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?
In 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?
Maybe 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?
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.
The 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?
Clearly 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.
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.
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?