By Rich Epstein
Last week, Arrow closed with the mysterious Cupid (Amy Gumenick) taking out the villain of the week, Isaac Stanzler, despite the fact that he was already in police custody. This week's episode opens with her backstory. Luckily, it takes all of about a minute to tell. It seems that during last year's season finale, as Oliver and crew were on their way to take out Slade's army of mirakuru thugs, they stopped so that Oliver could rescue a damsel in distress. Needless to say, she was impressed. Let this be a lesson, never do nice things for anyone. We pick up the current story with Oliver and Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorn) standing over Stanzler's body, which has been dressed up like Oliver. Lance hands Oliver the arrow that killed Stanzler, because obviously that is what a police officer does with evidence. They have no interest in trying to catch the killer, or having any type of a trial. Luckily, it won't come to that.
After a brief flashback scene, Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) walks in on a shirtless, exercising Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) doing the salmon ladder, the same exercise that she saw a shirtless Oliver doing back in Season 1. She likes what she sees. He asks her to be his date at a business dinner the following night (platonic of course). He even bought her a dress which costs more than her apartment. Very presumptuous of him. Side question…how do men in movies/TV buy a dress for a woman they barely know? Does he know her measurements somehow? In love with the dress, she says yes.
Oliver and Diggle are talking about the murder. Oliver immediately dismisses Stanzler's killer as the one who killed Sara. That's unfortunate. I was really hoping that would wrap up sometime soon. One thing that Arrow usually does well is wrap up storylines quickly. Oliver and Diggle tune into a press conference by Ray Palmer. He is re-naming Queen Consolidated to Palmer Technologies. Felicity is standing by his side. Did Oliver used to beat him up as a kid or something? Standing with his favorite girl, as he drops Oliver's name from the company his family founded? Cold.
Oliver feels the need to break something, so he hammers the arrow used to kill Stanzler. Inside is an address. Oliver and Diggle go to the address to find the headquarters of the Arrow Fan Club. There are newspaper clippings all over, a mirror shaped like a heart, red candles, rose petals. Creepy. Cupid calls on a cellphone left in the apartment and tells Oliver that she wants to help him, to kill for him. She sends him a picture of her next victim, with a bomb strapped around his waist, and encourages Oliver to find her.
Oliver returns to the lair to find Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) looking at reports of the officer that he killed. He broods and he leaves. Felicity tells Oliver that she tracked down the man in the photo. She then tells Oliver she can't help because of her date with Palmer. Oliver is less than thrilled.
We go to a flashback, and it seems that Maseo Yamashiro (Karl Yune) is missing. Oliver wants to look for him, and Maseo's wife, Tatsu Yamashiro (Rila Fukushima) insists on coming.
Felicity tracks down Cupid by the cell phone she left. Her name is Cary Cutter (yeah, yeah, everyone on this site already knew that) and she was the first female SWAT team member in Starling City. Turns out she's been following Oliver, appearing at all of the crime scenes where he shows up. They manage to deduce that she is holding her hostage at the Sherwood Florist, which I can't is not an actual florist shop.
Oliver and Roy arrive at the florist, and Oliver tells Roy to free the prisoner. Unfortunately, Cupid finds Roy first. She taunts Oliver, tells him the night is about them, that they are one soul. I get the feeling that there may be something wrong with her. Oliver finds her, with her booby-trapped prisoner and an unconscious Roy. Oliver frees the prisoner and defuses the trap, but Cupid gets away.
Back at the Arrowcave, Roy is pissed that Cupid got the drop on him. Diggle tells Oliver that Cupid quit the police after she was put on psych evaluation for stalking her partner. Diggle goes to talk to Felicity, to let her know that Oliver is torn up about her and Palmer. Felicity tells Diggle that there is nothing between her and Palmer, and besides, Oliver should be the one to talk to her anyway.
Oliver goes to see Cupid's old shrink. She says Cupid has an attachment disorder. No kidding. She tells him to be honest, sincere with Cupid in order to give her the relationship she craves.
In flashback world, Oliver and Tatsu wife are on the hunt for Maseo. Tatsu tells Oliver that they had to leave Japan because some very bad men were after them. Oliver goes to ask some gang members what happened to Maseo and promptly gets the **** kicked out of him.
Felicity is ready to go to the "work dinner" and Ray gives her a ten million dollar necklace to wear for the evening. Ok, this is getting really creepy. It is very much a Pretty Woman vibe, which is not good when we are dealing with an awesome character like Felicity. I expect that she will reject him at the end of the night, but he is still trying to buy her affection.
It seems that Cupid has a friend, her own Felicity Smoak. He has tracked the Arrow's hideout to somewhere near Verdant by calculating how much time it takes him to get to various crime scenes. Which is great, if you assume that he always starts out from his hideout and that he is never already out when he gets an alarm. But hey, let's not overthink this. The techie expects a reward from Cupid in the form of some lovin', but she kills him instead and smashes his computer equipment.
Diggle reprimands Oliver for going into the field while he's distracted by Felicity. Oliver opens up about his feelings.
In the flashbacks, Tatsu wife kills the men beating up Oliver with a sword, except for one she questions. He tells her that the Triad just killed three men who worked for ARGUS.
Cutter shows up at Verdant, minus the Cupid outfit. Thea Queen (Willa Holland) is having some dj trouble when some expert dj comes in and saves the day. Not a thrilling storyline.
Felicity has to excuse herself from dinner to take a call. When she returns, she closes Ray's deal for him, by explaining that Ray is the kind of person who will make the world a better place. Back at the Arrowcave, we learn that she used her time away wisely, as Diggle tells Oliver that Felicity was able to get lots of information from Cupid's tech's computer (remotely?). Oliver calls Cupid and agrees to meet her in order to get her away from Verdant.
Oliver heads to the place where he saved Cupid in order to meet her. Oliver explains to Cupid that he knows what it is like to want someone you can't have as Felicity listens in. They shoot arrows at each other from roughly 5 feet away then fight. She drops them into the subway and manages to handcuff Oliver to the track as a train comes. Her plan is for them both to die and be together for eternity. He frees himself and saves her, and she is as in love with him as ever.
Oliver hands Cupid over to Waller to be part of the suicide squad. I get the feeling we will hear from Cupid again before the season is done. Diggle tells Oliver to share his feelings with Felicity.
Last flashback. Tatsu and Oliver are outside of her apartment, and she is trying to figure out how to tell their son that Maseo is dead. Turns out, she doesn't need to as Maseo is there waiting for them.
Thea's new DJ turns down the money he earned and kisses her instead. Coupled with the whole Felicity being bought thing, there is really a disturbing undertone in this episode. More in a bit.
Speaking of Felicity, Ray kisses her just as Oliver shows up to open pout his heart out. Oliver leaves unnoticed. Ray apologizes, but it doesn't look like there was any need for it.
Oliver retreats to the Arrowcave and starts throwing a tantrum. Roy is there, and the two head over to Diggle's for a late dinner with the family. Some time with the newborn will do them both a world of good.
We end with two quick teaser scenes. First, Ray Palmer, and his plans for the A.T.O.M. Exosuit. Next, we see Captain Boomerang killing a man in an alley.
All in all this was a pretty enjoyable episode. It was fast-paced, lots of action, some good humor. However, I am really done with Sara's murder being a mystery at this point, especially as the episode moves Ray Palmer's character forward and teases another villain. We also get a Waller mention and find out that Cupid is joining the Suicide Squad, which I think will have a showdown with Arrow & Company at some point towards the end of the season. Plus, we have the crossover episode with Flash coming up soon, and I expect to see more of the League of Assassins soon. My guess is that they are saving the reveal of Sara's killer for when Laurel is ready to don the costume, but I would like to see the show move on.
Now for the big issue this week…
I have real problems with Felicity's storyline. Felicity is a great character, one of the best on the show and one of the best female characters on TV. She is the smartest person in the Arrow universe, she's funny and she's strong. She sticks up for herself. And Ray Palmer basically bought himself a date with her. She gives a speech during the dinner about how great Ray is, but we don't see any of that. What we see is that she initially says no to the dinner, then changes her mind when he hands her the dress. We see her super impressed by the necklace, which seems very unnecessary. He borrowed a ten-million dollar necklace for her to wear to an ordinary restaurant. Why? It wasn't some fancy gala. Going back a few episodes, he sandbagged her friend, stalked her, then eventually made her a vice president (presumably with a very nice salary). In other words, he gives her material things, and she falls for him.
Then you add in Thea. Her grand re-opening is floundering, until some random man comes in and saves the day. Then, when she tries to pay him, he tells her to keep the money and kisses her instead. Thea had all of two scenes, and they consisted of being saved by an arrogant man who treats her like garbage and buys a kiss from her. I would have been so much happier if she kicked the crap out of him for kissing her.
Not to mention that the main villain in this episode is a psycho-stalker woman who obsesses over a man. Normally, I wouldn't have a problem with such a storyline, as there are many shows where the villain is a man stalking a woman. No big deal to have it reversed. But, when you add in the Felicity/Thea storylines, this episode seems very unfriendly towards women. The only saving grave in that respect is Tatsu, who is a serious badass in this episode, riding to the rescue of Oliver.
Maybe I am reading too much into this episode. It is entirely possible that with everything going on with gamergate and the lack of female-led superhero movies and shows, I am being overly sensitive to the issue. I would really like to hear back from people, especially women.
Rich Epstein writes for Bleeding Cool. He can be found on twitter at @kaspe_r11.