Arrow TV Reviews

TV Review: Arrow, “Draw Back Your Bow” (S3,EP7) – Let Your Arrow Go

It’s been a while since Arrow has directly addressed Oliver and Felicity’s relationships status, though things were clearly still rocky by the end of “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak.” They’ve had other things to deal with, like the mystery of who killed Sara Lance, getting Thea back to Starling City, and establishing Laurel’s trajectory away from Oliver and toward Ted Grant. The results have been, at times, infuriating, although not because they’ve been focusing on things beyond Oliver and Felicity; it’s been infuriating because the show simply hasn’t been that good, regardless of which character (or character pairing) it was focusing on.  As a result, it’s been several weeks since I actually enjoyed watching an episode of Arrow. Well, “Draw Back Your Bow” wasn’t perfect, but I did enjoy it.

I had a request to again write my review in a Q&A format instead of a traditional review format. So, that’s what I did. Let me know if this type of thing doesn’t really work for you.

Did they go too big with Carrie? Was she too campy for her own good?

Arrow Draw Back CupidIn an interview with Collider, when asked to describe the experience playing a character as unhinged as Carrie Amy Gumenick gleefully exclaimed, “Oh, it is so, so, so much fun!  Fun doesn’t even begin to describe it.” That joy was apparent every single second Gumenick was on screen during “Draw Back Your Bow,” and how well the episode worked for you probably had a lot to do with what you thought of her performance. The actual concept of the Arrow attracting a stalker is somewhat workable, and the decision to mostly use her as an excuse for Oliver to re-address his relationships status with Felicity without actually directly addressing it is an effective storytelling device. They did at least paint a believable picture of Carrie as a troubled woman with a history of this type of behavior and enough police training to be dangerous.  This is now two episodes in a row, though, in which the villain has either personally done so themselves or influenced someone else to completely spell everything out for us, Ted Grant’s protege warning Arsenal about his grim future, Cupid getting Oliver to announce his thoughts on relationships.

Gumenick play everything fairly big, albeit not quite Uma Thurman Poison Ivy big nor Seth Gamble as Count Vertigo crazy. Still, from the way she swung wildly from doting superfan to Fatal Attraction killer to the way she purred the phrase “Hello Lover” (more like “Hello Luvvah”) Gumenick was clearly playing in camp land. For a show tethered to Batman Begins, this was a villain oddly out of something like So I Married an Axe Murderer. However, it actually made for an interesting contrast to Oliver’s stoicism, and his exasperated expression after saving her from the train at the end certainly paid that off. You could tell that, ultimately, Oliver just didn’t know what the heck to do with this woman. Why not pawn her off on the Suicide Squad, the show clearly stashing her away for a return appearance (a return appearance Gumenick is clearly hoping for).

This, to me, felt like a Batman situation, our taciturn, dark avenger going up against a crazy, somewhat larger-than-life presence. As a Batman fan, I am a sucker for that kind of thing, and I was never bored by Gumenick’s performance. It was actually interesting watching Oliver fight someone he didn’t actually want to fight

Are we really supposed to believe that Carrie “Cupid” Cutter became some sort of archery expert in the short amount of time since Oliver saved her during Slade Wilson’s assault on Starling City last season?

shh-cupidMaybe Carrie is one archer too many for Arrow what with Malcolm Merlyn, Oliver, and Roy being around, Komodo and Huntress off in prison somewhere, and Nyssa currently planning something with the League of Assassins. That’s a lot of costumed archers to have shown up in one city, but Carrie doesn’t actually come off as any kind of archery expert. She more seems like an ex-cop who taught herself how to shoot an arrow, enough to be deadly, but not enough to stand a chance in an arrow vs. arrow fight with Oliver. He does knock that bow out of her hand super fast during their final fight. Plus, there really was no explanation for how Helena Bertinelli mastered the bow and arrow before becoming Huntress (rich girl had been taking archery lessons her whole life, I guess), and we saw precious little of Oliver and Sara teaching Roy how to shoot an arrow. So, yeah, given this show’s history it’s not really that big of a stretch to accept Carrie as an archer.

When someone says that they have to be alone is it an acceptable response to shout, “I don’t believe you! You’re a liar!”?

It is when the person responding is as crazy as Carrie Cutter. I did chuckle at that moment, though. It was mostly just, “Well, now they need to start fighting because Oliver’s delivered the money line Felicity had to overhear.” So, Carrie had to reject Oliver’s rejection, and maybe she did so because she truly believes that his whole “I have to be alone” speech was just a cover for some other relationship he must have. Maybe the next time Carrie comes around she’ll lash out at Felicity or Laurel or anyone potentially blocking her path to Arrow.

Is Oliver seriously going to end up in therapy?

[SPOILER WARNING] According to the producers, that’s actually going to happen, like a comic book version of Tony Soprano. It might seem kind of silly, but, geeze, if ever there was a guy who desperately needs therapy it’s Oliver Queen. Plus, the only time I can remember a major superhero going into therapy in a movie or TV show is Bruce Wayne in Batman Forever, and there it was mostly about dealing with a recurring dream he was having. So, if we just give them a chance here this could be new territory for Arrow [END SPOILER WARNING].

Are we shipping Felicity and Ray yet?

Arrow Draw Back RayNope.

Why not? He’s just so nice, like a better version of Oliver if Oliver didn’t have the self-imposed heroic burden of being Arrow.

Sure, Ray is nice, in the classic “maybe a little too nice” kind of way, but at this point I find it hard to actually take him seriously. As I joked in a prior review, he’s like a human version of Hank Serpico, Homer Simpson’s one-time boss who was the nicest guy in the world except for the fact that he turned out to be a Bond villain. Ray’s less of an actual character than he is simply an exaggerated representation of the type of life Felicity could have with Oliver if he hadn’t given up on being Oliver Queen, although Ray does seem more emotionally available than Oliver ever will. Of course, Felicity has even more of a type than she realized now that what we likely suspected has been confirmed: Ray is in the planning stages of becoming an Iron Man-esque superhero, or at least he’ll definitely have a suit handy should something bad happen.

There’s an element to all of this, though, that feels like they have dropped Felicity into the middle of a (kind of creepy) fairy tale, courted by a remarkably insistent prince with limitless wealth. He bought the store she worked at just as a way of talking to her again, gave her the corner office with a view, took the priceless watch off his own hand and handed it to her mom as a gift, etc. Now, in this episode he knowingly works out in front of her to show off how fit he is, puts her right next to him at a press conference and appears to speak directly to her with extreme praise at one point, and dresses her in Couture with a $10 million necklace.

Arrow Draw Back FelicityThe whole dress and necklace part felt like it was directly out of Pretty Woman, and you could easily finish Ray’s line about the necklace being worth way more than just $1 million light years before he even said it. I know this is a comic book show, pure escapist entertainment, but there is an element of Ray’s courting of Felicity that feels too much like romantic fantasy.  We’re supposed to enjoy watching Felicity being swept off of her feet by the dashing prince, but instead I’m not really trusting his smile and finding it a tad too “50 Shades of Ray Palmer.”

What I do like, however, is that Felicity is being pursued by someone who doesn’t take her for granted, the way Oliver often does, and I like that Felicity is, in fact, moving on.

What the heck was with Diggle playing matchmaker?

The second Diggle walked into Felicity’s office I kept thinking, “Please don’t tell her to break it off with Ray, please don’t tell her to break it off with Ray, please don’t tell her to break it off with Ray.” That might seem strange given everything I just said about Ray and Felicity, but I didn’t want Diggle to show up just to warn Felicity that her date with Ray was putting Oliver in danger, as if to punish her for trying to have an actual life away from Team Arrow. Diggle didn’t quite go as far in that direction as I had feared, but it was still great seeing Felicity shoot all of that down, rightfully pointing out that if Oliver has anything to say to her he needs to be the one to do it.  Diggle acting in this manner sort of reminded me of the time Felicity acted as a go-between when Diggle briefly quit Team Arrow during the first season because Oliver prioritized Laurel over tracking down Deadshot.  This should always be the central trio of this show, and it made sense for Diggle to be the go-between in this situation.  However, it’s a bit sad that Diggle ultimately doesn’t have much to do on the show right now, his ARGUS and HIVE storylines likely back-burnered until they line up with the Hong Kong flashbacks.

Didn’t Thea’s flirtations with a remarkably forward DJ seem more like a season 1 Thea storyline instead of something worthy of the newly badass Thea?

This did feel oddly out of step with the mystery they’ve been building up about exactly what Malcolm is up to with Thea. That’s not to say that Thea can’t get a new love interest, played by Austin Butler (if you care to know), but the way they did it felt kind of out of nowhere. It maybe, kind of, sort of, not really mirrored Felicity moving on from Oliver (Thea beginning to move on from Roy), but it could have been tied in a lot better. Either way, at least we know this: After Malcolm’s training, if that DJ ever tries to steal a kiss from Thea again he could be looking at some broken bones.

Where was Laurel?

Arrow GuiltyClearly off in a gym somewhere, training with Ted Grant. After the way things ended with Laurel and Oliver last episode, it was probably wise to hold her back for a week. If you’re someone who actually liked last week’s episode (I’m not) you might have been curious to see Ted Grant’s reaction to the news that his former protégé had been murdered.

THE BOTTOM LINE

If you’re not a Oliver/Felicity fan, this might have been a tedious hour to work through, and even if you are your personal taste for camp and its place on this show likely dictated whether or not you could get into Amy Gumenick’s Cupid. However, it’s been clear for some time now that a Felicity/Ray/Oliver love triangle was brewing, and Cupid was a perfectly suitable character to help spur that forward. It translated to an episode I actually enjoyed, largely because of Gumenick’s gleeful performance and the lovely closing scene positioning Diggle and Lyla as parents taking in the two heart-broken, forever anguished strays, Oliver and Roy.

THE NOTES:

1. Poor Roy, taken down remarkably fast by Cupid. He’s not been so great in one-on-one situations this season.  Maybe he was still a little distracted by his nagging “I killed a man” drama.

2. Why was everyone so amused by the circle going around the new logo for Ray Palmer Technologies?

3. Did it take everyone way too long to realize that Cupid’s arrow tip was a heart, not a spade?

4. Oh, yeah, stuff went down in Hong Kong. We finally got to see Katana use her actual Katana swords, and she was predictably bad-ass. It gave us more of her background, and she sort of bonded with Oliver. It was progress, but the Hong Kong flashbacks are a real chore this season. This batch was probably the most entertaining of the bunch to this point.

5. You’d think that this was the only episode of TV this week to argue that a grown man didn’t know how to do laundry. You’d be wrong. New Girl made an entire plot out of Schmidt somehow having made it to adulthood without ever learning how to do laundry.

6. So, who will be the next computer hacker to use fancy algorithms to realize the Arrow must be located at Verdant?

7. Hello, Captain Boomerang.

NEXT TIME:

SECOND OPINIONS:

ScreenCrush.com – “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.”

TV.com – “If anything, Oliver will hopefully stick with his whole, ‘I want her to be happy’ outlook. Maybe he’ll stop being a jackass if he sees that Felicity is happy with Ray.”

I’m done with my ramble. What about you?

6 comments

  1. My expectations for this episode were so low (hey, thanx 3×03 and 3×06) that i ended up enjoying episode no matter how cheesy it was. Like in some strange way, it worked fine, i can’t explain it. I missed Diggle/Felicity scenes, they were besties in s2 and i think this is their first scene in s3. I didn’t like that their scene was about Oliver and Ray. I like Brandon Routh but i didn’t connect to the character yet. Can i ask for some spoilers, if you are familiar with comics? I am getting some strange wibe that something tragic is going to happen to Katana’s husband and son?

    1. “My expectations for this episode were so low (hey, thanx 3×03 and 3×06) that i ended up enjoying episode no matter how cheesy it was. Like in some strange way, it worked fine, i can’t explain it.”

      That’s roughly how I feel as well. My expectations had been driven so low that I was pleasantly surprised by “Draw Back Your Bow” even though I recognize that it wasn’t a super fantastic episode or anything like that. I was just so happy to actually enjoy an episode of Arrow again.

      “I missed Diggle/Felicity scenes, they were besties in s2 and i think this is their first scene in s3. I didn’t like that their scene was about Oliver and Ray”

      I was okay with Diggle talking to Felicity about the Oliver/Ray dynamic; I just didn’t want it to turn into him telling her what to do. Diggle being some kind of love coach for Felicity and Oliver is nothing new; he was the one who kept pointing out Oliver’s obvious jealousy of Barry Allen last season. Felicity’s been a go-between when Diggle and Oliver were feuding in the past. So, it made sense for Diggle to return the favor as the go-between here. However, you do raise a good point, which is that Diggle and Felicity really haven’t had much time together this season. I could see being let down, then, that he meets her just to talk about Oliver.

      “I like Brandon Routh but i didn’t connect to the character yet.”

      I’m with you there.

      “Can i ask for some spoilers, if you are familiar with comics? I am getting some strange wibe that something tragic is going to happen to Katana’s husband and son?”

      I have encountered Katana two times before Arrow. She was Batman’s sidekick on the animated series Beware the Batman, which ran for 26 episodes from 2013-2014, and she was a team member in the first two volumes of DC’s New 52 version of the comic book series Birds of Prey, the all-female superhero team put together by Batgirl and Black Canary. On Beware the Batman, Katana was trying to track down a supernatural sword known as the Soultaker, which was eventually revealed to actually contain the soul of her dead father among many others. She was usually the voice of reason on the show, standing in contrast to the version in Birds of Prey. There, Katana was a violent wild card on the team who talked to her own sword as if it was a real person, mostly because she believed it contained the soul of her dead husband. When that sword was stolen it became a very serious issue because it left her emotionally traumatized, but before that she was actually kind of comic relief, Black Canary indulging Katana’s believes about her sword while the rest of the team simply thought she was crazy.

      So, in my experience Katana has always been someone with significant dead family members in her past. A glance at Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katana_%28comics%29) reveals that her classic origin story in the comics does involve both her husband and children dying. Main takeaway: You are right to be worried about Katana’s husband and son.

  2. I really loved Amy Gumenick’s Cupid. I like the show best when the villains are large and crazy (Isaac last week was a snooze) and she played up the camp. I can buy that she became a really good archer in 6 months because obsessive people get obsessive about things like that to the exclusion of things they should be paying attention to. Plus, she started out with some skill from her SWAT days, and Oliver was taking it easy on her because he has a soft spot for crazies.

    Oliver got Helena a crossbow, which is much easier to use accurately than a longbow.

    Gumenick said in an interview that she had auditioned for the role of Laurel. I think the show would have been different in season 3 if she had got it.

    I like what they are doing with Roy, he’s so upset by the idea that he killed a man, he stepped back from Thea when she asked him to and his bromance with Oliver is the best relationship on the show right now (maybe Diggle is okay with Lyla but we never see them). Thea and the DJ was a mess. It’s not sexy when a guy you don’t know and don’t really like grabs you and kisses you, and I wish Malcolm would show up and go all Merlyn on him.

    I’m still not as in love with Ray Palmer as the producers are but I don’t mind him.

    This is the first time I’ve really liked the Hong Kong episodes. Also, good for you, Katana, making him do his own laundry. Their last scene, with Maseo, Katana and their son as a family unit with Oliver outside I thought mirrored the last scene in present day, with Oliver, Roy, Diggle and Lyla in warmth and light, and Felicity alone in her office, working because there was no one to go home to or be with.

    Which brings me to — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Oliver/Felicity relationship worked for me because it was so angst-free. They fit well together, Oliver gave her a purpose and Felicity helped humanize him. Now it’s just a mess, Oliver is getting good relationships with everyone (Thea, Roy, Diggle, even an understanding with Laurel and Quentin) except Felicity, Diggle is 100% Team Oliver and Felicity is getting frozen out because she’s not going to be Oliver’s doormat. I read a very good analogy for the relationship suggesting that Oliver is a married man (married to his cause) and while he cares for Felicity, he can’t be with her because he can’t leave his family because of the children (citizens of Starling). So he wants her on the side as his mistress, but he’s not going to commit to her, and she wants more out of life.

    So Oliver keeps hurting Felicity by rejecting her (twice in this episode), Diggle has no words of sympathy or understanding for her (would a shoulder squeeze of sympathy have killed him when she was tearing up hearing Oliver over the comms?) and at the end of the day, with Oliver rejecting her and Diggle choosing to support Oliver emotionally, Ray walks away on her while she’s leaning in for another kiss. Felicity can’t win for losing. At least she’s got her VP status.

    They’ve killed Moira, killed Sara, and are pushing Laurel into the Canary role too fast, and now ruining not only Oliver but Diggle too. Are they trying to kill this show for me?

    1. “I really loved Amy Gumenick’s Cupid.”

      Agreed. It was believable that she would get her archery skills so fast, and she is ultimately revealed as not on Oliver’s level yet.

      “Gumenick said in an interview that she had auditioned for the role of Laurel. I think the show would have been different in season 3 if she had got it.”

      I missed that interview. It’s especially since Katie Cassidy also came from Supernatural. The way to get a role on The CW is often to simply guest star on another CW show. Gumenick could have made a great Laurel. She was great as the Winchesters mom on Supernatural.

      “Thea and the DJ was a mess. It’s not sexy when a guy you don’t know and don’t really like grabs you and kisses you, and I wish Malcolm would show up and go all Merlyn on him.”

      What a mess, indeed. I like your idea about Malcolm going over-protective dad on that DJ.

      “This is the first time I’ve really liked the Hong Kong episodes. Also, good for you, Katana, making him do his own laundry. Their last scene, with Maseo, Katana and their son as a family unit with Oliver outside I thought mirrored the last scene in present day, with Oliver, Roy, Diggle and Lyla in warmth and light, and Felicity alone in her office, working because there was no one to go home to or be with.”

      Excellent analysis. This was the first time the Hong Kong flashbacks seemed to justify their existence this season.

      “Which brings me to — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Oliver/Felicity relationship worked for me because it was so angst-free. They fit well together, Oliver gave her a purpose and Felicity helped humanize him. Now it’s just a mess”

      This reminds me of the TV Guide article from the first season where one writer argued in favor of the show pursuing an Oliver/Felicity and another argued that Felicity should be allowed to remain as she is, unencumbered by messy, drawn-out relationship drama with Oliver. The analogy you mentioned of Oliver as a married man and Felicity his mistress does seem particularly apt, and there is certainly a fun which has gone missing from their relationship as of late.

      “Diggle has no words of sympathy or understanding for her (would a shoulder squeeze of sympathy have killed him when she was tearing up hearing Oliver over the comms?)”

      I wanted Diggle to be more of the middle man in the situation than the representative for Oliver, freeing him up to express sympathy or understanding for Felicity’s position. Sadly, that didn’t happen.

      “They’ve killed Moira, killed Sara, and are pushing Laurel into the Canary role too fast, and now ruining not only Oliver but Diggle too. Are they trying to kill this show for me?”

      Moira I was okay with because they didn’t seem to have anything new for her. Plus, almost all the CW shows I’ve watched eventually kill off the parents. Vampire Diaries only has one left at this point. Killing Sara, though, felt like needlessly sacrificing one of the things that actually made this show unique and different from the comics, and the so-called crucible Sara went through to become Canary is simply not comparable to what they’re doing with Laurel. I agree. They’re pushing her too fast. As for Oliver and Diggle, if they’re being ruined for you, too, then it really does sound you like have hardly anyone left to care about on the show.

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