Here’s what you need to know about Arrow 3.07 “Draw Back Your Bow“: Carrie Cutter, a mentally unstable former SWAT Team member, has developed an obsession with The Arrow. This leads her to take up her own bow and start calling herself Cupid. Felicity and Ray had a date. Oliver met with a psychotherapist, but not for himself (more on this later). Diggle played relationship counselor (a role for which he is ill suited). Thea hired a DJ who put the moves on her, or something. I can’t tell if I didn’t understand or just didn’t care what happened there. A.T.O.M. (aka “Atom”) ARMOR!! Allow me announce my intention to do the seemingly impossible: I’m going to attempt to show how this episode actually does play into the larger story at hand and contains more depth than it seems. My success in doing so will be a matter of opinion (notably, that of you, the reader), but I’m going to give it my best shot. Arrow has, rightfully so, been criticized for the episodes whose ratio of action to romance has tilted heavy toward the latter. Honestly, in spite of improvements overall, this episode is not an exception. There is a lot of time spent on Felicity and Ray going on a non-date date, DJ Disposable Roy Fodder (I don’t remember his name nor do I care) hitting on Thea, Diggle doing a very bad job at being a relationship counselor and a villain who, I think, is supposed to be a Femme Fatale, but is played more like Fatal Attraction. Cupid is a newer character (created by Andrew Kreisberg, one of the show’s creators and executive producers) and I’m not familiar with her comic book counterpart. It’s entirely likely that she’s meant to be just another crazy stalker trope, in which case I like the character even less than I do already. Really, that’s where this episode seems to falter. Arrow is no stranger to tropes (see my review for 3.05 for example). But I had to dig really deep to find anything resembling a third dimension to them this week. Everything, particularly Cupid, came off rather flat and fairly predictable. Also, aside from Katana kicking all sorts of ass, the action sequences didn’t live up to the rest of the season. Credit to Cupid’s stunt double, things improved when the scene didn’t require a close up. But there were a few moments that were kind of cringe worthy. Actually, I just realized that I had almost these same exact criticisms of just about every episode involving The Huntress. Come to think of it, Chien Na Wei and Nyssa Al Ghul might be the only female antagonists who come across slightly more developed, and I’d argue that’s only because their storylines didn’t involve having a crush on Oliver. I should note that is not to say that the Nyssa/Sara romance was done well, it just wasn’t done quite as poorly as some of the others. The less that is said about some of the early Chien Na Wei fight scenes the better. What the heck happens to the writers when they are writing female villains (or, more specifically, women who aren’t members of Team Arrow)? That aside, let’s get on to the impossible. I’ve been tracking how this season is about Oliver the man becoming Oliver the hero and reconciling who he was with the symbol he has become. This seems to be the key tension in the story. This season has been less about who Oliver is fighting and more about what those fights represent. To that end, allow me to just quote myself on Reddit: Batman works best as a sort of “split personality,” fractured psyche character who is hellbent on punishing the criminal element. Green Arrow, in spite of the Batman resemblance, has never really been that kind of character. He’s always been Oliver, and being the Green Arrow is his way of giving back, beyond what can be done with wealth. Whereas, Batman is trying to become an agent of fear against a “superstitious and cowardly lot,” Oliver has always been more of a voice for the masses and the oppressed. Season one and two were basically “what if Oliver Queen became Batman.” I’m enjoying that this season is moving toward “this is how Oliver Queen become Green Arrow.” Ted Grant was a vigilante, but he existed in a kind of “Glades” vacuum. On the other hand, the reach of Oliver’s work has extended beyond even Star City (see: The Flash). Oliver has become more than just a concerned citizen taking the law into his own hands (he says as much in the show opener every week). As I noted above, unlike Batman, Oliver isn’t dealing with a fractured psyche. Granted, he’s dealing with the fallout from the island and any/all associated PTSD from that experience. I did enjoy his verbal tête-à-tête with the psychotherapist, but I’m not sure I agree with her assessment of Oliver. You can’t draw a clear line between who he is behind the mask and the mask itself. His interactions with Laurel and Captain Lance prove that, mask or not, he’s still Oliver. He’s just a more informed, better-trained, and mature version of who he’s always been. In a world where everyone has accepted that bad things happen, the person who stands against that tide seems crazy. But, I think all heroes have to be a certain degree of crazy, normal people don’t take the same kind of risks. But, Oliver’s journey, what he represents, will have repercussions, such as we see with Cupid. There’s no denying that she’s a bit of a unique case with regards to her mental state, but her vigilantism is a direct result of her rescue by The Arrow. We saw something similar in the season premier with the new Vertigo. And, just like that episode, the actual struggle isn’t with the villain, but within Oliver. He has to accept a degree of culpability, no matter how twisted it might seem, for the fates of Cupid’s victims. In this episode that meant rescuing mob bosses, but could it mean more later? Just how far will Oliver’s influence spread and what will be wrought, particularly in the hands of those without Oliver’s moral compass? Cupid, as a character, was flat and rather dull (also, her costume, while better than her comic counterpart, bordered on one of the worst yet). Her appearance also failed as a plot device through which to examine Oliver’s love life. But, as an unexpected side effect of Oliver’s mission, I think it succeeded brilliantly. After some reflection, I think Carrie Cutter worked well as a manifestation of Oliver’s Jungian Shadow. Surely, she’s a lower level “boss” in Oliver’s journey to self-awareness, but every good fighter needs his share of bouts with Glass Joe before they move on to Tyson (if you’ll pardon the dated videogame reference [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punch-Out!!_(NES)]). The Good: A.T.O.M. (aka “Atom”) ARMOR!! It was just a sneak peak, and it felt very reminiscent of Iron Man, but I still dug the heck out it. Ray Palmer continues to be one of my favorite new additions. I’m desperately waiting for him to get into the game and off the sidelines (that works, right? I’m clueless when it comes to sports metaphors). Katana is a straight up badass. That fight scene in Hong Kong was great. More of that please! Roy IS called Arsenal. The Might Be Good: Katana (okay, I admit, I’ve forgotten her actual name) was an original member of The Outsiders. I’m interested to see how her story plays out in this universe and what role ARGUS plays (and what that means for the inclusion of other Outsiders on the show). Cupid becomes a member of the Suicide Squad. Which means, the Suicide Squad remains a thing. Which could mean that we get Harley on I hope they do her more justice than they’ve done Huntress and Cupid. She’s too good of a character to go to waste as another boring trope. But I have my reservations based on the track record so far. The Bad: Diggle is not a relationship counselor, full stop. For that matter, ALL the romance stuff was a bit of a mess. DJ Disposable wasn’t entirely bad, but he was sort of tacked on and overall kind of “meh.” If that’s the best I can say about a story, then it’s probably not a good thing. The Hong Kong story seemed forced and the outcome was pretty predictable. I expect more from the flashbacks than relationship struggles. Too many flat tropes, not enough action sequences. 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