The episodes leading up to a midseason finale always seem to be the light ones. They’re riddled with storylines that may or may not appeal to the casual viewer, but throws enough bits in there to keep the hardcore viewer al least slightly engaged. That’s pretty much how I describe the last two weeks of Arrow. Serviceable, but nothing spectacular.
Out of the two episodes, I enjoyed “Draw Back Your Bow” way more than I did “Guilty.” I found that the latter really sucked. For one, DBYB had a far better villain. Carrie was quite delicious in her very dangerous obsession with the Arrow, and I even liked the “I’m cupid, stupid,” line. Probably because bad lines are all in the delivery and she nailed it. I didn’t even recognize it was Amy Gumenick, who I know from playing young Mary Winchester in Supernatural (I even met her at a con once). Great job!
I enjoyed DBYB more too because it didn’t have Laurel in it. Her origin story I think has been dragging episodes down a bit, which is big reason why “Guilty” wasn’t enjoyable. Yes, there was the heavy handed plot that her trainer is actually an ex-vigilante that no one heard of because he hung out mostly in the Glades and obviously didn’t make much of a difference, but I guess you had to give this guy some credibility in the superhero trade otherwise his making of The Black Canary would seem like a joke. Which honestly, it still does.
Granted, I’m not going to call “Draw Back Your Bow” perfect either. While I was kind of intrigued by the mysterious and somewhat hot looking DJ that seems to be swooning Thea (and saving her club opening from disaster), I tend to not to like it when the main focus falls on Oliver’s love life. That turns action hero drama into soap opera. I especially don’t like it when Diggle’s plot is relegated to full on flag waving Olicity shipper, but hey, you got to give the guy something to do I guess. Still, what’s Ray Palmer’s game? Why is he so interested in Felicity, and even seems to be taking on Oliver’s habits (a shirtless workout on a salmon bar in the office?) to get her attention? How does he know about Oliver’s secret training regimen? What’s up with the 3D Iron Man type suit design? The love triangle between Oliver, Felicity, and Ray is really contrived, but still I sense a payoff coming from it because there’s still so much mystery behind Ray. Plus he is kind of adorkable in his physical inferiority (which he makes up for with money). How much do you want to bet Malcolm is behind all this? Speaking of Malcolm, why hasn’t he been on my TV lately???
What I really do love about “Draw Back Your Bow” that “Guilty” didn’t have was a better flashback story. “Guilty” did very little to move it along, only showing that the wife, Tatsu, doesn’t care for Oliver all that much. “Draw Back Your Bow” was a breakthrough as we found out there’s way more to Tatsu than meets the eye. She’s a badass Japanese ninja! When Maseo goes missing for a several hours, Oliver and Tatsu finally bond during their search for him and it’s awesome. Then Maseo turns up not dead which is even better. Tatsu and Maseo have a secret past that forced them to leave Japan and suddenly I want to know more. Plus, Tatsu actually teaches Oliver how to do laundry. Go figure, she’s already a more useful mother than Moira.
The part of “Guilty” that bothered me the most though was how Roy’s suddenly intriguing plot fizzled fast. Way to totally waste a character there show. He had himself believing he killed Sara and even tells a flying off the hinges Laurel that, who’s hardly capable of rational thought. Way to earn her trust there pal. There’s no evidence that the Mirakuru was in his system though, and Felicity even checked again. To find out it was just his mind playing tricks on him over his memories of killing someone while hopped up on Mirakuru juice was super weak. I know it was meant to be a parallel between ex-vigilante Ted Grant and his gone rogue sidekick and Oliver choosing to stick with Roy, but it was weak. Actually, there’s my one word review for “Guilty.” Weak. How about listless? Bereft of life? Fine, that’s three words, but you get the point.
So, let’s just focus the rest of the review on “Draw Back Your Bow.” A big strength of the episode is its ability to pull all the overlapping stories together in a nice little package. Oliver took some time to figure out how to neutralize Cupid (aka Carrie), rather than just trying to take her down with brute force. He decided to figure out her obsession on a psychological level (that’s to a nighttime scary visit with her shrink) and girlfriend is whacked. Totally whacked. Still, Oliver knows exactly what to do with headcases. After neutralizing her in the train tunnel (and breaking his thumb in the process), he turns her over to ARGUS! Another nut perfect for the Suicide Squad. I can only presume that Cupid was a real figure in the comics and she did become part of the Suicide Squad. Otherwise, she probably would have met that death by train. I’d love to see her as part of an assault with that team in the future. Heck, can she and Deadshot hook up? Have little assassin babies?
There was also that nice touch when Roy and Oliver, both hurting over their woes, choose for consolation to go over to Diggle and Lyla’s for dinner. Aww, it’s a bro-ment. It just goes to prove that whatever happens, they’re a family and have each other. Of course Felicity was glaringly absent, making out with Palmer instead after he wowed her with an expensive blue dress and an outrageously expensive diamond necklace (just rented). She’s a smart cookie. Once the honeymoon is over, she’ll eventually see that something suspicious is going on and will work her way back to the team. In the meantime, her regular absences from the team hurts and no one is realizing that more than Oliver. But on the plus side, didn’t she look gorgeous in that dress? (the hubby was drooling). Let’s say she was “smoaking” (dodges flying objects from bad pun).
So all in all, nothing ground shaking, but something in these two weeks has to lead up to the big midseason finale (December 10th). Until then, we get a powerhouse Flash and Arrow crossover in two weeks (Arrow taking a break for the Thanksgiving holiday next week) and it all has to do with that boomerang killing psycho that popped up at the end of this episode. Now we’re getting somewhere! Enjoy your turkey day everyone. See you in two weeks.