Only something as insane and unpredictable as love could turn one person into a waiting and confused woman and another into a murdering psychopath. Or at least Cupid thinks it’s love. We probably shouldn’t trust what she says, since she’s an ex-military ex-cop psychopath with a lot of arrows and serious mental problems.
Cupid was introduced at the end of the last episode when she started her rampage killing off people she sees as enemies of the Arrow. I’d been looking forward to her appearance for some time, and actress Amy Gumenick did anything but disappoint. Her performance was extremely praise-worthy, giving us a psychopathic lover so real that it almost made me shiver at times, and it was easy to forget that it was really just a performance.
The beginning of the episode gave us a cool flashback to the beginning of Cupid’s obsession, when the Arrow saved her during Deathstroke’s attack on Starling City at the end of Season Two. She quickly became obsessed after that because, as we come to find out, she has an attachment disorder where she fixates on one person obsessively. She believes that she’s in love with the Arrow and will stop at nothing to be with him, which only creates more headaches for the Arrow.
Meanwhile, Felicity finds that Ray is pushing the bounds of a work relationship, buying her a very expensive dress and asking her out to a business dinner. Oliver is clearly bothered by this, even though he doesn’t say anything. This sets up a conflict for Arrow where he sees someone else moving in on the woman that he loves but can’t be with, and a psycho lover tries to move in on him. That creates a complicated array of emotions for Oliver, putting his work as the vigilante at risk.
For an episode that relied on themes that have been done time and time again, it managed to stay very fresh and emotionally gripping. A lot of that is due the acting, which was especially top-notch in this episode. Stephen Amell is rarely not at the top of his game, but his performance was especially emotional in this episode. That combined with Amy Gumenick’s portrayal of Cupid and the always-wonderful Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity made for a very moving episode, despite how common its themes are.
My biggest disappointment with the episode, in fact, was that it wasn’t turned into the start of a longer storyarch. They immediately dismissed Cupid as not being Sara’s killer (somewhat surprising, considering that Cupid in the Green Arrow comics repeatedly tries to kill the Black Canary), and wrapped up the conflict in a single episode. What was in this episode was phenomenal, but they ruined a missed opportunity by wrapping it up so nicely.
A much more interesting story would have been to make Cupid Sara’s killer, or at least plant seeds of it, and at the end of the episode turn her character into less of an obsessive admirer and more of an obsessive scorned lover. It would then allow for her to go after numerous people connected to Arrow, especially Laurel, which could hasten Laurel’s transition to the Black Canary, and set up a really cool way for her to prove herself as a valuable asset to the Arrow’s team. Instead, she was captured and taken to get help. I would have preferred to see her incorporated into the overall web of Season Three, but since she’s still alive, there’s always the possibility that they could bring her back. She could perhaps be the subject of a longer story in Season Four, being awakened into newfound obsession and rage after seeing the new Black Canary. Or they may not do much more with her. Only time will tell.
But what is here is phenomenal. It even broaches the topic of love in a very real way, drawing a distinction between obsession and true love, which Oliver shows by doing his best to wish for Felicity’s happiness. That doesn’t make his feelings go away, nor will it in real life, but to see how much he works at being selfless is powerful, even if his premise is flawed. It comes closer to the selfless view of love that we see in Scripture, reaffirming concern for the other person, not feelings that you want satisfied, as the main point. While the show is in danger of growing stale by having too many episodic stories in a row, this was a good kind of episodic.
I hope that we see Cupid again, but in the meantime this was a great first look at the character, and a high-quality story that may very well be the best episode of the season thus far.