When Issac Stanzler is abducted during his transfer to Iron Heights and turns up dead with an unusual arrow in his chest, it becomes clear that it isn't the work of just another Arrow copycat. Enter Cupid - an ex-cop turned killer, who became obsessed with The Arrow after he saved her during Slade Wilson's night of terror six months earlier. She's convinced that Starling City's favorite hero is her one true love and she'll do anything to get his attention.
Too bad for her that Oliver Queen only has eyes for one woman. Unfortunately, she's also being romanced by Ray Palmer, whose interest in Ms. Smoak is far from platonic as much as he may insist otherwise. Love is also in the air at Verdant, where a hot-shot new DJ seems to have designs on club-owner Thea Queen... much to Roy Harper's annoyance.
In the flashbacks, Tatsu must put aside her dislike of Oliver Queen when Maseo goes missing during an operation. The two will work together to investigate the Triad Maseo was staking-out, hoping it is not too late to save him.
Andrew Kreisberg's run on Green Arrow/Black Canary (introduction of Cupid), Outsiders (elements of Katana's backstory) and Suicide Squad (mentions of Amanda Waller and the squad, as well as the introduction of Captain Boomerang).
Supernatural alum Amy Gumenick cuts quite the impressive figure as Cupid. Reportedly, Gumenick auditioned for the part of Laurel Lance when Arrow first started. Given the way she carries herself in her fight scenes and her chemistry with Stephen Amell, one wonders if perhaps the casting agents for this show made the wrong choice.
Again, it must be said that Ray Palmer would be the creepiest boss this side of Christian Grey were it not for the charisma Brandon Routh brings to the character. On paper, without inflection, most of Palmer's dialogue to Felicity and actions towards her would come off as unsettling. But somehow Routh makes it work, playing Palmer as a geek who can't hold back his passion rather than a true creep.
The script for this episode - written by Wendy Mericle and Beth Schwartz - does a great job of establishing Cupid as a character and as a credible threat. Indeed, the show's version of Cupid improves upon the comics version, who was something of a villainous Mary Sue figure.
The best shot of the episode? When Oliver returns to the Arrow Cave after seeing Ray and Felicity kissing in what was his old office, and how his gaze falls on the fern that she put in the cave ... just before he clears the table in frustration.
The arrowhead in the show's logo for this episode is changed from the usual green pointed arrowhead to the red, heart-shaped arrowhead used by Cupid.
The episode title - Draw Back Your Bow - comes from the first line of a song by Sam Cooke titled Cupid. The song is sung by a boy begging Cupid to shoot an arrow into the heart of a girl who doesn't know he exists but who he's sure he can love better than anyone else.
In the comics, Cupid was originally a woman in an abusive marriage who became obsessed with Green Arrow after he saved her from her husband. Determined to prove herself to the man she now saw as her one-true-love, she donned a costume that was basically a sexy ladies Halloween costume based on Green Arrow's costume and set about killing off the super-villains Green Arrow fought most frequently while pushing Oliver Queen into using more lethal force. She also tried to kill Black Canary, whom she saw as a rival for Green Arrow's affections.
A later ret-con revealed that Cupid was Carrie Cutter - a special-ops soldier who was part of a mysterious government project called COBALT. It was in while in COBALT that Carrie received a treatment that enhanced her body and made her fearless but also gave her partial amnesia and caused her to experience all other emotions except fear at an extreme level. It was also revealed that her abusive husband was not really her husband and that what Green Arrow saw as a man beating a woman was actually Carrie's most recent victim struggling with her after being poisoned.
Cupid was co-created by Arrow Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg during his run on the Green Arrow/Black Canary comic.
Cupid's full name on the show is Carrie Hartnell Cutter. In the comics, she used Carrie Hartnell as an alias.
Cupid's background on the show is quite different from the comics. Here, she's an ex-cop and SWAT team member who quit the SCPD after undergoing psychological evaluation after stalking her partner. She becomes fixated on The Arrow after he saves her from a Mirakuru soldier during Slade Wilson's attack on Starling City.
Cupid is handy enough as a fletcher to construct her own arrows and had some basic training with explosives. Cupid may be skilled enough with computers to encrypt a SIM card or she may have seduced hacker Kirby Bates into doing the work for her.
The address Cupid puts in the arrowhead for The Arrow to find is 15 Baron Street. This may be a reference to both Mike Baron (the color artist on Green Arrow/Black Canary when Cupid first appeared) and the comic in which Cupid first appeared - Green Arrow/Black Canary #15.
Carrie Cutter is part of a gardening group and she holds local mob boss Joe Gravado hostage in the greenhouse of a business called Sherwood Florist. Classic Green Arrow fans will recognize Sherwood Florist as the name of the shop that Dinah Lance ran in Seattle during the Mike Grell run on Green Arrow.
The hacker Cupid seduces into helping her locate The Arrow's hideout is named Kirby Bates. This may be a nod to Hannibal Bates - a criminal from DC Comics whom also teamed up with Cupid against Green Arrow in the comics. The only common link between the two characters - apart from the last names and criminal pasts - is the fact that both were killed by Cupid once they outlived their usefulness.
Another reference is made to Saint Walker's hospital. Saint Walker is the name of the leader of The Blue Lantern Corps.
Tatsu Yamashio proves to be an excellent sword fighter, capable of fighting several men at once. This is no surprise to fans of the comics, who will recognize Tatsu Yamashio as the superheroine Katana.
Cupid's drink of choice is a Cupid's Kiss. This is the name of several real-world cocktails but it is unclear which version Cupid ordered.
The deathtrap that Cupid arranges for The Arrow, handcuffing him to a train-track is a direct nod to a trap that Cupid set for Green Arrow in the comics. Here, Ollie escapes by dislocating his thumb to break free of the handcuffs. In the original comics, Black Canary rescued him.
Diggle says that Cutter is "even nuttier than the last woman they had in the Suicide Squad". This is definitely a reference to Harley Quinn, who shares Cupid's penchant for obsessive love.
Mr. Gardner - the man whose mine Ray Palmer is trying to purchase - is named in tribute to Gardner Fox. Gardner Fox was the DC Comics writer who created the Ray Palmer version of The Atom.
It probably isn't a coincidence that the dress that Ray Palmer buys for Felicity is blue - his favorite color
Ray Palmer officially changes Queen Consolidated's name to Palmer Technologies. The logo for the company is a blue P, circled by a single electron.
It's revealed near the end of the episode that Ray Palmer's main interest in Mr. Gardner's mine was in acquiring the dwarf-star material inside it. This ties into a project he is working on called The A.T.O.M. ExoSuit, which resembles The Atom's costume in the comics. Dwarf-Star Material was also the power source for The Atom's shrinking technology in the comics.
The assassin we see in the final scene of the episode is Captain Boomerang, who we will discuss in more detail next time.
Oliver determines that Cupid's arrowheads are hand-soldered out of high carbon steel.
NPP is an abbreviation for Nitrogen Phosphate Potash. It's the technical term for a variety of fertilizer.
Carrie Cutter suffers from an attachment disorder - an inability to form real, lasting relationships which causes the patient to become fixated on one person.
Felicity: This dress? Costs more than my apartment.
Ray: Yeah. Couture, which I'm pretty sure is French for expensive. So, dinner? Purely platonic.
Felicity: There is nothing platonic about couture.
Cupid: If I’m out of my mind then that’s only because that’s what love is - our own little slice of insanity.
John: You and Ray. Doesn't seem that platonic. Actually, it has Oliver twisted up in knots.
Felicity: Oliver made his choice.
John: And we both know that was the wrong choice.
Felicity: And did Oliver say that?
John: Oh yeah. Because Oliver's just great at expressing his emotions.
Arrow: (to Cupid, with Felicity listening) I understand that you're hurting and I what it's like to want someone but not be able be with them. How you wish things could be different, but they can't. I can't be with you; I can't be with anyone. I have to be alone.
Captain Boomerang: That's the thing about our work.
(Captain Boomerang throws a boomerang which spins around to stab the thug in the back)
Captain Boomerang: It always comes back to haunt you.
Issac Stanzler, from the last episode, is discovered dead, dressed like The Arrow, with an arrow in his chest.
Ollie deduces that Cupid was not Sara Lance's killer very quickly.
Tatsu and Maseo left Japan because it was no longer safe after they angered someone very powerful.
Roy is seen researching the police officer he killed on the computers in the Arrow Cave.
Oliver calls Roy by the codename Arsenal in the field for the first time.
The new DJ at Verdant - who Thea hires despite his braggadocios nature - is named Chase.
Ollie is fast enough to dodge arrows at close range.
Oliver hands Cupid over to Amanda Waller rather than the police, saying that at least as part of The Suicide Squad she might do some good.
The Bottom Line
Arrow needed a great episode to rebound after last week and it got it. Really, the only problem with the episode is that the subplot with Thea and the DJ feels tacked on and not enough is done to explore how Roy is coping with the collapse of his relationship. Apart from that, one can easily say this is the best episode of Season 3 so far.