'Arrow' teases a big DC Comics villain in 'Broken Dolls'
Which familiar name sent for Black Canary?
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"Arrow" is a show that I watch every week, but only occasionally have anything to say about, but there were a few juicy tidbits in this Wednesday's (October 23) episode, so it seems like a good enough to check in, at least on the highlights.
After a first season that only tip-toed around the source material's DC Comics roots, "Arrow" has begun to dive headlong this season. Last week, we had the return of Kelly Hu's China White and the introduction of Michael Jai White as Bronze Tiger. We've slowly begun to push Colton Haynes' Roy Harper in the direction that I'm told will lead to his becoming Red Arrow. I'm also told that Summer Glau's Isabel Rochev has potentially fruitful comic book roots, if the show pushes her there.
And we're getting towards the big guns.
Grant Gustin has been cast as Barry Allen, who will bring some superpowers to Starling City as The Flash in multiple episodes this season and then, probably, in a spinoff series next year.
We're very tentatively getting into the Black Canary storyline that fans have been awaiting since Katie Cassidy was initially cast as Laurel Lance, though we're not there yet.
But on Wednesday, we got a pretty big hint about somebody even higher profile.
[If you don't want spoilers... avoid.]
In the episode, titled "Broken Dolls," we got the sense that Black Canary was being pursued by somebody, somebody she assumed that Roy was working for. In the waning moments, though, we got more specifics. A henchman appeared in her lair, evocatively positioned behind a huge clock.
"Ra's al Ghul has ordered your return," he told her.
Whoa. Wait one second. Ra's al Ghul? The anarchy-loving supervillain who popped up in "Batman Begins" as The Dark Knight's original trainer and sensei? The mastermind who has been a worthy adversary to both Batman and Superman?
LIAM NEESONS?!? Liam Neesons is my... Oh, never mind.
It's unclear how seriously "Arrow" wants us to take the potential of a Ra's al Ghul appearance on The CW. He definitely has some sway over Black Canary, but her respect for Ra's wasn't enough to keep her from breaking the henchman's neck. Still, it's saying something when "Arrow" is willing to break into the top tier of potential comic baddies. Even if Ra's al Ghul is just a red herring -- not to be confused with Red Arrows, Black Canaries or The Pickled Herring, a lower-tier DC villain to be played by Judd Nelson later this year -- the inclusion of the character within the show's universe is a sign of a certain amount of reach and ambition. Maybe he can be teased again a bit later and pop up briefly in the second season finale? Dunno.
Is Liam Neesons available for cameos? Probably not on The CW.
Tantalizing supervillain references aside, this was my favorite "Arrow" of the season because it actually seemed to be making some progress in some important directions. We had a properly creepy bad guy in The Dollmaker, a case that forced Quentin and The Hood to work together and Quentin's complicity in perpetuating Oliver's preferred new nickname, Arrow. We also got Laurel to get over her temporary hangups with Arrow by realizing that Tommy's death was actually her fault, which I don't think was actually true, but whatever. Plus, we moved things along with Mama Queen, where we at least learned that the state is seeking the death penalty against Moira, which seems extreme.
In addition to those elements, we also got to see a lot of Black Canary in action, which worked because Caity Lotz moves well and because they're committed to a certain amount of badassery with the character. Like The Hood last season, before Oliver had his wave of guilt, Black Canary isn't especially upset about superseding traditional law and order to just kill the bad guys. I have concerns about Lotz's ability to deliver dialogue with enough authority. Everything she said tonight came out a bit took kewpie-cute. I'm not sure if that's better or worse than Jessica De Gouw's struggles with her American accent playing Huntress last year. [I've already had the backstory for Black Canary spoiled for me, but I won't do it here. I do hope they don't drag that out for too long, though.]
Oh and best of all? Black Canary has a sidekick named Sin and she's played by the fantastic Bex Tayor-Klaus, who was one of the standouts from "The Killing" this past season. Taylor-Klaus' Bullet was one of the year's most interesting new TV characters and I hope they give her something good to do on "Arrow." For tonight, she mostly just ran around a lot, with Roy chasing after her.
A few other thoughts on Wednesday's "Arrow" (and the start of Season 2 in general):
*** I. Don't. Care. What's. Happening. On. The. Island. Oliver's bonking Shado, but Slade thinks that's a bad idea but the mystery folks have a freighter and now Oliver is in a prison inside the freighter off the coast of the island? Or something? Whatever. The more time "Arrow" spends on the island, the less time I spend paying attention to what's happening on "Arrow."
*** Two other things I can do without: Felicity putting herself out there as bait and Felicity thinking that she's more effective as bait without her glasses. Yes, Felicity justified that she's done a lot of dangerous things for Team Arrow and that this was her choice. And yes, Quentin and Arrow actively discussed their mutual distaste for this familiar gambit, but I like for that character to be more than just walking the streets waiting to be abducted by psychos. And I like her to wear her glasses, darnit. Otherwise, the more Felicity the merrier. "Next time I offer to be bait for a serial killer, please turn me down," Felicity said. Hopefully they'll pay heed. And kudos to Felicity for liberating herself from The Dollmaker mostly on her own.
*** I keep getting confused by what Quentin knows and what he doesn't know. There were a couple conversations tonight in which Quentin was telling Arrow things that Oliver already knew, but that had never come up in Quentin-Arrow conversations, I guess? It ends up being a bit redundant for the audience and nearly every scene between the two characters makes me wonder A) Why Quentin doesn't just look at Arrow's jawline and go, "Dude. You dated all my daughters" and B) Why Quentin never mocks Oliver's silly Arrow Voice. And Quentin knows about Felicity, but not Diggle? Yes. I could pay more attention to this show and probably would if I wrote about it regularly. But I don't. Sorry.
*** Diggle trains in tank-tops, but Oliver trains topless. It's very silly that "Arrow" has trained me to notice things like this. I'd prefer not to. Others, meanwhile, would I'm sure prefer more of Oliver's pull-up exercises from last week.
What'd you think of "Broken Dolls"? And are you enjoying the season so far?