Seven episodes into season three of Arrow and one thing is clear: the universe that is being assembled on The CW is the most consistently entertaining take on DC’s heroes I’ve ever seen in live action1. Coming in to “Draw Back Your Bow,” I was actually expecting it to be one of the weaker ones of the series (and trust me, there were some weak spots, but more on that later) because I didn’t think Cupid — played convincingly by Amy Gumenick — would be a compelling enough villain. But by and large, the quality of the episode was up to par with the rest of the season so far.
The structure of the episode was unlike most of the Arrow oeuvre since it opened in a flashback to “six months ago” when the Deathstroke army was running roughshod over Starling City. For a minute, I assumed the show would be utilizing its standard flashback conceit to illuminate the history of the baddie of the week — which would have been a unique twist to the flashback structure. Instead, this is the only time we revisit the end of season two since there actually are flashbacks to Ollie’s time in Hong Kong throughout the episode.
What the opening does reveal, however, is that Cupid was born the night the Arrow saved her from the clutches of one of Slade’s mirakuru men. And because she already had stalker tendencies, she was naturally going to fixate on the superhero. And since this is Starling of course she was going to become an archer!
Fittingly, the episode that introduces Cupid — one of Green Arrow’s more recent rogues in the comics2 — would be the season’s most romantic relationship-centered one. Basically, it was a shipper’s dream (or nightmare depending on which ‘ship you’re sailing) with Felicity smack dab in the middle. In addition to addressing Ollie’s feelings for Ms. Smoak, there was also a bunch of development with her flirtation with Ray Palmer. Not only did she realize she “had a type” when she walked in on Palmer salmon laddering in his office (who does that?), she even agreed to go out to dinner, and ended the evening with a kiss (just when it seemed Ollie was about to spill his guts to her, too). Also, where’s human resources? That’s totally inappropriate, Mr. Palmer!
In the Hong Kong flashbacks, we also got to see some development in Tatsu and Maseo’s marriage. It was about time the writers gave Rila Fukushima something to do on the show. I mean, how can you cast Yukio from The Wolverine only to keep her confined in an apartment, scowling at Stephen Amell’s terrible wig? Fortunately, they took Tatsu and Ollie out of the apartment and on a mission together to track down Maseo, who she believes may have been murdered by some Triads. While staking out some shady dudes by the docks of
Vancouver Hong Kong Harbor, Ollie goes to confront a bunch of heavily armed gangsters and get his ass handed to him. Lucky for him, Tatsu was there to kick ass and take souls!
Back in the present, the writers introduce us to another romantic pairing, and to be honest, this is where the episode went off the rails a bit for me. For some reason, Thea Queen is auditioning a bunch of terrible DJs for the grand opening of Verdant (she’s still a teenager, right?) To be fair, I’ve never owned a club, but do folks really hold auditions like that? Between Thea on Arrow and Fish Mooney on Gotham, it’s like the only thing club owners do is sit around channeling Simon Cowell to a bunch of amateur performers. Anyway, Sam from Glee3 shows up and convinces Thea that he’s an awesome turntablist (because he plugs in his iPod and knows how to push play on Lil Jon, apparently). Yeah, less of this guy, please.
Eventually, Ollie and Roy track down Cupid and learn that she’s a former cop who was kicked off the force because she’s a stalker and mentally unstable. Her obsession with Ollie leads her to Verdant and the audience is once again reminded of how stupid it is to put your top secret superhero hideout underneath a nightclub for teenagers. One of the reasons Cupid keeps getting a leg up on Ollie is because he is distracted by his own girl problems. His unresolved feelings for Felicity start to boil over when he realizes she and Ray Palmer might actually be more than co-workers. He’s probably also not too thrilled with Palmer rechristening Queen Consolidated as Palmer Technologies.
The most touching moment of the episode, though, had to be Ollie and Roy bonding over the fact that they both suck at being in love. After Ollie catches Ray and Felicity in mid-kiss, he returns to the cave and in a fit of jealousy-induced rage takes out half of his crime-fighting equipment — including the love fern. Once he calms down, though, he and Roy decide to take Diggle up on an offer to join Lyla and him for dinner from earlier in the episode. Seeing the men of Team Arrow bonding was a nice coda to an episode that was all about Oliver giving love a bad name.
While the episode was for all intents and purposes an exploration of the various ships in the series, there was also plenty for fans of the superheroing. In addition to a throwaway reference to Harley Queen (we think), the highlight had to be the reveal of Ray Palmer’s ulterior motives for encroaching on Starling City. There were subtle hints dropped throughout (dwarf star alloy, anyone?) but it all led up to Palmer standing in front of a hologram of a very familiar blue and red suit (no, not this one):
If that weren’t enough, the ep was tagged with the intro of yet another iconic DC villain. A mysterious figure stalks a man in a dark alley way. The figure pulls out a weapon that just happens to be a boomerang!
And what better way to lead into the Flash/Arrow crossover than to introduce (a very badass looking) Captain Boomerang?
- Yes, I’m including both Smallville and The Dark Knight Trilogy. ↩
- Cupid first appeared in issue #15 of Green Arrow/Black Canary when Andrew Kreisberg took over writing duties from Judd Winick. Interestingly enough Kreisberg would go on to be one of the creators of the Arrow television series. ↩
- I am fully aware that this week’s guest star was not Chord Overstreet. ↩