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Arrow – Draw Back Your Bow Review

"A Weak Villain Makes for a Weak Episode"

When writing a television episode there are, of course, a wide number of items a writer must take into account. But one of the most important is the axiom of “show, don’t tell.” Man, how I wish the writers of “Draw Back Your Bow” had decided to adhere to that rule. Perhaps then this would have been one of the better Arrow episodes, rather than a convoluted mess that gave us a villain without much character and the return of more unnecessary Oliver-Felicity tension.

Let’s start with our villain of the week, Cupid. I don’t really want to blame Amy Gumenick for Cupid’s lack of focus and generally annoying scenery chewing, since I have a sneaking suspicion the character was simply written to be a one-dimensional deranged fan archetype, but Gumenick’s strangely vapid portrayal of the character did her no favors. Now, I understand that Cupid is, in fact, a real DC Arrow villain, but man, I hope she’s better written and fleshed out in the comics, because I’m still pretty confused why she was killing of the city’s criminal element.

Okay, I guess I shouldn’t say confused, since the show made it pretty clear that Carrie Cutter has an attachment disorder and latched onto the Arrow when he saved her from Slade’s goons last season. But why is she just starting up her spree now, six months after the fact? Did she take archery lessons that lasted six months? One would assume that if she was truly as mentally ill as she seemed, she would have begun her hunt for the Arrow much sooner than six months after the fact. But, even if we ignore the improbable timeline of events, the real heart of the issue is that Cupid is simply a weak and non-threatening villain who we know almost nothing about.

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Think about it: Did Cupid ever tell Oliver anything about herself or really show how or why she fell for him? Nope. Everyone in the episode told Oliver everything he needed to know about her. Her shrink shared her diagnosis, Felicity dug up her background, and Diggle offered additional help. Cupid didn’t really show Oliver anything about herself, other than that she can shoot a bow and arrow and is really good at accessing high profile targets (it would have been really nice to see how she managed this feat). Everything about the character is explained to us. I want to understand the villain. Heck, I’ll even take a traditional villain speech. But having third parties set-up a character’s identity is lazy storytelling. And that doesn’t even take into account how lame Cupid really was as a villain.

Honestly, did anyone think for a second that Oliver wasn’t going to defeat her? She has no clear skills that could possibly beat Oliver. None. She’s mentally unstable, which, with the right kind of evil genius (a la the Joker), can be pretty difficult to defeat. She also has a police background, and can shoot an arrow, but she’s no Malcolm Merlyn in that area. There was absolutely no threat to Oliver or his crew. Are we going to be super depressed if Cupid kills a murderous mob boss? Not really. And Roy and Thea were never really in danger. There were no stakes involved in the storyline. And couple that with a weakly drawn character with a dubious motivation (and a dull performance from Gumenick), this storyline was a real stinker. Now that Cupid is a member of the Suicide Squad, I assume we’ll be seeing her again and I hope the writers craft a better story for her return.

But the episode wasn’t really about having Oliver defeat the villain Cupid. It was really about beating the dead (or at least dying) horse of the Oliver-Felicity relationship. Now, I certainly recognize that there’s a million times more chemistry between Oliver and Felicity than there has ever been between him and any other female character on the series (particularly Laurel, which, should the show decide to follow the comics in that regard, could become a major issue). But the show made a decision (the right one, at least for now, in my opinion) earlier this season to make Oliver a lone wolf. He made his decision painfully clear, and Felicity made her own feelings on the subject clear as well. I all but cheered to see Felicity repeatedly tell Oliver she’s not going to let him continue to dangle the possibility of a relationship in front of her.

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I understand that the relationship will continue to pop-up through the season. And it should. After all, the argument can be easily made that Oliver is making himself into a martyr when he doesn’t have to, and Felicity is also suffering as a result. It’s a crucial piece to both characters right now. But after a few weeks where things seemed to be going well between the pair, suddenly Diggle is dredging up the entire situation again. All because Felicity, who has been told by Oliver that even though he loves her, he can’t be with her, decides to go out to dinner with Ray Palmer (who, while charming and I assume, isn’t a danger, is still coming on pretty strong here). And Diggle telling Felicity that Oliver needs to be with her? Talk about overstepping. Felicity’s response was super measured considering how cavalier Oliver has been in dealing with their relationship so far.

We’ve been told where the pair stand. We all know Oliver is the impediment to the relationship moving forward. So, Felicity is free to date, make-out with, and sleep with whomever she chooses. Part of me is super worried that the writers are setting up Ray to become a villainous Atom (now that we’ve seen the hologram of the suit, I think it’s safe to assume that Ray will be wearing it sooner rather than later), since he’s already challenging Oliver for the girl he loves, why not have him challenge Oliver for the city as well? But, I really want to see where this Ray Palmer storyline is headed, so I’m not about to stop watching now.

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Final Thoughts

— One thing I was super excited about in the episode: the appearance of Nick Tarabay as Captain Boomerang. Arrow is really becoming a stomping ground for Spartacus alums, and I think Tarabay will be one of the best imports yet. He was amazing on Spartacus and does evil extremely well.

— No Laurel this week. Can’t say I missed her. I did miss Wildcat though.

— That Thea story was just plain weird, right? I mean, that DJ was super strange and creepy. And a real tool.

— Quick reminder that Arrow is off next week, and will return with two Flash crossover episodes on December 2 and 3.

Rating
4.0
Pros
  • Interesting developments with Ray Palmer and Boomerang
Cons
  • Poorly plotted
  • Weak villain
  • Rehashing the Oliver-Felicity situation

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Meet the Author

About / Bio
TV critic based in Chicago. When not watching and writing about awesome television shows, I can be found lamenting over the latest disappointing performance by any of the various Chicago sports teams or my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Follow me @JeanHenegan on Twitter.

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