This Arrow review contains spoilers.
Every now and then an episode comes along that makes the case that ALL TV shows should switch to the cable model of 10-13 episode short seasons. “Draw Back Your Bow” was one of those episodes of Arrow, because it’s difficult to imagine anyone ever wanting to revisit this on their Blu-ray set or via Netflix. I’m going to keep this one short, since I have no real desire to relive it over the course of my usual thousand words or so. It couldn’t possibly be any clearer that this episode was just a way to burn off an episode while they mark time before things get serious for the big Flash/Arrow team-up that’s coming up next.
This week’s installment of The Flash went down a similar road. It was a disposable villain-of-the-week, used to tell a heavy handed “nerds vs. bullies” story. The difference is, “The Flash is Born” was, despite it’s shortcomings, a lively little piece of TV that moved a few characters forward and at least showcased everyone’s best qualities. “Draw Back Your Bow” on the other hand, reduced even the best characters (like Felicity) to their most basic beats, introduced two new, thoroughly unlikeable ones, and generally bored me to tears.
Cupid is the comic book villain that nobody ever wanted to see. Carrie Cutter is a mentally unstable woman who developed a Green Arrow fixation after he saved her from a mirakuru zombie during the season two finale. Of course, she decides that the best way to get this handsome hooded man’s attention is to become a bloodthirsty vigilante type. For a show that has done a remarkable job giving us female characters who aren’t doormats, why they would fall back on the cartoon “crazy psycho stalker babe” trope is a real head-scratcher.
The good news is that if Ms. Cutter was able to get street ready in six months (note: she was Starling’s first female SWAT team member, something I should have caught…thanks Teedock!) it should be a breeze for Laurel to take up the Black Canary mantle in even less time. Wait, that’s not good news at all, is it? Oh, my aching head.
Maybe the folks in charge thought giving folks more Oliver/Felicity romantic tension was some kind of treat. I don’t know about you, but I was quite happy that the two were carrying on like adults rather than, y’know, characters on a CW show circa 2009. While we know eventually there has to be more with them, this wasn’t the way to do it. It’s not that I mind the Felicity/Ray relationship, either. It has somehow managed to not be creepy. But this just felt like something they were trying to get out of the way while a generally awful case of the week unfolded around it.
So, what was lamer and/or more out of character? Diggle coming to Felicity to talk about Oliver’s feelings for her? Felicity’s “stand by your man” speech at the dinner table in defense of Ray? Or Oliver’s “I must always be alone” yakking to Cupid with Felicity listening in? Is there a more immediately hateful character than Austin Butler’s “DJ Chase” and whatever the hell that was between him and Thea at the end?
Dreadful stuff, all around, and handily the worst episode since last year’s horrific “State v. Queen.” “Draw Back Your Bow” was saved only marginally by the major spoilers that follow. But really, it was all too little, too late, and the giant bits of fan-service at the end felt like an apology for the previous hour. They owe us one. With any luck, we’ve already reverse-peaked for this season, and things will resume their usual levels of quality.
Even more major spoilers from this point on.
Meanwhile…On an Island…
zzzzzzzz….Oh, wait. There was something quite useful here. But it really belongs more in…
DC Universe Watchtower
– Well, we got a glimpse of Katana’s origin tonight. In fact, I thought they might be going for it. Don’t get too attached to her husband. What you saw from her tonight was just a taste of what’s to come. It was pretty cool, and I’m looking forward to seeing her in the present day.
– Digger “Captain Boomerang” Harkness looks great.
– So does the design for the Atom suit! Y’know, Ray wanted that mine so he could get the dwarf star minerals that, were this the comics, would ultimately power his shrinking technology. But dwarf stars are also super dense. Could they be combining the Golden Age Atom (who was super strong, rather than a shrinker) with Ray Palmer to give us someone with a more TV budget friendly power set?
– Carrie Cutter was created by Arrow showrunner Andrew Kreisberg and first appeared in 2009’s Green Arrow & Black Canary #15. Think he got some extra royalties for this character showing up in live-action? I bet he did. Spend it well, Mr. Kreisberg…and may we never have to see Cupid again.
– The early onset of a harsh NYC winter has frozen my brain a bit tonight, but none of the names dropped tonight really checked out for me. This could be the NyQuil talking, though. Please help…
CORRECTIONS/ADDITIONS/RETCONS…Down in the comments, Keath has rightly called me out on my failing to mention the Gardners (who Ray and Felicity have dinner with) and one of the characters that helped to reinforce all the awful things about Cupid, “Kirby Binks.” I’ll address these in order!
– I didn’t miss the Gardners, but by the time I actually sat down to type, I had lost my mind. What I DID miss is…did we get a first name? I can’t imagine this is Guy Gardner (I could be wrong). However, it could very well be a nod to Silver Age Atom’s co-creator (and really, a key architect of DC’s entire Silver Age revival), Gardner Fox.
– I’ll tell you why I didn’t mention Kirby. I didn’t want to have to write the holy name of the King of Comics (who did his share of Green Arrow work, in addition to everything else he did during his remarkable career) in a review of an episode as unimaginative as this. Jack deserves better. Seriously.
– Also, every time there’s a Saint Walker reference on Arrow, I miss it. Every. Single. Time.
And there’s probably more. I wasn’t on top of my game last night, folks. Form like Voltron and help me out!