A review of last night's “Arrow” coming up just as soon as my Spotify playlist's a better option than you…
“Draw Back Your Bow” opens with a flashback to the riots from the end of last season, and it was such a relief to see the original Team Arrow together in that van for a minute or two. This season has been going in so many directions, and trying to both introduce major new characters like Ray Palmer and Ted Grant while giving supporting characters like Laurel and Roy more to do, that we haven't gotten a lot of the dynamic that made the show so good in the first place.
Once we shifted back into the present, the episode got more complicated (though Laurel at least got the week off), and some of the stories were not great, particularly everything having to do with the introduction of Thea's smug new DJ love interest(*). But what ultimately made the episode effective was how the central part of it revolved around that core trio and their relationships with one another.
(*) Two thoughts on the DJ, who may be the single worst character introduced not only on “Arrow,” but on any show I've watched in quite some time: 1)The move of introducing a regular character's new love interest by having them act as obnoxious as possible is beyond played out, and needs to be sent to the TV Tropes Old Age Home, and 2)He suffered from the “Studio 60” problem of the writers telling us of his awesome talents while completely failing to show them to us properly. I'm a guy in his 40s whose last concert attended was a Bruce Springsteen show at the Meadowlands, and even I would know to play “Turn Down for What” to get that club hopping. Even if he's just there to force Thea to choose between a normal life and being Malcolm Merlyn's ninja daughter, they could have done so much better with this guy.
With so much else happening this season, there hasn't been much time to follow up on the Oliver/Felicity scene from the end of the premiere, but we finally got a lot of it here. Felicity's “date” with Ray Palmer – and fair is fair: Brandon Routh has been really charming so far in the role, and the show has patiently laid the groundwork for him to become the Atom (here mining dwarf star matter, plus building some kind of exo-suit) – finally made Oliver recognize that he's not okay with letting Felicity go, even if he himself isn't ready to date her. It's not the most flattering moment for our hero, but it's not meant to be, and I liked seeing Diggle try to navigate this uncomfortable schism within the main group, even as they were chasing after Cupid and her own lust issues related to the Arrow. “Arrow,” like a lot of dramas, likes to parallel its case of the week with something happening in one of the hero's personal lives, and sometimes it can overdo that, but all the pieces of those two main stories fit together neatly here, especially any scene that involved Felicity and Ray flirting. (Her “Ohmigod, I have a type” reaction to Ray on the salmon ladder would have been the episode's best line if it hadn't been quickly followed by Emily Bett Rickards' ad-libbed line to the couture dress, “You and I are gonna be best friends…”)
Again, the DJ is a tool, and I'm still waiting for the Hong Kong scenes to develop any kind of urgency at all – better to have ditched that device for a season if there was no good story to tell (maybe Oliver just spent a year on the island doing crunches and growing out his beard?) – but the central superheroics and the interpersonal dynamics between the leads worked much better last night than the show has in a few weeks.
What did everybody else think? And if you happen to be among the intersecting set that watches both “New Girl” and “Arrow,” how did you feel about both Schmidt and Oliver revealing within 24 hours of each other that they don't know how to do laundry?