When an episode of Arrow is really cooking with gas, all of the various storylines compel and engage in a big bad way. Riveted to the edge of your seat and so forth. But that’s not always. It’s a long season, and next week being a week off and the following week giving us the epic Flash crossover, it’s perfectly fine to have an episode where the action storyline is incredibly drab, despite having a comic book character on board, and the character story being mostly a retread of stuff we’ve already seen but with new twists involved. And then there’s this nothing Thea C-story and more flashbacks I can’t imagine are interesting anyone else either. Oh “Draw Back Your Bow,” you episode with a title I can’t even remember half the time.
We start six months ago with Diggle, Ollie, and Felicity in the van driving to stop Deathstroke’s Miracuru army. Along the way, the Arrow wants to stop to save a civilian from a baddie. That civilian, it turns out, is the lady archer who told us last week her name is “Cupid, stupid.” And speaking of, she’s left last week’s bad guy, Isaac Stanzler, dead and dressed like a makeshift Arrow with a red spade-shaped bolt in him.
At Queen Consolidated, Felicity walks into Ray Palmer’s office to see him doing the salmon ladder, which really freaks her out. Ray then, still shirtless, asks Felicity if she’d accompany him to a business meeting. She initially balks, but he offers a very expensive Couture dress for her to wear and she agrees. (Now, I ain’t sayin’ she a gold digger…) Later, at a press conference, Palmer tells the folks of Starling City he wants to save it and for it to look to the future, and to do that, he’s going to need a change, which is why Queen Consolidated is now going to be called Palmer Technologies. This displeases Oliver who begins hammering the arrow they found and he sees a tiny strip of paper with an address on it.
Oliver and Diggle head to the address and see a room full of candles and Valentine’s Day decorations, as well as a heart-shaped mirror covered in arrows. A cellphone on the bed rings and Oliver answers. Cupid tells him she’s his and she’s going to love him up and down. Also, she’s going to kill people. This is when Arrow finally realizes the shape of the arrowhead isn’t a spade, it’s a heart. Duh. Cupid. Just to drive the point home, the Arrow title card has her arrow instead of whatever one is normally there this season.
Roy is still pretty distraught at having killed a cop, and so he’s not in this episode much. Felicity has found the probable victim and then tells Oliver about her impending possible-date with Palmer, asking if it’s all right that she take the day off. Instead of even pretending that he isn’t angry about it (although he’s the one who did the “we can’t do this”-ing) he simply says “Do what you want.” Good. Good job, Oliver. Later, Oliver complains to Diggle that they need Felicity there to help them, but Diggle knows why he’s really upset. It turns out, though, through security cam footage that the woman, a former cop named Carrie Cutter, has been stalking the Arrow for months, showing up at various crime scenes. So that’s nice and creepy.
They figure out that she’s holding her hostage at, of all places, Sherwood Florist and Oliver and Roy go to stop her. Roy is taken out almost immediately (because he’s not on his game) and Oliver is left having to try to free the hostage, who’s a real a-hole, but he’s strapped to an explosive device that will go off if Oliver cuts him down from the ceiling. Cupid is obsessed with Oliver and cheerfully thinks all of this is going to lead to them being together, you know, like a crazy person. She manages to escape.
Diggle, later on, goes to Felicity’s office for a little chat. He’s trying to make Oliver and Felicity swallow their pride and be together, which is clearly what they both want. But that doesn’t seem like it’s going to work unless Oliver does something drastic. Oliver is not known for doing drastic things now, is he?
He does go see Cutter’s former psychiatrist who A) is terrified to find the Arrow in her office with the lights off (a refreshing turn of events) and 2) tells him that Cutter has detachment, that if he does anything to break her view of what’s supposed to happen, because Oliver is her ideal of what her happiness will be, then things could get violent. Or more violent anyway. Cupid, meanwhile, has gone to see one of her former confidential informants, a computer whiz who figures out that Oliver’s hideout must be somewhere around the Verdant club. He expects a little sum-sum as a reward, but she kills him instead. Psychos make really difficult girlfriends.
Elsewhere, Ray and Felicity have gone on their business dinner, with Felicity looking fantastic as always, and she convinces the businessman with whom they’re meeting that Palmer is a good and trustworthy man because he doesn’t want money, he just wants to help people. Felicity’s really good at her job, I guess; she didn’t once stammer or be awkward when talking up her current boss. Ray is, understandably, impressed yet again. She even finds time to go help the Arrow folks before this, getting information on where Cupid is meeting (a flophouse).
And yes, this meeting. Cutter calls Oliver from Verdant, claiming she’ll kill everyone there if he doesn’t show up. He asks her to meet somewhere else, and she agrees. Before he leaves, Diggle tells him he needs to talk to Felicity. He says everything is fine and, yes he’s upset she’s with Palmer, but he just wants her to be happy. Diggle cuts him quick by saying “If that were true, you’d be with her.” BURN.
Arrow finds Cupid who again says she wants them to be together. But he tells her that he can’t be with anyone, that doing what he does means he’s got to be alone, forsaking even the people he would otherwise love to be with. Felicity’s on the comm this whole time, which is not good for Oliver. But he also knew she was there, so it’s really his fault. Cupid doesn’t like being rejected and decides to kill Oliver, and herself. They have a big fight which ends with them falling onto subway tracks. She quickly cuffs him to the rail just as an oncoming train approaches. She stands ready to die with him, but he breaks his thumb, pulls his hand out of the cuffs, and grabs Cupid out of the way just in the nick of time.
Later, while icing his thumb, Diggle comes in and says that they turned Cutter over to Amanda Waller to join the Suicide Squad. WHAAAAAT? So she’s too crazy to go to jail? Oliver says that with the Squad, at least she’ll be doing some good. Diggle also says she’s only the second craziest woman to be on the Squad, a clear reference to Harley Quinn. I’m very surprised by this course of action. Diggle then says that Felicity was there to hear Oliver’s “I need to be alone” diatribe and says he needs to go talk to her.
Unfortunately for him, he gets to her office just in time to she her making out with Ray, who has thrown caution to the wind and admitted he likes her, and she clearly likes him too. Oliver’s quite upset and returns to the Foundry to break things. Roy comes in when he hears the racket. Neither of them are feeling very good, so they do something they both need: they go over to Diggle’s house for family dinner.
As the episode is about to end, we get two cliffhangers: One has Palmer getting the schematics ready for a suit which has the code name A.T.O.M. Ooooooh! The second is another cliffhanger for a bad guy, this time Captain Boomerang. I feel like every cliffhanger this season has just been a tease for the following week’s villain.
WHATEVER THEA WAS UP TO
Thea was in this episode too, and while I could have woven it into the proceedings, it’s completely unrelated to anything else and out of nowhere. So, she’s auditioning people to be DJs for the club’s big reopening. A guy walks in and proclaims tryouts are over because he’s there, but refuses to audition. He’s a cocky douche tool. Technical term. He leaves. Later, the DJ she chooses proves to be terrible, so this guy shows up again and says he’ll DJ for a portion of the door sales and a regular job. She gives him a chance and, by playing “Turn Down for What,” he’s apparently a success. After they close, he comes over to say he told her so, then kisses her and refuses the payment he made her promise. WHO IS THIS GUY AND WHY IS HE IN THIS SHOW?!
HONG KONG FLASHBACKS
Tatsu, the wife of Oliver’s handler/buddy Maseo, still doesn’t like him and wants the young punk to do his own laundry. He doesn’t know how, because billionaire. Maseo is called out on an assignment at the docks and Oliver isn’t allowed to come. Hours later, Maseo hasn’t returned and Tatsu is worried. She and Oliver go out to look for him and see a gang of Triads camped out there. Assuming the worst, they go to question and start getting beaten up, but Tatsu is a badass and has a sword and starts taking guys out. She and Oliver also have a moment of understanding when she realizes that they’re both foreigners, him being American and her being Japanese. They return home to find Maseo there and everything seemingly fine.
There has to be something more to Maseo’s apparent “just forgot to call” answer. He’s either up to something sketchy, or this whole exercise was to set up a torrid relationship between Oliver and Tatsu, OR it was just to show that she’s good at fighting as well, OR, and this is my guess, this whole flashback is dumb and useless like they all have been.
Okay, so “Draw Back Your Bow” clearly wasn’t my favorite episode of the season, but so far the year’s been pretty great so I’m okay with a meh one once in awhile. Wasn’t terrible, I just super didn’t care about much of anything, and the Olicity stuff is getting pretty tired at this point. Oh well! It’s going to be a thing.
Arrow is taking Thanksgiving week off, but when it comes back, it’s going to be a big one. First, an episode of The Flash entitled “Flash vs Arrow,” and then an episode of Arrow called “The Brave and the Bold.” Holy cats, exciting. See you then!