel called Channel 52, a ship called Amazo, Officer Lance’s police call-sign being DC-52, the Tony Daniel reference and so on. This was all really good stuff.

I don’t know how, but this show is getting better with each episode this season. They are pushing boundaries and they are putting out some great content. There are larger stories at work here, undeniably, and each episode is leaving us a lot of clues as to what it is all going to be. And its got me thoroughly excited. Arrow is definitely the show of the moment for me.

More Arrow: S2E01, S2E02.

Posted on October 25, 2013, in Arrow, Review Central, TV Show Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

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