‘Arrow’ Review: “Draw Back Your Bow”
‘Arrow’ season 3 lets loose its seventh installment of the year with “Draw Back Your Bow,” as Oliver tangles with obsessed “Cupid” Carrie Cutter (Amy Gumenick), while Felicity finds herself in an unexpected encounter with Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh), and Thea auditions DJs for the club’s reopening.
Last week’s installment “Guilty” saw Laurel forced to defend her trainer Ted “Wildcat” Grant (J.R. Ramirez) from accusations of murder, while Roy wrestled with guilt and recurring nightmares suggesting he was the one to kill Sara Lance, so what does the seventh episode of ‘Arrow’ season 3 bring? Can Oliver be both himself and the ‘Arrow’ vigilante?
Read on for your in-depth review of everything you need to know about ‘Arrow’ season 3, episode 7, “Draw Back Your Bow!”
Historically, ‘Arrow’’s more standalone episodes have always been a mixed bag, whether by the show’s early struggles with one-off villains, or the snail’s pace of conflict resolution that often plagues 22-hour seasons. Case in point, I was surprised to see a more negative reaction to last week’s largely Ted and Laurel-centric hour, as despite a fairly on-the-nose cipher of Ted’s deranged partner representing Roy and Oliver’s tense relationship, I appreciated the opportunity to explore some of the underlying conflicts and characters present throughout the first five episodes of season 3.
Cupid’s appearance in “Draw Back Your Bow” probably serves up a better example of the idea, as while the outlying premise and central character dipped into some far campier territory than normal (complete with theme music and title card change), the seemingly one-note presence of an Arrow-obsessed stalker turned out a fairly stealth means to check in on the Oliver-Felicity relationship, previously swept under the rug by the premiere. We (and the internet at large) have sung Felicity’s praises time and time again, particularly her evolution beyond any stock sidekick or romantic interest role, and while I wasn’t entirely enamored seeing the character reduced to quivering at the sight of Ray Palmer’s salmon ladder or the expensive dress, “Draw Back Your Bow” smartly parlayed the demented Carrie Cutter into a comparison of fixation and moving on.
‘Arrow’ seems to have long since lost interest with the stock superhero trope of secret identities (a lesson ‘The Flash’ would do well to learn sooner, rather than later), though the DC drama still occasionally stumbles on the cliché that Oliver needs to push away any and all romantic pairings. Cupid (a character created by EP Andrew Kreisberg) certainly provided an entertaining means to play with that notion, highlighting a fixation on the superhero persona, vs. Felicity’s perspective on Oliver as a man. Of course, romantic obsession is no joke, and it seemed as if Amy Gumenick’s character had an intriguing enough history of police-work and mental illness behind her, so the overall execution might have fared better to dial back the campier aspects of her attempting to woo Oliver. In either case, it seemed a smart stay of execution to have the character ultimately deposited among the Suicide Squad, and nonetheless force Oliver* to confront the reality of his lingering feelings for Felicity.
*Also deserving of some major credit for the hour was David Ramsey's Diggle, approaching either side of the tensile triangle to facilitate some resolution of Oliver and Felicity’s leftover feelings. The character has only had so much to do this season, between fatherhood and his usual support role, and while suspicions of A.R.G.U.S. and Lyla remain on the horizon, it’s nice to be reminded how strongly the friendships of all three characters have progressed. Although hey, remember when Diggle was going after H.I.V.E.?
“Draw Back Your Bow” also did well to change pace on this week’s Hong Kong flashbacks, which despite lacking the momentum of the island story in season 2, at least pivoted to flesh out Oliver’s dynamic with Tatsu Yamashiro. The mutual pursuit of a seemingly-dead Maseo afforded an interesting opportunity for the two to get know one another under duress, highlighting both mental and physical challenges to one another as she urged Oliver to do his own chores, and later showed off her own deadly proficiency with a katana. I briefly wondered how Maseo’s death might add some much-needed gravity to the Hong Kong story, though given the lack of any body onscreen, it wasn’t terribly surprising to have Maseo show up back at their apartment alive and well.
Unsurprisingly, we’d be hard-pressed to find much justification for Thea’s storyline this week, auditioning DJs for the reopening of Verdant, and predictably settling on the only hothead to cockily insist she’d later need him. I suppose you could tie together the notion that everyone found love in their own way this week, though considering we don’t yet have a clear image of Thea’s mental state, or her ultimate plans with Oliver and Malcolm Merlyn, it seemed unusual of tonight’s hour to expect us to invest in some boneheaded (and seriously forward) club expert. Not to mention, Roy will surely see them kiss, and o noes, you guyz! Go back to season one, Thea story.
In addition to Felicity’s smoochie-smoochies with Ray Palmer (which Oliver walked in on, and silently backed out of, because television) “Draw Back Your Bow” also brought with it a wealth of DC mythology nods, from smaller Easter eggs like “Sherwood Florist,” the Gardners and more Harley Quinn allusions, to Captain Boomerang’s appearance and the reveal of Ray’s ‘Iron Man’-esque “A.T.O.M.” suit, fueled by dwarf star matter and all. It’s become increasingly apparent that producers have slapped a “Ray Palmer” sticker on their original plans for season 3’s incorporation of Ted Kord and Blue Beetle, though the mythology drops still definitely helped to elevate an uneven, if thoroughly entertaining episode.
We’ll have to wait a few weeks for the big ‘Arrow’-‘Flash’ crossover, and longer still for any hint of what Ra’s al Ghul has planned for Starling City, but tonight’s Cupid-centric hour still served up an intriguing, if campy exploration of Oliver and Felicity’s failed relationship, with plenty of advancements to break free of the usual standalone episode pattern.
AND ANOTHER THING…
- Smart of the writers to tie in an unseen moment of Slade's assault on the city to Cupid's first encounter with the Arrow.
- Silly though the scene was, Emily Bett Rickards was predictably adorable in her delivery of "I do have a type."
- Roy got swept under the rug a bit this week, though the sweet closing tag of he and Oliver taking Diggle up on his dinner offer mostly made up for it.
- I don't know how Cupid bested Roy, but I'll assume he didn't flip enough.
- Hmm, Cupid's aid certainly found Oliver's hangout easily enough. Perhaps something to explore down the line?
- Seriously, fire that DJ immediately.
- Can we get Quentin Lance a real story, please?
Well, what say you? Did ‘Arrow’ hit the mark with its seventh season 3 installment? How did you feel about Oliver’s new friend, or Felicity’s big date? Give us your thoughts in the comments, and check back in two weeks for our review of ‘Arrow’ season 3's ‘Flash’ crossover event, “The Brave and the Bold” on The CW!