Last week we got to see something spectacular in Arrow. Ted Grant embraced his history as a vigilante, known as the Wildcat, and we learned that he was taking care of the Glades before Oliver Queen ever came back and started taking on the villains of Starling City. It was a pretty emotionally-charged episode with lots of action as well that also segued into the growing relationship between Ollie and Roy as mentor and apprentice, mirroring that of other character pairs on the shows such as Ted-Laurel and Malcolm-Thea. It was a great episode, and it only left me wanting more.
In the new episode, “Draw Back Your Bow“, we see the debut of Cupid, a woman super-obsessed with the Arrow who wants to become his lover, someone who can take care of him since he takes care of all of Starling. She made her debut by killing of Isaac Stanzler, who used to be the Arsenal to Ted Grant’s Wildcat a few years ago and who was the villain last week. As is usual on the show, we got to see some real-time commentary on how things are with Team Arrow, and we also see that Ray Palmer has some really big designs for what he is going to do with Queen Consolidated and its tech resources. Not a mind-blowing episode per se, but this one can easily fly under the radar, and I’d caution you against dismissing this one off-hand.
The majority of the episode deals with Carrie Cutter aka Cupid, of course, but there are also some other themes and plots going on that add to the overall experience. Such as the fact that the professional relationship between Felicity and Ray is going beyond the platonic into the personal. Or that the romance between Oliver and Felicity (termed Olicity by fans) is totally on the outs despite the characters’ feelings for each other. Or the whole thing with Thea getting back into the swing of things with Verdant and finding herself quite an interesting DJ.
The show has done a lot in recent months to shed its grimdark image and it has become one where the characters are able to act much more naturally, and generally be more relaxed with each other. Of course, the focus is still on maintaining a family, as it has been since the start, and now we have several examples of families on the show. Dysfunctional families, yes, but working families nonetheless. We have Diggle and his life with Lyla and their daughter Sara. We have Felicity and her mom, who made a neat guest appearance a while back. We have Oliver trying to bond with Thea, to heal the rifts between them. We have Roy discovering that he really isn’t alone and that Diggle, Felicity and Ollie most importantly are out there for him.
This is something that really works on this show, and while I’m sure that the producers and writers will do something major to shatter this… illusion as the season goes on, I’m also quite happy that the focus has shifted to this rather than focusing on the new villain of the week and the lack of interconnected storylines.
And that’s where Carrie Cutter comes in. Her obsession with the Arrow goes back to the night of The Siege when Slade Wilson’s mirakuru-hyped soldiers tore through Starling and she was saved by the hooded hero. Given her problems with attachments and fixations on certain strong individuals in her life, she turns to him as… salvation of sorts. Amy Gumenick’s performance is pretty good and she captures the lovable insanity of the character, someone I have no prior experience with. She makes Cupid stand out from all the other villains we have seen on the show to date, though when she is compared with a certain insane female supervillain, I thought that was stretching things a bit in a poorly heavy-handed way.
At the same time though, it is great of the writers to bring in Cupid at this point, when Starling has had more than two years to get used to the Arrow’s presence, especially with the SCPD recently declaring him a hero after all and the new Chief Quentin Lance declaring that the Vigilante Task Force is disbanded. Wendy Mericle and Beth Schwartz do a good job as writers of tying together so many different things in this episode, and showing how a lot of the plot-points introduced months and even years before are finally showing some results. Everything that has happened in Starling in the last two years is building up to what we see now, and it gives me a lot of pleasure as a viewer to see that kind of a forward development.
The real awesome bits in this episode however come from the flashbacks in Hong Kong, when Oliver was placed by Amanda Waller in the care of Maseo Yamashiro and his wife Tatsu. In the opening scenes of the flashback, we see that Waller calls in Maseo on an assignment, and then he disappears without contact. This sets the stage for Tatsu to make her debut as one of the most badass swordswomen in live-action television, a definite nod to her future as the superhero Katana. And Rila Fukushima is great in those scenes as well. I’ll admit that my heart was pumping when we finally get to see her display her sword-skills against a Triad gang, in an effort to find out what had happened to Maseo.
In a single episode, we get two incredibly awesome action-oriented characters, one an archer and another a swordswoman. Pretty damn great that is. Arrow is certainly developing a great legacy on that front.
The episode finally ends with a moment that I’ve been waiting for all season: the transformation of Ray Palmer into the Atom. To be clear, the actual transformation is still many, many episodes away at the least, but we see finally that everything that Ray is doing with Queen Consolidated is to further his ambitions of creating something entirely new, something revolutionary. I won’t really spoil what it is, because that’s part of the whole charm, but suffice to say that the isolated scenes in previous episodes where he buys up QC and then later has Felicity go through the company’s tech-records and everything, it all has meaning. Direction.
And it is going to be awesome.
The show is taking a break next week, but in just two weeks’ time, we are going to see the BIG moment of the show, when Arrow does a crossover with The Flash, bringing together the two most popular comics heroes (right now!) together for an epic outing.
More Arrow (Season 2): Link.