Category Archives: merlyn the magician

Arrow S02 E03: "Broken Dolls"

Before I start with the review proper, I wanted to mention what an amazing and tireless promoter and marketer of the show that star Stephen Amell is. If you’re looking for behind the scenes nuggets and goodies, insights and motivations, and especially what’s to come, you really should be following him on Facebook and Twitter. Just a tip, folks.

Last episode we had one hell of a cliffhanger. Our as yet unofficially named hero was visiting Laurel, who has developed a serious hate for him, at the police station. She doesn’t want to see him, so when he tries to pull his usual lights out getaway, he is set upon by cops. As they move in, Oliver is covered with red laser targeting sights. Cue credits. How will our hero get out of this one?

Shocker! How does he get away? A black leather clad blonde in a mask who moves just as fast, if not faster, as our ambushed archer, comes to his rescue. She smashes in through a window, disorients the cops with some sort of sonic device, then leads him outside to safety. Remember how I said sometimes the TV continuity is different from the comics? Well, whoever this Black Canary is, she ain’t Laurel… Thea, maybe? Hell, with the reveal this episode that Laurel’s father’s middle name is Larry, maybe the Canary is Mom?

This episode’s villain of the week is an intriguing one. The Dollmaker is another Batman foe, who many will recognize as the maniac who recently butchered, or caused the Joker to butcher, his own face. I don’t know the facts as I don’t like the more grisly Batman comics of the last two years. If I want a horror comic, I’ll buy a horror comic, not Batman. Just my two cents. Oddly enough, the villain’s origins may go back the old “Super Friends” cartoons where his more family friendly modus operandi was more similar the the Toyman, only with dolls.

The Dollmaker of the “Arrow” universe is more like the horror villain however. There’s no face cutting but he does make his victims like dolls. Same name, similar past, Barton Mathis is a serial killer who had messed with Quentin Lance earlier in his career, much like he has done with the young James Gordon in the comics. The most disturbing thing is that The Undertaking that leveled most of The Glades also broke open Iron Heights. The police are keeping that fact a secret, even from their own, like Lance. The Dollmaker is one of the escapees. Gee, I wonder who else got out…?

Forbidden to interfere, Quentin turns to our emerald archer for help with the Dollmaker. His demotion has made him, like Oliver, try another way. Do we have the start of a Gordon/Batman relationship here? If it wasn’t so convenient, I would like the idea. Speaking of new alliances, the former Hood is looking to Roy as almost a snitch, maybe an assistant. How mant steps up is sidekick?

Quentin Lance and Oliver make an interesting dynamic duo themselves as they hunt the Dollmaker. I’d rather see Oliver working with Diggle or Roy. I just wonder how the two of them can be so close without Quentin getting a look at Oliver’s face. And isn’t it dangerous him knowing that Felicity works for the Hood? And isn’t it silly Felicity continuing to make herself a target. Perhaps she has a death wish?

The island flashbacks continue. Deathstroke is still there. Shado is still there. But not much else is going on. Knowing who these two are in the present day DC Comics universe, I really want to see what has become of them now, and when will the Hood meet Shado and Deathstroke in the here and now? The mother of Green Arrow’s son, and one of his deadliest opponents are just too juicy to ignore. Unless… Shado is the Black Canary? The island might be getting interesting now however, but only because Oliver’s leaving it. On a boat called Amazo!?!

Speak of the devil, Roy’s search for the Black Canary leads him to a girl named Sin. For those following the Arrow digital comic, we know that Sin is the Canary’s sidekick, and was once being groomed to become the next Lady Shiva. This is important because in theory, the digital comic is supposed to be in continuity with the TV show. Are Lady Shiva and the League of Assassins lurking in the background here? There’s an awful lot of Bat in my Arrow lately. Also I liked that Roy’s chasing Sin led to a watchtower, The Watchtower being the headquarters of the Birds of Prey, and the Justice League, of which both had the Black Canary as a major player.

Other namedrops this episode include channel 52, that number being so important, for multiple reasons too numerous and complicated to explain, to the DC Comics universe, and the Metamorpho Chemical Company, Metamorpho being the freakish superhero who can change his form into various chemicals and elements. We’re getting Black Canary and the Flash… why not Metamorpho too?

So who is the Black Canary? The closing may offer more questions than answers. A man dressed as the Dark Archer meets with her, but we find it’s not Malcolm Merlyn, but an emissary of Ras al Ghul. What did I say about too much Bat in my Arrow? Comics readers will remember that not only does Ras lead the League of Assassins, but that Merlyn the Magician was one of his operatives. This Black Canary kills the emissary, just as she did the Dollmaker earlier in the episode. Who is this woman??

Arrow: Sacrifice

Finally we’re at the season finale of “Arrow.” It’s been a long road, sometimes bumpy, sometimes kinda cool. We enter shortly after we last left our hero. Stephen Amell’s Oliver was unmasked and unconscious, and at the mercy of John Barrowman’s Malcolm Merlyn. Amell’s chest makes a welcome return as Barrowman plays Bond villain and gloats a bit before leaving our hero hanging chained and flashbacking.

After a pretty dynamic escape, wishy-washily aided by Diggle, Oliver jumps from character to character playing emotional catch up. There’s a real sense of finality to it all. Tommy to potential villain, Laurel to potential girlfriend, Quentin to potential ally, everything but Arrow to the rescue. There’s a nice bit while Felicity is taken in for questioning, and she channels “Smallville”‘s Chloe to Detective Lance, saying maybe The Hood is a hero.

As the gears begin to click together, it seems that Moira Queen is more of a hero than anyone else in the cast. She calls a press conference, revealing The Undertaking and naming Merlyn responsible. The problems? You can’t stop John Barrowman, and Thea goes to The Glades to get Roy. Meanwhile Oliver and Diggle go after Merlyn while Felicity and Quentin look for the Markov Device. Why do I get the feeling someone’s not making it out of this alive?

I have to say I was surprised who it was that wasn’t going to make it. I have to wonder if it was a last minute decision by the showrunners as well. In hindsight, it seems to be more tidying up than anything else. I liked Tommy a lot, and would have dug his young, hip, and vengeful Merlyn the Magician.

The one thing that really bothered me about this episode was the lack of resolution, both on the island, and in the present. While the thinking behind Merlyn’s redundancy plan is sound and logical, it’s very unsatisfying storywise. I don’t want to see the hero lose. Maybe that’s something they can work in next season…

Arrow: Darkness on the Edge of Town

Not the final episode of the season, but this is what all roads have been leading up to on “Arrow.” We know what The Undertaking is – some sort of seismic device that will level The Glades, and Malcolm Merlyn is behind it. Can Oliver stop him, and save the city? The clock is ticking.

The episode begins with a late night killing raid on Unidac Industries by the Black Archer. Unidac is of course the company that made the Markov Device. Killed in the attack, Brion Markov, who in the comics, is Geo-Force. Just so we wouldn’t have a fast paced action adventure show, we’re stalled by more romantic parrying between Oliver and Laurel. It’s getting monotonous.

Meanwhile the two Speedies, Thea and Roy, are still stalking The Hood. It doesn’t take a genius to know they will be in the middle of it when the Markov Device goes off, and also likely for Hood vs. Archer, round two, as well. I hope we’re not headed toward Thea dying and Roy joining Oliver under the name Speedy.

But let’s not say this series can’t surprise me. A clever ploy by Oliver and Diggle forces Moira to confess the specifics of The Undertaking. Nice to see Diggle back in the Arrow togs though.

Revelations continue on the island, in flashback of course. Fyers plans to blow up all planes entering or leaving Chinese airspace to destabilize their economy. He has set Yao Fei up as the fall guy, after blackmailing him by shooting up Ollie, Shado, and Deathstroke. Fun reference for the comics folks, the first target is a passenger jet from Ferris Aircraft.

Back in the now, the Markov Device must be found, and the only way to find out is through the mainframe at Merlyn’s corporate headquarters, thus demanding a break-in with all of the Arrow crew. Nice to see Oliver, Diggle, and Felicity going all Oceans 11. Oh yeah, I want a Big Belly Burger jacket like Felicity’s if there’s anyone listening who can do anything about such a thing. I’ll take a XX.

What I don’t get is that as soon as Oliver knows for sure what The Undertaking is, and who’s behind it – what dies he do? Try to find the Markov Device? Showdown with Merlyn? Any kind of Arrow action? Nope. Booty call with Laurel. And quite possibly creating a new archenemy in Tommy. Yep, we’re back to bad idea theater.

Eventually The Hood does go after Malcolm, and we finally get to see John Barrowman do something other than talk and look pretty. Not for the first time, he hands Oliver his ass, this time getting a look under the hood. A perfect cliffhanger to lead into the season finale.

Arrow: The Huntress Returns

I am sure that I’ve mentioned several times what not-a-fan I am of Jessica De Gouw, so I guess you all know how I feel about her character’s return to “Arrow.” I must admit to being puzzled by this episode’s title, because, even though most comics fans know that Helena Bertinelli is the Huntress, they have never yet called her that on the show. At least Oliver was referenced as Green Arrow once, even if it was a throwaway comment.

In the opening sequence, Helena corners her gangster father’s lawyer in a strip club. She’s looking for her father who’s in an FBI safe house. In a nice touch, Helena is wearing a pseudo-stripper costume quite similar to one of the costumes the Huntress wore in the comics. And of course, she still has her crossbow. And like former flame Oliver, her taste for blood.

Filed under subplots and soap opera, Laurel’s mom, played by genre favorite Alex Kingston, is back in town after a long absence, and she insists that her dead daughter, and guilt foundation for Oliver, Sarah, is still alive. Quentin, over-reactionary as always, isn’t buying it.

Also in that folder, Oliver’s club is about to open, and he’s getting more than serious about McKenna, sounds like the perfect time for psycho ex-girlfriend vigilantes to come calling. Oh yeah, and Mia ran into Roy again, and tried to get him employed at the club. Is there a romance between the two potential Speedies brewing? It’s funny, but they’d be perfect for each other. They like all the same stuff…

Helena is in town to kill her dad. Apparently he cut a deal and will be getting a new identity. She drops in on Oliver just as he starts looking for her. She says she needs his help to get her father, as she can’t do it alone. Helena as a character here on “Arrow” is certainly unstable, and sadly Jessica De Gouw’s acting has not improved. Remarkably, she’s become even less likable now. Appropriately, Oliver and Diggle are treating her as a villain.

Tommy is having a bad day. He’s on the outs with Oliver cuz he can’t trust him any more. Helena beat the crap out if him. And Laurel has called it quits cuz he can’t be honest with her. Whereas at first I thought that Tommy becomes Merlyn the Magician, now I’m thinking perhaps his death is what cements the enmity between Arrow and Merlyn. Thoughts? Let’s face it, no matter what happens, Tommy is no Jimmy Olsen.

Nice touches this episode include the name of Oliver’s club (Verdant means green), Roy Harper being afraid of needles, the shout out to Coast City, and of course the all too short cameo of DJ Steve Aoki. And at last, somebody (Quentin Lance in this case) finally calls Helena the Huntress. Finally also, spoilers for those who haven’t seen the episode yet, but I’m gonna miss McKenna a lot.

Arrow: Dead to Rights

Didn’t Deadshot take an arrow to the eye rather nastily waaay back in the third episode? Well, he’s back. How exactly does one live through something like that anyway?

The episode begins with a bang. Guillermo Barrera, known to comics fans as Nightwing villain, the knife wielding Brutale, shows up in Starling City via helicopter only to be immediately confronted by The Hood. He’s got his knives but no costume or bad guy codename. Maybe that’s why he lasts less than a minute with our ‘hero’ before he takes an arrow in the chest.

More scenes with Tommy and Laurel interacting with Oliver and a date, in this case, McKenna – it works out better this time, even though Tommy’s dad AKA Merlyn the Magician AKA Captain Jack shows up to spoil the fun. There’s also a great bit where Laurel shows McKenna a photo of her sister as a little girl… with a black canary. Other shout outs to the comics this episode include Deadshot living at the Bludhaven apartments, and of course… the first appearance of Riversong herself, Alex Kingston, as Laurel’s mom, Dinah Lance.

There are also some nice moments with Oliver and Tommy as they celebrate the latter’s birthday at a Chinese restaurant (a front fir the Tongs, but that’s beside the point). For once we get a real sense of why they are friends, and also why Tommy always seems to be at the Queens’ home. It’s all blown to hell when Tommy finds out Oliver’s big secret. I really wonder where they’re going with this character, is he being groomed to become the next Merlyn the Magician? Or simply a casualty in the war between The Hood and the Dark Archer?

Last episode Moira hired China White to kill Merlyn, and this time, it seems that she’s farming that work out to Deadshot. Not dead, but blind, however she provides him with a vision boost eyesight that more properly resembles his comic book appearance. And China White sure can kick ass in an evening gown and heels. Go, Kelly Hu!

Back on the island, Slade and Oliver continue their Odd Couple routine, get a radio working and learn more about Fyers’ Odyssey obsession. Next time on “Arrow, ” three weeks from now, why does the Huntress return (groan), did Malcolm Merlyn meet Ras al Ghul in Nanda Parbat, and who doesn’t know Oliver is the vigilante?

Arrow: Trust But Verify

I have to say, I am starting to like the episode titles with dual meanings. They never quite mean what we think they mean, and revelation doesn’t come until the very end. Nice.

Weird. This is the first episode where Oliver and Tommy actually act like they are, or once were, best friends. It was nice. I guess the employer/employee dynamic suits them.

The plot of the week has armored truck robbers using tactics from the Afghan War. Turns out the guy behind it is not only Diggle’s old mentor, but he’s also on ‘the list.’ Diggle didn’t know that last part. I was surprised. I thought Oliver trusted Diggle. It’s been quite a while now – you mean in all that time Diggle’s never seen ‘the list’? I find that implausible.

Nice shout out for the Arrowcave, and also an interesting name for the baddies’ security firm – Blackhawk. The Arrowcave is a call back to the Golden Age and Silver Age of comics where Green Arrow was simply a Robin Hood knock-off of Batman, essentially Batman with a bow. He was a millionaire with a ward sidekick, he had the Arrowplane (which doubled as the Arrowcar), and of course, his headquarters was the Arrowcave – honestly not much different from his current basement below the nightclub.

The Blackhawks were an international team of pilots during World War II who fought against the Axis under the command of the man called Blackhawk. Later they became soldiers of fortune, adventurers, superheroes, and mercenaries. I love the Blackhawks, you can read more about that, and them here. However, on “Arrow,” the Blackhawks are just armored truck robbers. Sigh. These are bad days for the name Blackhawk.

Speaking of DC Comics characters, it’s always nice to see Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak, and sad to see she’s become a nerd girl with glasses and a crush on our hero. What a waste. So much potential, so little effort.

I’m starting to zone out on the soap opera aspects of the show. I don’t care about Thea worrying Mom is having an affair, or if Tommy makes up with Daddy Merlyn. This kind of crap is why I stayed away from “Smallville” for so long. I don’t know about you folks, but I watch superhero shows for the superheroes, not the soap.

The episode ends in disappointment, and a tempting cliffhanger. Where last time Oliver needed to do something and was robbed if his chance, this time it’s Diggle’s turn. Two weeks in a row of this and I’m about to throw in the towel. The cliffhanger keeps me though. Not only is Yao Fei not who we thought he was, but there’s a drug in The Glades called Vertigo… could it be…? Finally Count Vertigo?

Arrow: Year’s End

In many areas this episode was pre-empted or rescheduled because of the 12-12-12 Benefit Concert for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. I have no complaints about that, it’s a noble and just cause, and being right in the center of the devastation, I know how bad it was. My nit is with local CW affiliate channel 57 – it might have been nice to let viewers know what was up with your regular programming, that’s all, just a bit of courtesy. For the record, this episode of “Arrow” airs tomorrow night at eight.

Now on to “Year’s End,” the mid-season finale of “Arrow,” which I hoped was good because the Huntress two-parter was very lacking. I was at first surprised and excited by this show only to be let down by those last two episodes. Although, from ‘previously on “Arrow”‘ clips, this -could- be good.

We open on a member of The List, a Brian Michael Bendis lookalike (Marc Guggenheim?), being murdered by a shadowy someone who looks suspiciously like Oliver. The tool? Black arrows. Not green. Only one DC Comics character in the Green Arrow mythos uses black arrows. That’s Merlyn the Magician AKA Arthur King or as reimagined here on “Arrow,” Tommy and/or Malcolm Merlyn. On “Smallville,” he was called alternately Vortigan, and the Dark Archer. He is (or will be) played by either John Barrowman or Colin Donnell. Finally. Just wait.

In the first ten minutes, in quick, almost HBO style plot succession we get some wonderful interaction with Diggle and Oliver, a return to the island flashbacks, and at a Queen family dinner party, John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn names the vigilante “Green Arrow.” Yeah. Squeee. It seems this special Christmas episode might just be a gift for the viewers.

Things I like include that Arrow, ahem, Green Arrow is beginning a tenuous relationship with the police, or at least Quentin Lance; and that Felicity Smoak is turning into Oracle/Chloe. At this point, it’s a cliche character, but nerd girl Emily Bett Rickards is just so likable. Moreso than Laurel, and definite more than the cardboard Huntress. I also liked the shout out to Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, the comics creators who revitalized Green Arrow in the late 1960s.

The island flashbacks bring much revelation. Yao Fei and the still unnamed Deathstroke were the only two survivors of a prison that was the island. There’s even a quick rematch between the two. All fun stuff, but seriously, why does Oliver still have the top button of his shirt buttoned?? Maybe that’s why he’s always walking around shirtless since he got back to civilization.

As with most confrontations on “Arrow,” and for that matter, the aforementioned “Smallville” (I seem to remember this being the case with both Doomsday and Darkseid), that don’t last long. Such is the case with Oliver (even though I’ve done it, it still doesn’t feel right to say Green Arrow) and the unnamed Dark Archer. For the latter, he’s called the copycat more than anything else. It’s a brief fight that ends with Oliver on the short end of the arrow, literally, and his foe escaping. More than unsatisfying.

Oliver defeated and the Other Archer on the loose (but finally revealed), that’s the note this episode ends with. Malcolm Merlyn has a master plan for Starling City that doesn’t look good, and has abducted Walter to keep Moira in line. None of this looks good. A bit of a downer, but an excellent episode. Can’t wait ’til after the New Year.