This week’s Arrow is once again a filler episode, which means that, aside from the mystery of Sara’s murder, we’re still no closer to getting an idea of the main direction for this season. That said, Slade Wilson didn’t show up in Starling City until Episode 9 (Three Ghosts) of Season 2, so let’s be generous and give Arrow two more episodes to pull some plot development out of the bag.
Generally speaking, Draw Back Your Bow is a decent episode overall (especially compared to last week’s misfire) and if it doesn’t contribute to the season-long arc (whatever that ends up being), at least it nudges a couple of its subplots along nicely.
This week’s supervillain, once again teased at the end of the previous episode, is Carrie Cutter (played by Amy Gumenick), aka Cupid, a copycat, arrow-shooting vigilante who becomes obsessed with Arrow after he rescued her from one of Slade Wilson’s Mirakuru-enhanced goons during the events of the Season 2 finale. She’s been killing people with arrows to get his attention and once Oliver realises that she’s in love with him, he tries to let her down gently. This alone shows how much Oliver has grown over the course of the previous two years: he was happy, after all, to date The Huntress back in Season 1 and she was only slightly less unhinged than Carrie Cutter appears to be.
As has been mentioned before, Arrow is a show that can often be heavy-handed when it comes to using one story strand to parallel and inform another. That tendency is front and centre again this week, although it’s significantly better integrated and much less clumsy than it was last week. Here, Oliver essentially opens up to Carrie, hoping she’ll listen to reason. In doing so, he acknowledges that his own loneliness is an essential part of being the Arrow, recalling his decision to push Felicity away, romantically speaking. (Carrie, of course, is too far gone to listen to reason, but she ends up being shipped off to the Suicide Squad, so we may well see her again.)
However, Oliver being forced to articulate his feelings to Carrie makes him realise that no, actually, he wants Felicity after all, but when he heads over to Queen Consolidated to tell her, he -gasp!- catches her in a clinch with Ray Palmer and opts to keep quiet. Well, sort of – he actually goes back and smashes some shit up in the Arrow Cave, Phil Mitchell-style, so we know how much pain he’s in and that.
And speaking of Ollicity, there’s definitely a certain element of ‘Be careful what you wish for’ about that pairing. On the one hand, they have genuine chemistry together and Felicity is a much better love interest for Oliver than Laurel was in Season 1. On the other, regardless of the appeal of the will-they-won’t-they Big Romance, Felicity and Oliver together would get very boring very quickly. Hopefully the show will find a way to keep them as close friends, who care for each other, rather than actually going down the relationship route.
One interesting development in that respect is that Felicity decides to go out on a date with Ray Palmer, who woos her with a combination of a blue couture dress, some expensive jewellery and a spell on the salmon ladder. (“Oh my God, I have a type!” she exclaims.)
To be fair, Emily Bett Rickards’ chemistry with Brandon Routh is just as strong and just as much fun as it is with Stephen Amell, so it’ll be interesting to see how far the show goes with that, or whether it’s essentially just a tool to make Oliver jealous. One particularly weird note, though, is Diggle marching into Felicity’s office to complain that her new job and relationship are distracting his good friend The Arrow from being able to save the city properly. Really, Arrow writers? That’s the best you could come up with for Diggle this week? At least Felicity sets him straight afterwards.
While we’re on the subject of Ray, Episode 7 also gives us the strongest indication yet that we are indeed going to see him become some version of The Atom (his comic book alter-ego) later this season. Actually, there are two hints: firstly, The Atom’s symbol is visible in the logo for Palmer Technologies, after Ray re-brands Queen Consolidated. And secondly, we saw a glimpse of his prototype A.T.O.M. exo-skeleton. There’s also some stuff about him purchasing a mine in order to acquire dwarf star material, which is presumably where the shrinking will come in, if that’s what they’re planning. Either way, this is currently the show’s most promising development.
As for the other sub-plots, everyone else took something of a back seat this week. Thea meets and kisses an obnoxious DJ, who is obviously going to be Important For Later, although he was such an instantly unlikeable character that we’re kind of hoping the show-runners have second thoughts about bringing him back. Meanwhile, Roy, after his various revelations last week, was reduced to moping around and getting blind-sided by Cupid this week, although at least he finally got his superhero character name confirmed, with Ollie calling him Arsenal while in the field. And Laurel? Laurel wasn’t actually in this episode, which should hopefully mean that her story has advanced significantly the next time we see her. (Translation: she’ll be putting on the Black Canary costume.)
We also got another visit to Flashback Island this week, with Ollie and Tatsu reluctantly teaming up to look for Maseo. As with the main plot, there’s still no clear indication of where the show is going with the flashbacks this year (Amanda Waller hasn’t even shown up yet), but we’re enjoying the relationship between Ollie and the Yamashiro family. We also got to see her wielding a katana blade this week, in line with her comics identity as Katana.
There were a couple of other nice nods to the comics this week. First, the oblique reference to Harley Quinn, when Diggle says that Carrie Cutter is “even crazier than the last female member of Suicide Squad”. (Is it too much to hope for that the show will introduce her properly?) And second, the appearance of Sherwood Florist, which, apart from being a terrible, groan-worthy gag, is also taken from the comics, as Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance used to live upstairs from a florist with the same name. On top of that, Cupid herself is a direct lift from the comics, as she was created in 2009 by Arrow show developer / writer Andrew Kreisberg, during his run on Green Arrow / Black Canary.
All in all, this was a solid filler episode that was relatively light on action, but had enough going for it in terms of character development to be worthwhile. Next week: Captain Boomerang (teased here at the episode’s end) and a crossover episode with The Flash!
Season 1, 2 and 3 of Arrow are available on Amazon Prime, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription – or, for free next day UK delivery on Amazon items, as part of a £79 annual Prime membership.
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Photo: Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.