'Arrow' Recap: 'Draw Back Your Bow'

Things have been decidedly heavy lately on Arrow, what with the murder of Sara Lance and the suspected involvement of Roy Harper. And while this week’s episode isn’t played for laughs, it’s a welcome breather from that somber tone.

Last week saw the introduction of Cupid, a character that poses a potential problem in that she’s such a riff on Harley Quinn that it could be difficult to depict the psychotic archer in a way that doesn’t conjure images of the popular antihero. The way Arrow producer handled this inevitable comparison was too evoke (sort of) Harley’s name toward the end of “Pull Back Your Bow.” But before we get there, let’s discuss Cupid in detail.

Actress Amy Gumenick sizzles in the role, chewing scenery and going wonderfully over the top without approaching the level of Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy. The episode does a good job of shoehorning Cupid into Ollie’s past, revealing that Team Arrow saved her during Slade Wilson’s siege on Starling City. The episode provides background but not proper motivation, as it simply establishes Cupid is an ex-cop with a history of violent obsession. That’s really it; she was saved by Arrow, fell in love with the vigilante and began killing bad people to attract his attention. As a character, Cupid is fairly flat, but Gumenick’s look and performance probably makes the television version a future cosplay staple.

The Arrow/Cupid conflict serves as a backdrop to the continuing saga of Olicity, as Felicity continues her budding relationship with Ray Palmer. Although Ollie basically told her at the beginning of the season that they can never be together, he still spends this episode in an emo funk over Felicity going out on a lavish date with her new boss. There’s an endearing Cinderella feel to the Felicity bits, but the episode casts Ollie in a bad light. His jealous outbursts go against some of the progress the character has made over the past few seasons, making it seem as if the producers are as confused about Oliver and Felicity as Oliver and Felicity are.

Then there’s the chemistry between Felicity and Ray Palmer: I’d watch a Palmer/Smoak show in a hot minute, as there’s both a sweetness and a sizzle between them. Ray is seemingly so much of a better match for Felicity, something underscored by Oliver’s bratty. It’s not the best portrayal of character who’s becoming more altruistic by the episode. Case in point: Oliver saving Cupid as she’s about to let herself be struck by a train. Now, Cupid tying Oliver to railroad tracks is fraught with classic gender irony, and Oliver saving her is a nice character touch -- but that same man mooning over Felicity after he telling her in no uncertain terms that they will NEVER be together? That just seems out of character and a bit too CW soap opera-ish.

Speaking of The CW, what the heck is with the DJ subplot? After a few weeks’ absence, we have the return of Thea Queen, complete with a riveting subplot in which she tries to find a DJ for her new club because … The CW loves party scenes. Some dude shows up, acts arrogantly, saves the day for Thea, gets hired and instantly becomes a love interest. You know how we know the dude is an awesome DJ? Because he presses a button and people start dancing. I don’t know what plans there are for this guy -- they may become the greatest thing ever -- but the beginning is certainly ponderous. This is where Thea’s journey has led her? It’s a mirror to the worst parts of Season 1, and doesn’t fit in to what the show has become.

Another love interest, Roy Harper, is taken down by Cupid off camera. So far, this season hasn’t been kind to Roy, relegating him to the role of angst-ridden boy hostage.

I’m getting down on the series a bit, so let me finish by expressing my adoration of the way it’s handing Ray Palmer. It might be the romance with Felicity, the same romantic link that made fans fall in love with the newly introduced Barry Allen last season, but man, does this character just command every scene he’s in. From his Prince Charming connection to Felicity to his command of the boardroom to his version of the Oliver Queen workout, the CEO of the newly dubbed Palmer Industries is such an amazing addition to Arrow

I don’t mean to undersell Cupid as a villain. She’s fun to watch, and is a nice addition to the world of Arrow, even if she comes off as a bit haphazard. She presents a new type of villain for Oliver, one not connected to the League of Assassins or Malcolm Merlyn. Her inclusion in the Suicide Squad following her defeat (and fun, subtle nod to Harley Quinn) promises a bright future for the character.

Before we go, let’s discuss the episode’s flashback, one that drives home the theme of love that wasn’t handled as adeptly in the main story. We get to see just how deep true love goes as demonstrated in the relationship between Tatsu Yamashiro and her husband, Oliver’s ARGUS handler. When Tatsu believes her husband killed, Oliver gets to witness the power of love and loss, and we see Tatsu’s skills as a swordswoman. The foreshadowing of Tatsu as Katana is well-timed and awesome, as it not only illustrates just had badass Tatsu is but also just how much she loves her husband. Anyone who knows Katana’s tragic origins is aware of how important that love, and her ability with her jeweled sword, will be to the future of the character.

The Atom is coming, Katana is coming, and by episode’s end, we’re teased with the arrival of Captain Boomerang, making “Draw Back Your Bow” an intriguing addition to the series, despite some rather clumsy misfires.

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