Ra’s al Ghul! You’ve got to be kidding me!
The creative team behind Arrow have just opened up a potential I didn’t see coming – the introduction of Ra’s al Ghul. This is a spoiler but too juicy not to talk about. In one of the final scenes of last week’s “Broken Dolls,” Ra’s al Ghul is mentioned as he looks for the mysterious leather clad blonde becoming Arrow’s new potential crime fighting friend or possibly foe. That tease has created not only much internet chatter but has me jumping out of my skin with the possibilities. Not that I would ever expect the Dark Knight to show up in Starling City, but mentioning Ra’s al Ghul can’t help but open the mind to the League of Shadows (likely how Oliver gained his skills to become the Hood) and future crossovers. Ra’s al Ghul is a significant villain in Batman comic book lore. More significantly, for the wider audience, he was a major player in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins and influenced tremendous echoes in The Dark Knight Rises. Arrow has just taken a darn exciting turn; we’ll have to see what they do with it as Arrow embarks on the killer crossover. As I wrote in a previous article, the crossover may be the wave of the future in comic book adaptations. So, Arrow jumping on board with this concept is impressive.
I am curious whether “Broken Dolls” will be looked back at as an episode which took Arrow in more than one direction. Sure, we now have Ra’s al Ghul, but the episode was far darker and more sinister than any before. A new type of villain has emerged. An escaped serial killer, Barton Mathis, is on a murderous rampage. He has a fetish for turning his young female victims into porcelain dolls. The women are force-fed a mixture that drowns then harden their lungs, forming into something like porcelain. While the episode isn’t scary per se, the prospect of what Mathis does is. And it has opened Arrow up for far darker story-lines than we encountered last season. I had my reservations coming into this season since so many major plots had ended with the fall of the Glades, but Arrow continues to surprise. It has not remained complacent. It is pushing itself beyond. The only question is – can it continue to work?
An interesting idea is floated around in “Broken Dolls” during a flashback, one which gets Oliver caged up in the belly of a freighter. You can’t care for someone in order to survive. On the island, Oliver is very green to the ways of the world outside of champagne wishes and caviar dreams. He falls for Shado and in doing so opens himself up for more danger. On the island this is seen as a weakness, but it’s really a strength for Oliver as we are seeing the progression from a selfish trust fund baby to a man who stands for something even if it gets him in deep. Its Arrow’s natural progression: from self-absorption to self-sacrifice.
While “Broken Dolls” continued to give what we are used to from Arrow (some awkwardly delivered dialogue, some quick moving action), it has taken a significant turn into a direction this reviewer hopes can only add to my already enjoyable Wednesday night viewings.