At the very least, dolls are terrifying in the “Arrow” episode, “Broken Dolls.” That is, however, what has to happen when you have a serial killer like the Dollmaker, shoving liquid polymer down girls’ throats to asphyxiate them before dressing and posing.
Seriously, this is one of the most disturbing things on television this season. Thank goodness the Black Canary killed the guy!
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There is so much more in this “Arrow.”
How Oliver escapes
Remember how, the last time we saw a hooded Oliver, he was visiting Laurel at the District Attorney’s office? And then remember how she called the SWAT team on him?
Obviously, Laurel and the entire Starling City police department can’t catch the Arrow just yet. So how did he escape?
That would be thanks to the Black Canary. The city’s latest lady vigilante swoops in out of nowhere, breaking glass with some sort of supersonic noise. She gets Oliver out of the room and then disappears into the night.
Oliver is intrigued.
Creepy doll killer!
Oliver would pursue his newest colleague right away, but another matter needs his attention. It seems that the world’s creepiest serial killer, Barton Mathis, is out on the streets and turning pretty girls into creepy doll statues.
Even if Officer Lance hadn’t personally begged the Arrow to help him out on the case, Oliver would probably get involved. Nothing this creepy can be allowed to continue. Especially since the Dollmaker is only free because the Glades earthquake broke the prison in half, allowing Mathis to escape.
Alas, the powerful combination of Lance and the vigilante isn’t enough to track down the Dollmaker before his next project. They track the killer to a sleazy hotel, but all that’s there is a (creepy) doll and a phone call. While Lance listens, Mathis dumps his polymer down some poor girl’s throat.
And we get to see it all! Thanks, “Arrow,” for that nightmare tonight!
An argument against having flawless skin
After Oliver and Lance steal the CSI data on the newest murder, the cop notices a connection between this and an earlier case — both young women used a specific and hard-to-find skin cream. Once Felicity figures out that this Mermaid cream is only sold in four stores around town, the group has a lead.
Now they just need bait. And Felicity just happens to have lovely, pale skin …
Felicity is awesome bait. A few overpriced purchases and Mathis can’t help but come after her. When Oliver, Lance and Diggle all swoop in to the rescue, however, the killer runs. An unfortunately timed police arrival allows the Dollmaker to disappear into the night.
Because this is the chronically inept Starling City police, they allow this to happen while arresting Lance instead.
It’s about more than dolls
The interrogation room of a police station turns out to be the perfect place for the two Lances to discuss their various issues. It turns out that the original Dollmaker case happened just after Sara Lance disappeared with the Queens. Thus, Quentin Lance projected his feelings about losing a daughter onto the case itself. All of the dead girls were like Sara’s death, all over again.
Laurel, meanwhile, is mostly still really mad at the vigilante for killing Tommy. No amount of counseling from her father about how single men don’t hold up buildings can console her. There’s maybe some other psychological effects happening here.
Whatever. The Lances need something like years of therapy to deal with their issues. For now, they just get kidnapped by a vengeful Dollmaker. Emotional trauma can wait. (Spoiler alert: Laurel is blaming herself but projecting the feelings and stuff.)
Canaries don’t play with dolls
Deep in the Dollmaker’s lair, the serial killer has a lot of fun taunting his captives. Laurel is being primed to be the next doll, while Lance just gets to stand around and watch his universe fall apart.
Thank goodness these two have the vigilante on their side! Oliver swoops in just as the latex stuff is going to choke Laurel and sets the Lances free as Mathis makes a run for it. He doesn’t get far though, because the Black Canary shows up to intervene.
She and Oliver both get their licks in, but it’s the Canary who delivers a death blow.
Meanwhile, another vaguely criminal woman gets cryptic
Lest we forget, Moira Queen is still in jail awaiting her trial for killing 503 people. Neither the judge nor the prosecutor seem inclined toward any leniency whatsoever in this, even though Moira’s lawyer thinks they have a good chance at an acquittal.
But Moira isn’t as interested as she should be in avoiding the death penalty. You see, there are things that would have to come up at trial, things that might alienate Oliver and Thea, just when she’s got them both back in her life (such as it is).
Is there something else Moira is hiding? Something worse than conspiracy to commit mass murder with the guy who also killed their dad? Wow. That would be something.
Who was that masked woman?
Oliver doesn’t have much time for finding the Black Canary, what with the dolls and his mother’s trial and all. That job is left to Roy.
It turns out that Roy is rather impressive when it comes to tracking. Some stolen champagne from the club, and Roy is after Sin — a punk-ish girl seen hanging around with the Canary. Unfortunately, Roy fails to realize that a Black Canary sidekick is likely to be kind of tough.
Sin knocks out Roy rather easily.
When the boy awakens, the Canary is there, questioning him about who sent him. Only a text from Thea (mentioning the kidnapped Lances) answers that question, and Roy is set free.
But who could scare the Canary so much? That question is answered before the episode ends. A shadowy man (who kind of looks like Oliver for a minute) shows up to deliver a message: Ras al Ghul wants the Black Canary back. The lady really doesn’t want to go.
She’s also the type to kill the messenger, apparently.
A way off the island?
This episode’s flashbacks are short but obviously important. Shado has brought the Japanese corpses back to the plane to study (she used to be a med student before she was a butt-kicking castaway). Slade and Oliver, meanwhile, hike to higher ground to discuss their feelings and look for the new arrivals.
They find them. The strange men have a ship — and it’s firing on the airplane.
Oliver runs blindly into a field full of explosions in his attempt to get back to the girl. But we don’t learn Shado’s fate. Deafened by a blast and confused by what seems to be Slade Wilson on fire, Oliver passes out.
He wakes up … on a boat? In a cage? Surrounded by other men?